La Vida Laguna
1257 South Coast Highway
Photo by Amanda Friedman, AFAR Media
La Vida LagunaIf anything’s endemic to Orange County it’s surfing—there are 40 miles of coastline here, after all. It’s not hard to find passionate practitioners of the sport, but doing is one thing and teaching is very much another. For newbies or even intermediate surfers looking to get back on a board, La Vida Laguna’s approachable, confidence-boosting instructors are the surest way to success. In private and semi-private lessons, their goal is to ensure that their surf pupils—starting from age eight—stand up on a wave, of course, but they also want to create more ocean advocates in the process. Wave safety and selection plus etiquette training are part of the lessons, along with pop-up drills, positioning, and gentle pushes at Thalia Beach, which has consistently calm waves for beginners. Guides also lead standup paddleboard lessons, hikes, and kayak adventures (expect frequent sea life sightings), tailoring and combining experiences upon request. Appointments are necessary and can be made on the phone, online, or at its historic craftsman bungalow in downtown Laguna. Local tip: For fewer surfers in the water, book a couple lessons on weekdays during the winter season.