Outdoors in the South Bay

The first thing people notice when they visit the South Bay is how insanely fit everybody is. The population of the Beach Cities is known for its active lifestyle revolving around the Strand, the beach itself and the Pacific Ocean. Many locals will surf, ride a bike or jog along the ocean’s edge daily and there’s no shortage of variety to keep an active lifestyle going. One of the greatest advantages of living in the South Bay of Los Angeles is the easy access to outdoor activities. Whether it’s surfing some of the best waves in Los Angeles County, exploring the tide pools in Palos Verdes, or hiking 1500 vertical feet, the South Bay has it all for the outdoor enthusiast. Check out some outdoor activities below for some ideas to get active in Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach and Palos Verdes.


Redondo Beach
Outdoors in Redondo Beach



Palos Verdes, Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach

Surfing is a huge part of the South Bay culture and lifestyle, and both guys and girls can be found bobbing in the surf every day of the year. We’ve churned out dozens of pros over the years, and our ties to the sport eclipse most other regions of the United States. Even when you’re not in the water, surfing is pervasive throughout town, whether it’s surf roots music emitting from local watering holes, stickers plastered on signs and light poles, or a few sandy wetsuits laying on a balcony. Although several surf spots are definitely for advanced surfers only, the South Bay is a great place to learn (especially in the summer) with forgiving waves and easy accessible beach breaks. You can rent boards at any local surf shop like Dive N’ Surf in Redondo Beach or ET Surf in Hermosa Beach.

Hermosa Beach duck dive in the South Bay
Duck dive or two near the Hermosa Beach Pier

A long time ago Ancient Polynesians figured out how to glide on waves and in 1907 a man with Hawaiian and Irish ancestry, George Freeth, introduced surfing to the South Bay. Rumor has it that after “The Man Who Could Walk on Water” regaled on-lookers with a magical surfing show, housing prices in the South Bay increased and Pacific Coast Highway suddenly became congested. The seed was planted and a Southern California surf culture took root.

Many locals, both current and in the past, have made the South Bay proud, including: Alex Gray, Cheyne Magnusson, Holly Beck, Doc Ball, Hoppy Swarts, Leroy Grannis, Jim Bailey, Hap Jacobs, Dale Velzy, Greg Noll, Mike Purpus, Rick Stoner, Dewey Weber, Phil Becker, and the Meistrell Brothers, among many others. Surfing is one of the most beautiful outdoor activities the South Bay has to offer but finding a shoulder that can hold shape for more than five seconds can take a lifetime. Below is a list of some surf breaks and their unique characteristics.

    • Bluff Cove: Park along Paseo Del Mar in Palos Verdes one mile south of Rolling Hills Preparatory school and take a peek out into the middle of a cove that acts as a time piece not even the Spanish could conquer. The Cove is like a romantic, Mediterranean hamlet where longboards rule and leashes are frowned upon. Set aside some time for this surf trip because the hike down and the paddle out can take at least an hour. The vibe is old-school friendly and down-time between sets can create some quality chatter at The Cove. The kelp beds are thick here and all levels of surfing can be found at “Middles” while grommets on shortboards dominate at “Little Reefs.” Beware though, if it’s head high plus at The Cove only advanced surfers need apply.


    • 26th Street Manhattan Beach: Classic South Bay beach break with a sandy bottom, metered parking, and a busy weekend crowd. One of the more consistent beach breaks around because it picks up various types of swell direction; best bet is a Northwest or Southwest swell. All levels of surfers abide here, young and old. Typically blown out by lunchtime so an early am session is highly recommended. Like most beach break, 26th Street depends on a sand bar manicured by Mother Nature for peak wave performance. Can work well after a night of heavy winds too. Parking can be very fickle, the two lots above the lifeguard station fill up by 9:00 AM on the weekend and one quarter gets 10 minutes.


  • The Avenues Redondo Beach: One of the South Bay’s most scenic beach-side drives goes by the name Esplanade, which is Spanish for “open-air walk near the beach.” The Esplanade is bisected by numerous Avenues close to the beach that play host to free and ample neighborhood parking for surfers and beach goers alike. Most surfers consider The Avenues to stretch from Avenue A to Avenue C where main thoroughfares like ramps or a staircase shuttle folks to the sand. The line-up is never that crowded and works best with shoulder high surf complemented by a northwest swell. It’s a quick paddle that offers some punchy beach break in the winter but becomes dormant during summer months.


The Strand

Torrance to Will Rogers Beach

There is a bike path that stretches from Torrance Beach in the South Bay all the way to Will Rogers Beach, which in the South Bay goes only by one name: The Strand. Kept in excellent condition, The Strand is packed every day of the year with bicyclists, roller skaters, skateboarders and walkers. In addition, there are hundreds of dogs, baby strollers, unicycles and even motorized beer coolers. It is definitely the hub of the South Bay. Part recreation and part exercise, there’s even a South Bay brewery named after this civic path, making The Strand an endemic and famous topic of conversation. It’s the final demarcation between city and sand, and is one of the finest outlets for outdoor exploring in the South Bay.


The Strand in Redondo Beach
Outdoors on The Strand in Redondo Beach


The mode of popular transportation on The Strand is by bike, either high performance 10-speed or casual beachcruiser. In the early mornings, runners, mommy’s with strollers, and walkers dominate. Stop by the Hermosa Cyclery to put air in your tires for free or rent a beachcruiser.


Palos Verdes

Many people, including some locals, don’t realize that we have one of the most scenic hiking areas in LA County here in the South Bay. With views from Orange County to Catalina Island to Point Dume, there is some amazing scenery to be found. On one strenuous hike, you can start at 1,500 feet elevation and hike through pine forests and chaparral all the way down to a secluded cove on the Pacific. There’s even a trail that leads to an abandoned shipwreck. Many days, there will be no one else on the trail. If you’ve hiked the more famous trails in the Santa Monica Mountains and the Hollywood Hills, you might agree that the scenery can be ruined by the crowd factor alone.

There are dozens of small trails throughout P.V. that journey through many different ecosystems, with wild rabbits, foxes, bobcats and even peacocks to be spotted. For more info on the multitude of hiking options, check out the Palos Verdes Land Conservancy.

Outdoors in Manhattan Beach