A Bad Day in “The Bu” Is Better Than … Well … Anything!
Honestly, I didn’t mean to be spending the afternoon at the beach! It was moving day. I had packed up and left the old place early in the morning only to discover the new place wouldn’t be ready until mid-afternoon. So, after a leisurely breakfast and checking the mail in Hollywood, it seemed the best way to kill time would be a drive on Sunset Blvd. to Pacific Coast Highway. Did that … and it was still only 9am!
OK, what the heck … head west! Traffic was light. Los Angeles, it seems, likes to sleep in on a sunny Sunday morning. I pass through Malibu and am starting to think of Santa Barbara. After all, it’s been a while since I’ve been there. Maybe lunch at Stearn’s Wharf on the Santa Barbara Pier? Then I get to Zuma Beach (webcam) and am starting to notice some nice waves rolling in. Head a little more west, and I am noticing some really nice waves coming in.
Wait! Really? A parking place only two spaces from the entrance to Neptune’s Net? For those not familiar, Neptune’s is a very popular biker bar that I never see parking near. And it just so happens that when packing the Blazer, I fortunately put the camera bag right behind the front seat, where it was easy to get to. Quick, put on the big lens and cross PCH to the top of the cliff. Really nice waves!
I stand there a while and watch a few sets come in. The waves are mostly 4 foot to 6 foot sets with a few waves around 8 feet. There are maybe 50 surfers in the water and probably less than 20 people on the beach. As I watch, I see the waves are smaller to my left as they roll into the curved Leo Carillo State Beach. But to my right, they are breaking bigger at the point. As I observe the surfers, it becomes clear the newer, less experienced surfers are to my left, and the hot dogs are out with the breakers on the point.
Still on the cliff above the beach, I move to my right, nearer the point and discover a stairway leading down to the beach. Sure! Why not? Once on the beach, I continued to use every millimeter of my 400 zoom. After a while, I realize there are now more than 100 surfers in the water and a crowd is gathering on the beach. The tide is coming in and the waves are building. Some of them are now clearly 12 feet tall!
After what turned into a couple of hours of photographing the action, these guys (and girls) were clearly having a great time, I decided to take advantage of my proximity to Neptune’s Net and actually go inside for a change. Grab a beer and hang out with a biker gang from Ventura (you could tell by their leather jackets with their insignia stitched across their backs, and all the tattoos). They saw my camera, asked if I was getting any good shots, and became instant fans when I showed them a few frames on the back of my Nikon.
As I entered the bar, I noticed a CHP squad car parked alongside PCH, in the red zone of course, just two spaces in front of my vehicle. As I left Neptune’s, a second squad car had pulled up and all four officers were enjoying the view of the beach, all the bikini-clad “Bettys” and, of course, the surfers and big waves. So I’ll blame the sunburn I ended up with on CHP as I was certainly not going to walk directly from the bar to my vehicle and drive off! Yeah, I think another hour on the beach is a good thing!
I’d say I captured my best surfing photos ever. This was not a bad day in Malibu!
Click the thumbnails below
to view full-size photos.
- Pacific Coast Highway
- City of Malibu, California
- Zuma Beach (webcam)
- Leo Carillo State Park
- Neptune’s Net Restaurant
- Stearn’s Wharf in Santa Barbara
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