Monthly Archives: November 2013

Good News For Waves And Aliso Beach

So, here we are in November and it seems like Aliso Beach and all of the Southern California Coastline have been deprived of waves.  Flat is a very telling word in the wave riding community.  When there are no waves, exercise for many of us goes out the window, we lose a good source of magnesium, we are deprived of vitamin a from the sun, we lose our tans and we do not have opportunities to get away from the concrete jungle and all of the stresses of every day life.  The ocean is our sanctuary, and for those Aliso Beach traysurfers, Aliso Beach bodysurfers, Aliso Beach skimboarders, Aliso Beach bodyboarders and Aliso Beach skimboarders, sustained periods of time without waves are extremely painful.  Boredom is no good for us!  It certainly is not our choice.

As I have most of the month, I drove through Laguna Beach in the early morning. Aliso Beach and all of the beaches and coves in Laguna were flat as a pancake.  The water could have been a sheet of ice it was so flat.  Little motion, no curves, no angles and no energy.  The water was an incredible iridescent blue that stole its color from the reflection of a baby blue skies staggered with clouds that partially obstructed the sun.  The view was incredible.  Barefoot in the sand, caressed by light winds blowing off the ocean and invigorated by the smell of salt in the air, I was in a perfect moment with no traffic, no headaches, no stresses and no worries.  All that was missing at Aliso Beach was the presence of waves.  I have almost forgotten what the experience of water, light and energy is like and how good it is for the mind, body and soul!

Friday may be a change to the pattern that has had high pressure over the North Pacific choking out storms that angle ideally towards Southern California to give us late fall and winter season waves.  There is a storm coming with this energy and nobody seems to know exactly how significantly it will bring weather but it appears that it will not greatly affect the quality of the conditions.  It’s standard to be thankful for all that we have on Thanksgiving but I will be thankful that the waves have come back to life at Aliso Beach and South Laguna.

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Aliso Beach Was So Flat This Morning…How Flat Was It?

We have been hearing about this high pressure system sitting out over the western coast that has prohibited storms from sending waves at an angle that means waves for Southern California.  If it isn’t bad enough that Point Conception and the Channel Islands block and reduce swell energy coming down the coast to Southern California, none of the storms have produced swell with an angle that is ideal for us.

It was gorgeous this morning.  Light offshore breezes, warm temperatures and Mediterranean blue waters were very inviting.  Here is my top 5 responses to Aliso Beach Was So Flat This Morning…How Flat Was It?

Aliso Beach was so flat this morning that it looked like you could skateboard across its surface all the way out to Catalina Island.

Aliso Beach was so flat this morning that I wondered if I was looking at an impressively sized lake.

Aliso Beach was so flat this morning that I couldn’t bare to get out of the car and look at it.

Aliso Beach was so flat this morning, that not even a long boarders was visible on the Laguna Beach Coastline.

Aliso Beach was so flat this morning, that I almost put my wetsuit on and walked out into the water to push water over sand bars to see if it would help!

Fortunately there is hope on the horizon.  I am told a big and lumpy storm is heading our way.  There could be 40 foot seas within 1500 nautical miles of us.  That could mean big waves for Southern California Beaches.  My response to that is thanks for prepping us with some medium sized swells that got us ready for big waves.  Thanks for all of the 1-2 foot days that were rideable that put us in the shape required to take on much larger surf.  It could be very interesting.  There is a storm that is right on top of the waves so we will have to see how that all plays out.  I am hoping for rideable waves and if they have to be really big, so be it!  Perhaps next week, I could provide you with my top 5 responses to Aliso Beach Was So Big This Morning…How Big Was It?

