Those hoping to create their own endless summer here in Marin may want to take the advice of Bianca Valenti. Why? Valenti knows the topic: she’s the only female pro surfer in the Bay Area and was recently crowned the first female Big Wave World Tour champion. More than just a wave-rider, she also just opened Valenti and Co., an Italian restaurant in San Anselmo, with her dad, a chef.
Is it easy to learn here? No. With the cold water and driving times to the ocean, it is not the easiest place to learn, but it can be done.
Best starter board? Foam boards are the best. Next step would be a longboard and with progression the boards can get smaller.
Is boogie boarding a good way to start with getting comfortable? Absolutely; boogie boarding and bodysurfing are both great.
How about starting in the white wash? Yes, the white wash at Stinson or Pacifica is a great way to get started. Once you feel comfortable and confident enough to get out into the lineup, make sure you learn surf etiquette, for your safety and the safety and happiness of others.
Ways to practice balance? I love Indo Boarding. Also, skateboarding and Bosu balls at the gym are great for balance training.
Favorite break in Marin? It really depends on the swell, tides, weather — I surf Fort Cronkhite (main photo) most often, out of convenience and for the beauty.
Favorite Bay Area surf spot? Ocean Beach.
Basic Surf Etiquette
These tips, collected from surfline.com and Australia’s Surfrider Foundation, will keep you safe and happy on the waves.
- Don’t drop in on another surfer.
- Stay out of the way of other riders when paddling through the break.
- Take turns.
- Always help another surfer in trouble.
- Give respect to get respect (especially if you’re not at your local break).
- Be responsible for your equipment and respectful of others’.
- Relax, have fun and enjoy surfing.
Where to Rent and Learn
2 Mile Surf Shop With new and used boards, apparel and individual or group lessons, 2 Mile is a surf haven right down the street from Bolinas Beach, a favorite with local surfers looking for big waves. 2milesurf.com
Live Water Surf Shop Live Water has been supporting surf culture in Marin since 1978. With locations in Stinson and Fairfax, it’s an easy place to buy or rent gear. livewatersurfshop.com
Proof Lab This surf and skate shop has everything you need to get wave ready, including boards, wetsuits and more. Stop by the Mill Valley location or check out the surf camp in the summer months. prooflab.com
Take a Dive
Looking for an open pool in Marin for laps or fun? Here’s our short list.
Homestead Valley Pool.
College of Marin (Kentfield) M-Su 1-6 p.m.; youth $4; adult $5; senior $3; 415.485.9587, marin.edu
Drake High School (San Anselmo) M-Th 1-3 p.m.; Sa 2-4 p.m.; $5 per person; 415.453.8770; tamdistrict.org
Indian Valley College (Novato) M-Th noon-4 p.m.; youth $4; adult $5; senior $3; 415.457.8811, marin.edu
Tamalpais High School (Mill Valley) M-Th 1-3 p.m.; $7 per person; 415.380.3585, tamdistrict.org
Hamilton Pool (Novato) Open daily, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; youth residents $4; adult residents $5; youth nonresidents $7; adult nonresidents $9; 415.883.6387, cityofsanrafael.org
Homestead Valley Community Association Pool (Mill Valley) T-F 1-6 p.m.; Sa noon-5 p.m.; Su noon-6 p.m.; 415.388.0137, homesteadvalley.org
Marinwood Community Center M-F 1:30-4 p.m.; Sa-Su 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; youth residents $6; adult residents $7; youth nonresidents $7; adult nonresidents $8; 415.479.2335, marinwood.org
McNears Beach Park (San Rafael) M-Tu closed; W-F 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sa-Su 11 a.m.- 6 p.m.; $5 per person; 415.499.6387, marincounty.org
Mill Valley Community Center M-Th 6:30 a.m.-9 p.m.; F 6:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.; Sa 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; Su 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; youth ages 2-18 $5; adults ages 19-59 $7; seniors age 60-plus $6; 415.383.1370, cityofmillvalley.org
Terra Linda Recreation Center Open daily during summer, 8:30 a.m.-5p.m.; youth residents $4; adult residents $5; youth nonresidents $7; adult nonresidents $9; 415.485.3344, cityofsanrafafel.org