Surfing

Surf Breaks

Imperial Beach Coronado Ocean Beach
Mission Beach Pacific Beach La Jolla
Del Mar Solana Beach Cardiff
Encinitas Leucadia Carlsbad
Oceanside Seasons of Surf

Imperial Beach

  • Tijuana Sloughs | A beachbreak that has incredible potential, located at the mouth of the Tijuana River it is often victim to dangerously high bacteria levels.  Advanced.
  • Imperial Beach | Usually much less crowded than other areas, IB offers occasional sandbars that can generate hollow peaks on good days.  Sand bottom, ideal at medium tide, and good in any swell but top rate with a southwest groundswell and/or east winds.  Best in Summer.  Intermediate.  Surf report online.

Return to top of page

Coronado

  • Silver Strand State Beach | Another uncrowded beachbreak, the Silver Strand stretches between IB and Coronado.  Sand bars make for lively surf with south & southwest swells, and a solid west swell will generate tempting peaks.  Side shore winds along this long, uninterrupted beach bring out the kite surfers.  Really shines in Summer & Fall.  Intermediate.
  • Coronado Shores | Not known for big waves, the beach at Coronado Shores sees some better, hollow surf with premium south swells.  The jetty to the north can produce a slow, peeling right.  Mostly sandy, there are rocks to beware of in this area.  Intermediate.
  • Coronado City Beach | Along this inviting, sandy beach, breaks are hard to come by.  At it’s north end, North Island offers a hollow beach break at low tide with a clean south swell.  This break also makes the most of Baja’s summer hurricane swells, missed by the rest our our coastline.   Intermediate.

Return to top of page

Ocean Beach

  • Garbage | North Garbage access lies just before the Navy Base gate, via broken steps.  South Garbage has a dangerous entry at high tide.  Despite the ominous approach, Garbage handles the double-overhead waves in rare fashion.  Expert.
  • Sunset Cliffs | A thick kelp bed offshore here keeps the surface friendly here, when other breaks are blown out.  A number of reefs generate some impressive waves, and the bottom is dangerously rocky.  Low to medium tides provide a chance to access this point, where there is no beach to speak of.  West & northwest swells and east winds set ideal conditions.  Best in Fall & Winter.  Advanced.  Surf report online.
  • OB Pier | OB draws crowds in almost any season, and the pier is at the heart of it all.  Surfers tend to divide, with beginners taking to the south to enjoy easier, mushy lefts, and those with a bit more experience enjoying the peak on the north side of the pier, that peels both right and left.  Mostly sandy with some rocks in the immediate area, south of the pier a rocky reef lies under the waves at higher tides.  Low to medium tides and conditions with no wind invite the best surf, especially with west and northwest swells.  Best in Fall & Winter.  Intermediate.  Surf report online.
  • Dog Beach | Avalanches is a consistent, left break that offers short boarders some good maneuverability at the smaller jetty in OB.  West swells are the best, but any good swell will do.  Low tide is ideal.  North Jetty offers a hollow right, breaking off the southern seawall of the Mission Bay Channel.  West swells favor this break, as well, but surfers should be wary of the tight take-off zone and water sanitation levels, as it’s located on the mouth of the San Diego River.

Return to top of page

Mission Beach

  • South Mission Jetty | Mission Beach is perpetually crowded, whenever the weather’s right.  Central location & abundant public parking make it a favorite among visitors.  A classic left break off the jetty does not go unnoticed, and is usually at capacity.  There’s plenty of beach here, however, and a sandbar can provide a nice bit of action without the crowd.  Sand underfoot, inviting at medium tide.  Almost any swell will do, from northwest around to southwest, and east winds don’t hurt.  Fall and Spring offer great action, and perhaps slightly smaller crowds than Summer.  Intermediate.  Surf report online.
  • Mission Beach | The long, sandy beach welcomes families to enjoy easy surf, even boogie boarding for the little ones (or the young at heart).  No matter the wind, swell, or tides, waves are an easy catch and its a great place for beginners to get the hang of surfing. Beginner.  Surf report online.  Webcam.

Return to top of page

Pacific Beach

  • Pacific Beach | Crystal Pier and its adjacent sandbars host scattered beachbreak waves, as reliable as it’s neighbor to the south, Mission Beach.  Pacific Beach is a prime destination area, however, and the waves are often over-crowded here.  Other sandbars along the two miles of Pacific Beach provide similar fun with more room to move.  During peak summer season, a designated surfing area is established from Crystal Pier to Diamond Street.  Diamond to Law Street is reserved for swimmers.  This deep, sandy beach is good at most tides.  Intermediate.  Surf report online.  Webcam.
  • Tourmaline Surf Park | Soft beachbreak waves at Tourmaline welcome beginners and are a favorite of long boarders.  The waves are often packed at this favored surf destination in north PB.  The Point is a primarily right reefbreak, which really turns on with a good west swell.  Old Man’s is a slow peeling right and left break at the north end of the beach.  Beginner.