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72 Hour Rule


With the day and a half of rains that visited Southern California, it is important to remind everyone of the 72 hour rule following a rain.  It is best to avoid contact with ocean water for up to 72 hours after a rain.  The beach is fed by Aliso Creek which during rain events carries urban runoff including pesticides, fertilizers, animal waste, oil, gasoline and other toxic substances that are potentially harmful to people.  While the plant and animal life that makes up the marine ecosystem along South Laguna’s Aliso Beach no choice but to process and deal with the pollution, people do.  Unfortunately for the beach, inshore reefs an sea life, which is a part of the Laguna State Marine Conservation Area, there is no such luxury.  They are subject to all the gunk that comes down river and meets the sea.

Urban Runoff, Aliso Creek, Aliso Beach

Urban Runoff from Aliso Creek

A simplified version of the answer is that all storm drains lead to the ocean.  This means grease, oil, trash, cigarette butts, pesticides and so much more get into the runoff that ends up in our oceans.  These toxins are without question carcinogenic.  Carcinogenic is an important topic related to whether or not it is appropriate to be in the water after a rain.  This is especially so at Aliso Beach where the creek overruns the berm that dams up the fresh water and breaks releasing all that harmful stuff out into the ocean.  Occasionally there are sewage spills into Aliso Creek and that combined with the bird poop that accumulates with seagulls congregating in the lagoon to elevate the fecal coliform levels present in the water.  Yes, the cold, hard facts are that you could get sick from the runoff.  Carcinogenic means cancer causing.  None of us want that and none of us want to be sick but our fascination with the ocean and waves at Aliso Beach often override our sensibilities.

It is a good thing that the waves are flat because no wave riders will lose sleep over missing out on 1 foot shore lapping waves.  With Aliso Beach a favorite of mine for nearly 3 decades, I have participated in my fair share of chocolate milk days at Aliso Beach, and I feel like that is risky behavior.  I know that this won’t stop anyone from suiting up and jumping in if the waves are good whether it has rained or not, but clearly it is not a good idea.

Aliso Creek would be dry in the warm months if it didn’t serve the urban runoff needs of inland cities like Aliso Viejo, Laguna Woods, Laguna Hills and Laguna Niguel.  Expansion of development in those cities has made the challenge of keeping a high quality of ocean water at Aliso Beach extremely difficult.  There isn’t a single day for the most part where the lagoon isn’t built up with water, and ever since I can remember, wave riders have broken the creek to pack the sand bars and influence wave quality. While I have taken advantage of that wave quality myself and had a good time, I am beginning to see the folly in that.  There are signs that might as well be permanent warning of water contact at Aliso Beach.  When the creek has been let out, it might as well be a rain event and the 72 hour rule apply because the urban runoff fouls the water.

Recently I was contacted by Ginger of the Laguna Bluebelt Coalition.  I will do an expanded piece on them because I love what they do and the protection they have historically given and continue to offer the Laguna Beach coastline is more than worthy of a nice piece on the website. She asked me to think about the consequences of breaking Aliso Creek and to share with others how bad it is for the environment. As a local activist group that has always held water quality and the health of the marine ecosystems, marine life and beaches of the utmost importance, this organization appropriately asks the question as to whether breaking Aliso Creek conflicts with the goals of the Laguna State Marine Conservation Area that Aliso Beach is part of.  My opinion is that it does.  If you support the need for a marine reserve that protects fish stocks, kelp fields, shell fish and ocean water quality then you cannot logically support breaking Aliso Creek.  Given that it puts all of those toxic elements in the water which the OC Health Agency recommends you avoid contact with, it is not smart to be in the water when the creek let’s out.

All I can do is remind you that, and especially for Aliso Beach, that it is recommended that you avoid contact with the ocean prior to 72 hours after a rain event!  I can advise you that purposefully breaking Aliso Creek goes against the wishes and protections that groups like Laguna Bluebelt have put in place with state parks, OC Parkw, the Department of Fish and Game and all the other Laguna Beach based non-profits that are fighting to preserve this wonderful marine ecosystem for future generations.

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Aliso Beach Winter Surf Hindered By Land


Aliso Beach Wave, Aliso Beach Swell, Aliso Beach Winter Surf

Aliso Beach Wave!

