Beach vacation guide

From all-to-yourself islands to hidden beach towns to iconic coastal experiences, the West has the beach vacation of a lifetime in store for you

30 iconic beach experiences

Ignite your love for the shore with these classic beach icons. From boardwalks to bonfires, here are our favorite ways to dive in

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The wave
Frans Lanting / Corbis

The wave

The baddest waves in the world? Get to know Mavericks.

What Mavericks is: The most perfect (and feared) surf break on Earth, and the namesake of the famous surf competition

Where it hits: Half Moon Bay, south of San Francisco in Northern California

Where its waves originate: Near Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, 3,000+ miles away

Why it’s so terrifying: Shallow reefs and jagged rocks, sharks, absurdly strong currents, and cold, cold water

How cold? 48°–55°

Height of the vertical wave face: More than 40 feet on average—that’s 4 stories

Competition season: November–March, but not every year—if nature cooperates and a big-wave system is approaching, top surfers get 24 hours of notice to show up and hit the water

Worth the risk? Surf like a champ and you’ll be $150,000 richer.


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