Surfing Peskies, Depressions in Isla Vista, Goleta

Surfing in Isla Vista: Depressions & Peskies

depressions surf spot santa barbara

In between Devereaux and Campus Point are a few beach breaks; they’re nothing special.  Directly inland from these breaks is the student slum known as Isla Vista; it is something special.  Yes, the ghetto-by-the-sea is truly one of the 7 wonders of California and weekend in Isla Vista should be on everyone young person’s bucket list.  But I digress.

Although most of Isla Vista doesn’t get much in the way of surf, there are two spots that sometimes get good enough to surf: Peskies and Depressions.


Peskis is at the end of Camino Pescadero street in Isla Vista [see map]. Park somewhere along Del Playa and walk through the park to the stairs that lead to the beach.

camino pescadero peskies surf stairs isla vista
Be careful when navigating the stairs on a high tide

This spot is FULL of kelp. The kelp is so thick that it’s almost impossible to paddle through, although after a big winter storm, most of the help gets ripped out of the seafloor and washes on to the beach.

It can be tough to access this spot on a high tide because as the waves rush to the base of the stairs that lead to the beach. Be careful and time your entrance/exit just right to avoid being knocked off the slippery stairs.


Depressions is named after the dent, or depression, in the adjacent ocean bluff where the UCSB Lagoon empties into the Pacific Ocean after a heavy rain [see photo].

The runoff from the Lagoon creates a nice sandbar right off shore.  During a short period wind swell, Depressions can get semi-slabby and offer some makeable barrels.  On long period ground swells, a barreling left wave rebounds off the rock near Campus Point and grinds toward shore.

depressions surf spot isla vista ucsb bluff
Namesake of Depressions, the depression in the bluff

Some Isla Vista locals swear that depressions is “sharky” although there have been no official shark sightings in recent memory.

TriviaSurfer Magazine named UCSB the best college for surfing in the United States.

[nggallery id=8]

Isla Vista Surf Map

Back to all Santa Barbara Surf Spots