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Adam Wright
by
(Sunday) 5.11.08

Gravels, Salt Creek, Dana Point, Orange, California

Gravels is the most northern section of the more consistent Salt Creek surf area and is generally considered to be more of a bodyboard spot…or at least most of the Salt Creek surfers wish they could herd the spongers into a semi-contained area over that way.

The wave at gravels is one of those classic deep-water-to-shallow-water set ups where the waves get a near clear shot at the beach. Basically the wave is semi-shorebreak at the best of times and breaking almost, if not directly on the sand on the average days. You can actually get a little lefthand section if the swell mix is correct but Gravels is usually considered a right. The wave is a borderline closeout but it can throw a decent hollow section when you have some swell in the water. I am not sure how it originally got the name gravels but it definitely fits…a few of the times I have tried to surf it over the years have left me with a bunch of grit in my ears and some sanded off patches of skin.

As I mentioned in the Salt Creek overview this is where a lot of surfmag covers have been shot…the lighting is good, the water is blue and clear (but not necessarily clean), and the high cliffs knock down a lot of the wind. It is also a short easy swim to set up some in-the-barrel water shots.

Gravels is at its best on a decent W swell or a good swell combo. It can work, and even work well, on a SW swell but it doesn’t really click like it does on the other better directions. Even when the wave is humming along expect it to be a fast, hollow section that is better suited for bodyboarding and bodysurfing. That being said some of the deepest barrels I have ever seen at Gravels where by a couple of little kids on 9’0” longboards…go figure.

Spot details:
Best swell direction: W (270-280) and a combo of SW (190-210) and W swell. It likes short-period W windswells when they have enough power.
Best Wind: NE-E, light-moderate winds are the best.
Sea Floor: Sand, with some larger particulate…lets just call it gravel for arguments sake.
Best Season: Fall, Winter, and early Spring
Crowds: Moderate…but it can turn into bodyboard chaos when you get a decent swell on the weekend.

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  • omar

    buddy, best tide for gravels?thanks.

    • is this right???

      il go with low tide is better, because if you’re out there its big, and it will be too slow to break quickly with all that extra water.

  • Adam Wright

    depends on the sand and the swell.Smaller swells like the mid-high tide while the bigger sets like a little less water. Lets the break move off the beach a little more

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