If you're ready to go surfing at Strands, be prepared to take a very long walk down a gut-busting number of steps to the shoreline. Significantly less crowded than Salt Creek, maybe this is why Strands is coveted by the locals in Dana Point. The wave quality here is generally second to Salt Creek, but the isolation makes for an ideal getaway from the madness of a typical SoCal surf break.

Drone photograph of Strands surf beach surf spot in Dana Point, California
Strands from Above with Salt Creek to the North
Strands Stairway to Beach and surfing spot in Dana Point, California
The Walk to the Beach

Surf Conditions

Surfer surfing at Strands Beach surf spot in Dana Point, California
Surfing Next to Mansions
Surfer riding wave at Strands Beach in Dana Point, California
Catalina Island as a Backdrop

Strands is a sandy shore breaker that runs along the entire length of the beach between the two bluffs. Generally the main takeoff points are somewhere in the middle. You will find tons of rocks along the bottom that move around quite a bit, and influence the key takeoff points. Generally the waves here are super peaky and hollow, your typical shortboard spot. While most beaches have named surf breaks such as "The Point", "Churches", "Lowers", "Middles", Strands doesn't have any named breaks. Weird, huh? If you come up with any good names, be sure to let me know and we can get our flag in the ground early.

Map of Strands Beach surf spot in Dana Point, California
Map of Strands

Wave quality is best on a short period S and W-WNW combo swell that combine to create nice hollow peaks. A medium rising tide is generally preferable with winds out of the E to NE. Strands can handle about 8' of swell, but rarely will it get this big.

Skill Level

Strands has an intermediate skill level with a bit of hostility to beginners. The regulars here are generally pretty nice if you can hold your own. Just don't show up here with your friends trying to teach them to surf for the first time on Wavestorms. Not only will they get pounded and hate you forever, they will probably get some flak from the locals. 

Surfer riding a wave at Strands Beach surf spot in Dana Point, California
Strands Shredder
Good surf ride at Strands Beach in Dana Point, California
Typical Strands Ride


Strands Beach Parking Lot for surf spot in Dana Point, California
The Strands Parking Lot: Officially Named Salt Creek Beach Park

There has been tons of debate by OC Parks on whether or not to put up paid parking meters here. Lucky for you, the most recent vote in 2014 was shot down. This is one of the few remaining free to park surf beaches left in Southern California. Parking is pretty much as easy as it gets, enjoy it while it lasts.

Local Eats

Head on over to Taco Surf after a killer surf sesh. You can find it on PCH near the Dana Point Harbor. This is your typical SoCal Mexican food joint. The wet burrito is so huge it can probably feed two people, but I'm guessing after getting barreled at Strands for two hours, you're going to have a big appetite. If you can make it for happy hour (Monday-Thurs 2-6, Friday 2-5), you can snag $1.75 tacos and $2.75 draft beers.

This really isn't the best place to bring the family. The walk to and from the beach is long and painful, sure to make your kids complain.  There's also a lack of sand to sunbathe on, or space to chuck a frisbee around.

Strands Beach surf spot with surfer riding wave in Dana Point, California
Not Much Beach to Work With

That being said, Strands would be a great place for a date. The close proximity of the paved pathway to the beach gives a pretty unique opportunity to view surfers close-up. In addition, The bluffs surrounding the beach are totally breathtaking, and are a great example of California's natural beauty. 

Strands beach surf spot with waves breaking in Dana Point, California
The View from the South Stairs
Strands Beach surf spot with surfers in Dana Point, California
Paved Pathway Along the Beach
Drone Overhead photograph of Strands Beach surf spot in Dana Point, California
Overhead View of Strands

Purchase Digital Photographs

If you would to purchase digital photographs from the Strands Surf Guide, you can purchase the Strands Bundle containing all three photographs shown below. The downloaded images are high resolution JPEG photographs.

Strands Bundle

Purchase Canvas Prints

If you would to purchase canvas Prints from the Strands Surf Guide, click on the specific image you are interested in, and you will be directed to Imagekind for printing and distribution. There are multiple sizes and styles available for purchase.

Click on the Canvas You Want to Purchase

Surf Southern California Author Derek Slabosz, writer of surf spot guides

About Derek Slabosz

Surfing is my passion! When I moved to Orange County and wanted to learn, I found a huge lack of information about where to surf. Little by little, I am going to create a comprehensive guide about every surf break in Southern California. Join me on my journey. If you are interested in hiring me for professional drone photography services, please visit Drone Zone.

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