As sports fans cheer on the debut of two gnarly new additions to the 2020 Summer Olympic Games – skateboarding and surfing – visitors can fulfill their own Olympic dreams in San Diego. A skateboarding mecca and world-class surfing destination, San Diego is an ideal place for beginners to learn to hang ten or perform sick tricks on a deck.
The following are some local surf schools and notable skateparks to learn to shred like a pro, as well as a fitness-focused adventures that connect visitors with pro surfers and skaters for the ultimate, Olympic-sized San Diego sports experiences.
With 70 miles of beaches, a wide variety of waves and world-renowned surf breaks like Swami’s (featured in the Beach Boys song “Surfin’ USA”) and Trestles, San Diego has long been a surfing paradise. Just ask local legendary surfer and San Diego ambassador Rob Machado. Novice surfers can “shaka” too at several beginner breaks including La Jolla Shores, Tourmaline Surf Park, Mission Beach and Coronado with their gentle waves and sandy bottoms. Some surf outfits that can get guests riding the waves like an Olympian in no time include:
- Surf Diva Surf School on La Jolla Shores, the world’s premier women’s surf school, offers women, men and children of all skill levels group lessons by professional surf instructors, as well as surf camps and clinics to improve surfing skills, build self-confidence and teach ocean awareness.
- Offering lessons to experienced and inexperienced surfers of all ages in the mellow surf off Mission Beach, Pacific Surf School boasts expert instructors under the guidance of Emiliano Abate, a 23+-year veteran of the professional surfing circuit.
- Celebrating 25 years in San Diego’s surf scene and a leader in adaptive surfing instruction, San Diego Surfing Academy at Oceanside Harbor Beach teaches the fundamentals of surfing, as well as surfing etiquette and environmental issues. One-on-one instruction is available with coach Pat Weber, an acclaimed instructor whose qualifications include shortboard, longboard and tandem surfing championships.
- Cheap Rentals in Mission Beach offers free surf lessons (on land) for first-timers, showing them how to paddle a surfboard, catch a wave and pop up to their feet. Plus, with every surfboard rental (for as little as $7 per hour), they provide detailed printed instructions on how to surf, observe beach conditions and rip currents, important safety tips and more.
Gold Medal Moment: For surfers who want to rip the waves like a medalist, Fit City Adventures offers Surf Like a Pro, a once-in-a-lifetime day of surfing with Damien Hobgood, a pro surfer on the World Championship Tour and Surfrider Pro Team. This ultimate surf clinic includes learning the basics of surfing, shaping a surfboard to take home and wrapping up the day noshing on delicious local fish tacos and craft beer. Participants also receive some cool SoCal swag.
Home of the West Coast’s first skatepark in Carlsbad (1976), skateboarding legends like Tony Hawk and Shaun White, and some of the biggest names in skateboard manufacturing such as Gordon & Smith and Sector 9, San Diego prides itself as a birthplace of skateboarding. Visitors can choose from more than 35 skateparks to check out the world’s best skaters in action and learn how to shred like a pro. Some standouts include:
- The first skatepark built by the City of San Diego, the 40,000 square foot Robb Field Skate Park in Ocean Beach was designed with input from top local skaters such as Tony Hawk.
- One of the top-rated skateparks in Southern California (winner of Best Park by Thrasher Magazine), Washington Street Skatepark is a free, funky public park built for skateboarders by skateboarders.
- Skaters of all ages and skill levels enjoy Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA Skate Park in Encinitas featuring an 80-foot vertical ramp from the 2003 X Games, group and private lessons and a Mini-Land perfect for beginners. Tony Hawk and Shaun White are two of the most famous local pro skaters who practice here.
- The 60,000 square foot Krause Family YMCA Skate Park in Clairemont offers something for all ages and skill levels. Both the Krause and Ecke skateparks offer group and private lessons.
- Local skateboard pro Willy Santos was instrumental in getting the 22,000 square foot Rancho Peñasquitos Skate Park built, featuring a multi-level skate plaza and an impressive array of street and ramp-styled features.
- A world-class skatepark designed with the help of several pro skaters including Chris Miller, Carmel Valley Skate Park is equipped with night lighting, allowing skaters to grind and kickflip well after the sun sets.
Gold Medal Moments: Meet the world’s best skaters, coaches, trainers and judges at the new California Training Facility (CA|TF) in Vista, the world’s first and only high-performance center developed explicitly for skateboarding. Designed and programmed to empower athletes and support their mission to becoming Olympic medalists, the state-of-the-art facility features full-size competition street and park courses, like those in Tokyo for the Olympic games. Visitors can schedule private coaching lessons, as well as join weekly Open Skate and Family Sessions for all ages and skill levels.
Additionally, Fit City Adventures offers a Skate Like a Pro experience where guests can join longtime pro skater Ryan Gallant, founder of the Visit Skateboarding company, to learn the basics and more at skateparks throughout San Diego’s North County.
Find your smile with medal-worthy surfing and skating opportunities in San Diego. For more information on San Diego’s offerings, including events, vacation packages and valuable coupons for attractions, restaurants and more, visit the San Diego Tourism Authority’s website at www.sandiego.org.