San Diego Community News Group

A double rainbow recently hung from the infamous Windansea Beach Surf Shack, which is still going strong today. Photo by Jim Grant.


Sometimes a cabin is more than just a cabin.

Unless you are a surfer or a local you might not be familiar with the famous La Jolla Surf Shack in Windansea Beach located below Neptune Place at the west end of Westbourne, Nautilus and Bonair streets.

Besides its remarkable surf, Windansea Beach features a hut covered with palm leaves planted in the sand along the shore. It was designated a Historic Landmark by the San Diego Historical Resources Board on May 27, 1998. According to historians and surfers, the cabin was built in 1946 by local San Diego surfers. Woody Ekstrom, Fred Kenyon and Don Okey.

Throughout the 1940s Windansea Beach was considered the ultimate place for surfing, as well as the training of the Windansea Surf Club.Before the club was formed, it was said that they visited the surf spot in the 1960s and founded the club so that they could participate in a surfing contest in Malibu.

During its heyday, the areas were also a venue for Polynesian luau beach parties in the 1940s and 1950s.


Today, Windansea Beach is still home to the San Diego’s beach culture and is widely respected by locals as a sacred place. However, well known as he is, he has kept a rather low profile. If you go, be aware that parking spaces are limited and that there are no public facilities such as water fountains, toilets or showers.

However, surfers still come from afar to this famous beach to ride the same surf that many famous surfers once did.

La Jolla Historical Society historian Carol Olten said the Surf Shack itself is unusual for the simple fact that “it has a historical designation. I don’t know how many surf shacks in the world have such a designation, but ours does.

She said what makes it even more special is that surfers Woody and Carl Ekström, as well as many old surfing families in La Jolla and the surrounding area, are connected to the structure.

There was also “Woody” Parker Brown who was kind of a mystic from the east coast and when he suddenly saw the waves he became a world class surfer, ”she said. “Then he started building hang gliders and became a world class hang glider and surfer. “

She added that Woody and Carl Ekstrom were “well known in the surfing world, and Woody is now 90 years old and lives in North County while Carl has become world famous for his surfboard building”.

Olten, like many, said the Surf Shack periodically collapses or a wave catches it and needs to be rebuilt, but it’s good for the locals.

“I think if you tell surfers about it, they realize that the Surf Shack has a great history and that there is something charismatic about Windansea Beach. I also think you have to be a surfer to really appreciate it.

Olten recalls how she used to lie on the beach to sunbathe when she first moved to La Jolla in the mid-1960s.

Back then the surf crowd was small but then Gidget the films have come, ”she said. “After that there was a change and the surf got big and even bigger. Then Tom Wolfe wrote his book [‘The Pump House Gang,’ 1968] and blew the culture out of proportion. Some surfers were upset and many were upset. “

Sacred hut

Longtime surfer Bird Huffman, 62, who also owns Bird’s Surf Shed at 1091 boul. West Morena in San Diego, stated that the Surf Shack is indeed sacred to surfers.

Huffman was born and raised in San Diego and has said he “went to the beaches of La Jolla since day one”.

The Windansea Shack has always been a part of my life since I started surfing 50 years ago, ”he said. “It was one of many structures built along the California coast by the original few true surfers. Because it’s right across from one of California’s top surf spots, [that] has always guaranteed its respect and popularity.

While there have been camps everywhere – San Onofre and Malibu – I think Windansea’s Surf Shack has more prestige, ”continued Huffman. “The fact that the Windansea Surf Club is linked to it also gives it its own notoriety throughout the world. “

As well as being a historic landmark, the area and the Surf Shack have served as the base for many events such as weddings, funerals, and memorial paddle trips, as well as daily use for hiding from the sea. ‘shade and relax, Huffman added.


Like Olten, Huffman said the Surf Shack has been ravaged by bad weather time and time again over the decades, but is still being rebuilt and / or repaired.

Certainly, although it has been run over and suffered severe storms, it continues to be maintained by local surfers and members of the Windansea Historical Association and Windansea Surf Club, ”said Bird.

He said when that happened the Surf Shack would be demolished and then set back due to the extremely high tides.

The locals sometimes defend it by removing the palm leaves from the wooden structure so that there is not such a drastic impact in a storm, ”he said.

Additionally, Huffman said the beams have been replaced periodically, but it’s unclear whether a solid piece of the original cabin remains.

Even though it is a fundamental structure, many local families in La Jolla have observed it over the years and have tried to hold it in place with chains, ropes and surveillance so that it not be doomed or destroyed, ”Huffman said.

He added that there used to be “many large cabins along the coast, but as the 1960s and 1970s arrived, the liability also increased and they were demolished.”

“… But people here have taken a real interest in making the Surf Shack a landmark. They wanted to leave something original in this city and give a nod to what it was and what it was like in a simpler time.

As to what the original builders might feel today knowing their structure is alive and well, Huffman said, “Until they passed away, most of them visited it regularly and I think they would appreciate it. their achievement. It is a generational thing, so it is assured preservation and respect.

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