Return to top of page

La Jolla

  • Bird Rock | Tricky access to the reef breaks here leave these waves primarily to more advanced surfers.  South Bird Rock offers a primarily long, right-point style wave with a shorter left that can be just as fun.  Almost any good swell will generate some good action.  North Bird Rock is more fickle, with waves more reliant on strong swells.  On a larger board, it’s a good place to work out your cutbacks.  Entry and exit from the water in this area can be hazardous & require caution.  Advanced.  Online surf report.  Webcam.
  • Big Rock | La Jolla’s territorial surf crowd can be as aggressive as this forceful reefbreak in south Windansea.  A heavy left offers tempting barrels over a treacherous reef, and a small take-off zone adds to the challenge.  More rock than sand, high tide offers the best opportunities.  Northwest, west & south swells kick up the action, which is best in Winter.  Experts only.
  • Windansea | Much less fearsome than it’s neighbor to the south, Windansea offers a classic reefbreak that is favored by the locals, often leaving no room for outsiders…  Reliable surf breaks left and right, and with more swell the action moves offshore.  Sand and rock bottom, ideal at low to medium tide with northwest, west & southwest swells.  Even better with little to no wind.  Year-round action looks inviting, but advanced surfers will fare best here with those who call the waves their own.  Less experienced surfers will do best to look elsewhere.
  • Marine Street | Bodyboarders and bodysurfers love to go whomping at Marine Street, and it’s everything that the name implies.  This shorebreak serves up some powerful waves, along with dangerous rip-currents and conditions.  Off the beach, two surf breaks are popular with the locals.  To the south, Little Point is a left breaking wave that is favored by goofy-footed surfers. Rarely crowded, it requires careful timing and reading the wave breaks to find the line and enjoy the ride.  South swells serve up the best breaks.  Just to the north of Marine Street, Horseshoes wraps around a reef, just as the name suggests.  Breaks right and left, with most favoring the lefts, even if a bit hollow and shallow.  Timing is everything, and the rocks beneath will exact their price.  Advanced.
  • Hospitals | This reef break comes to life with west & northwest swells, especially in Winter.  Some use this right point break to warm up to the challenge of Horseshoes.
  • Wipeout | Adjacent to the Children’s Pool, seals may applaud your maneuvers at Wipeout.  Seriously, kelp and eel grass help keep this cove smooth, while various reefs and sand channels keep it interesting.  Somehow it manages to avoid the crowds typical of La Jolla’s other beaches and breaks.
  • La Jolla Cove | On the rare days with the right swell energy, La Jolla Cove is a force to be reckoned with.  West & northwest Winter swells dig deep and drop powerful waves on the jagged reef.  On those special days, a long, lined up left requires a big wave board and expert skills.
  • La Jolla Shores & Scripps | Like the long, sandy beaches of Mission & PB, the Shores excels at accessibility and welcomes a variety of skill levels, on both long and short boards.  Protected from prevailing southwest winds,  surfers can focus on their craft here and prepare for tougher breaks elsewhaere along the coast.  This beachbreak is also favored by bodyboarders, and quickly fills with peak season crowds.  Medium tide, west & northwest swells, and east & southeast winds all line up to bring some fun surf, especially in Fall & Winter.  Intermediate.  Online Surf report.  Webcam.
  • Black’s Beach | Deemed the best beach break in San Diego County, all you have to do is get there!  Any way you slice it, it’s a long walk in, around, or down with a board.  Black’s is also traditionally clothing-optional, typical of remote beaches but depending on the level of law enforcement & season.  Offshore, a deepwater canyon drives a solid swell into big barrels that hold their shape and offer an exhilarating ride.  Three peaks provide options to those up to the challenge, including a long peeling left at South Peak, a right or left at Middle Peak, and a steep, bowling right at North Peak.  The sandy bottom may be the only gentle aspect of Black’s.  Low to medium tide and northwest, west & southwest swells see excellent action, especially with an offshore wind.   Ideal in Winter.  Advanced.  Online surf report.
  • Torrey Pines | This beach break offers some variable peaks along the length of Torrey Pines State Beach, along with somewhat smaller crowds.  Perfect place to spread out, find your choice break, and enjoy. Intermediate.

