California Surf Museum
California Surf Museum
4.5
10:00 AM - 8:00 PM
Monday
10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Tuesday
10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Wednesday
10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Thursday
10:00 AM - 8:00 PM
Friday
10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Saturday
10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Sunday
10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Write a review
About
Founded in 1986, the California Surf Museum mission is to preserve surfing heritage. The museum hosts a variety of cultural events from book signings to lectures, to movie nights to concerts. But the museum is most known for the wonderful rotating exhibits about surf and skateboard culture, art, and history. The whole family is welcome and you don't have to surf or skateboard to enjoy the museum.The California Surf Museum has been featured in Smithsonian Magazine, National Geographic, the BBC, the American Pickers "California Dreamin'", Hawaiian Airlines commercial, PBS "Getting Away Together" and many more. Don't miss the outdoor Secret Spot and Bethany Hamilton's surfboard while you are here. Also, shop the Museum Store for unique gifts and souvenirs. Joining as a member is a great way to get involved in volunteer opportunities and to support the museum on an annual basis. Hope to see you soon!
Suggest edits to improve what we show.
Improve this listing

Top ways to experience nearby attractions

Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
Popular mentions

4.5
191 reviews
Excellent
121
Very good
52
Average
16
Poor
2
Terrible
0

Seltzerpower
95 contributions
Sep 2022 • Couples
Mind you I am not a surfer from land locked Indiana, but we visited our Orange County friend who has surfed his whole life. We learned so much about surfing and types of boards that we had to see the museum, I also had to buy an 'evolution of surf boards' tee from their gift shop. They had an excellent-thorough tribute to Donald Takayama: Shaping Boards and Lives. They had Bethany Hamilton's Tiger shark bitten board where she lost her arm in Hawaii yet was back in the water three weeks later! The history of surf boards was interesting too. It is not expensive and the tour does not take long. We found it worth the time and money.
Written September 24, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

bigtyke
Greeley, CO7,120 contributions
Aug 2021
I am embarrased to say that I have been vacationing in the area for years, used to surf there, and it was only this year that I visited this excellent museum. A nice, small museum with a great many surfboardds from all eras. One was a wooden one probably owned by Duke Kahanamoku.

A highlight is the Bethany Hamilton exhibit. She is the young surfer who lost an arm to a shark attack while surfing in Hawaii. The actual chomped surfboard is exhibited as well as her swim suit. A video shows her surfing after the incident. An amazing young woman.

Very friendly staff. Decent price. surf music playing in the background.
Written August 23, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Patti W
Renton, WA670 contributions
Feb 2020
I thought no better time to actually learn something about surfing since I'd been enjoying watching surfers at nearby beach. This museum is just a few blocks from the Oceanside pier. Senior entrance free is only $3. Its a small museum space that is well laid out with interesting exhibits of showing progression of surf boards from the traditional to boards to those fitted for any style of traveling on or through a wave. There is a wonderful video and visual display of NON traditional surfers, Very interesting exhibit about data collection along CA coast of sea conditions, showing how wind, temperature and tides contribute to predicting best time to hit the surf. I learned so much. The docents are very enthusiastic about sharing their knowledge.
Written February 23, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Judy C
77 contributions
Jan 2021 • Couples
We stop by the California Surf Museum when we are in town, enjoy saying hi to Gabe who is one of the workers there. Like the little shop area also, love buying in this little shop. If you have not been you must go, it is a great place to visit and revisit like we do.
Written February 5, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Daydream766988
Avalon, CA2 contributions
Feb 2020 • Couples
Well worth seeing. History of boards, surfing, and surfers. There was also a nice exhibit featuring Bethany Hamilton, the inspirational surfer who survived a shark attack and kept surfing.

And they play cool surf music!

The staff is very friendly and knowledgeable. They are eager to answer questions and provide information.

Fun gift shop, too.
Written February 20, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Dromomaniac
Greater Sydney, Australia604 contributions
Jul 2017 • Family
We were already enjoying this little surfing museum as it's well laid out and well labeled, but it went from good to a highlight of our trip in just a few minutes!

