Cultural Experiences

California has a rich history of innovation, where craftspeople have for hundreds of years defined what it means to be “Californian”, and Southern California – Laguna Beach in particular, has been a place of pronounced inspiration.   Our experiences will take you into the workshops and personal lives of these makers and creators.

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Hobie Surfboards: Shape, Sand And Surf

Shaper

In the 1950’s, local waterman Hobie Alter created the very first foam surfboard from his parents garage right here in Laguna Beach, and changed the surf industry forever. Today that legacy continues. Hobie surfboard shaper Gary Larson creates custom boards from the shaping bay at the Hobie Surf Shop in Dana Point, where the very first Hobie Surf Shop began. There are arguably very few more authentically Californian experiences than having a surfboard custom made, but conspiring on the design and shaping your own board under the tutelage of a true artisan takes this to the next level.

Gary Larson standing in workshop with foam surfboard

Laguna Beach aerial coastline at sunset

Your experience will start before you even check in at The Ranch. Gary will call you and talk over the board of your dreams - walking through the process of choosing the right blank, learning about contours and rail, colors and design. Once you arrive, your day with Gary starts with lunch at a local brewpub across the street from Hobie Surf Shop in Dana Point. Over lunch, and maybe a few locally crafted beers, you will learn about Gary and his journey as a surfboard shaper, talk board design and any last-minute design inspiration. Gary is also a college professor, so lunch will not be boring! After lunch, you walk over to the shaping bay where the artistry begins, working with Gary in shaping the essence of what will become your dream board.

About Shaper Gary Larson

Dana Point native Gary Larson has shaped surfboards since the late 1990s. Today, he works exclusively for Hobie Surf Shop, creating boards from an on-site shaping room at Hobie’s Dana Point store.


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Details

This half day experience includes your pre-arrival time with Gary, transportation to and from Hobie Surf Shop, lunch for yourself and Gary, the shaping experience and ultimately, the final board of your dreams delivered to your door anywhere in the continental US.

$2,500 plus applicable taxes

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about

Hobie Alter

And the origin story of

Modern Surfboard

During the summer of 1950, with his two loves firmly in hand: wood working and the ocean, and his dream of never having to wear hard-soled shoes in mind, Hobie Alter set a course that would influence the future of the “Sport of Kings.” Described as a man of great imagination he started out shaping surfboards in his family’s Laguna Beach summer home for friends and ended up shaping a culture.

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During the summer of 1950, with his two loves firmly in hand: wood working and the ocean, and his dream of never having to wear hard-soled shoes in mind, Hobie Alter set a course that would influence the future of the “Sport of Kings.” Described as a man of great imagination he started out shaping surfboards in his family’s Laguna Beach summer home for friends and ended up shaping a culture.

Phil Edwards: “[We ran] along a parallel course [but], he had a sort of magic touch.” His genius was in his ability to invent, experiment, and follow-through. “I started out making maybe twenty boards a summer for friends, and it sure beat being a lifeguard,” recalled Hobie for the Santa Ana Register in September 1981.

In 1954, his father, now grown tired of the 35 pounds of balsa wood shavings from each board shaped, and piled on his garage floor, bought for $1500.00, Hobie’s first shop – the first Southern California surf shop -- , in Dana Point on Pacific Coast Highway, two blocks from where the current Hobie Surf Shop stands. Hobie recalled for Scott Hulett in Longboard Magazine, “My Laguna run totaled 99 boards. Number 100 came with the purchase of the Dana Point shop.”

The Hobie Surfboards reputation for craftsmanship, innovation, and quality attracted a hall-of-fame team of inspired craftsman and athletes including Phil Edwards, Joey Cabell, Corky Carroll, Mickey Munoz, Mike Hynson, Dick Brewer, Terry Martin, Herbie Fletcher, and World Champion, Joyce Hoffman, among others. In ’58 surfboards were, with a few exceptions, made primarily of balsa wood. Phil Edwards noted that balsa “was an expensive process,” with two-thirds of the wood board lying on the shaping room floor at the end of the day. The ever industrious Hobie, remembered a winter’s evening in 1954 when Kent Doolittle dropped a small block of polyurethane foam into his hand.

Impressed with its weight to strength ratio, its unwillingness to soak up water, and its ability to be glassed with polyester resin, Hobie filed the information away for possible future use. In ’58, with balsa becoming more expensive and harder to source, he knew the future had arrived.

Enter Gordon “Grubby” Clark (Clark Foam). Clark, an engineering student and laminator for Hobie Surfboards and Hobie teamed up to produce polyurethane foam for surfboard use. The expansion properties of “this junk,” as Hobie called it, was incredible. Mold after mold, and his father’s garage wall suffered the explosiveness of the “junk.” Fearing that the competition (Velzy, or Noll) would capture their formula, the duo rented a beaten down, weather bruised shack in an obscure coastal arroyo, blackened out the windows and set to work perfecting the new technology. “The revolution was subtle,” recalled Edwards in his 1967 autobiography, and complete. It forever changed the manufacturing of surfboards, and birthed the ocean sports lifestyle.

Today, Hobie Surfboards and Hobie Surf Shops continue with Hobie’s genius of invention, experimentation, follow-through, and inspired performance. Whether your interests are in our apparel lines, or hand-crafted surfboards, or in the “Back to the Future” stand up paddle boards for recreation, racing, or surfing. Our team will bring to you the finest products and product technology while providing you with a place to talk shop and make connections; a place where not only the surfing and SUP communities can call home, but the greater community can call home as well. A home that promotes the clean living, ocean oriented lifestyle that Hobie Alter gave us over sixty years ago.

