7 great waves to surf in San Diego on your next visit

Winter waves make for the best surfing season in San Diego, find out which beaches are a must for surfers...

Ali Sullivan
ITH Photos (8)

SoCal is a great place for surfing, especially come wintertime. Here are some of our favorite San Diego surf spots for surfers of all levels to explore in Southern California. 

San Diego, with its sun-kissed shores and endless stretches of Pacific coastline, is a haven for surfers of all levels. From powerful waves to gentle breaks, this Southern California gem offers loads of surf spots, each with its own unique wave.

Whether you’re a seasoned surfer or just dipping your toes into the world of wave riding, San Diego has something special in store for you.

In this article, we’ll take you on a coastal journey, exploring the 7 of the best surf spots in San Diego that cater to every type of wave rider. So wax up your board, put on your wetsuit, and join us as we ride the waves!

1. Black’s Beach

Black’s Beach is one of the most challenging San Diego surf spots and mainly for experienced surfers. La Jolla Submarine Canyon funnels into this beach, creating exciting swells due to favorable winds and water movement. This beach features three distinct surfing spots: South Peak, a heavy, perfect left; Middle Peak, a two-way affair with the lefts usually being better, and North Peak, a brief but exciting righthand barrel. This spot offers huge swells and potential rip currents, so stay alert!

Best time of year to go surfing at Black’s Beach 

Late Fall to Early Spring (November to March): This period often sees larger swells and more consistent waves, making it an excellent time for experienced surfers looking for a challenging ride. Winter months tend to bring bigger surf, but the water can be colder, so wetsuits are recommended.

Late Spring to Early Fall (April to September): During the late spring and summer months, the surf at Black’s Beach is generally more mellow, making it a better time for beginner and intermediate surfers. The water is also warmer during these months, so you can often surf without a wetsuit.

Fall and Spring Transitions (October and March): During these transitional months, you can experience a mix of wave conditions. It’s a great time for surfers who enjoy variety and aren’t looking for consistently large waves.

2. Scripps Pier

Scripps Pier is known to be a good spot for intermediate surfers due to its waves that are 3-5 ft. Located right by the Institute of Oceanography, this is the place to enjoy all ocean wonders.

Best time of year to go surfing at Scripps Pier

Winter (November to February): This period often brings larger swells to the area, making it a great time for experienced surfers who are looking for challenging waves. Wetsuits are typically required during the winter months as the water temperature drops.

Spring (March to May) and Fall (September to October): During the transitional seasons, you can expect a mix of wave conditions at Scripps Pier. It’s an excellent time for surfers who appreciate a variety of wave types and aren’t necessarily seeking consistently large waves.

Summer (June to August): Summer months tend to bring smaller and more mellow waves, which can be ideal for beginner and intermediate surfers. The water is also warmer during this time, allowing for comfortable surf sessions without a wetsuit.

3. Windansea

This spot has been popular since the 1930s and has a competitive edge in getting the best location in the water. Check out this spot when the winds are to the east, which is the best time to catch a ride. Although it is a great surfing location regardless of wind direction, the wind offers a different kind of thrill.

4. Tourmaline

Located on the North end of Pacific Beach, there are three main surf breaks: Old Man, a long but mushy wave favored by longboarders; Channels, located in the middle, where you can get a little more speed on the inside; and finally Pumphouse, a typical California beach break populated by a mix of longboards and shortboards.

Beach time of year to go surfing at Tourmaline: Year-Round! Tourmaline Beach offers consistent waves and can be surfed throughout the year. It’s an excellent location for surfers of all levels, from beginners to experienced riders.

5. Pacific Beach

Surf Local, San Diego, has some excellent footage from drone videos of the surf experience in Southern California beaches. It is a great way to enjoy the culture of the sport and learn from fellow surfers. Regardless of your skill level, Pacific Beach is the place to get out there.

6. South Mission Jetty

Bonfires, people chilling, and of course, surfing. The vibe is good on the shore as well as in the sea. Reviews consistently proclaim it to be one of the best surf spots to catch a great wave. This is a beach for those that want to do more than simply lay there. At South Mission Jetty, people are always moving in the sun.

7. Sunset Cliffs

Because of the eastern winds in the reef, this is the time to bring your board to Sunset Cliffs. Winter is the time to surf in San Diego and as long as you stay aware of your surroundings and the obvious things that all surfers know to look out for (sea urchins and pollution) you’re bound to have a terrific time with some great surfing this winter season. While this is not the best spot for beginners, advanced surfers will thrive.

Travelers Tip: Sunset Cliffs has excellent viewpoints, and can be a surf photographers heaven, if positioned in the right spot.

ITH Sweetens the Deal with:

Half-Off surfboard and wet suit rental after 3 PM!

Simply mention this article at the Beach Bungalow Surf Hostel