Surfing Sandspit, Santa Barbra
Like the Wedge in Newport Beach and the Superbank on the Gold Coast, Sandspit is a magical wave that was (accidentally) created by human engineering. In 1929, a breakwater for protecting the Santa Barbara Harbor was built.
Over the years, the north-to-south flow of sand was impeded by the breakwater and sand began to build up on the west side of the harbor creating the modern version of Leadbetter Beach. The sand eventually built up to the breakwater wall and started moving towards the opening of the harbor. Behold, Sandspit was born.
Sandspit is a bit of a mutant wave and can offer thick, hallow barrels that seem to break below sea level. Watch out for the rocks… and the backwash too!
When the stars align and Sandspit does break, almost every surfer in the Santa Barbara area will be in the lineup, trying their luck at a 6-second barrel. And that includes Tom Curren, who knows this wave better than anyone [see video].
If Sandspit is breaking, it generally means the point breaks up and down the Santa Barbara coast are pumping (and probably just a little less crowded).
Trivia: In September of 2012, a surfer was chased out of the water at Sandspit by a 14-ft great white shark.
Sandspit Wave Photos
How Sandspit Was Created
Sandspit is the product of the Santa Barbara Harbor breakwater, completed in 1929. The breakwater was extended out from a point on land called Castle Rock (near modern day Castillo street) and then bent towards Stearns Wharf.
The natural flow of sand was altered and a beach (now called Leadbetter Beach) began to form. There is a great article on the history of the Santa Barbara Harbor area here.
Above: Leadbetter Beach forming after the breakwater was built
Above: Santa Barbara Harbor as it looks today
Sandspit Surf Map
Back to all Santa Barbara Surf Spots