Emma Wood State Beach Activities

Ventura County

Nearby Activities and Events

Adventure Sailing Charters

1575 Spinnaker Rd.
Ventura, CA
Sail aboard the 72-foot schooner Morning Star
Cruise the Channel Islands. Full or half day charters. Overnight trips available.
Surf voyages allow you to surf island spots such as Moore Meadows, Yellow Banks, and Hope Ranch
(805) 794-8703   Adventure Sailing Charters

Ventura to Ojai Bike Trail

Parallels Highway 33
A 15-mile paved walking, biking, jogging trail
1000 feet vertical climb to Ojai
Ventura to Ojai Bike Trail

Mission San Buenaventura

211 E. Main St.
Ventura, CA
Self-guided tours, open every day except major holidays.
Small admission fee
Mission San Buenaventura

Lake Casitas

Highway 150, 17 miles east of Carpinteria
Boating, fishing, camping
Lake Casitas

Carpinteria Triathlon

Carpinteria Beach
Carpinteria, CA
September 30, 2018
Olympic distances or sprint distances
Carpinteria Triathlon

Surf Fishing at Emma Wood

The coast along Emma Wood State Beach is a popular surf fishing spot. Anglers pull in corbina, perch, halibut, cabezon and bass. Many going after perch or corbina favor a Carolina rig with a chunk of bloodworm or grub for bait. Anchovie swimbaits are a good choice for halibut.

Some fishermen report good luck casting from the shore north of the park entrance. Another spot worth trying is at the mouth of the Ventura River when it is flowing into the ocean.

Eric's Tackle Shop
2127 East Thompson Blvd., Ventura, CA
(805) 648-5665   Eric's Tackle shop

Surf fishing along the Ventura County coast, CA

WWII Coastal Artillery Guns

At the mouth of the Ventura River, now swept by waves, are two circular gun emplacements constructed during World War II as part of California's coastal defense. Fears of an attack on the West coast were heightened when in 1942 a Japanese submarine surfaced and fired its deck guns on oil wells and storage tanks 12 miles north of Santa Barbara.

The twin concrete circles, known as Panama mounts, are 38 feet in diameter. Before beach erosion put them in the surf zone, they stood well back from the water. Mounted atop the foundations were two 155 mm cannons, which fired 95-pound shells up to 14 miles.

The 2nd Platoon of the 56th Coast Artillery Regiment set up a camp nearby and remained on duty at Battery Two through January 1944 when it became clear that the California coast was no longer in danger. At that time the cannons were removed.

Emma Wood State Beach Activities

Surfing at Emma Wood

Emma Wood State Beach draws surfers year-round with the summer months becoming crowded. The right beach break at the northern end of the park is known as J-Bowls. At the south end of the park a left break is called Mushpots. The best waves generally come with swells rolling in from the west, southwest, and northwest.

There is also a reef break known as Ventura Overhead that experienced surfers wait for. It only happens a few times a year. When it does show up, it's the best wave anywhere along this part of the coast.

Caution: Check with rangers or lifeguards that conditions are safe for your planned activities.


The long beach and steady wind at Emma Wood State Beach attracts a number of kite surfers. Experienced kitesurfers take care to launch themselves and land in a manner that will not interfere with other beach-goers. Emma Wood is not considered a good place for beginners to learn kitesurfing.

Local Surf Shops

Ventura Surf Shop
88 East Thompson Blvd., Ventura, CA
Sales and rentals
(805) 643-1062   Ventura Surf Shop

Seaward Surf & Sport
1082 South Seaward Avenue, Ventura, CA
Rentals, sales, lessons
(805) 648-4742   Seaward Surf & Sport

Ventura Makos Surf Camp

Surf camps, private lessons, after school program.
(805) 312-0713   Ventura Makos Surf Camp

Mary Osborne Surf Camp

Kids summer surf camps for all ages
Mary Osborne Surf Camp

Hiking Trails

Ocean's Edge Trail

The Ocean's Edge Trail begins at the Ventura River Group Camp and runs along the edge of the beach for about ¾ of a mile to the mouth of the Ventura River. After leaving the parking area, the trail passes through a tunnel under the railroad track. From there take a left and follow the coast to the estuary by the river. A dozen signs along the route provide information about the plants and animals of the area. Watch for egrets, California brown pelicans, ducks, and gulls.

Emma Wood River Trail

Beginning again at the Ventura River Group Camp, the River Trail makes a ¾-mile loop through the forested area east of the campground.
Ventura Tide Chart

Friends of Ventura River

Friends of Ventura River is a coalition of community members and groups dedicated to the restoration of the Ventura and the establishment of a Ventura River Parkway. Among the resources they provide are a Ventura River Parkway Brochure and a detailed map of the parkway, its features and trails, from the river mouth at Emma Wood State Beach upstream to Matilija Dam.
Friends of the Ventura River

Dolphin Watch

Emma Wood State Beach is known as one of the best places along this section of coast to watch for pods of dolphins. Among these species most like spotted off the coast are Pacific white-sided dolphins, Pacific bottle-nose dolphins, and much larger Risso's dolphins. It is usually the Pacific white-sided dolphins that put on displays of leaps and flips.

Ocean Safety

California State Parks and Recreation cautions that "large surf, cold water temperatures, backwash, sudden drop-offs, pounding shorebreak, and dangerous rip currents can turn what seem like safe activities such as playing near the surf line, wading, or climbing on rock outcroppings, deadly." Learn more about ocean safety at CA State Parks: Ocean Safety

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