Southern California Surf Spots

Southern California is home to more surfers per capita than
possibly anywhere else on the planet, with miles of world-class
beachbreaks from Santa Barbara County to the Mexico border.
A huge expanse of coastline, it takes about five hours to drive. Less
sharky with warmer waters than up north, your biggest obstacle to a
perfect day of surfing in SoCal might be traffic on the inland freeways, so
use the coastal highways whenever possible, which are less congested. Despite the crowds, secluded areas can still be found. This coastline has been thoroughly explored, so there are no real secret spots, but some beaches are more difficult to access, which keeps fair-weather surfers away. At most beaches, localism is not as big an issue as it once was (mainly due to stricter law enforcement). That doesn’t mean the basic rules of surfer etiquette don’t apply, so mind your p’s and q’s. Renowned SoCal beaches include Rincon, home of a legendary and flawless right-point break, plus Malibu Beach, Huntington Beach (Surf City USA), Lower Trestles in Orange County, Black’s Beach in San Diego County, and in Santa Barbara, an approximately 14-mile stretch of private property known as “The Ranch”. The beaches at “The Ranch” are inaccessible (to most), but they offer up a paradise of waves so perfect that surfers will boat in to get to them, much to the chagrin of the wealthy landowners, some of whom are surfers themselves. If you’re new to surfing, a great place to work on your skills is San Onofre State Beach, which has long, gentle rolling waves, lots of sand, and zero attitude.

Good surfing conditions can be found in Southern California year-round, and the best seasons vary from beach to beach. Point Conception (in Santa Barbara County) is the dividing line between what is considered cold-temperature and subtropical water, so ¾ wet suits will do, with board shorts likely in the summer for Orange County and San Diego.

Find a surfing school in Southern California.

Read Our San Clemente, California Surf Travel Guide.

Santa Barbara Surf Spots and Breaks


Jalama Beach – North Santa Barbara County

Surf Location Take Highway 1 to Jalama Road, about 15 miles from there to the beach
Best Swell Direction Southwest, West
Best Tide Medium to High
Best Wind Direction East
Best Surf Season Fall
Wave Quality Excellent overall, consistent, generally hollow-shaped waves that peak left and right. Best in high-surf conditions, with outside swells producing big, aggressive waves.
The Surfers Can get crowded on weekends and during the summer (peak camping season)
Boards Shortboard and gun
Paddle Out Moderate to tough (at the Beachbreak)
Skill Level Intermediate to Advanced
Bottom Sand and rock
Watch Out For… The current, paddle-out at beachbreak, some localism at Tarantulas
Water Condition Clean
 

The Ranch (Hollister and Bixby) - North Santa Barbara County

Surf Location From Highway 101, privately owned property, otherwise access is via boat from Gaviota. Trying to access by land may get you arrested.
Best Swell Direction Southwest and West
Best Tide Low and Mid
Best Wind Direction East and North
Best Surf Season Late summer and early fall at Cojo, winter for the rest
Wave Quality About a dozen reefs and points, many of which can be considered world-class. Swells hit smaller and are tide-sensitive, rarely get above 8 feet.
The Surfers Wealthy land-owners and friends, or sneaky boaters
Boards Shortboards and longboards
Paddle Out Most are already out via boat access, easy to moderate paddle-out otherwise
Skill Level All levels
Bottom Flat rock, or rock with sand
Watch Out For… Angry locals pulling up your anchor or puncturing the inflatable you rode in on
Water Condition Clean
 

El Capitan – Santa Barbara County

Surf Location Highway 101, exit at El Capitan State Beach, go left under the bridge towards the kiosk
Best Swell Direction West or West-Southwest
Best Tide Low
Best Wind Direction Northeast, East
Best Surf Season Fall and Winter
Wave Quality A very, very fickly wave, El Capitan can also be one of the best waves in Santa Barbara. Though it rarely breaks, when those big west swells come it turns into a perfect barreling right pointbreak with an intense crowd on it.
The Surfers Very crowded when conditions are right
Boards Hollow point-break board
Paddle Out Moderate
Skill Level Advanced
Bottom Rock and sand
Watch Out For… Sharp boulders
Water Condition Clean
 

Sands Beach – Santa Barbara County

Surf Location Northbound travelers, exit Highway 101 at Storke-Glen Annie Road, take a left into Isla Vista/El Colegio Road. Once you pass the Francisco Torres dorms, bear right onto Camino Corto and take that to Del Playa Drive. Turn right and park on Camino Majorca.
Best Swell Direction West-Northwest
Best Tide High
Best Wind Direction North and Northeast
Best Surf Season Fall and Spring
Wave Quality More exposed than most the other beaches, so you’ll usually be able to find something ridable. The north end of the beach has less hazardous rocks and has the best shaped waves. Lefts and rights with lots of students on them.
The Surfers UCSB students, friendly, and less crowded up the beach.
Boards Shortboard
Paddle Out Mild to moderate
Skill Level Intermediate
Bottom Rock and sand
Watch Out For… There are some dangerous rocks at low-tide.
Water Condition Clean
 

Coal Oil Point – Santa Barbara County

Surf Location Northbound travelers, exit Highway 101 at Storke-Glen Annie Road, take a left into Isla Vista/El Colegio Road. Once you pass the Francisco Torres dorms, bear right onto Camino Corto and take that to Del Playa Drive. Turn right and park on Camino Majorca.
Best Swell Direction West and Southwest
Best Tide Medium
Best Wind Direction North and Northeast
Best Surf Season Fall
Wave Quality A lot more sectiony and mushier than Campus Point, but still can have its days. Come check this surf spot out when it gets bigger out there.
The Surfers Crowded, students
Boards Shortboard and funboard
Paddle Out Mild to moderate
Skill Level All levels
Bottom Rock and sand
Watch Out For… Kelp, tar, and sharp rocks
Water Condition Clean
 

