A short history of Windansea Beach

Windansea Beach: La Jolla's famous surf break | Photo: Cho/Creative Commons

Welcome to Windansea Beach, a classic surf break located in La Jolla, San Diego.

Known initially as Neptune Beach, the famous Southern California surf spot is named after the 1909 oceanfront Strand Hotel, which was renamed Hotel Windansea ten years later by its owner Arthur Snell.

The hotel didn't resist the test of time because it burned down in 1943. But the name stuck, and the first surfing pioneers arrived, they discover one of the most reliable peaks in America.

Thanks to its favorable swell window, Windansea, and the adjacent spots offers quality surf all year-round. The waves here break both left and right over a flat rock reef.

Depending on the time of the year, the break produces high-performance waves in the two-to-ten-foot range, so it is always one of the favorite picks by shortboard and longboard surfers alike.

The Surf Shack: Windansea Beach's historical landmark was built in 1947 | Photo: Creative Commons

There also a few peaks nearby that are worth a try - Middles, Big Rock, Turtles, Big Rock, and Simmons.

Woody Brown was one of the first surfers to catch waves at Windansea. In 1937, he paddled out and was followed one day later by local wave riders Don Okey, Townsend Cromwell, Woody Ekstrom, Dorian Paskowitz, John Elwell, and others.

Windansea is also known for The Surf Shack, a historical landmark built in 1947 by returning World War II surfers - Ekstrom, Okey, and Fred Kenyon.

On December 24, 2015, The Surf Shack was destroyed by a huge swell but rebuilt six months later by a dedicated group of Windansea locals.

For better and for worse, Windansea is part of the history of surfing. The spot took the life of Bob Simmons in 1954 but also saw surfers wearing Nazi uniforms and riding a local storm sewer just for fun.

In 1963, former high-school teacher Chuck Hasley the Windansea Surf Club. The surf club had famed members like Mike Hynson, Butch Van Artsdalen, Rusty Miller, Joey Cabell, and Skip Frye were some of the first members.

In the same year, Michael Dormer and Lee Teacher sculpted Hot Curl, a 400-pound statue made out of cement and placed near The Surf Shack. The six-foot beach bum was holding a beer and staring at the waves.

In 1967, pop artist Andy Warhol shot his "San Diego Surf" film at Windansea and confirmed the spot as one of the most iconic surf breaks in Southern California.

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