Surf Beach, California | Story of the Beach

Surf Beach Sign

I retrieved this sand from Surf Beach, a place of both relaxation and mystery. Ten miles from the quaint town of Lompoc, Surf Beach invites you to relax on the sand, breath in the fragrant sea air, and soak in the enriching sunlight. This haven is set in a region of California known for beach-worthy weather all year round.

On the shore of Surf Beach, curious items wash up in the waves. From abandoned boats to the debris of old shipwrecks, you never know what treasures you’ll uncover. As I walked along the surf, a weather balloon radiosonde caught my eye, half submerged in the sand. Ignoring the flashing display that told me to discard the piece, I pocketed the remains as a souvenir of my trip.
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Surf Beach is one of the few public beaches residing on the Vandenberg Air Force Base, the third largest air force base in America. The base’s periodic military exercises and missile launches sometimes cause the beach to be closed down for a short time. NASA buildings can be spotted off the road, a mile away from the beach. The base also plays an active role in protecting the snowy plovers, one of California’s most endangered birds.

As I made my way towards the beautiful beach destination, I drove through a remote bird sanctuary, where pelicans, seagulls, sandpipers, cranes, and snowy plovers find their home. A small bird, roughly the size of a sparrow, the snowy plover builds its nest in the sand with driftwood, pebbles, shells, or seaweed. It is an incredibly skittish bird and will abandon its nest and babies if ever it feels threatened. Because of this, the north and south of the beach are closed from March to September to protect their nesting spots.

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I often refer to this beach as Shark Attack Beach, and for good reason. Numerous shark attacks here have become world famous because of the strange and inexplicable behavior of the sharks that prey here.

There have been deadly shark attacks on this beach every two years, without fail. In October 2008, a surfer was attacked by a Great White Shark, followed by two fatal attacks in the Octobers of 2010 and 2012. In October 2014, Shark Week investigated Surf Beach in Return of the Great White Serial Killer to see whether or not the sharks would return. Sure enough, four shark attacks took place that month. All the victims survived.

The behavior of the Surf Beach sharks remains a baffling scientific mystery. Biologists have discovered no explanation for why the sharks return to this particular spot every second October.

While it may not be the choice for swimmers, Surf Beach is still an exceptional place to explore. During minus tides, visitors may view amazing colorful sea caves as they walk along the ocean floor. This is a rare opportunity, as the tides are only low enough during the open season a few days out of the year.

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From the washed-up treasures in the sand, the unknown secrets of the military base, the hidden sea caves, the threatened plovers, and the frightening shark tales, this is a beach that is filled with wonders. A bottle of sand from this shore will provide you with your own sample of treasure, inviting you to one day take a journey yourself and walk along the surf.

If you would like to see more pictures of Surf Beach, click here: Surf Beach Photos