Campus Point – Santa Barbara County

Surf Location Northbound travelers, exit Highway 101 onto 217 and take that to UCSB entrance, take a left and park in their lot or at the meters
Best Swell Direction West and Southwest
Best Tide Medium
Best Wind Direction North and Northeast
Best Surf Season Fall
Wave Quality Takes a big swell to really turn on, but when it does it can be considered one of the epic right pointbreaks of Santa Barbara. Has a fast moving wall on the inside during low tide.
The Surfers Crowded, students
Boards Shortboard, longboard and funboard
Paddle Out Mild to moderate
Skill Level All levels
Bottom Rock and sand
Watch Out For… Inexperienced surfers due to the high student population
Water Condition Clean
 

Sandspit – Santa Barbara County

Surf Location Highway 101, exit at Castillo, take that to Cabrillo/Shoreline, take a right, look for Harbor Way and make a left. 90-minute parking spaces at the yacht club. From there, walk to the breakwater.
Best Swell Direction West, West-Southwest
Best Tide Low
Best Wind Direction North
Best Surf Season Fall to Early Spring
Wave Quality Thanks to army engineers who built the breakwater, Sandspit was formed. A super hollow and heavy right barrel that breaks more often than you would think.
The Surfers Crowded when big, not a lot of space
Boards Shortboard
Paddle Out Mild to tough at strong current
Skill Level Advanced
Bottom Sand
Watch Out For… The Undertow, some localism, strong currents, the backwash, being thrown into the breakwater.
Water Condition Dirty
 

Hammonds – Santa Barbara County

Surf Location At the Four Seasons hotel, park outside the hotel and walk over
Best Swell Direction West, West-Southwest
Best Tide Incoming
Best Wind Direction East and Northeast
Best Surf Season Winter
Wave Quality Tom Curran’s home break, this surf spot now has a Four Seasons Hotel and whole lot of other development in front of it. It did not affect the wave, but sure makes access more difficult. The wave is a right point break that can get really good when its bigger, especially on the inside.
The Surfers Locals, sometimes guests of the hotel
Boards Shortboard
Paddle Out Moderate
Skill Level Intermediate to Advanced
Bottom Rock
Watch Out For… Localism, cold water
Water Condition Moderately clean
 

Tarpits (Carpinteria State Beach) – Santa Barbara County

Surf Location Off of Highway 101, exit at Carpinteria State Beach, $8.00 to park
Best Swell Direction West, Northwest, South-Southeast
Best Tide High
Best Wind Direction North and Northeast
Best Surf Season Summer
Wave Quality Nothing spectacular, but tarpits can occasionally produce some decent lefts and rights over sand and reef.
The Surfers Can get crowded, localism
Boards Shortboard
Paddle Out Moderately mild
Skill Level Beginner to Expert
Bottom Rock and sand
Watch Out For… Inexperienced surfers
Water Condition Moderately clean
 

Rincon – Santa Barbara County

Surf Location About 15 minutes south of Santa Barbara, visible from the freeway with free lot parking on the north and south ends
Best Swell Direction West, West-Southwest, West-Northwest
Best Tide Low
Best Wind Direction Northeast
Best Surf Season Fall and winter
Wave Quality The best right pointbreak in California. Rincon has three sections that all connect on the right days. The outside break is called The Indicator, and is the slowest of the three, the next one is the rivermouth, which can produce the best barrels, sometimes shutting out on you, and if you make it to the Cove next then your on till the end. The Cove is the most crowded and consistent of the three.
The Surfers Crowded, all types
Boards Shortboard, longboard.
Paddle Out Somewhat difficult
Skill Level Intermediate to Advanced
Bottom Cobblestone
Watch Out For… Parking lot thieves
Water Condition Moderate to dirty

Rincon, California - Surf Video

 


Ventura California Surf Spots and Breaks

 

Offramps – Ventura County

Surf Location Highway 101 at the Seacliffs exit
Best Swell Direction West
Best Tide Low
Best Wind Direction East
Best Surf Season Fall, Winter and Spring
Wave Quality Used to be called Stanley’s before it was ruined by the construction of the highway. It is a fast hollow right that doesn’t compare to what it used to be, but is still worth your time when it is going off.
The Surfers Not crowded
Boards Shortboard or sponge
Paddle Out Easy
Skill Level Intermediate to Advanced
Bottom Sand
Watch Out For… Nothing
Water Condition Fairly clean
 

Overhead – Ventura County

Surf Location From Highway 101, parking available at Emma Wood State Beach
Best Swell Direction West, Northwest
Best Tide Low
Best Wind Direction East
Best Surf Season Winter
Wave Quality The main big-wave spot in the region. The rights can go forever and the lefts offer some heavy barrels. Rarely breaks and is pretty far offshore.
The Surfers Not crowded, localism at times
Boards Mini-gun, PWC, tow board
Paddle Out Mild to tough
Skill Level Advanced
Bottom Reef, rock, possibly abandoned vehicles and scrap metal
Watch Out For… Strong currents
Water Condition Moderately clean
 

Pitas Point (Faria) – Ventura County

Surf Location Public access at the south end (and walk from there) and also from the Faria Park campground to the north
Best Swell Direction West, Northwest
Best Tide Low
Best Wind Direction West, Northwest
Best Surf Season Fall and Winter
Wave Quality When it’s working, it is one of the more epic Southern California surf breaks. The only problem is that it rarely is working that way. With a nice north swell and a low tide this place is a super fast right with amazing barrel sections.
The Surfers Can get very crowded
Boards Shortboard, longboard
Paddle Out Moderately tough
Skill Level Intermediate to Sdvanced
Bottom Cobblestone and sand
Watch Out For… Rocks, localism
Water Condition Moderately clean
 

Solimar Beach – Ventura County

Surf Location Between Emma Wood State each Park and Faria Beach Park, visible from Highway 101
Best Swell Direction West, West-Northwest, South, South-Southeast
Best Tide Low to Medium High
Best Wind Direction Northeast
Best Surf Season All year
Wave Quality Has several breaks depending upon swell conditions. Beachbreak can be mushy, sand and rock reefs work well with a west swell. The main peak about 300 yards offshore gets good with a solid swell and goes both ways.
The Surfers Can get crowded on weekends, some localism
Boards Shortboard, log or sponge
Paddle Out Moderate to tough
Skill Level Beginner to Advanced
Bottom Sand and reef
Watch Out For… Nothing
Water Condition Moderately clean
 

