CALIFORNIA’S ORIGINAL SURF CITY – HUNTINGTON BEACH

So in our original itinerary, Huntington Beach didn’t feature at all. Like, AT ALL. We’d planned to head down to Laguna Beach on the way to San Diego, without any intention to stop in what became the absolute, uncontested highlight of an already pretty once-in-a-lifetime trip. But when an opportunity arose to swing in and check out SurfCity USA for a couple of days, we amended our plans without much thought. And what wonderful serendipity that we did. Because we travel a lot. A very lot. It takes quite a lot to blow us away these days. And Huntington Beach is as close to the perfect West Coast Californian dream as we could ever have imagined. If it seems like I’m gushing now, I’ve barely even started! From the so-perfect-it-looks-fake sunsets, the American Muscle cars up and down the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway 1, the coast road that runs all the way down to San Diego), the friendliest locals, the endless beach and line after line of waves to die for, its straight out of a Beach Boys sun-drenched dream.

As this was ostensibly our honeymoon, we’d gone a bit special with the rental car, and cruising into town with the roof down in a bright red convertible Chevy Camaro, I’m so glad we did!! We’d picked it up from Alamo in Oakland and it was flawless (as was Alamo’s service) for the whole trip. So so far we’ve got the perfect beach, check, convertible, check, clear blue sky, check, now to find somewhere to stay. Well, Visit Huntington surpassed themselves by booking us in the Kimpton Shorebreak Huntington Beach Resort at PCH & 5th. The level of service was exceptional, from the cheerfully helpful Reception staff (seriously, these guys we ON IT all the time, so refreshing), the open plan lobby leading to the inside/outside courtyard with fire pits, Wine Hour (yep, exactly what it sounds like, FREE wine every night!) to the thoughtful extras like surfboard storage, free cruiser bikes to borrow, to flavoured water to help yourself to, nothing felt like too much trouble at the Kimpton. We’ve stayed in some stunners in our time, but it was the attention to detail and genuine enthusiasm of the staff that made this stay an absolute life highlight.

The beach. Oh my goodness, the beach. Directly opposite the Kimpton is Dukes (best.seafood.EVER) and the Huntington Pier. The beach stretches into the distance in both directions, we went in ‘winter’ (19C!) and it was sunny and warm every day. The surf is consistently epic, and the beach was empty most of the time. Annie took in a Yoga class on the beach, and we both went for an awesome surf lesson, both activities organised through Toes on the Nose at the Hyatt Regency, a 10-minute walk down the coast from Main Street. So far, so awesome. And remember (and this is SO important..) we were 40 mins from Central LA. This stunning, friendly, safe, clean Californian Postcard is 40 mins from the grimy urban sprawl of Downtown and Hollywood. Having been to Venice the day before, which was cool but slightly (very) sketchy, HB was such a refreshing discovery and change of pace. Having ridden the bus through Hollywood at night (don’t ask), quite how we could still be in LA was an absolute mystery!

A highlight for me was definitely the food. You could eat your way around the world in this town, and never need to go to the same place twice. Seafood at Dukes, OLA Mexican Kitchen at Pacific City (those margaritas though!), the most stunning fresh masterpieces at Sushi on Fire, and an incredible brunch, with obligatory holiday mimosas, at Pacific Hideaway at Kimpton, we were spoiled, impressed and full to bursting over and over again.

This quick stop off on the way down the coast turned into the most breathtaking 3 days of our whole trip, we even extended our car hire by a day to stay longer, it was THAT good. If you want to feel like you’ve just stepped out of the Endless Summer, where the pace of life is leisurely, the sun is always shining and the drinks are flowing more often than not, jump on the PCH and get to Huntington Beach, SurfCity USA surprised us at every turn and we just can’t wait to be back. Roll on 2019!!

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