Overview of surfing in Oceanside to Encinitas
This stretch of coastline begins just south of Camp Pendleton and encompasses a series of surf towns that end just be fore the metropolitan area of San Diego begins. This area is laid back, friendly, and full of people; many would describe it as the stereotype of a Southern California beach town. However, the waves here are no joke. There are quality breaks almost everywhere you look, from Oceanside pier to Cardiff by the Sea. This area is well known for pioneering alternative surfboard design and pumping out surfers with silky style. Rob Machado is a local here, look out for his van! Come with good vibes, an understanding that there will be a crowd, and a appetite for good Mexican food and you will be very happy you came.
The 17 best Surf spots in Oceanside to Encinitas
Overview of surfing spots in Oceanside to Encinitas
Surf spot overview
This area begins and ends with usually good, occasionally great beach breaks. In between there is a decent number of sand and rock bottom reefs that provide a variety of excellent set ups for all skill levels. The first is Swami’s, named after an ashram that was in front of the break. This right hander can be heavy and high performance when bigger, but long and mellow when under chest high. Just south is Cardiff by the Sea, a reef/beach break that offers long left hand rides that are usually mellow at higher tides and hollower when lower. Lots of alternative shapes and fun here. The vibes in the water here are generally good, but with crowds there can be some testiness at times.
Access to Surf Spots
Every spot here is accessed by parking along the road or in a payed lot and walking a couple minutes to the break. It’s easy to park and obvious where to walk, just follow the surfers.
Surf seasons and when to go
The best time of the year to surf in Oceanside to Encinitas
All of 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. Long, smooth rides are the norm at most breaks this time of year. 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. Many of the piers in this area will begin barreling hard this time of year. Bring a step up and a 4/3 to be prepared. Locals can get a little territorial during this time of year.
Oceanside to Encinitas 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.
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.