Summer Beach – Ventura County

Surf Location Easily visible from Highway 1
Best Swell Direction West, mix of Southwest or South
Best Tide Medium
Best Wind Direction East
Best Surf Season All year
Wave Quality This place is home to lots of unusual surf, but generally is just your average beach break with lefts and rights that close out most of the time.
The Surfers Not crowded
Boards Shortboard or longboard
Paddle Out Moderately easy
Skill Level Beginner to Intermediate
Bottom Sand
Watch Out For… Boulders and huge winter swells
Water Condition Relatively clean
 

Emma Wood – Ventura County

Surf Location At Emma Wood State Beach, free parking in a dirt lot overlooking the beach, or $2 at the park entrance
Best Swell Direction West, Northwest
Best Tide Low
Best Wind Direction East
Best Surf Season Winter
Wave Quality A decent rock/reef break with lefts and rights. There is a big-wave surf spot just outside the main break.
The Surfers Light crowds, minimal localism
Boards Shortboard, Mini-gun, PWC, tow board
Paddle Out Mild to difficult
Skill Level Advanced
Bottom Reef and rock
Watch Out For… Strong waves, occasional sharks
Water Condition Moderately clean
 

California Street – Ventura County

Surf Location Exit Highway 101 at California Street, you’ll see San Buenaventura Beach Park. There is metered and street parking, or you can park at the County Fairgrounds.
Best Swell Direction South, Southwest, West, Northwest
Best Tide Low to Medium
Best Wind Direction East
Best Surf Season Fall and winter.
Wave Quality Similar to Upper Trestles, this spot breaks over sand and cobblestone offering lefts and rights. The most popular spot being Pipe on the north end; this place gets really good when the river mouth arranges the cobblestone bottom correctly.
The Surfers Can get very crowded.
Boards Shortboard, log, funboard
Paddle Out Moderate
Skill Level Beginner to Advanced
Bottom Cobblestone
Watch Out For… Crowds
Water Condition Moderately dirty
 

Ventura Harbor (New Jetty) – Ventura County

Surf Location Driving south on Highway 101, take the East Harbor Boulevard, look for harbor. Parking available at Surfer’s Knoll parking lot (just south of the harbor).
Best Swell Direction South, Southwest, West, West-Northwest
Best Tide Low to Medium
Best Wind Direction East
Best Surf Season Summer, Fall, Winter
Wave Quality The once epic left is now gone due to a new jetty, but there is a left that shows at the new jetty, just not in the same way. It still gets good out there.
The Surfers Can get moderately crowded
Boards Shortboard
Paddle Out Moderate
Skill Level Intermediate to Advanced
Bottom Sand
Watch Out For… D/N/A
Water Condition Moderately clean
 

Oxnard Shores – Ventura County

Surf Location In Ventura, exit at Victoria Avenue, go south and turn right on 5th Street. Located several miles down 5th Street (at the end).
Best Swell Direction Southwest
Best Tide Low to Medium
Best Wind Direction East
Best Surf Season Summer and Fall
Wave Quality Made famous as a test zone for new boards in the 70’s, this place doesn’t break that often, but when it does it is fast and hollow. A very peaky spot that has lefts and rights.
The Surfers Can get moderately crowded
Boards Shortboard
Paddle Out Moderate
Skill Level Intermediate to Advanced
Bottom Sand
Watch Out For… Mild localism
Water Condition Moderately clean
 

Los Angeles Surf Spots and Breaks


County Line – Los Angeles County

Surf Location Easily visible from Highway 1
Best Swell Direction West, Southwest, South, South-Southwest
Best Tide Medium
Best Wind Direction Light Northeast
Best Surf Season Fall
Wave Quality Several different waves, lefts and rights that get fast in the shallows. The left on the far north end is fun but has some rocks to navigate.
The Surfers Friendly, the biker gangs at Neptune’s Net across the street...maybe not so friendly.
Boards Any
Paddle Out Moderate
Skill Level Beginner to Intermediate
Bottom Sand and rock
Watch Out For… Car thieves, rocks at low tide.
Water Condition Moderately clean
 

Leo Carillo - Los Angeles County

Surf Location Easily visible from Highway 1, Leo Carillo State Park
Best Swell Direction South-Southeast, South, Southwest, West-Southwest
Best Tide Medium
Best Wind Direction Northwest offshore
Best Surf Season Spring, Summer, Fall
Wave Quality A really nice right that sometimes works more like a pointbreak when the swell increases. The problem is the small takeoff zone, which makes it seem crowded pretty quickly.
The Surfers Not much space so can get crowded (lots of windsurfers)
Boards Shortboard, longboard
Paddle Out Moderate
Skill Level Intermediate
Bottom Cobblestone
Watch Out For… Rocks, windsurfers.
Water Condition Relatively clean
 

Zuma – Los Angeles County

Surf Location Easily visible from Highway 1
Best Swell Direction South, Southwest, West
Best Tide Medium
Best Wind Direction East
Best Surf Season Spring, Summer, Fall
Wave Quality Mainly lefts, Zuma can get really powerful and gnarly as the size increases. At the south end of the beach is a spot called Drainpipes that is one of the heaviest surf spots in Southern California.
The Surfers Roomy but can get crowded
Boards Shortboard, mini-gun, bodyboard
Paddle Out Moderate
Skill Level Intermediate to Advanced
Bottom Sand
Watch Out For… Riptide/undertow, occasional sharks near Westwards and Pointe Dume Deepwater Canyon
Water Condition Moderately clean
 

Malibu Beach – Los Angeles County

Surf Location Easily visible from Highway 1, many parking lots to choose from but they do fill up fast
Best Swell Direction Southwest, West, South
Best Tide Medium
Best Wind Direction Northwest
Best Surf Season Spring, Summer, Fall
Wave Quality Made famous by surf photographers over the years, Malibu is a lengthy right point break that holds all sizes of swell. The outside takeoff zone is a fast rippable wave dominated by a pretty tight pack of guys.
The Surfers Very crowded, all walks of life
Boards Longboard, shortboard
Paddle Out Moderate
Skill Level Intermediate to Advanced
Bottom Cobblestone and sand
Watch Out For… Crowds, the super dirty water days with E. Coli warnings.
Water Condition Moderate to dirty

