Boarders of all styles, ages and abilities can’t believe their luck when they arrive in Oceano and Nipomo. The area is a family-friendly, natural playground for anyone who likes to ride — or anyone who wants to learn. Surfers, bodyboarders and skimboarders find plenty of space to play in the beaches south of the Pismo Pier. Stand Up Paddleboarding is also popular out past the waves along the beach, with wide open areas of swell and an endless shoreline to explore. For folks who love to kiteboard, want to kiteboard, or love to watch kiteboarding, the Oceano coastline is a prime spot. And anyone looking for something new will love sandboarding the epic Oceano and Guadalupe Dunes. This is truly an awe-inspiring part of the world for anyone who likes to shred, or wants to learn. Pack the car with your own gear or rent from local outfitters who have everything you might want or need to make your trip a fun one.
Board Sports in Oceano and Nipomo
While many visitors head straight for the Pismo Pier, the locals know this as one of the Central Coast’s more crowded surf spots. Instead of competing for waves, why not get the same surf just down the beach in Oceano? The Oceano Dunes SVRA is a driveable beach, accessible at the intersection of Grand Avenue and Highway 1. Drive in and head down the beach to the towering Oceano Dunes to park, right on the sand. There you’ll find miles of beachbreak open to wind and swell. The breaks get bigger, the further you go out. Hit this beach during high tide for the best surf, especially in winter for ideal swells, but watch for nasty currents and undertow. The surf here is great for body/boogie boarders, too, as well as skimboarding. Pack in your own board and wetsuit, or rent gear at PB Surf Shop or Esteem Surf Shop in Pismo Beach. They can hook you up with surf lessons, too.
Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) Oceano
Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) is a common activity on the Central Coast, but stand up paddlesurfing? That’s right: folks get out in the waves with their board and paddle and they surf the swell on a SUP. The same great conditions for surfing apply to paddlesurfing in Oceano. Head out in winter for clean little swells, and enjoy miles of untouched, uncrowded beachbreak. Rather than join the crowds near the Pismo Pier, take your board down Highway 1 to the Oceano Dunes SVRA entrance. Drive directly onto the beach and choose your surf spot easily as you roll past the waves. You’ll see paddlesurfers out there with regular surfers, riding their longboard and using their paddle to steer and balance. For more traditional SUP, jump the waves to find calmer water that’s perfect for gliding across, beyond the shorebreak. The waves are often small enough to push past for glassier waters.
Kiteboarding the Oceano Coastline
Serious kiteboarders know the Oceano coastline as one of the best locations on the Central Coast for kiteboarding. In fact, for 17 years, the “Xtreme Big Air Kiteboarding Expo” was held annually at the entrance to the Oceano Dunes. This event celebrated the birthday of legendary kiteboarder Kinsley Thomas Wong, considered by many the father of kiteboarding on the Central Coast. The conditions in Oceano attract kiteboarders from across the globe: speeding over the waves, enjoying seconds-long hangtime in the air, and doing verticals. On any given day, particularly in the windier afternoons, visitors can find kiteboarders zipping over waves with the wind in their sails. (And the beach is quite a sight when several kiteboarders have their sails open over the ocean at once.) Interested in catching some air over the waves? With regular side-shore or onshore winds, plus the invitation to drive your gear directly onto the beach, this is the perfect place to learn. Kiteboarding lessons are available at Pismo Kitesurfing or California Kiteboarding.
Sandboarding the Dunes
With 1,500 acres of dunes, the Oceano Dunes State Vehicle Recreation Area (SVRA) is just begging for someone to ride a board over the sand. Is it any wonder someone would try it? Sandboarding is similar to snowboarding: just swap out the snow for mountains of soft, white dune sand. Locals come out with any number of boards to use, including skimboards, saucer sleds, and old snowboards. Take to the sand just the way you would the snow! Hike to the top of a dune with your board of choice, then zoom down. Expert sandboarders (or duneboarders, as they’re sometimes called) recommend riding the slipface, which is the shorter, steeper side of a dune. Be ready to hike: every ride down means a steep and sandy walk back up. To minimize all that huffing and puffing, rent an ATV and have a buddy shuttle you between rides. (Just remember always to be careful and choose your dunes wisely, out of the way of other ATVs and dirt bikes.)