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A Santa Barbara Legend: Landon Smith

It is safe to say we get a lot of applications from folks who want to teach surfing in Santa Barbara. I think there is an allure attached to the title “surf instructor.” Of course it is a special sort of person who can properly teach surf techniques and get guests of all ages and abilities standing up and riding waves during a 4 hour lesson – Landon Smith is a pro at it. Over the last 2 years I have had countless guests email or call to tell me how amazing Landon is – how they couldn’t believe he got their daughter/wife/dad surfing in one day. It turns out Landon is a pro at a lot of things. During the last 2 seasons Landon has guided trips at Painted Cave and Santa Cruz Island, through the Santa Ynez Valley and at virtually every beach and park (were permitted, of course) in the city and county. There isn’t a trip he hasn’t mastered. We sat down to learn a little more about Landon and how he got his awesome skills.

Hometown: Los Angeles
First car: 1969 VW bug
Favorite surfboard: lightning bolt 8′ mini gun . I got this board from an old local on Maui and it’s always waiting for me there when I visit.
Best place to eat in SB: The Sojourner Cafe. It has a great variety of healthy vegetarian plates, vegan deserts, it’s open late and has an old diner feel to it.
Most incredible place I’ve been: Channel Islands National Park! ha! Seriously, I’ve been to a lot of amazing places but my favorite spot is in my own backyard.

Landon at Channel Islands National Park.

Landon at Channel Islands National Park. Courtesy of Erin Feinblatt Photography.

When did you learn to surf? Who taught you?
I learned to surf when I was 12. My uncle was a backyard shaper in Morro Bay. He taught me to shape my first board and that’s what I learned to surf on. I mostly taught myself by watching surf videos and spending a lot of time at the beach. It was a long road to shred-ability. I always tell my students how lucky they are to have a surf coach. I can teach someone in one day, what it took me to learn in one year!

This past season you spent a lot of time in Channel Islands National Park. Most people visit Scorpion Anchorage for kayaking, but what other areas would you encourage visitors to see?
They just built a new pier at Bechers bay on Santa Rosa. They also just opened up camping at Skunks Point. One of the most unique things about the Channel Islands is that they are all different from an ecological viewpoint because they have been isolated from each other for so long. Santa Rosa and San Miguel have beautiful white beaches and dunes. This is a result of bio rich materials in the sand. The sand was blown up onto the island during the last glacial period when the water levels were very low. We are starting to do multi-day kayaking trips this spring! I am so excited to take people to the outer islands (Rosa and Miguel). The more people see of the Channel Islands National Park, the more they understand what a important natural resource it is for us.

What’s your best tip for new guides on how to run an incredible adventure? What should they never do?
Be confident in yourself and your abilities. Don’t ever show fear or self-doubt.

Your email address is “beach wood designs,” can you tell me about that?
I am a salvage wood carpenter. I salvage wood from beaches, ranches, and rubbish piles to use for one of a kind projects.

Any trips or adventures in your near future?
I am currently restoring a Malibu surfing Outrigger sailing canoe similar to what ancient Polynesian guys were sailing. I’ve never sailed one but supposedly they go wicked fast and you can ride open ocean swells for miles. I plan to sail the thing down the Sea of Cortez this winter.

sailing canoe

Landon's restored Malibu surfing outrigger sailing canoe.

Thanks for sharing Landon. We feel so lucky to have you on our team!

If you have a memory of Landon from a trip or elsewhere, please share it in our comment section below. I am sure he would love to hear from you!

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