Malibu, California - Surf Video

 

 

Topanga Beach – Los Angeles County

Surf Location Take Highway 1 to Topanga Canyon, park in the lot at the break
Best Swell Direction West, Northwest
Best Tide Medium
Best Wind Direction Light easterly wind
Best Surf Season Fall and Winter
Wave Quality Lengthy and shapely right point break, can hollow out on big days. Not quite as nicely shaped as Malibu just up the way.
The Surfers Can get crowded
Boards Longboard, shortboard
Paddle Out Moderate
Skill Level Intermediate to Advanced
Bottom Cobblestone
Watch Out For… Localism, car thefts, rocks and cobblestone at entry
Water Condition Moderately dirty
 

Pipe – Los Angeles County

Surf Location Easily visible pipe that goes out to sea, park in the lot at the Hyperion Sewage Treatment Plant
Best Swell Direction Southwest, West, West-Northwest
Best Tide Low
Best Wind Direction East
Best Surf Season Winter
Wave Quality A hollow, powerful and ledgy left breaking over the pipe that goes out to sea.
The Surfers Localism
Boards Bodyboard, shortboard, longboard
Paddle Out Moderate
Skill Level Advanced
Bottom Rocks with sand.
Watch Out For… Crowds, rocks, localism
Water Condition Dirty
 

El Porto – Los Angeles County

Surf Location From Highway 1, look for the Chevron Oil Refinery
Best Swell Direction Southwest, West-Southwest, West, West-Northwest combo
Best Tide Medium
Best Wind Direction East, Southeast
Best Surf Season Fall and Winter
Wave Quality The trick here is to find the place where it is not closing out. El Porto can attract a lot of swell in the winter and it can get pretty good if you find that sweet spot. Rights and lefts.
The Surfers Can get crowded when breaking, otherwise not
Boards Sponge, shortboard
Paddle Out Minimal to moderate
Skill Level Beginner to Advanced
Bottom Sand
Watch Out For… Pollution
Water Condition Moderate to dirty
 

Manhattan Beach – Los Angeles County

Surf Location Take I-405, Artesia Boulevard exit all the way to the beach. Parking is along the beach at the Manhattan Beach Pier (metered).
Best Swell Direction Any
Best Tide Low
Best Wind Direction East, Southeast
Best Surf Season Fall and Winter
Wave Quality The same beach as Hermosa, just a little further north, this surf spot offers a left and right break that can get big in the winter months, otherwise mediocre.
The Surfers Can get crowded on weekends
Boards Shortboard, longboard
Paddle Out Easy to moderate
Skill Level Beginner to Intermediate
Bottom Sand
Watch Out For… Pollution
Water Condition Relatively dirty
 

Hermosa Beach – Los Angeles County

Surf Location Take I-405 to any of the beach city exits, look for Hermosa Beach and park along the beach
Best Swell Direction Any
Best Tide Low to Medium
Best Wind Direction East and Southeast
Best Surf Season Fall and Winter
Wave Quality Your average California beach breaks. Fun lefts and rights breaking over shifting sandbars, best at low tide.
The Surfers Can get crowded
Boards Shortboard, longboard
Paddle Out Mild to moderate
Skill Level Beginner to Intermediate
Bottom Sand
Watch Out For… Pollution, pier pilings
Water Condition Moderately dirty
 

Redondo Breakwater – Los Angeles County

Surf Location At the King Harbor breakwall
Best Swell Direction Northwest, West
Best Tide Low
Best Wind Direction East, Southeast, East-Northeast
Best Surf Season Fall and Winter
Wave Quality Further development in the area is moving the peak and causing changes to the sandbars, but the fast moving lefts that come off of the large breakwater wall can still be found.
The Surfers Crowded on small days, fewer people on big days
Boards Big gun
Paddle Out Difficult
Skill Level Advanced
Bottom Jetty/Sand
Watch Out For… The water entry from the break-wall
Water Condition Moderately dirty
 

Haggerty’s – Los Angeles County

Surf Location Take Highway 1 to Palos Verdes, look for Malaga Cove School, park on the street. Access to the beach is via the rock cliffs, you have to climb down.
Best Swell Direction West, Northwest
Best Tide All
Best Wind Direction South, Southeast, East
Best Surf Season Fall and Winter
Wave Quality A high-performance left point break. Super clean lefts, leave the longboards at home.
The Surfers Localism, crowded
Boards Shortboard, gun
Paddle Out Moderately tough
Skill Level Advanced
Bottom Rock and kelp
Watch Out For… The climb down the rock cliffs can be tricky, localism, vandalism, the local police are known to not get involved.
Water Condition Moderately clean
 

Lunada Bay – Los Angeles

Surf Location Take I-110 toward San Pedro, follow the signs to Palos Verdes, look for Paseo Lunada, park there and head down the cliffs
Best Swell Direction North, Northwest
Best Tide Medium to High
Best Wind Direction South, East, Northeast
Best Surf Season Winter
Wave Quality This place needs an overhead swell just to start showing, but when it gets big, it is the best big wave surf spot in Southern California. A big right comparable to Sunset Beach on the North Shore.
The Surfers Heavy localism
Boards Mini-gun to Big Wave Gun
Paddle Out Tough
Skill Level Advanced
Bottom Rock reef
Watch Out For… The locals are hostile: they will vandalize your car and/or inflict bodily harm
Water Condition Moderate
 

Orange County Surf Spots and Breaks


Seal Beach – North Orange County

Surf Location Take I-405 to Seal Beach Boulevard, take that to Highway 1, turn right, make a left onto Main Street, metered street and pier parking
Best Swell Direction South, Southwest
Best Tide Medium
Best Wind Direction East or Santa Ana's
Best Surf Season Summer and Winter
Wave Quality Conditions constantly vary here, but when the swell is closing out at Huntington, Seal Beach often will be peaky and very hollow. When the wind turns offshore and the swell is in the water, this place turns epic.
The Surfers Some localism, can get crowded on weekends
Boards Skimboard, bodyboard, longboard, shortboard
Paddle Out Easy to moderate
Skill Level All levels, depending upon conditions
Bottom Sand, pier, jetty
Watch Out For… Stingrays and some local attitude
Water Condition Clean, except during rainy conditions can get very dirty
 

