Summer is the optimal time to enjoy the water in California. Just eight miles south
of the city, you will begin to see lines of cars parked along the highway. Skip the flooded Trestles and look out
for The Cove or Rivermouth, both perfect longboard spots to meet other local loggers enjoying the swell. Sandpit, at
the Santa Barbara harbour, has two-to-four foot waves that provide a long and fast push per ride. Between Haggarty’s
and Laguna Bay, you will also eye groups of longboarders attempting an eight-foot high break. Feel free to shop your
own longboard, or hire one from a reliable supplier.
Surfing can be tiring, so you’ll need somewhere comfortable to return to each night.
The Belmond Group is a byword for luxury and great taste, and their El Encanto hotel lives up to the same high standards. Perched up into the hills,
it offers marvellous views of the American Riviera in a classic Hollywood-style hideaway that includes a spa and
fine-dining facilities. If you want something more low-key, the iconic San Ysidro Ranch is pure California. Audrey Hepburn, Churchill, Sir Laurence
Olivier, and countless other stars and politicians have called it home on their frequent escapes to Santa
Surfing can also be a hungry business. The Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach has long been a local favourite for surfers—many of whom
end their morning surf with their popular eggs-benedict. While chasing the perfect swell, a brief stop at classic
California burger jointIn & Outhas become a passtime. Keep an eye out for them as you cruise through the Pacific Coast Highway. Burgers and
beach views? It doesn’t get better.
Barbareño, which adds a haute character to Native American cuisine, has also caused a
buzz in Santa Barbara thanks to the locally-sourced ingredients (California’s farm-belt is nearby, so expect the
quality of food here to be high). But if you’re looking for the perfect snack, the queues outside La Super Rica Taqueria should be testament to this humble store’s flavours. Indeed, Julia Childs was such a fan, she would bring her food critic friends here to try authentic Mexican food—which should be more than enough of an endorsement.
No trip to Santa Barbara is complete without discovering The Funk Zone—a
newly-developed district committed to small, artisanal wine-bars. J. Wilkes is a long-time favourite, and offers tasting experiences as well as a reliable
spot to get a drink. Readers will appreciate the familiar interior and menu of Harry’s Plaza Cafe (known as the ‘Home of very
generous drinks’)while Shaker Mill is an old-world Havana-inspired
watering-hole known for their Arroz Con Pollo cocktail: bourbon, rum, coconut, horchata, and mezcal
Santa Barbara has numerous hiking trails that offer stunning views of the sea, but
there’s no question that surfing should be at the top of your list. For the daredevils among you, this is a good
chance to do some motocross, à la California ‘King of Cool Steve’ McQueen—especially when the swell is down, and the
desert becomes your alternative, inviting playground. Find a reliable rental service for vintage bikes, like
McQueen’s Triumph Desert Sled. Kayaking through the Channel Islands is another highlight, and if you’re not in the
mood for adrenaline-pumping activities, the town centre itself offers plenty of bohemian boutiques and charming
shopping streets. You’re here to relax and immerse yourself into the soul of California. So, live with an attitude
of indifference; switch-off, forget your plans, allow yourself a moment to reconnect with nature, surf, and eat
incredible tacos. Santa Barbara has it all.