We were only about a third of the way through when we were approached by Cramer and we're so glad that he introduced himself. Cramer is one of the original California surfers, who became a full time surfer when they were considered socially unacceptable lady dropouts!

His stories of his time surfing, coupled with explanations of the exhibit pieces and many stories behind them and the people who created them, was fascinating! Cramer is also a really funny and friendly guy, who I have no doubt would have been a complete scoundrel as a young surfer - he still has an eye for the pretty girls now! He really made our visit to the museum, and our visit to California VERY memorable.

We also got quite a bit to take home from the gift shop, which had a great array of very reasonably priced items, blankets, t-shirts, sift stickers, surf stencils, books and loads of other items.

I'd say go to the museum as it's pretty interesting (and entry is very cheap), and enjoy the exhibits, and hope to meet Cramer and hear his fantastic stories!
Written August 12, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Don'tWaitForRetirement
California4,836 contributions
Mar 2014 • Couples
So, you know dude, this isn't like one of those giant So-Cal attractions you're gonna visit like SeaWorld, LegoLand or Disney, but if you have the extra time or you're a local dude or dudette, then totally check it out...

Alright, you may not come out talking like a surfer, but after the two hours we spent there, we certainly felt like we'd learned a great deal more about surfing history and it's cultural impact on Southern California than we knew before.

We were lucky enough to park right outside the museum on the street in a 2-hour parking zone. There is a small check-in desk and then you wander into the 'San Onofre' exhibit that they have currently. (Admission is $5 for adults). The museum is on the small side, but if you're like me and you like to read just about every sign and placard and look at the gift shop, it takes about the 2-hour parking time.

Besides the current San Onofre exhibit there is also an exhibit about the progression of surf board design, as well as a display about Bethany Hamilton, including her surf board with the shark bite out of it.

Before you leave is a gift shop with quality gifts, cards, books, magnets, clothing, etc.

If you're so inclined, afterward you can walk around Oceanside and out on the pier and maybe have lunch or dinner in a local restaurant.

This museum may not make the list for most tourists, but if you're looking to do San Diego area a little more 'in-depth', the California Surf Museum combined with a wander around Oceanside and lunch or dinner makes for a fun day out!

Note: I probably wouldn't recommend this museum for children younger than 13. There are restrooms at the museum.

If you found this review helpful, please click 'yes'.
Written March 6, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Woodnhed
Plainfield, NH17 contributions
Mar 2015 • Couples
Small museum is bigger than you might think, well organized, a bargain admission. Very interesting and entertaining for surfers and non-surfers alike. Even worth more than one visit. There is more than one surf museum but if you're only going to see one, it should be this one.
Written March 27, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Cheryl T
Fullerton, CA10 contributions
Sep 2019
We were in Oceanside for the U.S. Adaptive Surfing Championship. They mentioned the California Surf Museum many times over the course of the surfing event. We walked past the museum many times to and from the beach, and finally a group of 6 or 7 of us went in and spent about 40 minutes looking at the exhibits and carefully reading the stories that went with each item. The museum is small and well curated with surfboards, videos and a lot of interesting surf paraphernalia and history. Our group were participants in the surfing competition and really enjoyed the museum. Very glad that we went.
Written October 16, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

The Southwest Conqueress
Rancho Cucamonga, CA135 contributions
Mar 2019 • Friends
After stopping by the California Welcome Center, I headed to the California Surf Museum to check out popular displays like pro-surfer Bethany Hamilton’s shark-bitten surfboard that took her arm when she was 13. There’s cool stuff to check out like the wave wall where I took one of my pictures. I really liked the retail shopping area to get surf themed gear. A cool spot! 🏄‍♀️
Written April 2, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Showing results 1-10 of 185
Anything missing or inaccurate?
Suggest edits to improve what we show.
Improve this listing

California Surf Museum (Oceanside) - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go

Frequently Asked Questions about California Surf Museum

California Surf Museum is open:
  • Thu - Thu 10:00 AM - 8:00 PM
  • Fri - Wed 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM