The Sandspit: Santa Barbara's iconic surf break

Surfers enjoy challenges, and Santa Barbara's Sandspit has the perfect formula for intermediate and advanced riders.

The Sandspit is one of the most unusual surf breaks in California. Imagine a brown wave breaking close to a breakwater's elbow (Point Castillo) that peels for around 100 yards (91 meters). Now, add a random backwash, and a few tube riding opportunities.

Perfect days are a rare exception at the Sandspit, but when the weather and ocean conditions gather in harmony, you might ride one the most exciting waves in the world.

Of course, you'll need to queue to get your ticket alongside 200 more surfers. But the experience is worth the wait. Just don't expect to catch 20 waves in two hours because it won't happen.

At the Sandspit, the take-off is always the most difficult moment. You're confronted with an unpredictable backwash curtain and an occasionally steep drop. If make it happen, the remaining part of the ride is like a walk in the park.

The January 18-21 swell brought a surf party to Santa Barbara's iconic point break. Among dozens of anonymous wave riders, you could spot Tom Curren, Timmy Reys, Yadin Nicol, Kanoa Igarashi, Asher Pacey, Conner Coffin, and Oliver Kurtz testing their skills in the brown-chocolate rollers.