Blackies is a stretch of beach located between the 28th street jetty and the Newport Pier. It has a style and presence that is unique to the Newport surf scene and can only be found in a few other areas in Orange County (Doheney’s Boneyard, Old Mans in San Onofre, and sometimes Bolsa Chica all have a similar feel but don’t quite have the same mix).
Blackies is part longboard spot, part surf/social club, part beach-scene. There is a public (but metered) parking lot that butts right up to a small sea-wall along the beach. If you manage to pull the rock-star parking along the front you can sit in your heated car, sipping coffee, while you watch the sets slip through. It is hard to define Blackies from the “surf spot” perspective, or at least if you only looked at the quality of the surf you would miss out a lot of what the break has to offer.
It is generally a longboard wave, but not necessarily a beginner break, even though you find a lot of beginners in the water there. You have the full spectrum of surfers in the water, from little kids, old dudes on vintage deathlogs, Juinor College guys that are trying to be 70’s throwbacks, weekend warriors, and the eternal dawn patrollers…all of them in the water…at the same time. Weekends when there is a decent swell running it sort of reminds me of this riot I saw at the circus one time…total colorful chaos.
The wave itself is decent, but sort of soft most of the time. Takeoffs are easy and the wave sort of rolls a little bit before it starts to break. Sometimes on the lower tides you will get a little faster drop and quicker sections along the inside but they aren’t as critical as other Newport Breaks.
The main peak at Blackies is right in the middle of the beach between the jetty and the pier…most people consider that area to be Blackies “proper”…but really most of the beach up to the 28th St. jetty breaks about the same.
Blackies really starts to shine on larger short/medium-period W swells…which are really only generated by nearby storms and sometimes heavy winds in the local waters. The shorter period westerly direction passes over the deeper parts of the Sub Marine canyon and refract as it gets closer to shore. As the refraction occurs it bends some of the swell back on itself and has a tendency to cross up right at the Blackies peak and up through the lower jetties. This cross up action speeds the wave up, sets up some workable shoulders, and generally improves shape a ton compared to a normal Blackies wave.
Unfortunately these swells are on the rare side, are rather short lived, and usually bring along a ton of junky weather and onshore winds. Your best bet is to try and catch Blackies either right before or right after a storm hits…sometimes the winds will lay down, or shift semi-offshore and you can score a few really fun waves before conditions fall apart again.
Personally I don’t think summer is as fun at Blackies as it is in other parts of Newport. There isn’t a ton of swell that makes it into the break and after the dawn patrol starts to break up the beach gets super crowded, parking is a joke, and they have a tendency to blackball pretty quickly…even on the weekdays.
Best swell direction: Short-medium period W swell (260-280) and a touch of S swell.
Best Wind: N-NE-E, light-moderate Santa Ana winds are the best.
Sea Floor: Sand
Best Season: Fall, Winter and early Spring. It is usually more consistent in the winter but cleaner in the fall.
Crowds: Yeah most of the time there is a crowd and a regular Blackies crew that surf there every day. You can still get a few waves if you are patient and have a good attitude.