Actually part of the HB City beach the HB Cliffs are located just south of Bolsa Chica. The Cliffs get their name thanks to a small little coastal mesa that extends out to the beach. The mesa is being slowly eroded away and in the process it has produced a short cliff that sits right on the edge of the sand. Over the years they have had a couple of sidewalks slide off the cliff…so the bottom of the hillside is littered with a mix of rock, broken concrete and rebar…none of which is in the water.
The cliffs are another one of those spots that has two distinct personalities…the one we see most of the year is sort of soft and slow but is still fun wave. You can longboard on the smaller days but it gets fast enough to shortboard on a lower tide, particularly with a swell combo. It is usually better with the lower tide and has a tendency to get bogged down by too much water.
When we get big NW swells its whole attitude changes…the surf can get very heavy, dumpy, and the paddle to the outside can be brutal. It will actually hold a pretty sizeable wave as the swell really gets going…many spots will start to close out but the Cliffs will still have some makeable sections.
When the swell goes “really big” you actually start to see a bigger peak start to form on the outside, just north of a spot called the Gap. This spot has a lot of names, usually it is called Trolley Cars, Trolleys, or Box Cars. It is so hard to make it to the outside when Trolleys starts to break that not many people surf it.
Like most of HB the HB Cliffs seem to work best on a combo of S and WNW swell but you can also find some really good days on hurricane SE swells and moderate to big long-period WNW swell as well.
Best swell direction: Combo of S swell (170-195) and WNW swell (270-295).
Best Wind: N-NE-E, light-moderate Santa Ana winds are the best.
Sea Floor: Sand
Best Season: Summer, Fall, but biggest in the Winter
Crowds: Crowded in the mornings and on weekends. It sort of empties out as the swell starts going overhead for some reason.