Bolsa Chica – North Orange County

Surf Location Easily accessible via Highway 1, state beach parking
Best Swell Direction All
Best Tide Mid-tide
Best Wind Direction All
Best Surf Season Year-round
Wave Quality Normally a smaller and shorter right and left beach break. Depending on the swell and sandbars, could be just as peaky and fun as the spots further south.
The Surfers Can get crowded on weekends
Boards Any
Paddle Out Easy to moderate
Skill Level Beginner to Intermediate
Bottom Sand
Watch Out For… Nothing
Water Condition Moderately clean
 

Huntington Beach – North Orange County

Surf Location Take I-405 to Beach Boulevard, take that west to Highway 1. Make a right at the Hyatt Hotel and take that one mile to the Huntington Beach Pier.
Best Swell Direction Northwest, Southwest
Best Tide Low to Medium
Best Wind Direction East and Northeast
Best Surf Season Year-round, with Fall being biggest
Wave Quality Home of the U.S. Open, Huntington Beach has always been a famous name in surfing history. Two main breaks. Right and left beach break offering several miles of peaky fast waves that sometimes close out. Mild to powerful.
The Surfers Can get very crowded, especially on weekends. Some localism but generally friendly.
Boards Shortboard, longboard, fish, funboard
Paddle Out Moderately difficult
Skill Level All levels, depending upon conditions
Bottom Sand
Watch Out For… Pier pilings, some local attitude near the pier.
Water Condition Mostly clean, but can be dirty at rivermouth
 

Santa Ana River Jetties (RJ’s) – North Orange County

Surf Location Between Huntington Beach and Newport Beach
Best Swell Direction South-Southeast, South, Southwest, West, West-Northwest
Best Tide All
Best Wind Direction Northeast
Best Surf Season Best in Fall and Summer, available year-round
Wave Quality The river outlet makes for constantly shifting sandbars, which sometimes create super hollow and fast rights and lefts.
The Surfers Can get crowded
Boards Shortboard
Paddle Out Moderate to tough
Skill Level Intermediate to Advanced
Bottom Sand
Watch Out For… Pollution
Water Condition Dirty
 

54th and 56th Streets – North Orange County

Surf Location Take I-405 to Highway 55, go south toward Newport Beach. Highway 55 will end and turn into Newport Boulevard, take that to Highway 1 and go left at Balboa Boulevard, where you will find metered parking.
Best Swell Direction South-Southeast, South, Southwest, West, West-Northwest
Best Tide Medium
Best Wind Direction East and Northeast
Best Surf Season Summer and Fall
Wave Quality Some of the best sandbars are formed off of these jetties, creating some of the best barrels in Southern California. 54th street is mostly a right, and 56th is an incredible left. The more northern beach breaks after 56th get really good and help spread the crowd out.
The Surfers Gets crowded
Boards Shortboard
Paddle Out Moderate
Skill Level Advanced to Expert
Bottom Sand
Watch Out For… Pollution, sharp rocks, some localism, falling during the takeoff at 56th street and going right into the jetty.
Water Condition Dirty
 

40th Street Newport Beach – North Orange County

Surf Location Follow Balboa Boulevard until you get to 40th Street
Best Swell Direction Northwest, Southwest, South, Southeast
Best Tide Low and Mid
Best Wind Direction Northeast
Best Surf Season Summer
Wave Quality Right and left hollow and sometimes ledgy breakwater jetty
The Surfers Can get very crowded
Boards Shortboard
Paddle Out Moderately tough
Skill Level Advanced to Expert
Bottom Sand
Watch Out For… Rip-tide and undertow, sharp rocks, localism
Water Condition Relatively clean
 

36th Street Newport Beach – North Orange County

Surf Location Park on Balboa, go to 36th Street and walk to the beach
Best Swell Direction Southwest, South
Best Tide Low
Best Wind Direction East, Northeast
Best Surf Season Summer
Wave Quality Hollow, fast and powerful left, breaks on a jetty
The Surfers Can get very crowded
Boards Shortboard
Paddle Out Moderately tough
Skill Level Intermediate to Expert
Bottom Sand
Watch Out For… Riptide and undertow, sharp rocks
Water Condition Relatively clean
 

Newport Point (18th Street) – North Orange County

Surf Location Between the Newport and Balboa Piers. Parking may be difficult.
Best Swell Direction South
Best Tide Mid-tide
Best Wind Direction East, Northeast
Best Surf Season Summer
Wave Quality Hollow, fast and powerful, ledgey right and left beachbreak. With the right swells this place goes off bringing the North Shore of Hawaii to Newport Beach. Only breaks on very large hurricane swells.
The Surfers Extremely crowded
Boards Shortboard
Paddle Out Moderately tough
Skill Level Intermediate to Expert
Bottom Sand
Watch Out For… Riptides and undertow, pollution
Water Condition Relatively clean
 

The Wedge – North Orange County

Surf Location Breaks next to the Newport Beach Jetty
Best Swell Direction South
Best Tide Mid-tide
Best Wind Direction South
Best Surf Season Summer
Wave Quality A hollow, fast, powerful and ultra-ledgy left that breaks off a jetty, collides with a normal wave and creates a huge closeout on the shore. Epic. One of the most exciting shows to watch from the beach when it gets big. Mostly bodyboarders.
The Surfers Can get really crowded
Boards Shortboard, bodyboard.
Paddle Out Easy
Skill Level Advanced and up
Bottom Sand
Watch Out For… Heavy localism, harsh and dangerous shorepound
Water Condition Dirty
 

Corona del Mar – North Orange County

Surf Location Take Highway 1 to Manoila. Street and lot parking available. Walk just south of the Newport Harbor entrance.
Best Swell Direction South Southeast, South
Best Tide Mid-tide
Best Wind Direction East, Northeast
Best Surf Season Summer
Wave Quality A hollow and fast right and left that breaks on the jetty
The Surfers Can get crowded on weekends
Boards Surf mat, shortboard, longboard
Paddle Out Moderate
Skill Level Intermediate to Advanced
Bottom Sand and jetty
Watch Out For… Riptide/undertow
Water Condition Moderately clean
 

