Surf, California

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Surf, California
Unincorporated area
Surf Amtrak Station
Surf, California is located in California
Surf, California
Surf, California
Surf, California is located in the United States
Surf, California
Surf, California
Coordinates: 34°41′04″N 120°36′13″W / 34.6844268°N 120.6035029°W / 34.6844268; -120.6035029Coordinates: 34°41′04″N 120°36′13″W / 34.6844268°N 120.6035029°W / 34.6844268; -120.6035029
CountryUnited States
CountySanta Barbara
59 ft (18 m)
Time zoneUTC-8 (Pacific (PST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-7 (PDT)
Area code(s)805 & 820
GNIS feature ID250152[1]
Surf Beach
Surf Beach.JPG
Surf Beach as seen from the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner
Operated byVandenberg Space Force Base
OpenOctober to February (those sections affected by the nesting season of the western snowy plover)[2]
Public transit accessAmtrak Pacific Surfliner at Lompoc–Surf

Surf is an unincorporated area of Santa Barbara County, California,[3] located along the Pacific coast within a publicly accessible area of Vandenberg Space Force Base west of the city of Lompoc. The site originally was established as a railroad town, with its growth peaking after Vandenberg was established in 1941. Since 2000 the site has just consisted of Surf Beach and the unstaffed Lompoc–Surf Amtrak Station. California State Route 246 used to run to Surf, but in 1984 the highway was truncated at Lompoc and the road from Lompoc to Surf is designated West Ocean Avenue.

Sections of Surf Beach are closed between March 1 and September 30 every year during the nesting season of the western snowy plover.[2] The affected areas may be opened earlier than September 30 if all the newly hatched birds reach their fledgling stage beforehand.[4] The closures are in place to protect the bird under the Endangered Species Act.[5] If a set number of trespass violations have been reached during any nesting season (currently 50), the beach is closed entirely.[6][7]


Surf grew as a railway town to accommodate the personnel needed to maintain the trains and tracks after Southern Pacific Railroad built a station here for its Coast Line in 1900.[8] In 1909, the schooner cargo ship Sibyl Marston sank off the coast south from Surf.[9] The station at Surf became popular with U.S. Army soldiers stationed at Camp Cooke (now Vandenberg Space Force Base) during World War II. The population of the town peaked at 40, with most residents being employed with the railroad. As trains modernized, Surf experienced depopulation, to the point where Southern Pacific was only operating a telegraph station.[8] The telegraph station closed in 1985, and it was not until 2000 that the current Surf Amtrak Station was completed. The unstaffed Amtrak station is currently the only structure left standing in Surf.[10]

Two fatal shark attacks have occurred near Surf Beach: one on October 22, 2010, and the other on October 23, 2012.[11] Travel + Leisure has listed it as one of the worst beaches for shark attacks.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Surf". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey, United States Department of the Interior.
  2. ^ a b Jacobson, Willis (September 24, 2019). "Major changes at Lompoc's Surf Beach could include shift in plover counts, construction of boardwalk". Santa Maria Times. Retrieved 2019-09-26.
  3. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Surf, California
  4. ^ "Lompoc's Surf Beach fully reopen to public following plover restrictions". Santa Maria Times. October 1, 2021. Retrieved 2022-06-11.
  5. ^ "Annual beach restrictions to begin at Surf Beach, Ocean Park". KSBY. 2022-02-26. Retrieved 2022-02-28.
  6. ^ "Vandenberg Beaches to close for Annual Snowy Plover Nesting Season". Vandenberg Air Force Base. March 1, 2012. Archived from the original on November 4, 2013. Retrieved October 23, 2012.
  7. ^ Connell, Sally Ann (June 16, 2002). "It's Birds vs. Bathers on Remote Beach". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  8. ^ a b Wallace, Glenn (March 3, 2008). "Train buff takes story of Surf across nation". Lompoc Record. Retrieved August 12, 2014.
  9. ^ Nisperos, Neil (January 29, 2008). "Merchant steamer ship visible at Surf Beach". Lompoc Record. Retrieved August 12, 2014.
  10. ^ "Lompoc-Surf". Amtrak. Retrieved August 12, 2014.
  11. ^ "'Great White Serial Killer' probes Surf Beach deaths". Santa Maria Times. August 4, 2013. Retrieved August 12, 2014.
  12. ^ "Worst Beaches for Shark Attacks: Surf Beach". Travel + Leisure. August 2011. Retrieved August 12, 2014.