The location: The Surfing Contest.

Q. What is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. A beach where Johnny enters the Pac-West surfing tournament.

Q. Where is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. The exact location isn't mentioned, but most likely Newport Beach.

Q. When did we see it on the show?

    A. In Episode 8 (of the third season), "The Game Plan", Johnny enters a surfing contest in hopes of being selected for the Pac-West surf team. There's a big surf festival/tournament going on down on the beach, and we see Chili & Marissa come down to the beach to lend Johnny their support.

    Johnny does well, and is congratulated by his friends, but then Ryan shows up (appearing somewhat jealous), asking Marissa why she has blown off college to hang out at the beach.

    As Johnny's name is about to be announced as a winner, Chili calls out for Johnny to come over. Johnny starts to walk across the beach parking lot and is suddenly hit by a car. (The injury leaves him unable to surf, shattering his dreams, and leading to his eventual death.)

    This same rocky beach was also seen the previous year, in Episode 1 (of Season three), "The Aftermath", in which Seth, Ryan, Summer & Marrisa (worried about problems with Trey and school) take Sandy's boat ("Slow Dance") and sail it to a secluded cove, where they relax and play around to take their minds off their troubles.

Q. What is it actually in real life?

    A. It's a rocky beach, but not in Newport.

Q. Where can I find it in real life?

    A. The surfing contest was staged on the beach at the base of the rugged cliffs at the southeast end of Westward Beach (next to Zuma Beach), at Point Dume, in Malibu.

    (The top photo of the craggy cliff face was shot with the camera looking south/southwest.)

    The scene where Johnny is struck by the car was shot in the Westward beach parking lot, the same lot where they later filmed Seth & Summer's bus farewell scene (when she went off to work for GEORGE in the final episode).

    Do not confuse this surfing contest beach with two other beaches where they filmed Johnny's scenes:

      1. Johnny's regular surfing beach, where he got to know Marissa, and

      2. The rocky beach where Johnny got drunk, tried to climb a rock wall, and fell to his death.

    Here is an aerial photo of the beach where the surf festival was held (and its notable rock face).

    Here is a map link.

Q. How the heck did you figure out where it was?

    A. The dramatic cliff face seen in the opening shot of the surfing contest scene is rather memorable.

    It's the northwest face of the Point Dume cliffs, as seen from Westward Beach. It's hard to miss once you have seen it.

    But to double-check, I Googled images via "westward beach cliffs" and pulled up several fine photos exactly matching the cliff view on The OC.

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