Read Our Destination Guide for San Clemente in South Orange County

South Orange County Surf Breaks


Brooks Street – South Orange County

Surf Location Take Highway 1 or Laguna Canyon Road to Laguna Beach. Look for the Greeter statue at the Pottery Shack. Beach access is via 40 concrete steps (at Brooks Street Beach).
Best Swell Direction South
Best Tide Medium
Best Wind Direction East
Best Surf Season Summer and fall
Wave Quality When on, a powerful, fast, and ledgy left rock-reef break.
The Surfers Can get crowded, very local
Boards Shortboard to mini-gun
Paddle Out Moderate
Skill Level Advanced to Expert
Bottom Mostly rock, some sand
Watch Out For… Sharp rocks, parking is difficult
Water Condition Clean
 

Salt Creek – South Orange County

Surf Location In Monarch Beach, north of Dana Point
Best Swell Direction Southwest, West, Northwest
Best Tide Medium
Best Wind Direction East, Southeast, South
Best Surf Season Spring, Fall, Winter
Wave Quality Three breaks: the Point, a sharp, long, left point break at the south end; Middles (a middle break) that provides wedgy A-frame in all conditions; and Gravels, a quick and relatively consistent sandy shore break.
The Surfers Very crowded, localism
Boards Shortboard, sponge, longboard
Paddle Out Moderate
Skill Level All
Bottom Rocks, gravel, sand
Watch Out For… Sharp rocks at low tide, localism
Water Condition Relatively clean
 

Strands - South Orange County

Surf Location Just south, around the point from Salt Creek, north of Dana Point.
Best Swell Direction Southwest, West, Northwest
Best Tide Medium
Best Wind Direction East, Southeast, South
Best Surf Season Spring, fall, winter
Wave Quality The south end of the beach has the best waves, but is under attack by the plan to build a jetty extending out from where the homes are being built. Fun lefts and rights over shallow sand and rock.
The Surfers Can get crowded, localism
Boards Shortboard
Paddle Out Moderate
Skill Level Intermediate and up
Bottom Rocks, sand
Watch Out For… Sharp rocks at low tide, localism
Water Condition Relatively clean

Doheny – South Orange County

Surf Location Doheny State Beach
Best Swell Direction South and Southwest
Best Tide Medium
Best Wind Direction Northeast
Best Surf Season Summer
Wave Quality The same location of the once incredible Killer Dana surf spot, now ruined by the harbor jetty and best suited for longboarders. A very good right, if you like small and easy longboard waves.
The Surfers Mostly beginners, can get somewhat crowded
Boards Longboard
Paddle Out Easy
Skill Level Beginner to Intemediate
Bottom Rocks and sand
Watch Out For… Sharp rocks and pollution, especially after rainstorms
Water Condition The dirtiest water in Orange County.
 

T-Street – South Orange County

Surf Location Take I-5 to Pica Avenue, take that west to Trafalgar Street, metered and lot parking available
Best Swell Direction South, Northwest
Best Tide Low
Best Wind Direction East
Best Surf Season Year-round
Wave Quality The main peak at T-street breaks over a reef pretty far out producing an awesome right and a sometimes equally amazing left. There are other peaks north and south of the main take-off spot that can get more hollow and bowled up than the main peak.
The Surfers Can get crowded
Boards Shortboard, sponge
Paddle Out Moderately tough
Skill Level Beginner to Advanced
Bottom Rock, reef, sand
Watch Out For… Sharp rocks at low tide
Water Condition Clean
 

Trestles (Cottons, Upper Trestles, Lower Trestles, Middles, Churches) – South Orange County

Surf Location Take the 5 Freeway South to the Cristianitos exit, take that to the San Mateo Campground and park in the lot, walk from there. You can also turn left at the Cristianitos overpass and park on the street on the east side of the freeway.
Best Swell Direction South, Southwest, Northwest
Best Tide Medium
Best Wind Direction East, Northeast
Best Surf Season Summer, but there is good surf all year.
Wave Quality Surfing trestles is the ultimate California surfing experience. No lifeguards, beach crowds, blackballs, or spongers. Just perfect point break waves for miles. Lower trestles is home to the only ASP World Tour event in North America, and is a perfect peak sending surfers right and left. Churches is an amazing right, though a bit slower at times than Lowers. The rest of the breaks at trestles are very consistent, and make arguably the best collection of Southern California surf breaks in one location.
The Surfers Can get crowded
Boards Funboard, shortboard, longboard
Paddle Out Tough
Skill Level Intermediate to Advanced
Bottom Cobblestone reef.
Watch Out For… Pollution after rainstorms, sea urchins, localism, theft
Water Condition Clean, except gets dirty post rainstorm

Trestles, Southern California - Surf Video

 

 

San Onofre State Beach (Dogpatch, Old Man’s, the Point, Trails) - South Orange County

Surf Location Take I-5 south to San Onofre Beach exit, where you’ll see nuclear power plant domes
Best Swell Direction Southwest
Best Tide Medium
Best Wind Direction East
Best Surf Season Summer
Wave Quality San Onofre is the best place to learn to surf in Southern California. Long, outside right and left waves that break slowly and easily. There are three main surf spots in the area, and they all break in about the same way. It is not uncommon to see a ton of people on the same wave, and everyone is friendly and willing to share.
The Surfers A lot of beginners, all ages
Boards Longboard
Paddle Out Easy
Skill Level Beginner
Bottom Rock and sand
Watch Out For… Schooling sharks at Trail #1, sharp rocks, out-of-control beginners.
Water Condition Clean
 

San Diego Surf Spots and Breaks


Oceanside Beach (North Jetty and Pier) – San Diego County

Surf Location Take I-5 to Mission Avenue, exit at Oceanside, go west to Pacific Street
Best Swell Direction South-Southwest, Southwest, West, West-Northwest
Best Tide Medium
Best Wind Direction East
Best Surf Season Year-round
Wave Quality Oceanside is the last stop before the Camp Pendleton Marine Base that divides San Diego from Orange County. The constantly shifting sandbars of Oceanside produce lefts and rights in a variety of areas. Both sides of the pier, and the north and south jetties produce the most consistent waves.
The Surfers Can get really crowded on weekends
Boards Shortboard, longboard
Paddle Out Moderate
Skill Level Beginner to Advanced
Bottom Sand, jetties, pier
Watch Out For… Riptide and undertow, some localism, pollution
Water Condition Clean, but can get dirty at the Jetty after a rainstorm
 

