The first part of this post is just a shameless advertisement for House of Trestles Surf Hostel. No one asked me to write it, and I don’t know if writing this will attract them any business, but this place is the best and I want to talk about it.
House of Trestles is a surfer’s heaven on earth; it’s filled with rad people, tons of surf gear, incredible street art, comfortable beds, hot showers and free food – all for around $30 a night. If that isn’t enough to convince anyone to come here, then it’s worth mentioning that they also offer bike rentals with built in surf racks and yoga classes twice a day. I couldn’t think of a better deal if I tried – this place and the people in it inspire me to commit to a surfing lifestyle.
All of the walls are covered in spray paint art from local street artists. Staying here is like being in a museum. Here are some of my favorites:
The hostel is located in San Clemente, CA, about a mile away from the famous Trestles Beach surf break. If you’ve had any real exposure to surfing then you’ve heard of Trestles – it’s several miles of gorgeous beach breaks and is generally considered to be the epicenter of California surfing. Full disclosure, I hadn’t heard of it until a few days ago when Adam and I were researching surf spots. I caught the surf bug late.
Here’s how I spent the best day of my surfing career: I woke up at 6:45, walked into the living room adjacent to my bunk room and had a private yoga session with a resident instructor – it was a Thursday morning and I was the only one who signed up. After an intense one-on-one session that was worth far more than the $10 that I paid for it, I hit the shower, grabbed my wetsuit from the communal drying rack, and ate two bagels had been laid out for us. The good people at House of Trestles hooked us up with the surf bikes that I mentioned earlier, and we loaded our boards and cruised the mile-long path to the beach. Even on a weekday, there was a large crowd of surfers heading to the same place – some with bikes like ours, others carrying their boards on skateboards and some walking. Everyone was friendly enough, but I thought I noticed some of the locals sizing us up wearily – assessing if we had any business surfing here.
I chalk this last part up to being nervous; Trestles is filled with some of the best surfers in the U.S. and I had heard that some of the locals are territorial about waves. Once I got out on the water, however, everyone that I talked to was friendly and non-judgemental. I stayed away from the pros who were surfing Lowers.
At the beach there were miles of wave breaks to choose from and hardened dirt paths between all of them. There are five distinct parts of Trestles, Cottons, Uppers, Middle, Lowers and Church – each with distinct types of waves.
Throughout the day we surfed Uppers, Middles and Church. When we got tired of one wave, we’d hop back on our bikes and head to another. The crowds were there, but it was so spread out that we were able to find empty peaks at every break. Every hour or so, it seemed, I would have the best ride of my life – and each of these rides would supersede the one that came before it. Sometimes, I would catch a ride that would cause the other surfers to whoop in excitement – “YEWWWWW!” Throughout the morning I was riding a glorious surfer’s high. After two and a half hours, I was stoked, starving and my arms felt like they were going to fall off.
The afternoon consisted of burritos for lunch, a quick nap and more surfing. We biked up from the beach and walked into a burrito shop still wearing our wetsuits – then we slept off the food coma in the front seats of the jeep which was in the parking lot outside. We were back at the beach at 2, and we surfed until sunset at 5. By the time the light was fading, I was euphoric and could barely paddle my board.
I met a lot of surfers out on the water, and I remember one conversation in particular that had me nearly ready to abandon all my previous life plans and move out here – or Hawaii. I was talking to a guy who was in his mid 50’s and was riding a longboard better than anybody else on the wave. He told me about moving to San Diego in his mid-20’s and how he had surfed every morning for 10 years before going to work. He had bounced around jobs – retail, restaurants etc for a couple years, all while surfing in the morning and going out at night. While he was there, he explained, he fell in with a crowd of other 20-somethings all doing the same thing, and ended up marrying a girl from the area.
He told me that if he was 23 and could do it all over again he’d do the same thing, but in Hawaii.
We got back to the hostel after dark, having grabbed some more Mexican food for dinner – I’m a total sucker for Southern California fish tacos. When we got back, people were hanging out in the living room area. A guy named Tijs was playing guitar, and Hank the dog that belongs to one of the hostel owners was howling along to the music. I spent a good hour hanging out and listening to Tijs play; he’s a really talented guy and has an album on Itunes under the name Tijs Groen called “Shifts and Turns.” I haven’t listened to it yet, but I’d recommend it just having listened to him play.
At 7:45, just when I was considering turning in for another early night, a group started to form in the living room for an Acroyoga class. Neither Adam nor I had ever heard of Acroyoga, but I was curious and Adam was feeling guilty for missing the morning yoga class so we both decided to join. I knew we were in over our heads when the instructor described the class – Acroyoga: a combination of yoga and acrobatics which focuses on pair stretches.
Damn I was nervous, but we had signed up and we were in it. Our instructor Patty was gorgeous and intimidatingly talented, which didn’t help. As she explained the stretches, all of which involved one partner lifting the other, I was feeling self-conscious about my size compared to everyone else in the class – no way anyone was going to be able to lift me up, I thought. I almost walked out in embarrassment.
Turns out I underestimated Patty. She actually volunteered to lift me first, maybe because I was the most vocal about not wanting to do it. I must have had close to a foot on her in terms of height, but she lifted me like I weighed nothing.
I slept soundly that night with sore muscles and thoughts of waves.
PS: Today, Adam and I head to Joshua Tree, but before we go we’re headed out with the hostel crew to clean up a beach in their retrofitted van – “The Cosmic Dolphin.”
Follow these instagram pages to learn more:
Also, here’s the instagram page of one of the owners, Nickol; he’s leading a movement to pick up trash around the beaches of SoCal. Be sure to check it out, it’s a great cause that needs more exposure. He’s organizing the beach cleanup trip that I’m going on today. @nickolmoran