While waver riders that frequent Aliso Beach look forward to the winter juice produced by storms in the Gulf of Alaska, all of Southern California loses energy with both Point Conception and the Channel Islands. GRRRRRRRRRRR!  I know that no one wants to admit that we suffer when the winter storms don’t angle waves at us from a good swell window.  Point Conception is northwest of Santa Barbara and it swallows up much of the energy headed towards Southern California when swells are coming from the Northwest at 300 Plus Degrees.  Santa Barbara, Ventura and North Los Angeles County beaches are blocked from receiving the benefits of swells angled above 300 degrees out of the northwest and the Channel Islands suffocate any remnant energy headed for the South Bay, Orange County and San Diego.  Despite larger waves filling in to Northern California Beaches, places like Aliso Beach suffer with major chunks taken out of the energy by Point Conception and the Channel Islands.

When the swells drop in to the 285-300 degree range out of the northwest, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Orange County (Aliso Beach) and North San Diego take advantage of the better direction.  With longer period swells, Southern California beaches see more refraction and wrap from swells.  It is important to note that South San Diego and it’s deep water canyons offshore, tend to grab more energy than spots to the north.  The depths of the submarine canyons corral northwest swells and refract energy in a way that produces sizeable winter surf.

West swells are ideal for Southern California.  A west swell direction of 265 to 285 degrees is the way energy gets directly in to Southern California with little or no interference. Westerly swells produce larger waves with more power and consistency.  For many in Southern California, these swells can be a bit unruly.  From experience, larger west swells on our coastline force a bit more discretion when it comes to surf.  Much of South Orange County is shore break like conditions and they simply don’t know what to do with that type of energy other than to tear in to the beaches and coves of  Laguna Beach with a fury and an attitude.  Aliso Beach can get destructive with waves that most people want no part of.  When Southern California gets huge waves from west swells, Aliso Beach is probably not the best place to be.  It does depend a lot on how groomed the sand bars are.  If the sand bars aren’t in top form, Aliso Beach will take a winter swell out of the west and serve up death barrels that defy the meaning of fun!  Some will still make a go of it.  Some will exit the water unscathed and some will endure beat downs that are memorable.

As for now, energy that would arrive at Aliso Beach is being blocked by Point Conception and the Channel Islands.  Let’s hope that a few storms swing from the west and send some energy our way.  Aliso Beach and friends need the waves.  We are getting bored.


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Aliso Beach Surf Flat For Who Knows How Long

Aliso Beach, Aliso Beach Surf, Aliso Beach Waves

Aliso Beach South Swell


Someone needs to flip the switch before the South Laguna Beach wave riding community goes nuts.  Among the wave riding community that I am connected to via social media, I can see, feel and envision their angst as a prolonged flat spell has deprived Aliso Beach, Laguna Beach and all of Southern California of waves this fall.  The most recent dizzying flat spell has probably been the worst.  One of the problems for Aliso Beach in particular is that it tends to need more swell than most places to break in a way that is rideable for any other forms of riding than skimboarding.  Clearly Aliso Beach Skimboarders have an advantage over those choosing to ride waves in other forms and using other wave riding equipment.  The waves have been so small lately that even skimboarders are hard-pressed to find something that gives them a boost of adrenaline.  Many of us are paddling out or riding South Laguna spots anyways just to keep some level of readiness for a larger winter wave season.  The only question is, when will weather patterns allow storms in the Gulf of Alaska to slide in to the Southern California swell window and do so with enough purpose to get waves in to Aliso Beach?  The clock is ticking and both boredom and frustration grow in our wave riding communities as the flat spell lingers.

Something’s gotta give.  High pressure has been suffocating the weather originating in Alaskan waters that give us waves. Everything I read suggests we are headed for a winter starved of waves.  Until something changes in the weather, we will be staring at a Pacific Ocean from the Aliso Beach Parking Lot with waves lapping the shore.  For the tranquility alone, I may be found there, but I would be lying if I said the lack of waves wasn’t driving me insane!