Tamarack St. – San Diego County

Surf Location Take the coastal highway to Tamarack Avenue, to Tamarack State Beach parking lot
Best Swell Direction West-Northwest, West, Southwest, South-Southwest
Best Tide Low to Medium
Best Wind Direction East and Northeast
Best Surf Season Year-round
Wave Quality Tamarack is one of the few surf spots in the Carlsbad region that has good sandbar formations. Because of a rivermouth in the area, sandbars form quite well making fun, rippable lefts and a few decent rights.
The Surfers Can get crowded
Boards Any
Paddle Out Moderate
Skill Level Beginner to Advanced
Bottom Rocks, reef
Watch Out For… Parking lot thieves
Water Condition Moderately clean
 

Ponto – San Diego County

Surf Location Take I-5 to the Pointsetta exit W to 101. Go south past the South Carlsbad Campground.
Best Swell Direction West, Northwest, Southwest
Best Tide Low to Medium
Best Wind Direction East
Best Surf Season Year-round
Wave Quality The jetties built by the military here create awesome sandbars. In the winter the rights are best, and during summer swells the lefts come to life. These waves can get really hollow and fast, with a lot of water moving around under you.
The Surfers Can get crowded
Boards Shortboard
Paddle Out Moderate
Skill Level Intermediate to Advanced
Bottom Sand, jetty
Watch Out For… Stronger than average Rip-tides, pollution.
Water Condition Moderately dirty
 

Swami’s – San Diego

Surf Location Take I-5 to Encinitas Boulevard (from the north) or Brimingham (from the south), head west to Highway 1, look for Swami Paramahansa Yogananda’s Fellowship (big gold domes), go down the cliff
Best Swell Direction Northwest and West
Best Tide Low to Medium
Best Wind Direction East
Best Surf Season Winter
Wave Quality Rare for San Diego, Swami’s is a right point break that can often produce some of the most amazing conditions of all Southern California surf breaks. The local guys on longboards normally control the wave, but sitting on the inside can get you some fun leftovers. There is also a short left for those who are tired of battling the crowd.
The Surfers Can get very crowded, localism
Boards Shortboard, longboard, gun
Paddle Out Relatively tough
Skill Level Intermediate to Expert
Bottom Rocks with sand
Watch Out For… Rocks and tight crowds
Water Condition Clean
 

San Elijo (Pipes) – San Diego County

Surf Location Take I-5 to Encinitas Boulevard, turn left to Highway 1, park in the San Elijo State Beach lot
Best Swell Direction Northwest, West
Best Tide Low
Best Wind Direction East
Best Surf Season Winter
Wave Quality Pipes is your average beachbreak that offers lefts and rights to all kinds of different ability levels. The north end of the campground has a much more consistent left that gets epic on a low tide with a solid swell.
The Surfers Can get crowded on weekends, some aggressive locals
Boards Funboard
Paddle Out Moderate
Skill Level Intermediate
Bottom Reef
Watch Out For… Localism
Water Condition Moderately clean
 

Cardiff Reef and Suckouts – San Diego County

Surf Location Take Highway 101, accessible from either north or south, or the Manchester exit from the freeway
Best Swell Direction Northwest, West
Best Tide Low to Medium
Best Wind Direction East
Best Surf Season Winter
Wave Quality Long, right point reef break, normally slow and mushy, bring your longboards and the whole family. 50 Yards away at Suckouts is a whole different story. Suckouts is a quick and hollow wave with a difficult drop. Offers both rights and lefts, the right being more consistent.
The Surfers Can get crowded on weekends, especially when Suckouts is on
Boards Longboard at Cardiff Reef, shortboard at Suckouts
Paddle Out Moderate
Skill Level Beginner to Advanced at Cardiff Reef, Expert at Suckouts
Bottom Reef and sharp rocks
Watch Out For… Sharp rocks and pollution
Water Condition Dirty
 

Seaside Reef – San Diego County

Surf Location Take Highway 101 south just past Cardiff Reef
Best Swell Direction West, Northwest
Best Tide Low
Best Wind Direction East
Best Surf Season Winter
Wave Quality Mainly a left that bowls up off the take-off, then turns a little softer through the middle before hitting the inside. With the right conditions this surf spot can throw a pretty mean barrel. There is a beachbreak called George’s further north.
The Surfers Not too crowded, but a competitive takeoff
Boards Shortboard
Paddle Out Relatively easy
Skill Level Intermediate to Advanced
Bottom Sand, rock
Watch Out For… Sharp rocks at low tide
Water Condition Relatively clean
 

Del Mar – San Diego County

Surf Location Exit I-5 at Villa de la Valle (from north) or Del Mar Heights Road (from south). Breaks from 15 Street to 20th Street.
Best Swell Direction West, Northwest, Southwest
Best Tide Low at reef, High at beach
Best Wind Direction East
Best Surf Season Year-round
Wave Quality This section of beach varies between sand and reef breaks with many different take-off zones. Very peaky creating fun lefts and rights.
The Surfers Can get crowded on weekends
Boards Shortboard, longboard, any
Paddle Out Moderate
Skill Level All
Bottom Sand, reef
Watch Out For… Some localism, pollution after a rainstorm
Water Condition Clean, but dirty at rivermouth after rains
 

Blacks Beach – San Diego County

Surf Location Park at the Torrey Pines Glider Port. Go down the trail to the beach.
Best Swell Direction West, Northwest, Southwest
Best Tide Low to Medium
Best Wind Direction East, Southeast
Best Surf Season Winter
Wave Quality An underwater trench directs swell power to this region of coast, creating a break that hold big waves creating epic conditions. Three main peaks that produce several waves, hollow, fast-moving lefts and rights. One of the best surf spots in Southern California.
The Surfers Can get crowded on weekends
Boards Shortboard, gun
Paddle Out Tough
Skill Level Advanced and up
Bottom Sand
Watch Out For… Nudists, riptide/undertow, some localism
Water Condition Clean
 

