Others agree. Jeff and Linda Tunnell and their kids always enjoyed surfing at San Clemente. After spending part of almost every weekend here for more than a year, they finally decided to make the move, to take advantage of the clean water, good beaches, and booming but laid-back downtown. "Everything is more casual here and less pretentious," says Linda over lunch at Antoine's Café, where surfing videos play on the TV next to the bar. She frequently goes surfing with some of the waitresses at Antoine's, even though most of them are her daughter's age. In fact, as Linda finishes her lunch, she and our waitress, Colleen Alicoate, compare surf notes.
"The break at Uppers was incredible yesterday," Colleen says, using the local nickname for Trestles. "But maybe we should try T-Street tomorrow morning."
"Shhh," Linda says jokingly, stealing a glance at me. "I don't want everyone to know where our favorite surf spots are."
Ever since Ole Hanson went broke after founding what he called a "Spanish village by the sea" in 1925, San Clemente has been the most overlooked of Southern California beach towns, especially compared to Laguna Beach and Newport Beach, just up the road. But lately that's changed.