The Ranch actually refers to two historically separate, adjacent ranches in Santa Barbara County, which together encompass some 8 1/2 miles of coastline and a host of high-quality point and reef set-ups. Razor Blades, Drake's, Little Drake's, Utah, Rights and Lefts, St. Augustine, Lefts and Rights, Lefts and Rights, Cojo Point, Perko's Point, and Government Point are among the quasi-mythical spots dotted along this comparatively untouched stretch of the Californian coast.
It's a gated and guarded community, and everywhere from from the security gate to the "mean high-tide line" is strictly out of bounds to the public. Besides trespass, the prospective surfer is thus left with three options: accessing the line-up by boat is the standard method, though some choose to hike west from Gaviota State Park along the beach below the high-tide line; the third alternative is forking out for some real-estate. Many of the landowners surf, and neither they nor the dedicated crew who regularly make the trip by boat take kindly to newcomers
. Certainly the waves are less crowded than elsewhere in California, but to describe them as empty would be an exaggeration.
The Hollister Ranch now consists of 133 parcels of land, each of at least 100 acres, which first went on the market in 1971. A quick look at the Hollister Ranch Realty
website reveals two parcels currently for sale: one is fully developed with a three-bedroom principal residence plus a guesthouse, and could be yours for a mere $12m (although "partial interests" are also available); the other, a bare plot of land with development rights, is priced at $3.4m. When plans to install a public access trail
were proposed in 2013, they were met with outrage, followed by legal challenges, on the part of landowners.
The faux surf clothing brand and Abercrombie & Fitch offshoot Hollister, incidentally, was named after John J Hollister Jr, whose grandfather originally acquired the ranch in the wake of the Civil War. Much of the brand's clothing bears the date "1922" on logos and labels, in reference to a surf shop the grandson supposedly established on Hollister Ranch in that year, but this story has no historical foundations
; no such shop ever existed, and in fact the company was not founded until 2000.