By the time Nick Hernandez was five, he’d found a home on stage—singing with his dad’s band. He also took to the water early, learning to surf at age seven. 

Those two first loves have come to define Hernandez’s life. He’s a champion skimboarder and a world-renowned musician. His band, Common Sense, played on the soundtracks of the movies Kingpin and Speed 2, and in nationally televised advertisements. 

When he isn’t performing or in the water, Hernandez is on the board of directors at both Surfers Healing and the Wyland Foundation. This week, we spoke to the longtime Laguna-resident about his beloved local waves and music, and his favorite new Mexican restaurant.

Blue Water Music Festival_Laguna Beach

I can't tell you my favorite Laguna Beach secret...But my second favorite would have to be the music scene. From Rick Conkey's Music Matters series seen at The Cliff Restaurant and his upcoming Bluewater Music Festival (March 28-29th); to venues like Mozambiquethat offer fine dining and a room tailored for live music; along with bars like the Sandpiper Lounge, the White House, or the Marine Room (which have had live music for as long as I can remember)—this is a town filled with great venues and great musicians. Grammy winners, rock stars, and street musicians alike all thrive in Laguna Beach.

I love going hiking in the hills. They offer a perfect vantage point for looking down at Laguna’s striking scenery.

Which reminds me, the sheer beauty of Laguna Beach can sometimes, somehow still get under-appreciated. The stunning sunsets, the rocky shores and beaches, the hills that seem to spring right out of the ground, the green canyon landscape after a winter or spring rain…Laguna rivals anywhere I’ve ever been in terms of natural beauty. 

Nick I_Laguna Beach 

Carmelita's has become my go-to for sit down Mexican food. When I'm not in the mood for Mexican, I love to go check the waves and watch the sunset at Thalia Street, then stroll across PCH to San Shi Go or downtown to Sushi Laguna. Either way, it's all within a pleasant walk of my house. 

I often take my ukulele to the beach, usually a place where no one else is, just to listen to the waves and strum. This town has a lot of great uke-playing-caves. 

Nick I

If there aren’t waves and I’m not surfing, I like to take friends out paddling to enjoy the sea life. Dolphins, whales, seals, and the myriad fish species—there's always something new or interesting to see in the ocean. When looking towards Laguna from this perspective you really gain insight on what a small town it is. 

Nick I_Laguna Beach


After we dry off, we head straight to Mozambique or The Rooftop Lounge for spectacular views of the ocean at sunset. Later it's downtown for a drink—Tommy Bahama, or The Saloon. Late night, the locals always head to the Sandpiper or the White House for last call.

The Saloon_Laguna Beach
 The Saloon by Blademar Fierro

My mom brought me to Laguna Beach when I was four years old, following the hippie culture.  What sticks out from that time is the beat up old boardwalk and a restaurant named Benton’s where my mom worked. I also recall another restaurant called the Royal Hawaiian. I remember exploring the beautiful tide pools and not being able to see anything but the wilderness greenbelt surrounding our little town. In those days, the hippies ran amok…I still get reminded of that when I go into Sound Spectrum to get advice on good music. 

Nick I_Laguna Beach

'My Laguna Beach' is a series of interviews in which some of the city's most prominent fans give us a virtual tour and share their Laguna Beach secrets. TWEET or INSTAGRAM your own Laguna faves to us @VisitLaguna with the hashtag #MYLAGUNABEACH.