Return to top of page

Del Mar

  • Del Mar City Beach | Reaching from 4th Street all the way up to 29th, Del Mar sees a variety of beachbreaks, along with the favorite reefbreak located off 15th Street.  From the south, 4th, 7th & 11th Streets offer some good waves.  At 15th, the left races along the edge of the reef and hold good form, while the right backs off and turns to mush.  To the north, surfers might find well shaped top-to-bottom peaks.  Crowds tend to center on 15th Street, and lighten considerably by moving in either direction, so you can find a ride of your own.  Bottom varies between rock and sand.  Good at any tide and in any season.  Northwest, west & southwest swells raise some good peaks, in an east wind & with none at all.  Intermediate.  Online surf report.  Webcam.
  • Dog Beach | The Del Mar River mouth presents a shifty beachbreak on a constantly evolving mix of sand, tide, and current.  Be aware of sanitary conditions.  Intermediate.

Return to top of page

Solana Beach

  • Del Mar Shores | If you don’t mind the five flights of stairs tucked away off of Del Mar Shores Terrace, you’ll likely have this beachbreak at the north end of the cove to yourself.
  • Seascape Surf | During Summer the surfing area is marked by black and white checkered flags.  A classic beachbreak here offers shifting peaks, and few crowds.
  • Fletcher Cove | This beach was created with water hoses and determination back before the Coastal Commission oversaw coastal recreation and developers could do as they wished.What was once a sandstone bluff is now a nicely groomed, deep, sandy beach.  During the Summer there are designated surfing and swimming areas.  At either side of the cove the surfing areas offer typical beach breaks.

Return to top of page

Cardiff

  • Tabletops | To the south of Seaside Reef lies the Tabletops reefbreak.  With a south or southwest swell, the reef shapes some hollow barrels with a workable shoulder.  Mid-tide sees some great action.  Advanced.
  • Seaside Reef | This local favorite breaks over a shallow rock reef.  When its really performing, expect company in the waves.  The left is stronger than the right, especially at low tide when it can generate some spectacular barrels.  Low tide is the perfect time to catch this one on, especially with west & northwest swells in Spring & Fall.  Intermediate.  Online surf report. Webcam.
  • Cardiff Reef | Most typically slow and easy, if a bit mushy, when the swells are strong this reef can turn up a fast and hollow ride.  Longboarders love it, and you might see some sea kayaks put in here, as well.  Parking right off the beach make access easy and ensures that you’ll have some company.  Low tide and west & northwest swells will turn up the volume, especially with swells greater then five feet.
  • San Elijo State Beach | Along the length of San Elijo, and the campground sitting above, scattered rock reefs provide a variety of line ups.  Heading north, you’ll encounter Tippers, 85′s, Barny’s, Turtles, Traps, Pipes, Brown House & Dabber’s.  Sitting just south of Swami’s, you can skip the crowds & pick a peak to call your own.  Varying from intermediate to advanced.

Return to top of page

Encinitas

  • Swami’s | This reefbreak could be the most fiercely local spot north of La Jolla.  After decades of fame, it’s easy to see why!  The rocky reef generates rights that rarely disappoint, if you can find a spot ( a tip – head for the inside, as the regulars lay claim to the outside).  Swami’s is able to handle swells that will blow out most others, and really turns on in Winter, with a northwest or west swell, at medium or low tide, or just about any other old time it wants to.  Online surf  report.
  • D Street | A fun beachbreak, popular with the local crowd.  Provides a variety of peaks, bowls and tubes.  When these waves close out, check out Boneyards to the south.  A viewpoint at K Street will let you know how this spot looks before committing to the long walk from the D Street access stairs.  Ideal with a southwest swell, also at mid-tide.  Intermediate.
  • Moonlight State Beach | Right at the heart of Encinitas’ beach scene, most spend the day at Moonlight to engage in any other number of water & beach activities.  You’ll find a ride on the average to intermediate beach breaks, if you can find space in the crowd.

Return to top of page

Leucadia

  • Stone Steps | Usually not crowded, Stone Steps drops you down onto the Encinitas County Park Beach where you can enjoy variable peaks at this shifty beachbreak.  Just about any swell will do, at low and medium tides.
  • Beacon’s | Leucadia sits exposed to most swell directions, but northwest swells really turn on the two main peaks at Beacon’s.  Kelp beds offshore usually help keep the surface glassy into mid-morning hours.  The bottom is both sandy and rocky here, depending on the season & recent weather.  Low to medium tides see the best surf.  Winter is Beacon’s best season.  Intermediate.
  • Grandview | Just north of Beacon’s, Grandview’s stairs might be easier to navigate than Beacon’s slippery slope.  At high tides, you’ll have to pick one or the other, or paddle to your preferred spot since the beach is completely submerged.  The kelp beds continue to provide shelter from the wind’s effects on the surface.  West or northwest swells will bring in a great ride.

