HUNTINGTON BEACH

Huntington Beach or Santa Cruz? Will the real Surf City please stand up. A land of palm trees, riots, reform madness, body art, heat sheets, pink stucco, and a surfing Walk of Fame. 

Huntington, like many of Hollywood's sagging heroes of yesteryear, has undergone some major cosmetic surgery over the past few years. The Pier alone has been reconstructed some half dozen times. Mom-and-pop liquor stores and surf shops have transformed into block-sized palaces equipped with movie theaters, health food and top-rate surf goods. Like it or not, the days of Huntington as a mellow little surf town are over.

Despite all the surrounding changes, the waves remain unchanged. Diehards swear by the break, claiming it's the ultimate surfer's wave, and others just laugh and say that contest organizers can have it every day of the year, for all they care. Whatever the case, there are still classic California days to be had at the Pier. Just wake up early one morning and if it's a peaky swell with Santa Ana winds, you'll side with the diehards.