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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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Finding your inner surfer
Thomas J. Story

Finding your inner surfer

Surf Academy instructor and co-owner Marion Clark offers a pep talk for beginners.

What should someone know before surfing for the first time? “Surfing is about riding a wave, whether you’re on your stomach or your knees or your feet. You have to be able to laugh at yourself. You could be one of the best athletes on the planet and a wave will still get you.”

Do you need to rent special gear? “A class will provide you with everything. Beginners usually go on foam boards—basically a bumper car for surfers. It’s wider and if you wipe out, it won’t hurt much if it hits you.”

What’s the best time of year for taking lessons? “California waves are mellow in the summer. Wave size and currents can be scary for beginners in December, January, and February.”

How old are most of your students? “We start kids at age 5. And I love the students who call and say, ‘I’m turning 60 and today is the day I want to ride a wave.’ Older students seem to internalize the philosophical side of surfing in a way that younger ones don’t—it’s about finding a rhythm with the sea, not necessarily ‘popping up.’ “

Surf Academy offers lessons in Huntington Beach, Manhattan Beach, and Santa Monica; from $85/1 1⁄4 hours; surfacademy.com

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