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Finding Aliso Beach

In this website, we have provided a finding Aliso Beach section that gives you directions from the 405 Freeway and 5 Freeway.  We figured you knew the secret tricks of your local freeways connecting you to the 405 and 5 freeways so we figured we best just give you the nuts and bolts of how to get to Aliso Beach once you have found your way to them.

There is another way to find Aliso Beach.  Aliso Beach sits at 7 feet above sea level along the South Laguna Beach Coastline in California and is positioned at 33.5100268 degrees north and -117.7525544 degrees west.  These figures measure the latitude and longitude of Aliso Beach.  This geographical location is what gives Aliso Beach it’s temperate weather and coastal position.

The northern latitude of Aliso Beach tells us the beach’s position as it relates to the equator.  You may agree that when Aliso Beach was placed it was done so with favor.  In the northern hemisphere but close enough to the equator to have a high percentage of sunny days with less precipitation, Aliso has beach days all the way through the winter and year round.  It is amazing.  Wait a minute though.  Another element of Aliso Beach’s favorable location is it’s longitude. Longitude measures degrees east and west.  Aliso Beach is not Aliso Beach without it’s position both north and west.  The best way I can explain longitude lines as those lines stretching from Arctic to Antartic or North to South Poles that rap around the nearly spherical earth.  The line that dissects the earth from north to south is the prime meridian. Vertical lines north to south moving east or west of the prime meridian give us the coordinates for a location’s position on the earth east or west.  It is also said to be a circle running from the poles north and south and intersecting the equator in right angles.

Whatever the precise scientific explanation for the location of Aliso Beach is, this beach couldn’t be located any better than it is right now from our standpoint.  What we have with Aliso is a wonderful beach, with warm weather year round, beautiful blue ocean waters with a majestic back drop of rolling coastal mountains, sea cliffs and rocky outcroppings that give us the beach experience and waves that we all know and love.

The o

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Aliso Beach Tide Pool Rules


Aliso Beach is a marine reserve and it is important to follow the Aliso Beach tide pool rules. What this means is that the animals in the tide pools and their habits are protected.  This comes with some very important rules which help us preserve these creatures and their environment.  The goal is for these creatures to thrive in their environments as well as keep these special places so others may visit.  Those rules are as follows:

  • Do not remove anything from the tide pool areas.
  • Do not turn over rocks as that may be crushing marine animals living below them.
  • Walk lightly and do not trample beds of marine animals attached to rocks.

With tide pools, there is always danger.  With wet conditions and a slippery quality to the rocks due to mosses and sea vegetation exposed by low tides, tide pools at Aliso and neighboring beaches present obstacles that could lead to slip and fall events.  If you are like me, you don’t need any help being clumsy!  I have fallen a number of times but I have always found luck on my side.

Every once in a while, a slip and fall event in the Aliso Beach area puts real people in very dangerous situations. The Huffington Post reported on a family whose son took a fall in a tide pool area of Spooner Bay.  The young boy suffered a cut and as any caring mother would do, she cleaned the wound, applied a topical anti-bacterial solution and thought that would be it.  To her dismay and concern, the injured area was not getting better.  Worried about a staph infection, she went to a doctor who prescribed antibiotics and gave her instructions to not squeeze the wound.  So what did mom do?  As the antibiotics hit a wall with effectiveness, she decided to ignore the best advice of doctors.  The area was turning black so she decided to squeeze the infected area of her son’s knee.  You will never guess what popped out!  A small sea snail had apparently hatched in the wound and was growing in the young man’s knee.  Gnarly!  Part of me wonder’s how the doctor missed it and the other part says, “Wow!  Did that really happen?”  It did.

Adding to the rules of Aliso Beach tide pools, and based upon this unheard of injury and event, we are informally making it a rule not to fall in the tide pool areas so that you don’t become the host for a sea snail egg and hatchling. While we are being a little humorous with this, this occurrence does make a very good point about the tide pools and how seriously we should take the rules designed to protect them.