Scripps Pier to La Jolla Shores – San Diego County

Surf Location Take La Jolla Shores Drive to El Paseo Grande
Best Swell Direction West, Northwest, Southwest
Best Tide Medium
Best Wind Direction East, Southeast, South
Best Surf Season Winter
Wave Quality A hollow and fast right and left beach break. Can hold a lot more swell before closing out unlike surrounding area.
The Surfers Crowded
Boards Shortboard, longboard
Paddle Out Moderate, dirty after rain.
Skill Level Beginners and up
Bottom Sand
Watch Out For… Riptide and undertow
Water Condition Moderate
 

Windandsea – San Diego County

Surf Location From La Jolla Boulevard, drive west on Nautilus Street, park along Neptune Street
Best Swell Direction West, Northwest, Southwest
Best Tide Medium
Best Wind Direction East, Southeast, South
Best Surf Season Winter
Wave Quality A two-way peak that breaks over a flat reef, left is longer and more reliable. Can hold a lot more swell before closing out unlike surrounding area.
The Surfers Can get really crowded
Boards Shortboard, longboard
Paddle Out Moderate
Skill Level Beginners and up
Bottom Reef with sand
Watch Out For… Crowds
Water Condition Moderate, dirty after rain.
 

Birdrock – San Diego County

Surf Location Drive down La Jolla Boulevard, go west on Birdrock Street, park and walk down the stairs
Best Swell Direction Northwest, West-Northwest, Southwest, South-Southwest, West
Best Tide Medium Low to High: Low for the cove, High for Big Rock
Best Wind Direction East
Best Surf Season Year-round
Wave Quality Right and left reef breaks with two main spots; The Cove and Big Rock. The cove can hold waves up to 20 feet.
The Surfers Very crowded, competitive
Boards Shortboard, longboard, kneeboard at Big Rock
Paddle Out Moderate to tough
Skill Level Intermediate to Advanced
Bottom Rock, sand, seaweed.
Watch Out For… Heavy localism
Water Condition Moderately clean
 

Pacific Beach (PB Point) – San Diego County

Surf Location Between Point Loma and La Jolla. Park at Calumet Avenue and Linda Way.
Best Swell Direction West, Northwest, Southwest
Best Tide Medium to High
Best Wind Direction East
Best Surf Season Winter
Wave Quality A slow moving , crumbly right. Best bet is to bring your longboard..
The Surfers Can get crowded, some localism
Boards Shortboard, longboard, 12-foot paddleboard
Paddle Out Mild
Skill Level Beginner and up
Bottom Sand
Watch Out For… Loose longboards coming at you.
Water Condition Relatively clean
 

The Wave House (Bruticus Maximus) – San Diego County

Surf Location 3115 Ocean Front Walk, Mission Beach
Best Swell Direction  
Best Tide  
Best Wind Direction Southeast, East, Northeast
Best Surf Season Any
Wave Quality An artificially produced wave, a hollow, fast, powerful and ledgy left. There also is a small practice wave that does not produce a barrel.
The Surfers Anybody to Expert
Boards Provided For You
Paddle Out D/N/A
Skill Level Expert
Bottom Polyethylene
Watch Out For… Shallow bottom and going over the falls
Water Condition Clean (chlorinated)
 

North Mission Beach and South Mission Beach Jetty – San Diego County

Surf Location Follow Mission Beach to the beach
Best Swell Direction West, Northwest, Southwest
Best Tide Medium
Best Wind Direction East, South at the Jetty
Best Surf Season Spring, Fall, Winter
Wave Quality Two-mile stretch of beach that always has something to offer. Often peaky, and the shifting sandbars can occasionally produce epic conditions.
The Surfers Can get very crowded at the Jetty
Boards Shortboard, longboard
Paddle Out Mild
Skill Level Beginner to Advanced
Bottom Sand
Watch Out For… Localism at the Jetty
Water Condition Relatively clean
 

Ocean Beach – San Diego County

Surf Location At the end of Interstate 8, take I-8 to Sunset Cliffs Boulevard, then a right at Newport Street. Ocean Beach is 3 blocks west.
Best Swell Direction West, Northwest, Southwest
Best Tide Medium
Best Wind Direction East
Best Surf Season Fall, Winter, Spring
Wave Quality Big Jetty is a hollow right, starts off steep and forms into a long fast wall. Avalanche is a mostly left, consistent peak. Various peaks going both directions throughout the area.
The Surfers Can get crowded on weekends, and in the summer
Boards Shortboard, longboard, hybrid
Paddle Out Moderately easy
Skill Level Beginner to Advanced
Bottom Sand
Watch Out For… Pollution if the river is flowing, some localism, riptide and undertow
Water Condition Moderate, but dirty when the San Diego river is flowing
 

Sunset Cliffs – San Diego County

Surf Location Take I-5 to Sunset Cliffs Drive, take that to Point Loma, you’ll see Sunset Cliffs Beach
Best Swell Direction West, Northwest
Best Tide Low
Best Wind Direction East
Best Surf Season Fall, Winter, Spring
Wave Quality Nearly three miles worth of left and right reef breaks with many different waves and take-off zones. The waves vary according to location on the reef and swell energy and direction.
The Surfers Can get very crowded, some localism
Boards Shortboard, longboard
Paddle Out Moderate to tough, long
Skill Level Intermediate to Advanced
Bottom Reef and rock
Watch Out For… Exposed rock and reef, heavy localism, dangerous cliffs while walking down to the water, and waves smashing against the cliffs as you enter/exit the water.
Water Condition Relatively clean
 

Imperial Beach – San Diego County

Surf Location From I-5, take Palm Avenue to the beach, go south on Seacoast Drive
Best Swell Direction West, Northwest, Southwest, South
Best Tide Medium
Best Wind Direction East and Northwest
Best Surf Season Year-round
Wave Quality Consistent left and right beach break produced by an easy, shifting sandbar. Sandbars are often best by the pier.
The Surfers Not crowded
Boards Shortboard
Paddle Out Relatively easy
Skill Level Beginner to Advanced
Bottom Sand
Watch Out For… Strong currents, heavy pollution, sharks outside Tijuana sloughs
Water Condition Very dirty

 

 

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