Surf Protection
January 10 2013

Help Get Trestles and San Onofre Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

by Mark Rauscher

San Onofre and Trestles have been synonomous with California surfing since the 1930s. The area is world-renowned for its consistent, near perfect waves. Trestles provides some of the best year-round surfing waves in California, an area with the greatest concentration of surfers in the world.  We now have the opportunity to have it recognized for its historical contributions by being listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

For over 70 years this stretch of coast has been associated with events and activities that have played a significant role in the evolution of surfing as a sport, which is an integral part of Southern California's identity as a beach culture.  The physical isolation and absence of commercial growth encouraged the development of a society whose lifestyle and unique culture would later personify Southern California and influence surfing worldwide.

Steve Pezman, of the Surfer's Journal, writes:

"That particular stretch of beach and coastline has long been significant for its historical role and importance to the surfing culture as an invaluable and unique recreational resource.  That role began prior to the explosion in popularity that took surfing from thousands to milions of enthusiasts in 1959-1963.  In 1934, the surf clan from Corona Del Mar was displaced by the extension of the Newport jetties which changed the waves there. They explored south and discovered a new home at San Onofre, then part of a large cattle ranch, then later the Marine Corp base.  The entire set up at 'Nofre was so perfect, encompassing a half dozen different reefs that produced shapely relaxed waves, and so seemingly isolated from all else, that it became California's Waikiki."

From the early days of heavy wooden longboards to the development of high-performance aerial surfing, Trestles has remained at the forefront of the sport and culture of surfing.  Surfing has permeated popular culture throughout the country with the laid-back lifestyle found at Trestles and San Onofre leading the way and forming the basis for this movement. 

 Steve Pezman again:

"Surfing has grown worldwide as a sport and industry, exerting a significant cultural influence on modern western civilization, and representing an important financial engine to many communities, ranging from tourism, fashion, hard goods, boardsports, X-games, to hospitality and service sectors.  San Onofre State Beach is one of the most visited CA State Parks largely due to that very special cluster of wave breaks that have been providing a compelling natural experience everyday for decades, and will continue to do so."

Trestles has become a singular destination for high-performance surfing in the U.S., hosting the World Championship Tour.


So what can you do to help? Sign our online petition and be sure to leave a comment about your personal history at Trestles and San Onofre.

Send a letter of support by January 24th to the CA Historic Resources Commission at or in the mail at:

Department of Parks and Recreation
Attn: Office of Historic Preservation
Carol Roland-Nawi, PhD.
State Historic Preservation Officer
P.O. Box 94296
Sacramento, CA 94296-0001

Thanks to the help of the San Onofre Foundation, San Onofre Surfing Club, the Malibu Surfing Association, The Surfer's Journal, California Surf Museum and the staff of the CA Office of Historic Preservation we have been working towards recognition of Trestles and San Onofre for their historical signifcance since 2007. Please help make this a reality.

You can read the application to the National Register (pdf) that describes in great detail the justification for listing.  And more of the fantastic support letter (pdf) from Steve Pezman, the publisher of The Surfer's Journal.