Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.


These Scary Surfers Will Wipe You Out If You Ride Their Waves

Lunada Bay in Palos Verdes (Photo by tiarescott via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
Stories like these are only possible with your help!
You have the power to keep local news strong for the coming months. Your financial support today keeps our reporters ready to meet the needs of our city. Thank you for investing in your community.

Lunada Bay in Palos Verdes is known for having some of the coast's sweetest waves and is surrounded by beautiful cliffs and expensive homes. It's the perfect place to surf, though, if you're not a local, you have a slim chance of riding the waves because there's a group of man-children who will harass you if you even thinking about getting close.

A Guardian reporter and photographer posed as surfers at this bay where local surfers, called Bay Boys, are notoriously known for using intimidation tactics to get outsiders away from their waves. They've been known to use verbal threats, vandalize cars, and roll rocks on non-locals (whom they call "trolls") as they're trying to climb up the cliffs. This whole idea of "localism," where surfers claim a surf spot as their own and aggressively push out non-locals to crowded beaches, is something that happens at other beaches, too.

The journalists secretly recorded video of the surfers, who they said were mostly middle-aged and all men, harassing and threatening them to leave. They even tried to be polite to the Bay Boys, but that didn't work.

In the video below, you can hear the Bay Boys, some who say they've been surfing there for 30 years, saying things like, "If you come out here you're going to get a lot of shit." Another said, "The reason there's a lot of space is because we keep it like that. We fucking harass people."

Support for LAist comes from

When the Guardian reporters went back to their car, they found it was covered in eggs and someone had written on their windows in surf wax the word, "kooks," which is term in the surfing world that means amateurs.

Yes, this whole surfer gang thing sounds like it's straight out of Point Break. Where's Johnny Utah when you need him?

What's most shocking is that local police know about it, and aren't doing much about it. They told the Guardian they would do something if someone broke a law. In a secret recording, a police officer said:

We know all of them. They're infamous around here. They are pretty much grown men in little men's mindset. They don't like anyone that's not one of the bay boys, surfing down there. It literally is like a game with kids on a schoolyard to them. And they don't want you playing on their swing set. You know, it is what it is. If you feel uncomfortable, you know then don't do it.

The history of the Bay Boys at Lunada Bay go way back. The L.A. Times even wrote about the harassment there in 1991. It looks like things haven't changed much. The surfers then said they don't condone physical violence towards non-locals. Though, The Independent reported in 1995 that the surfers attacked an elementary school teacher, which left the teacher with broken ribs, pelvis and a lacerated liver. Others mostly complained that the surfers would verbally threaten non-locals, smash their car windshields or flatten their tires.

Some think the Bay Boys are "selfish rich kids," while others say that "sometimes they are not rich, they are just scumbags who surf." Though, the Huffington Post reported that "advocates of the Bay Boys argue that they are simply trying to preserve the spot and limit its exposure to pollutants and crowding."

One surfer, Peter McCollum told the Times back in 1991: "It's not just a barbaric thing, it is done for a purpose. The crowds are so intense these days, you can't have your own little sanctuary. But we do."

Last January, there was an organized gathering at Lunada Bay where non-locals got together in solidarity to reclaim the beach as their own, according to KTLA. One of the organizers, Christopher Taloa, said, "There are so many people who want to surf in this neighborhood but they can't because they're scared."

The protesters tried to rename Lunada Bay as "Aloha Point." There's an Aloha Point Surf Club Facebook page that describes itself as a group that "helps surfers find other surfers to surf safely with at Lunada Bay." However, they haven't updated the page since December, and by the looks of what happened to the Guardian reporter, things haven't seemed to change all that much.