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July 11, 2011

Destination Review of San Clemente, CA

San Clemente, CA Destination Review

by Kelly Bowlin

Nestled on the coast at the southern tip of Orange County, lies the historic, unique, and picturesque city of San Clemente. Once called the Spanish Village by the Sea by its founder, Ole Hanson, “SC” (as it’s now referred to by locals), might be considered the board-shorts, sandal-wearing, conservation-minded, step-child to its wealthy, sister-cities to the north like Irvine and Newport Beach. There’s nothing corporate about SC, in fact it feels more like a village than a city with its original old buildings, family owned restaurants and one of a kind specialty shops. San Clemente also is also a stop for the coast-liner metro-link that arrives from both the north and south at regular intervals.

Surf Culture Personified

San Clemente is a surf town. Much of its culture revolves around surfing. At last count, there were over thirty surf shops within its boundaries. No wonder, because it features some of the best, most consistent breaks on the west coast, from Old Mans to Trestles, to T-Street. Practically every other local car in SC has surf-racks and it’s not just young surfers (grommet’s) who hit the waves. In SC, seemingly everyone surfs from young and old to male and female, from amateurs to touring professionals. Most surfers simply walk, skateboard or peddle their beach-cruisers adapted with side racks. Leave the blazer and dress slacks at home. In San Clemente you’re at the beach. If you want to fit in here, wear board-shorts, bikinis, sandals and a hoody if it’s cool.

Unlike other surf spots along the coast, San Clemente has an almost neighborly feel. I’m a gravitationally challenged writer in his fifties who needs a surfboard big enough to float four people and yet in the water at T-Street, several locals almost went out of their way to give me advice in the water, “wait…wait…start paddling now! Owww, bro… that’s why you need a leash. Are you okay? That gash above your eye looks pretty nasty.”

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