Return to top of page

Carlsbad

  • South Ponto | Located at the mouth of the Batiquitos Lagoon, Ponto sees a decent beachbreak north of (or in between) a pair of jetties. Intermediate.
  • South Carlsbad State Beach | Located adjacent to a State Campground, South Carlsbad is a great place to learn the ropes in slow, mushy waves on a sandy bottom.  Longboarders prefer this location, as well.  Beginner.
  • Tamarack Surf Beach | Carlsbad locals have it easy at Tamarack.  Parking is located right off the beach, and a paved path starts here and continues north to Frazee Beach in the Carlsbad Village area.  Variable sandbars and an underwater reef provide plenty of fun, particularly at medium tides and as long as swells don’t top six feet.   Intermediate.  Online surf report.  Webcam.
  • Robert C Frazee Beach | Fairly easy access makes Frazee popular with families, and offers easy surfing and bodyboarding.  Better surf, if that’s your choice, is available just down the beach at Tamarack.
  • Carlsbad Street Beaches | North of Carlsbad Village Drive, a number of small public access points lead down to the rarely crowded northern beach of Carlsbad.  A nice sandy floor and good waves make it a great place to learn.  South and southwest swells see the best waves, but the surf typically blows out after noon.

Return to top of page

Oceanside

  • Oceanside Street Beaches | South of Buccaneer Beach Park, the beach of Oceanside are reached via public access points at cross streets & between homes.  Shifting sandbars result in a variety of beachbreaks.  Offshore winds make clean, hollow surf.  South, southwest and west swells invite to surfers and bodyboarders to enjoy plenty of fun in this sandy beach area, best at low to medium tide.
  • Oceanside Boulevard | Sandbars here are rather consistent, generating hollow beachbreak waves from swells coming in any variety of direction.  Intermediate to Advanced.
  • Oceanside Pier | Beachbreak waves build thick and hollow with a solid south or southwest swell, especially at low tide.  Waves are typically blown out by afternoon, so early sessions are best.  Online surf report.
  • Oceanside City Beach | Pier View North and Breakwater Way continue true to course, along with most of Oceanside’s sandy beachbreaks.  South to southwest swells generate good waves off various sandbars before the afternoon waves are blown out.  Poor water conditions and bacteria levels can build at Breakwater Beach with storm overflow reaching the river mouth here.
  • Oceanside Harbor | North Jetty and South Jetty in the Harbor see consistent beachbreaks with 2 – 8 foot surf in most any swell, year-round.  Easy access and typically high water quality make it a destination for surfers when their favorite break is having a bad day.  Aim for medium tide, and any day in any season you can count on a good day at these jetties.  During Summer the beach is blackballed, so avoid crowds by arriving early or late to surf this location.  Intermediate.  Online surf report.  Webcam.

Return to top of page

Drowning in information and don’t know where to begin?   Franko’s Maps covers all of San Diego’s Surf Breaks, and offers maps for Fishing & Hiking & other adventures… Check them out!!

Surf Seasons

  • Winter | Just because the water temperatures drop down to the 50′s, the cold water doesn’t keep many devoted surfers out of the water.  Throughout San Diego County, a consistent northwest groundswell typically brings breaks to life. Locals crowd their favored spots, but along 77 miles of coastline odds are good that someone can find a bit of space for themselves to enjoy our celebrated surf.
  • Spring | As Winter finally eases up, Spring brings surf that changes with the winds.  Storms from the South Pacific may send tantalizing southwest swells, but many northwest facing beaches miss the benefit.  The water temps are just as capricious, temptingly warm one day and then quickly chilling again as the weather and winds turn.
  • Summer | As the waters warm up, the waves crowd with surfers as quickly as the beaches crowd with sunbathers.  South swells rarely show benefit in our surf, but a lucky southwest will fire up many breaks along the county’s coastline, especially near La Jolla.  The water can lure surfers out of their wetsuits and back into trunks…at least, until winds pick up in the afternoons and the water loses its heat.
  • Fall | As the water begins to cool after the long hot days of Summer, weather from our coastal neighbors can bring plenty of fun to the surf.  In early Fall the North Pacific generates northwest groundswells in steady succession.  Later season southwest swells can benefit from low wind conditions, and reach well-positioned breaks unchecked.  More days than not, you’ll find it a good day to be surfing!

Return to top of page

Information is provided as a convenience, and believed to be correct. Verification is the responsibility of the User.