Surfing in San Diego: Spots For Beginners & Experts!

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Surfing in San Diego: Spots For Beginners & Experts!
Known for its gorgeous weather and miles upon miles of pristine beaches, San Diego is one of the best spots to surf in the country.
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Let's find out where to go, what you'll need, and everything else there is to know about surfing in SD!

Where Is the Best Surfing in San Diego?

Whether you're an expert surfer or want to try it for the first time, you can find the perfect wave in San Diego. 

5 Spots For Surfing in San Diego [For Beginners]

Here are the 5 best beaches to learn to surf in San Diego:

5. La Jolla: The slowly sloping sands and protected waters of La Jolla make it the perfect spot for new surfers. 

4. Pacific Beach: Although it can get a little crowded, the waves at PB are known to be very forgiving. 

3. Ocean Beach: In the summer months, OB is great for beginners. But if you're visiting in the winter, beware that the waves grow substantially in size. 

2. Coronado: As one of the most beautiful beaches in San Diego, Coronado is a great spot to catch some small waves and enjoy the beach in between. 

1. Mission Beach: Mission Beach hosts rolling waves that are great for beginners. Just make sure you don't accidentally head over to the South Mission Jetty, which is definitely for the more experienced rider. 

Two Kids Holding Their Surfboards Near La Jolla Beach
Image Courtesy of Where Do I Take The Kids

Surfing Beaches in San Diego [Intermediate - Expert]

If you've caught your fair share of waves and feel confident on the water, you'll want to hit these 5 beaches in San Diego:

5. Black's Beach: Known for the most challenging waves in San Diego, Black's Beach hosts three different surf spots. The waves are fast and the rip currents aren't joking around. 

4. Scripps Pier: With 3-5 foot waves, Scripps Pier doesn't host the most challenging waves in SD, but they are seriously fun to surf!

3. Wind and Sea: Always a popular spot, the waves at Wind and Sea are the best and the most intense when the wind is coming from the east.

2. South Mission Jetty: Here, you'll find a rad surf community hanging on the beach and making bonfires. The waves are also some of the best in the city. 

1. Sunset Cliffs: If you're in San Diego during the winter months, don't miss the waves at Sunset Cliffs. 

Aerial View Of Black's Beach In San Diego
Image Courtesy of Surfline

Where Are the Best Surfing Lessons in San Diego?

Surfing lessons can be a great way to spend your vacation in San Diego. Not only will you be brought to the best spots for your skill level, but you'll also learn how to properly catch the waves. You'll also feel safe while you're out there with an expert. 

Luckily, there are plenty of fantastic San Diego surf shops that offer lessons throughout the city. Here are a few of my favorites: 

Instructor Taking Surf Lessons On The Beach
Image courtesy of TripAdvisor

Surfing Rentals in San Diego

If you don't have your own board or left yours at home, don't worry! There are tons of great surf shops in San Diego where you can rent a board for the day or the week. 

  • PB Surf Shop
  • Ray's Rentals
  • The Shed OB
Exterior View Of PB Surf Shop
Image Courtesy of TripAdvisor

What to Wear Surfing in San Diego

Of course, to go surfing in San Diego, you'll need a surfboard, sunscreen, and water, but what should you wear? 

The first thing to understand is that you don't necessarily need a wetsuit to surf in San Diego. A wet suit keeps you warm while in the water, but the average ocean temperature in SD is between 16°C and 19°C. 

The ocean temperature in San Diego can go down to 15°C in the winter. So, if you're surfing from December to February, you might prefer to ride in a wetsuit. 

If you do want to wear a wetsuit at any time of the year, almost every surf shop in the city rents them. But, if you're traveling on a budget and don't want to rent a suit, there are a few other options to keep your body safe while riding the waves. 

Swimsuits, board shorts, dry suits, and jammers are all perfectly acceptable surf gear in San Diego. At the end of the day, you just want to wear what you feel comfortable in! 

Three Men Walking On A Beach Holding Their SurfBoards
Image Courtesy of Alibaba Reads

San Diego Surfing Safety Tips

Staying safe while you're out in the water is crucial. While some of my tips are certainly useful for surfing anywhere in the world, there are a few that are specific to SD. 

  • Wear plenty of sunscreen
  • Drink enough water
  • Watch out for the rip currents
  • Only surf the recommended spots
  • Look out for sea urchins
  • Keep your leash tight
  • Check the weather and tides before you go
  • Opt for a beach with lifeguard supervision
Woman Applying Sunscreen On Her Body At A Beach
Image Courtesy of Curology

The Best Time to Go Surfing in San Diego 

If surfing in San Diego is one of the main reasons you're heading there, you'll certainly want to know when the best time of year is to catch the perfect wave. 

San Diego's best surf season spans from August to November. During the late summer and early fall, the Santa Ana winds combined with the southern swells make great surfing for both beginners and experts. 

If you can't get to San Diego during those months, don't panic. Many surfers say that December to February is also an incredible time to catch waves in SD. 

You should be aware that the winter swells are often quite a bit bigger than those in the fall. So, if you're learning to surf, you should try to be there in September or October. 

Sunrise and sunset are the best times to go surfing in San Diego. The waves will be more crowded than they are during mid-day, but it's usually worth it! 

Plan Your San Diego Surfing Trip With Pilot

As promised, you're now a San Diego surfing expert! You have all the information you need to plan your trip, as well as what to wear, where to rent, and which breaks to hit while in San Diego. 

Now that you have the info you need to ride the perfect wave in San Diego, you can start planning your trip with Pilot. 

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Disclosure: Pilot is supported by our community. We may earn a small commission fee with affiliate links on our website. All reviews and recommendations are independent and do not reflect the official view of Pilot.

Lauren Fokas Blog
Written by:
Lauren Fokas
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