A child falls while in a tide pool area and lands on sea snails and sea snail eggs.  It was unintentional of course.  Remember the tide pool sign from Aliso Beach that says to avoid trampling beds of marine life.  It recommends that you walk lightly as to not injure sea life that makes inter-tidal reefs their home.  I am not trying to blame the 4 year old nor his family for what happened.  This amazing incident does, however, highlight the notion that when we visit tide pools we are walking among living sea creatures.  Even with the best of intentions we may be disturbing, injuring and even killing marine animals.  The rules as stated are there for a very good reason, and Aliso Beach does a good job of exhibiting signs that reference practices for the tide pool areas to keep beach visitors informed of proper tide pool etiquette.

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Bucket List Beach


Do people out there in the world have a bucket list beach?  Hawaii, Mexico, France, Tahiti, Spain, Portugual, South Africa, Australia, Fiji, Costa Rica, Bali and other countries with extraordinary beaches come to mind when I think about places I have seen and places I believe I would have to see.  All of Laguna Beach is definitely in there but Aliso Beach is one of my favorite South OC Beaches that I think everyone should want to see if for just one day or moment in their lives.  This beach is so inviting that it swallows you up and quiets the noise in life in a way that I cannot fully describe or explain. If you have a week to 10 days of vacation time, Laguna Beach is a must see.  While I am biased towards Aliso Beach and think it should be a bucket list beach, there are small coves and beaches in Laguna from the north to south that almost make you feel like you got back on a plane and landed in another coastal paradise.  It’s crazy.  Each beach has its own character, feel and charm.  For the entire 7 days you could kick back and enjoy Laguna from a separate cove or beach and still leave plenty to see on a return visit.

aliso beach, sunset, aliso beach sunset

Aliso Beach Sunset

When you have the opportunity to see Aliso Beach all of the time, I think you can take it for granted.  Speaking for the wave riding community, I think we all look at Aliso Beach with an expectation for warm weather (even in the winter), beautiful blue-green water, picturesque sunsets, stunning landscape and incredible ocean waves.  Not everyone in the country looks at Aliso Beach the same way, but many of the common things we see at this beach, would come with a level of enthusiasm and excitement that is marginalized by our weekly beach visits. Everyone should want to come see this place.  It is a miracle, and although we can’t duplicate the vacation experience when coming to Aliso Beach, we can say that we think that this South Laguna Beach gem is one of those places that everyone should come see.  It’s gorgeous!

As we move in to winter, our friends in their golden years are looking to stay warm.  Many of them are looking for warmer parts of the country to spend their retirement years. While the Aliso and South Laguna Beach area may be cost prohibitive for many to live, it will always be worthy of a vacation.  If asked my opinion, I would say that Aliso Beach should be on the American Bucket List. Clearly I am playing favorites here with Aliso Beach, but I am confident that those who have never been there will be overwhelmed by the peace and serenity found in a single beach day closed with remarkable sunset.  It is an exquisite beach and should be a bucket list beach for people all over this world.  Come visit Aliso Beach.

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High Pressure The Enemy Of Aliso Beach Surf

Man oh man, it is getting tough to look at Solspot Surf Reports for Aliso Beach that say 0-1 foot and flat with perfect weather and wind conditions.  Ughhhh!  With high pressure dominating the west and pushing wave-making  winter storms originating in the Gulf of Alaska out of the swell window, we could see waves, or lack there of waves at Aliso Beach through the end of the month.  It doesn’t look good!  The weather on the other hand is spectacular.  People in colder winter climates can only dream about weather like we are experiencing in the South Laguna Beach area or they need to get on a plane, come out and stay at the Aliso Creek Inn or The Montage Hotel and Resort Laguna Beach and experience it for themselves.  You can’t beat it.

