For all those incoming freshmen who have yet to experience what Santa Barbara’s coastline has to offer, it’s time to follow Blue’s clues to discover what’s right around the corner!
Whether riding waves or sunbathing, the area’s pristine natural environment plays a large role in locals’ leisure time.
Shannon Turner Brooks, communications manager of the Santa Barbara Conference & Visitors Bureau, said most Santa Barbara residents incorporate this environment into their everyday life.
“People who live here enjoy the outdoors and are year-round at the beaches sunbathing, walking dogs or running,” Turner Brooks said. “It’s a very active, outdoorsy kind of place and the environment and weather make it all possible.”
Following Blue’s footprints in the sand from the north to the south, new Santa Barbara residents – especially Gauchos – can find a variety of beaches where they can play and lounge. Here are some of the most popular spots.
Refugio State Beach
Fifteen miles north of nearby Goleta, this beach has plenty of picnic tables and campsites. Though it’s close to UCSB, its seclusion from the freeway blocks out the sounds of daily urban life and hides visitors from the humdrum of working and studying.
As far as the surf is concerned, the waves at Jalama surpass those at campus beaches, due to its superior location. Because it lies north of Santa Cruz Island – the closest Channel Island to campus – the waves at Jalama have more time to swell. Jalama also lays claim to numerous campsites, making it a nice spot for a quick weekend getaway.
Devereux and Sands Beaches
Devereux is located at the northern end of Del Playa Drive, past Isla Vista, and according to senior Ryan Thacher of the UCSB surfing team, it’s a good spot for beginning surfers to learn the ropes.
“[Devereux has] really great, mellower, mushier right-hand longboard waves,” Thacher said. “In the winter, it gets big and a little more difficult, but generally there are mellow waves year-round.”
Sands, the gorgeous beach just north of Devereux – within easy walking distance – is home to a conservatory for SB’s own endangered species, the Snowy Plover bird. Because this location is fully facing west – which is not the case with some of Santa Barbara’s other beaches – and is usually completely deserted, Sands is a great spot to watch the sun rise and set with that new “friend” you met in the dorms.
In between the south end of DP and Campus Point is Depressions, another popular college spot frequented by surfers.
“I really like Depressions … because there aren’t many people and the waves get really punchy and fun on the right swell,” Thacher said.
This busy campus surf spot is located at the southernmost tip of UCSB’s Lagoon. According to Thacher, the location is particularly popular because “it’s convenient to surf in between classes for a couple of hours,” he said. “It’s lots of fun and there’s a nice right-hand point break.”
Santa Barbara Harbor: East and West Beaches
At the intersection of State Street and Cabrillo Boulevard in downtown Santa Barbara lies the beautiful Harbor, where dozens of events take place throughout the year. Many spectators come to this spot to watch the amazing surf, and visitors can rent recreational vehicles and bicycles to ride along the coast.
Despite the large crowds, the location was recently recognized as one of the cleanest beaches in California. This year, the Santa Barbara Harbor became the 42nd harbor in the state to be awarded the Clean Marina Award, said Harbor Operations Manager Mick Kronman.
“The designated marina has to pass inspection by impartial teams aimed at protecting the environment,” Kronman said. “We scored 96 percent in that inspection and we’re working on the other 4 percent right now. There are hundreds and hundreds of harbors inspected, so we’re very proud of it.”
Beyond the strip of grass separating Santa Barbara City College from the ocean is one of the most popular beaches in the downtown area. Many Gauchos frequent this spot to experience the downtown beach scene, which many SBCC Vaqueros call home.
Also known as Ipanema, this Montecito beach is one of the most west-facing in the area. Visitors can see spectacular beach sunsets every evening, but that’s all – surfing is prohibited at this hot spot.
Rincon is the most southern beach in Santa Barbara County, located a few miles from Carpinteria . Some of the best waves in the area can be found at this point.
“Rincon doesn’t get into classic form that many times a year,” Thacher said. “But when it does, it’s one of the premier spots in the world.”
With four years to experience every facet of Santa Barbara’s natural beauty, a trip to Blue’s thinking chair is in order to decide what beach to visit first.