SURFING LAGUNA: Talking story with Jimmy Hall

One of the many great things about being a surfer is sharing the memories of past surfing experiences. There’s no doubt that “talking story” is an integral part of the surfing lifestyle. It can happen in a million and one locales — around the campfire after a surf session, on a plane ride en route to an exotic surf destination, or even right out front of your doorstep when a surfing brethren strolls by.

Groms are indoctrinated by surfing elders to value the art of storytelling, as it links surfing generations together. Surf stories can be informative, describing what to look for at unexplored surf destinations. They can be heroic, as they tell of the epic challenges that must be overcome in conquering massive waves, unstable governments and edgy locals. They can be hilarious as small, seemingly minor mishaps grow and grow into earth-shaking calamities as time passes.

When graced by the presence a master storyteller it’s pure delight. They have a way of transporting you back in time by perfectly describing with wonderful richness the context of the surfing landscape.

They go far beyond the size of the swell and the shape of the waves, although critical factors to be sure. They connect you with such details as the look of the guy peering into your eyes in the fraction of a second that transpires as you take off deep on a wave over razor-sharp reef, the thunderous sound the wave makes as it detonates in front of you, and the elation felt when emerging from a snarling barrel, somehow magically unscathed.


I am stoked to know a Laguna surf sage of the highest order by the name of Jimmy Hall. Jimmy grew up here in Laguna, surfing up and down our beautiful little stretch of coastline, attending our schools and still resides here today.

If you don’t know him by name you probably know his sun-drenched face and huge ear-to-ear grin. Jimmy has shared so many classic surf stories with me over the years, it would be an injustice if I were not to share just a few.

Jimmy has also been struggling with being homeless and occasionally sleeps on the beach. I recently sat down with Jimmy to talk story about not just surfing, but also life. Tune in next week to hear from this surfer, father and Laguna original as we delve deeper into “life at the beach” according to Jimmy Hall.

CHRIS WILLIAMS is a surfing coach and Laguna Beach resident, and father of four surf-crazy sons. He can be reached at or (949) 497-5918.