Swimming at Aliso Beach is often not one of the safest things to do on the planet. You will notice when you park at Aliso Beach, there are signs warning beach visitors of dangerous beach, wave and ocean conditions. The steep slope of the beach at Aliso influences a powerful shore break wave that has the ability to do some serious damage. As someone that has body boarded Aliso Beach since the mid-80’s, I have a hard time understanding why people come to swim at the beach without some sort of swim fins. Perhaps most beach visitors are uneducated about rip tides and how fins can help you stay out of serious trouble in the water.
One of the facets of Aliso Beach that creates the dangerous conditions is the shore break nature of the wave. Even a 3 foot wave that pounds right on the shore can pack a real punch. The water rushes up the sloping beach and recedes back to the ocean quickly and forcefully. It takes one wave to knock someone over and drag them out into the impact zone of wave s to have a brush with tragedy. With water rushing up the slope and leaking back out to sea so quickly there are frequent rip currents forming at Aliso Beach. For us body boarders, tray surfers and body surfers, we feel naked without fins and we also know how dangerous it is without them. Again, it is recommended that visitors watch the surf reports and consult the lifeguards regarding current beach and wave conditions at Aliso Beach. Nobody wants to see anyone hurt. Children are especially vulnerable to waves that catch them off guard and parents must be extra careful with their children when the surf is up.
If you are one of those people that love to be flopped right down on to the sand, this is a great place for you. Fins are still recommended for swimming at Aliso Beach. You may even swim among larger waves and get a feel for the power at Aliso Beach on big days. If you find yourself in a rip current, swim out past the rip current and swirling waters and swim parallel to the shore until out of the rip current before heading back towards shore. Remember to not panic and to breathe! When exiting the water, never turn your back on the ocean, and especially so at Aliso Beach. While you may see experienced wave riders and swimmers at Aliso Beach laugh at getting taken out by a wave here, it is not a good idea for the inexperienced to get their first lesson with a beat down at Aliso Beach. Avoid this at all costs!