Planning a surf trip to a new destination can offer a lot of trepidation about what gear to bring, where to surf, and where to go. California’s Traveler Surf Club solves all that while providing community and local knowledge to all.

Taking a surf trip is something that’s in the back of every surfer’s mind at all times. Even though surfing new lineups can be daunting, it will never stop us from seeking the next loggy adventure. We know there will be new waves to figure out, new roads to travel down, new locals to become friendly with, and the humbling fact that Mother Nature is always in charge – you just aren’t always able to plan your trip around the perfect swell! Waves aside, what makes a surf trip special are the moments had and the people you meet along the way. That is exactly what we set out to find on this adventure. 

The California coastal road trip is a dream trip, especially for surfers. As a surfer and photographer, it’s a trip I’ve wanted to take for a long time. For out-of-towners, it can sometimes be hard to know where to go. California has so many waves for different levels and different types of surfing, if you don’t know where to go, you risk not having the trip of your dreams. Not to mention, being a longboarder means that surf trips come with the extra trepidation of traveling with my board and risking it being destroyed along the way. This, of course, is a calculated risk for any surfer. Still, I think longboarders especially bear the brunt of this risk due to the lack of care by airlines, and the general misfortune that comes with carrying a 9+ piece of fiberglass and foam around with you.

Hanging out at Pismo Dunes with our Moterra Camper Van rental and Mando Surf Boards.

When I came across Traveler Surf Club, I knew I’d found my answer. Traveler Surf Club is a female-founded and owned surf shop and brand with outposts in three of California’s most prominent surf towns – Malibu, Santa Cruz, and Pacifica. Originally founded to create a space for an inclusive surfing community, Julie & Rel opened the first shop in Pacifica to make it easier for locals & nearby San Francisco surfers to surf their local break. Now with all three locations, Traveler offers a membership program for locals that includes a locker to keep your board and use of the on-site amenities, making it easy to pop down to the beach, have a surf, shower, and be on your merry way without having to lug your board around. 

(Right) Julie Cox shows Naomi one of Traveler’s demo boards at the Malibu outpost. (Left) Naomi & Danielle catch a party wave at First Point Malibu.

Each shop also offers high-quality fiberglass board rentals and demos of all shapes & sizes from local shapers like Mando Surf Craft, Bing Surfboards, and Ashley Lloyd, giving you first-hand access to good quality fiberglass longboards which are nearly impossible to rent at any typical surf shop! Traveler Surf Club also offers great wetsuit rentals, changing rooms, and lockers so you do not need to worry about your privacy and belongings while enjoying the surf. If you’re looking for a lesson on the road – look no further! You can sign up for and surf a lesson from an employee who undoubtedly has some of the best local surf knowledge around. Another asset to this joint is that each location is within walking distance of at least one major surf break. If you don’t feel like walking, you can put your board in a surf rack on one of the shop’s Public Bikes and bike to your session! The Santa Cruz and Pacifica locations have hot showers available, and to top it off, the Pacifica location even has a sauna and a solid back patio creating a great hang-out area post-surf!

Traveler offers the same vibe of inclusivity, community, and surf knowledge making each shop the perfect setting to plan your surf road trip around. It extends its sense of community by supporting small local businesses through careful curation of goods sold in each shop from brands like Caminito Blankets, Carve Designs, Sunski, and Barebones Living. You can find anything you need for your trip, whether it’s surf wax, sunscreen, clothing, towels, wetsuits, swimsuits, camping gear, and so much more. 

(Right) Walking out to the break from Traveler’s Pacifica outpost. (Center) Naomi enjoying a post-surf sauna session. (Left) Traveler partners with Public bikes so you can bike to any nearby break.

I called up Lady Sliders Danielle Black Lyons, Jenayl Peters, and Naomi Folta, hopped in the van we rented from Moterra Campervans, and we were off! Four gals, four big bags, four bikes, and four very big adventurous souls. The van treated us very well, with two girls sleeping in the queen-sized bed each night, one of us on the Luno Van Cab Mattress we added to our rental, and one in a tent. We were four women who barely knew each other but shared a love of surfing, adventure, and a great desire to explore the California coast. Along the way, we found a sisterhood through catching waves, windows down singing our hearts out on long drives, incredible coastal views, campfire conversations, and laughter. We found a community in not only each other but also at each Traveler location where the people we met spoke the same language of stoke and love for the ocean and Mother Earth.

Danielle, Jenayl, and Naomi at Surfrider Beach in their Sunskis

We were blessed with sun the entire way and found some decent waves. Even when the waves weren’t perfect, we felt so grateful to be in the most beautiful parts of the coast, road-tripping and surfing with friends, and meeting even more friends in each spot. The combination of surf sessions, girl chats, watching the sunset at Surf Outpost in Malibu, skating down the road in Montana de Oro, delicious picnics on the beach, and all the serendipitous adventures along the way, made this trip one I’d recommend to any surfer. Starting in Malibu, we did this trip from south to north, but it can be done in either direction. To take this trip yourself, view our full recommended itinerary here on Thatch. We hope you have as rad of a time as we did!

(From right to left) Jenayl, Danielle, and Naomi doing what they do best.