Surfing in San Diego County

Surfing guide to San Diego County, , ,
San Diego County has 5 main surf areas. There are 17 surf spots . Go explore!

Overview of surfing in San Diego County

San Diego County starts on the Southern edge of San Clemente and ends on the Mexican border to the south. This coastline is historic, containing legendary surf breaks and fostering some of the top surfing and shaping talent in the world (Rob Machado, Ryan Burch, Rusty, etc…). The Northern part of the county is made up of plains and short cliffs that plunge into the Pacific. The mid to Southern parts are made up of small beach towns (Oceanside, Encinitas, etc…) and the city of San Diego itself. All areas have their own unique waves and culture. There is a massive variety in these waves, from perfectly groomed cobblestone points, sucky and heavy reefs, soft and long rolling reefs, to the full range of beach breaks. The urban areas here are much more laid back than LA. The coastal towns are the quintessential Southern California surf culture centers and the city of San Diego is a great place to get some nightlife with small town vibes.

The Good
Tons of surf and variety
Great weather
Cool towns with plenty of things to do
The Bad
Can be pollution after rains
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Surf seasons and when to go

The best time of the year to surf in San Diego County


San Diego County boasts a warm and dry climate almost year round. Summer is hot and very dry, winter is a bit more moist and cooler (but only a little). The mornings, as with most of the rest of California usually bring a great marine layer that carries much needed coolness and moisture to the air. Layers in the morning are necessary, but usually not more than a sweatshirt and pants, even in winter.


This season is warmer and usually has smaller swells, although many spots will only break well during this season. The onshore winds usually pick up a little earlier than in the winter, mornings are often the best time to surf when the fog is still keeping it glassy. A 3/2 is all you’ll need this time of year, although boardshorts or a bikini are not unheard of.


This time of year the swells are bigger and heavier from the Northwest. The weather cools down and the winds are better for more of the day. These groundswells light up the beach breaks and thicker reefs. Bring a step up and a 4/3 to be prepared. Locals can get territorial during this time of year.

Annual surf conditions
Air and sea temperature in San Diego County

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San Diego County surf travel guide

Find trips that fit a flexible lifestyle


This coast here is almost entirely built up, however there is some camping along the coast in some state campgrounds, you just need to book out about a year in advance. Otherwise, hotels, motels, AirBNBs, and longer term rentals are all available at most levels of quality. Everything will be a little priced up compared to the rest of the world, but you are paying for very close access to the surf almost everywhere.

Other Activities

There isn’t too much else to do out here other than beach activities. The towns are great, chill areas to get diner with your family or spend a day browsing local businesses and shopping. There is a good amount of local breweries that have some good beer on tap and offer family friendly environments as well. This is an area to go to when you want to relax with everything you need within a 15 minute drive.

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