ParkVisitor was lucky enough to chat recently with Southern California local surfing hero Taylor Jensen. Jensen is the reigning World Longboard Champion and has taken home six U.S. National Longboard championships, as well as almost every other major longboarding championship since turning pro at the ripe age of 17. Yet for all his accolades, the Coronado, Calif. native somehow stays humble and insists the fame has nothing to do with it.

“I got really into surfing around nine or 10, and started competing at 13,” Jensen says. “The history of the sport is what appealed to me first, and now I get to do what I love and get paid to surf all over the world.”

And who wouldn’t love his schedule? When we spoke to him, he was about to embark on a global tour with five days in New Zealand, three weeks in Australia (where he won the ASP LQS 3-Star Australian Open of Longboarding), and 10 days on Oahu’s North Shore. While that may seem busy, he still has time for impromptu surf sessions, including the spur of the moment, 12-hour flight he took to Guam after getting a call about a particularly nice swell.

Sounds pretty good for the Oceanside, Calif. resident, whose biggest challenge is having to overcome jet lag while on the road competing. Of course, Jensen doesn’t want to talk about the difficulties; he prefers to talk about the history of longboarding, more so than just surfing in general.

“The use of the board, the difference between the nose and the tail, the timing and the use of the wave;” Jensen says, “They all factor in. But the tradition of the sport factors in the most, and it’s crucial to be a part of it.”  Longboards were first used for surfing by the ancient Hawaiians in the sixth-century, but it wasn’t until  the early 1900’s when Duke Kahanamoku, a Hawaiian Olympic swimmer, brought surfing to the mainland that it started gaining popularity. By the 50’s & 60’s surfing was an integral part beach culture everywhere. With the introduction of the shortboard in the 60’s, surfing became more about speed, fancy maneuvers and catching big waves. Jensen prefers longboarding for what it has always stood for, a family friendly, chill atmosphere where people of all ages can get in the water to catch waves of any size and have some fun on the board.

Jensen knows how important getting out on the water is for any level of surfer, and being from California, he gave us a peek at his five favorite state beaches to shred:

  1. Año Nuevo State Park – This park is off the beaten path in San Mateo County, but Jensen says it’s an incredible spot for surfing that should be on everyone’s radar.
  2. El Capitán State Beach – While Jensen says it’s a bit far from his home, the large winter swell that hits this Santa Barbara hotspot is well worth the drive for all surfers.
  3. Cardiff State Beach – If a pro surfer calls this San Diego beach “Socal’s Mecca,” you know it’s got to be awesome.
  4. San Clemente State Beach – With all of the surf camps hosted here, Jensen says it’s a great place for kids to ride the waves and learn the sport. He says, “it’s a cool place, if not the best wave” in Southern California.
  5. San Onofre State Beach – Jensen loves the history of this beach, saying it has the same great atmosphere now as it did in the 50s. Good for families, beginner friendly, and a whole lot of fun, the champ has made it a regular weekend stop.

If you want to keep up with Jensen, check out his website!

We also will be sharing some of his insider tips soon, so be sure to sign up for the ParkVisitor blog to get great outdoor tips and inspiration!