Surfing in Sonoma County

Surfing guide to Sonoma County, , ,
Sonoma County has 4 surf spots . Go explore!

Overview of surfing in Sonoma County

Sonoma County is the Northernmost county in the San Francisco Bay area. Its coastline starts just North of Point Reyes and extends all the way to Mendocino County. Sonoma County is better known for its wine than surf, and for good reason: The wine is phenomenal and the surf is a bit on the lower end of average. Just a quick drive from San Francisco, the options for accommodation are endless within the rolling hills of the county, ranging from cheap to ludicrous. The coast here is raw, mostly sharp and steep cliffs into a menacing, dark ocean fueled by thick groundswells. There are some beautiful beaches mixed in, which offer the best surfing options on the coast. Come for the wine and get in a session or two to wipe away the hangovers. A great place to come when surfing is not the main priority of the trip. English is the language you need to speak to get by here, although Spanish can be very helpful at times.

The Good
Uncrowded surfing
Wide range of accommodation options
Plenty of activities outside of surfing
Year round destination
The Bad
Cold water
Generally below average surf
Not many beginner options
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Surf seasons and when to go

The best time of the year to surf in Sonoma County


Sonoma County has one of the best climates in the world, described as Mediterranean. The summers from May-September are hot and dry, with temperatures usually ranging from 40’s at night to 70’s, 80’s, or 90’s (all temperatures in Fahrenheit) in the day, If you are close to the coast expect a lot of fog that keeps the temperatures lower in the 50’s or 60’s. Fall and spring are quick transition periods here, blending together the summers and the winters. Winter is the wet and cold season, with temperatures usually sitting around the 50’s or 60’s in the day and dropping just below freezing at night. Rains are becoming shorter and more intense due to climate change, so there are plenty of sunny or overcast days great for being outside even during the winter months.



Sonoma County maintains a very mild climate year round with few extremes. The months of September through March offer the best surfing conditions. During these months massive low pressure systems develop in between Japan, Russia, and Alaska which deliver huge groundswells that pound the coast. Sometimes these swells max out the more exposed breaks, but there are a few sheltered corners that bump the size down to manageable. Winds from the East (offshore most everywhere) blow most days in the morning, and are only disrupted by the occasional rainstorm. The afternoons are usually blown out. Pack a 5/4 with a hood and some booties for this season, the winds are biting even if the water temp could accommodate a 4/3.



In the summer months, the coastline receives a respite from the power of the North Pacific, but still receives plenty of waves. Windswell from the Northwest is the norm, which can be a bit sloppy at times, but when crossed up with a Southwest swell from New Zealand area can light up the beach breaks with peaky waves. Winds here can pick up early, but are usually light offshore before 10 before devolving into heavy onshore for the rest of the day. You should be fine with a 4/3 during this time of year, booties and hood optional.

Annual surf conditions
Air and sea temperature in Sonoma County

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Sonoma County surf travel guide

Find trips that fit a flexible lifestyle


Due to the amount of tourism from wine country, there is a plethora of accommodations for all budgets. You can sleep among the redwoods at multiple lodges in the Russian River Valley, relax at all-inclusive resorts, get quick spots at cheaper hotel chains, or camp at the numerous, beautiful state and private campgrounds. There are many camping options up and down the coast right on the beach, although they will be cold and foggy. If you are coming during the spring or summer make a reservation a couple of months out, if not you should be able to walk into anywhere and get a room or campsite.

Other Activities

If you’ve read this far you know the first recommendation on this list will be wine tasting. The wine here is world-famous for its quality and approachable nature. At the minimum head to a market and pick up some of the best $20 wine you can get. If you love wine, then head to a winery (or two or three) and do a tasting. Many companies offer tours of multiple wineries if you do not have a designated driver in your group. Fishing is also fantastic here, especially during the salmon season. You can hire a charter out of Bodega Bay and catch some of the biggest fish on the coast. Sailing is popular, especially during the summer afternoons when the wind picks up. There is also an abundance of state parks throughout the hills which are well worth even a small walk through.


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