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Painter

As early as 1886, plein air painters came to Laguna Beach to paint the clear and intense light that characterizes the sheer natural beauty of our coastal community. These artists, who would become the founders of the California Impressionist Style, included William Wendt, George Garden Symons, Granville Redmond, Franz A. Bischoff, Frank Cuprien, Anna Hills, Donna Schuster and Edgar Payne, among many others. Norman St. Clair is credited with establishing Laguna Beach as an Artists’ Colony.

John Cosby chatting in his workspace with a woman over coffee

John Cosby instructing a student on the beach with a tall standing easel

One of the most renowned plein air painters in the world, John Cosby, is a good friend of The Ranch and has several pieces on display at the resort, including the incredible commission piece “Aliso Trail” displayed over the massive fireplace in Harvest Restaurant.

Your experience will begin before you arrive for your stay at The Ranch. John will set up a call, or maybe even a Zoom call with you to discuss your goals during the experience. Once on property, John will pick you up from the Ranch and take you to his studio located about 20 minutes away where you will learn over coffee, how he conceptualizes an idea, or how he puts a plan together in making a commissioned vision come to life. After some time in the studio, it’s off to lunch at a restaurant near his studio in San Clemente. Over lunch, you will learn more about how John became one of America’s most renowned artists and make plans for the next step – visiting an inspired coastal bluff in Laguna Beach where you will, under John’s tutelage, create your own masterpiece. Over lunch, you may decide that your goal is to commission a personal piece for your home, if that is the case – the inspirational bluff-side plein air experience will only further your excitement of having an original Cosby in your home. A custom piece would be negotiated between yourself and Mr. Cosby.

Once you finish your own creation, John will dry it at his studio and have it shipped to your home – usually a 2-3 week process. Along with your painting, will be a personalized note from John along with a few snapshots of your experience together – something to inspire brilliant conversations with family and friends as you show off your creation and talk about this once in a lifetime experience.

This experience is incredibly unique and scheduling time with Mr. Cosby is something that will require plenty of planning – so a 4-week minimum lead time is required to book this experience. As a working artist, John’s schedule is very busy, so we cannot guarantee that it will be available.

About Painter John Cosby

"While standing on location in a place I have never visited, I begin to recognize what is different about it from all the other places I have been. I try to capture that, the uniqueness," says Cosby.


As a painter, Cosby travels extensively painting what he sees and feels. Bold use of color and an energetic brush stroke combined with the truth of the place is what you will see and feel when viewing a painting by Cosby.

Born in Hollywood California in 1955, Cosby was raised in the west. At an early age he began to draw and paint and was lucky enough to have been inspired by a grandmother who was an oil painter. "She would give me the paint, some brushes and a scrap of canvas and set me off to paint. This early experience took the fear out of creating a painting," said Cosby.

Cosby started traveling at an early age. At 18 he was chosen as an advance man for the Executive Branch of the US Government, served under two Presidents and traveled the world. He met many interesting people and saw many things but what most interested him were the great works of art he encountered. "They haunted me and helped set the course for my career as a painter". After leaving the White House, Cosby rebuilt an old classic sailing sloop designed by Nathaniel Herrishoff. With a friend (who had dreams of being a writer) set sail up and down the eastern seaboard in the inland waterway for 3 years. Thus he began his art career.

"Doing drawings of anything that moved me, things began to sell and my course was set," said Cosby.

John Cosby headshot

Upon his return to the California, Cosby began painting the sea and landscape of coastal California. With a strong gallery response, his success as a painter quickly followed.

Cosby currently resides and maintains a studio in San Clemente CA. He works on location around the world and is represented by some of the finest galleries. Cosby was a founding board member of the prestigious “Laguna Plein Air Painters Association”, a Signature member of both Plein-air Painters of America and The California Art Club. He has served as an officer of these groups to help further the cause of Art. Cosby was also a founder of the Laguna Beach Plein Air Painting Invitational that was held at the Laguna Art Museum for thirteen years and is now in it's 18th year.

With his bold contemporary style Cosby has captured the imagination of some very important collectors. His work can be found in many private, public and corporate collections around the world. Cosby is recognized internationally.

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Details

This half day experience includes your pre-arrival connect with John Cosby, transportation to and from the art studio, lunch and delivery of your artwork (available for shipping in the U.S.)

$2,500 plus applicable taxes

Inquiry Form

Inquiry Form

Please provide more detail on your stay below and our Activities Manager will reach out to you directly to confirm your reservation.

Asterisks (*) indicate required fields.

date format: mm/dd/yyyy
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Birds of Prey

Directly next to the Oso Reservoir is the Orange County Bird of Prey Center, home to dozens of hawks, eagles, owls, and falcons that are either in recovery or have become a mainstay of the facility. This year The Bird of Prey Center is opening its gates to a limited number of groups, to participate in an experience of a lifetime; a chance to tour the facility and the grounds around the reservoir, to meet and learn about some of the birds on property, and the incredible opportunity to hold and take pictures with some of these amazing creatures.

John Cosby instructing a student on the beach with a tall standing easel

lady holding owl

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Details

This experience will come with a delicious to-go lunch prepared by our Harvest restaurant, beverages chilled for your pleasure, and transportation to and from the facility. With only limited slots of availability this year, make sure you inquire with the Activities Manager to book your experience.

$2,500 plus applicable taxes

Inquiry Form

Inquiry Form

Please provide more detail on your stay below and our Activities Manager will reach out to you directly to confirm your reservation.

Asterisks (*) indicate required fields.

date format: mm/dd/yyyy
date format: mm/dd/yyyy
date format: mm/dd/yyyy