It’s endless summer at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel with their guided surfing experiences
“Catch a wave and you’re sitting on top of the world.” Who knows how many surfboards these Beach Boys lyrics have helped to sell over the decades. But one thing that’s absolutely certain is that through the years, California has firmly established itself as the most iconic wave-seeking destination on the US mainland. From the glassy rollers of North County San Diego to the thundering waves of Nor Cal, there are countless breaks where you can experience the sport. One of the most sought-after surf locales in all of California, however, happens to be in southern Orange County, the birthplace of early surf culture where legendary board manufacturers like Hobie got their start. It’s also where high sandstone bluffs shelter famous surfbreaks like “San O” or San Onofre, Trestles and Salt Creek. Imagine then the surfing nirvana of pairing the waves at a prime surf spot with Five-Diamond accommodations that include epic views of the breaking surf and sandy stretches of coastline. Talk about the perfect conditions.
Surf’s Up at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel
Featuring a prime location on a bluff 150 feet above the sand of Salt Creek Beach Park , the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel has come up with a “rad” solution to allow surfers of all levels to have the ultimate experience riding local waves. The first thing you’ll notice is the resort is a postcard-perfect version of a surfer’s paradise that delivers in several ways, including an idyllic location just a quick trek down to the breakers. Then there is the full complement of curated watersports activities that are much more than just a “rent-and-roll” situation. Like many things the brand is known for such as its innovative dining experiences, the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel takes watersports to the next level by adding instruction, access to quality gear and pairing guests with local surf guides who can not only get you stoked in the waves at Salt Creek, but take you to some of their favorite spots in the area such as Laguna Beach (great breaks here for newbies) and San Clemente (home to reef breaks for more experienced surfers).
And like a surfer having a full quiver of boards for different types of conditions, the Ritz-Carlton offers various types of instruction and experiences depending on what you want to do in the waves. Want to brush-up on your surfing chops or get started? You’re good to go as the hotel has partnered with top area surf shops like Killer Dana which feature knowledgeable staff that can get you riding the waves with great local insights as well as instruction on techniques and water safety. “Our surf lessons generally start with a pick-up at the hotel, where we discuss what you want to do and your skill level,” says Killer Dana co-owner Ralphie Andrews. “When we’ve determined the type of experience you’re looking for, I will suggest various spots such as San Clemente, Doheny or maybe Dana Point Harbor if someone wants to try stand-up paddleboarding.”
No matter what your skill level, having a local guide and instructor is a great idea. If you’re experienced, you have an instant local buddy in the water who knows the best sections of the wave and other insider tips like the location of rock reefs. If you’re new to the sport, you surf safer and with more confidence knowing you have a local expert with you in the water. Back at the resort, other watersports options await including body boards, wetsuits, leashes and surf wax that are available for use by guests.
Then of course, there are the luxe accommodations and amenities awaiting you once it’s time to paddle in for the day. The 18-acre property is a free-flowing example of California beach-chic design highlighted by generously proportioned guest rooms and suites, manicured lawns and gardens and an open, spacious design featuring floor-to-ceiling windows and open patios that catch the sea breezes. The hotel is also popular for its award-winning dining and the fact you can pair that post surf-session sunset with a margarita and jaw-dropping views of the Pacific from the bluff-top lounge, 180blu.
Both surfing and SUP lessons include transportation to and from the surf spot, a two-hour private lesson, and the use of a wet suit and surfboard or stand up paddle board. Lessons are available for guests age 12 and up. Surf lessons are $150 per person and stand up paddle lessons are $175 per person. Making your surf experience plug-and-play, the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel also offers a So Cal Surf package that includes overnight accommodations and one, two-hour surfing lesson for two people. The experience is available year round with rates starting at $595 per night.