As far as Aliso Beach surf goes, high pressure is not allowing storms in the North Pacific to arrange themselves in a way that lights up Southern California Beaches.  I think it has been 2-3 foot according to reports for nearly two weeks alternating between marginal and rideable ratings from Adam Wright at Solspot.  Yawn!  The Wave Gods must be crazy because I am watching people from the wave riding community go sideways and mental on social media.  They are restless and need a fix soon or they may just go off the deep end!  there is nothing Solspot can do.  I have asked them personally to stir something up and beg for cooperation from waves to help normalize a wave-starved group of people that are adjusting poorly to a lengthy, near-flat spell.

Remember that Aliso Beach is not like Salt Creek.  It does not receive limited amounts of swell like Salt Creek and somehow miraculously organize it into a 2 foot below sea level barrel that spits and breaks with the force equivalence of a 4 foot wave.  In fact, when Creek is 2-3 foot, most of the time Aliso Beach has waves that dribble the shore without a whole lot of love in terms of shape.  Aliso Beach is a gem, but it just isn’t built to handle negligible swell energy.

The extended forecast for Aliso Beach is dismal.  In the 7.5 miles or so that stretch from El Morro to Dana Strands, Aliso Beach plays an important role in keeping crowds down.  Aliso has a community of wave riding enthusiasts that given the choice would prefer to surf there as opposed to other places.  When Aliso is working, other spots have less pressure from wave riders flocking to the few waves that work under such microscopic wave conditions. Yes, Salt Creek is the best example I could give.  Much of the wave riders in this area end up at Salt Creek when other spots aren’t working.  Salt Creek is a miracle that way but it still does not help those who prefer riding Aliso Beach!  High pressure continues to infringe upon Aliso Beach late fall/winter surf.  We hope this isn’t a tell tale sign of what is come in the winter 2013/2014.

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Aliso Beach Drum Circle Event November 17th, 2013

A couple of weeks ago, we talked about a drum circle that happens monthly on the full moon.  Brought to you by Laguna Vida, the schedule for the Aliso Beach Drum Circle may be found by clicking on the link. They call their event the Full Moon Burn.  From everything I have read, it does appear to be kid friendly.  The events are said to be enjoyed by revelers, fire dancers, glowing hula hoopers, families, young people, music enthusiasts, families and children.  I have even read that contributing a cord of wood will go along way with the regulars and event coordinators.  Pitching in at the Aliso Beach Drum Circle Event on Sunday November 17th, 2013 is a nice gesture that will be met with smiles and appreciation.

Parking for the event is available in the lot on the beach side of S. Coast Highway at Aliso Beach.  I have seen a couple of Yelp reports that indicate the parking lot fills up on the coastal side for the Full Moon Burn Aliso Beach Drum Circle Event and that the next best spot is parking on the hill of S. Coast Highway pointed south.  From experience, we can tell you that parking on the hill comes with challenges.  The car speed on this part of Pacific Coast Highway going south and in the direction you park can be intense.  Coming down the hill towards Aliso Beach, traffic tends to pick up speed on the decline and many drivers aren’t aware of how fast they are going.  Another obstacle in parking on the hill is both the uneven ground walking along the cars to get to the path that provides access to the south end of Aliso Beach Parking Lot.  The path is narrow and the ground is uneven as well.  There is a wood rail to brace yourself on your right, but if you are worried about taking kids down the hill and unloading parked on the side of S. Coast Highway Traffic, you may want to make a U-Turn at West Street and come back to the lot on the inland side.  You will have to walk more, but the tunnel under the highway to the beach provides safe access that may be more suitable for kids.

Supplies For The Aliso Beach Drum Circle

Warm clothing for the kids

Beach Blankets


Drum if you got skills

Cord of wood to pitch in for the fire.

Glow sticks for the kids

Food and Drink

Remember that there is no alcohol or drugs allowed at Aliso Beach.  Glass containers are also on the forbidden list.  Please plan accordingly.  The event will run from 7pm-10pm.  By all accounts, everyone has a good time and it is a family friendly event.  See you there!

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