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Crowded Carlsbad Beach

Carlsbad's main attraction is the Pacific Ocean and four named beaches: Ponto, Tamarack, South Carlsbad (above) and North Carlsbad. The water is cool, around 65-70 degrees, and therefore so is the sea breeze. The surf tends to be waist high and fun to play in. But, occasionally, storms as far away as New Zealand can create overhead rollers, parking along the coast becomes difficult thanks to surfers and surfer watchers.

Popular surf breaks include southmost Ponto, 'Campgrounds' at South Carlsbad State Beach campgrounds (duh), 'Terramar' across from the power plant, 'Warm waters' near where the power plant's water flows into the ocean, 'Tamarack' at the end of Tamarack Avenue, and 'Turnarounds' near the turn around at the end of Carlsbad Blvd. Most are easy to get to with free parking on the street a few feet away, but some (Ponto and Tamarack) have paid parking, which gets you bathrooms and showers.

Leroy GrannisSurfing culture has existed here for as long as the town has been around. In the 50s and 60s Carlsbad gained a name for itself thanks, in part, to LeRoy Grannis a famous surf photographer.

Phil Edwards shaped surfboards here for locals who describes early Carlsbad as a 'desolate area' with sand dunes as far as the eye could see.

In the 1970s, Tom Morey invented the Boogie Board here, the '80s saw local surf talent on the national scene, and a number of surfing contests have been held here over the years.

Some Carlsbad trivia:

  • Carlsbad lagoons were a favorite hiding place for pirate ships, and our beaches are still used by drug- and people-smugglers.
  • Back in the 1950s and 1960s, surfers at Tamarack had to be careful not to step on seagull nests in the sand and crush their eggs.
  • With wide dry sand along the coast, surfers in the '50s and '60s would drive from Carlsbad to Swami's in Encinitas on the beach and never use a road.
  • It wasn't unusual for a surfer back in Carlsbad's golden surf era to go an entire day without seeing another surfer in the water at any of Carlsbad's breaks.
  • One of Carlsbad's most famous surfers, Joey Buran, was called 'sandcrab' because he would roll in the sand to cover his body from head to toe, after every surf session, to help him keep warm.

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