Before surfing became a world-wide phenomenon, it was at the heart of Santa Barbara culture. Today, Santa Barbara continues to be home to epic surf breaks and gnarly waves. If you are looking for surf lessons or want to test your skills, you may want to keep a few things in mind. First, the two sections of Santa Barbara county include the first that is found on the lower east-to-west stretch from the county line to Point Conception ("SoCal"), and the second above the Ranch along the Central Coast. The unique coastline of Santa Barbara allows most of the ideal setups to lie dormat most of the year due to an eternal shadow by the Channel Islands. These spots usually don't stir until there's a 6-foot northwest swell running.
Summer Can be can be good for the beachbreaks north of Point Arguello, most of which are only surfable when they're small and clean. The fog can hamper onshore breezes, but persistent wind in the outer waters often makes for "junky" conditions, despite calm air at the beach. Lower Santa Barbara County does not see as much activity during this time of year.
Fall Perfect conditions. Oily glass, long-interval west swells, neoprene-warming sunshine all day in the months of September and October. Autumn is a transitional period, so you should expect the best and the worst. However, the tourist influx subsides dramatically after the Labor Day weekend. Less crowds equal greater room for exploration. Autumn is also the time of year when lower Santa Barbara County awakens from its summer hibernation.
Winter This is hands-down the most consistent time of year for the pointbreaks. Aleutian storms can turn everywhere north of Point Conception into a rowdy mess, but once the swells start filtering around the corner, the whole area turns into a thigh-burning pointbreak wonderland.
Spring Has minimal swell and mucho northwest wind translates to flat, onshore surf. In addition, NW winds create upwelling, so the water's as cold as it gets all year.