Stand Up Paddle Guide to San Onofre by Gemma Flinkman

San Onofre
 San Onofre State Beach (or Sano as it is known) is one of California’s most popular beaches and hosts surfers, swimmers, sunbathers, campers, kayakers, birders, fishermen and bicyclists. Sandwiched between Sand Diego to the south and Los Angeles to the north, with lots going on its a very dynamic. Infinity SUP rider Genna Flinkman introduces us to this destination, known for multiple surf spots, wildlife and countless hours of sunshine.

Genna Flinkman’s Link to SanO

When I first started paddling in Sept 2014 my husband and I drove down to California to learn from the best. I set up a training session with Anthony Vela to learn proper paddle technique and race skills. On my second lesson with him we went to San Onofre to work on some of my sup surf skills. After that, the spot just stuck. Plus, there is such an amazing group of friend that surf there often, so it’s not uncommon to bump into friends. Dana Point is one of my favourite places in the world. After travelling there for almost three years, I feel like it’s a second home. I have met friends who I consider family now and become 10x the paddler I would have been thanks to the people and their guidance and support. 

Local riders and community

The community around SanO is pretty awesome. There is a great group of people, many from the performance paddle sup crew, that are there often. Besides the fun SanO Sundays, where friends meet up to surf and eat, there are lots of high profile people from the sup world surfing there.

A lot of the Infinity Crew, Dave Boehne, Candice Appleby, Anthony Vela, Giorgio Gomez, Izzy Gomez, Steve Boehne, Shae Foudy, Mel Wygal, Tyler Bashor etc. go there to surf and train. It’s a great spot even if the waves are small because you paddle south a little and surf your race board. I have also seen other team athletes like Sonni, Seychelle, and Kai hit up SanO when they are in town. Of course, there are also a lot of serious longboards that often surf there. However, I can’t say I have the privilege of meeting many of them. As a Canadian, I am waiting for the day that I meet Paul Kariya, retired NHL Allstar, as he is been spotted there often.

Renting SUP boards and SUP gear in SanO

Dana Point and San Clemente are “small” haven surf towns that allow you to get away from the craziness of the big cities. While they are not small in comparison to the Tofino’s (a top Canadian Surf Spot) of the world, being a hour south of LA and San Diego makes it seems small and quiet. With tonnes of surf shops to visit and drool over boards and accessories, you can keep yourself busy even when you are not surfing. Shapers like Hobie, Terry Senate, and Infinity , to name a few, call Dana Point and San Clemente home. So, you have a great selection of boards to meet anyone’s needs.

Photo Credit: Kristin Thomas
If your looking to demo a board or rent a longboard then check out Infinity in Dana Point. They always have a few demo race boards and surfboards that you can try out. They are also always happy to chat surf or sup, being one of the most welcoming groups I have ever met. If you are looking to rent a board and want the convenience of it being right at the water, then West Winds Sailing in Dana Point harbour is perfect. Owned by my friend Diane Wenzel, they have boards ready to go that can be rented for several hours.

SUP schools in SanO

If you are looking for a training group or a coach for SUP paddling or SUP Surf then check out Performance Paddling ran by Anthony Vela. The group trains out of the Dana Point Harbour and runs multiple classes weekly. I have been training with his PPSUP crew for the past three years every single time I go down, even if its just for a week. It’s a great atmosphere that is very supportive. It pushes you to improve your skills while training with friends and having fun. Anthony will also meet you at local surf spots for a SUP Surf lesson with the added bonus of some video to go with it, he’s a go pro master.
There is also a great group of people training out of NewPort Aquatic Centre. They get together on Saturdays for their weekly “Sucky Saturday” group paddle. You get a great workout but in a supportive environment, so you don’t have to be the world’s top paddler to join in.

Major local stand up paddle events

There are alot of events starting in April there is the Dana Point Ocean Challenge and Mongoose Cup, in May the Dana Point Harbour, and in October the Pacific Paddle Games and Doheny State Beach. There are also great races that take place within an hour of Dana Point/ San Clemente, The Hano Hano Huki, Mission beach, Lanakila in Redondo, Hal Rosoff inNew Port Beach all in February and the Adler Paddler in Long Beach, Mar. Basically, if you head down to Dana Point there is great events all year around.

Best SUP Spots

Besides San Onofre, there are plenty of great surf spots up and down the coast. Here are a few that are within 30 mins of Dana Point/ San Clemente.Oceanside,Trails,T Street,San Clemente Pier and Doheny State Beach.As you go an hour north or an hour south, there are great spots along the way. So don’t be afraid to jump in your vehicle and explore this amazing coast line. Great places to train or go for a scenic paddle are Dana Point Harbour, Laguna Beach  and the famous Newport Aquatic Centre.

And as a tourist……

San Onofre is a great beach to hang out for the day, you can pack up your cooler, drive in the park and stay to the evening whilst enjoying a BBQ. To the south is San Diego with some great beaches and tourist attractions. To the north is Los Angeles with plenty of tourist attractions, including disneyland and plenty of watrerparks to explore!

About the Author

Helen Trehoret

SUP, OC1, V6, Surfski ... and field hockey coaching, Helen is a busy British mother of two who lives in Bretagne, France with a passion for all things Ocean. Helen runs Barrachou SUP, a SUP tour company specialized in excursions around Bretagne and Scotland.

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