Malibu Pier

Malibu, California | C.1905

Photo Credit: Rita D’Orazio

When you think of California, you think of sun, surf, and sand. You can thank Mailbu Pier for that, the world’s first surf reserve that defined the sport for generations.

Surfing hit the mainstream consciousness thanks to Kathy Kohner. In the Summer of 1956, at 15 years old, Kohner ventured to the Pier eager to learn how to surf. She didn’t have any money for lessons, but she was willing to trade a peanut butter sandwich for the opportunity. Kohner spent so much time on the shores that locals started calling her by her nickname, Gidget.

Gidget’s father, Fredrick Kohner, supported his daughter’s exciting new hobby. He was also fascinated by the surfing subculture and the prospect of bringing this laid back, fun-in-the-sun attitude to the rest of America. The experience inspired him to write Gidget, the Girl Who Could, a novel that would change surfing forever.

Frederick’s book quickly gained momentum like a swell in the Pacific. His novel was adapted for film and TV; the TV series starred a young Sally Field.

Today the Malibu Pier is a Southern California icon. Surfers from around the world come to Surfrider Beach adjacent to the pier, known for its three-point break that offers rides of 300 yards or more. And as for young Gidget, if you see a spry grandmother with a flower in her hair walking on the pier, it just might be her.

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