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By Jake Howard

Standing in the back of my truck on Sunday morning, trying to pull off my wetsuit without being too exposed to the cold, a bundled-up guy carrying a handful of fliers approached me. My first thought was, “Oh, no, here comes somebody trying to convert me or get some money from me.”

Much to my relief, it turned out to be David Matuszak, smiling and happy to tell a little story. The flier he carried was for his new book, San Onofre: Memories of a Legendary Surfing Beach.

Unfortunately, I missed the book launch at the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center a few weeks ago, but I’ve had the opportunity to dive into the tome and start to explore it.
It doesn’t disappoint. It answers pretty much any and every question one could have about San Onofre. The term “in-depth” doesn’t do it justice.

“The Trails” at San Onofre in all its uncrowded glory. Photo: Jake Howard
“The Trails” at San Onofre in all its uncrowded glory. Photo: Jake Howard

Considering San Onofre is one of the oldest surfing haunts in the continental United States, it seems only fitting that this timeless zone should have 1,500 pages of stories and photos dedicated to it. Matuszak has put together what has to be the most thorough historical record of any surf spot in the world. His research and dedication to the years-long project is simply breathtaking.

“The scope of the San Onofre we know today is a fraction of what it was during the days of Rancho San Onofrio,” Matuszak writes in his book. “San Onofre now lies primarily along the coast stretching from Cotton’s Point in the north to ‘the Trails’ portion of the San Onofre Bluffs Campground in the south. In between, San Onofre is known both by onshore place names and by its break names in the water.”

“Every little area of the beach has its own sub-culture…it’s just fascinating,” said Steve Pezman, publisher of The Surfer’s Journal.

Published by Pacific Sunset Publishing, there were 1,000 collector’s editions printed of San Onofre: Memories of a Legendary Surfing Beach. Matuszak estimates there are only a couple hundred of them left. The book is priced at $59.95. More information at

For anyone who lives and surfs around San Onofre and has been even slightly interested in its storied history, this book is well worth the time and money.

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