6 Best Surf Spots in San Diego For Every Skill Level

Looking for the best surf spots in San Diego? Like to catch some waves and in need of a new surf spot? Well, you’ve definitely come to the right place! 

San Diego is one of the most prominent surfing cities in the world. With plenty of individual surf spots for you to test out, all at different skill and experience levels, there’s an ideal surf spot just waiting for you.

San Diego surf spots are so renowned that many people travel from all over the country (and even around the world) to experience some of the most excellent surfing breaks that the California Coast has to offer!

Want to join them but aren’t sure where to go? Don’t sweat it. I have created this handy guide to help you out.

It highlights some of the best surf spots to visit in San Diego according to your skill level. So what are you waiting for? 

Best Surf Spots in San Diego

1.Pacific Beach

Experience Level: Beginner/Intermediate 

Best Time to Visit: All Year Round

Located between Pacific Beach Drive and the Crystal Pier in the Pacific Beach District. This was once a quiet beach town, but over the years, it’s turned into a college party town.

It’s also become a mecca for beginner surfers – perfect for children and adults! The wave breaks here are nice and soft.

Not only does this minimize the risk of injury. But it means the beach is a great place to surf. The beach itself is also great, with plenty of parking and bathrooms available.

So if you’re wanting to surf in San Diego for the first time, Pacific Beach is the best place to do it! 

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2.The Shores (La Jolla)


Experience Level: Beginner/Intermediate

Best Time to Visit: All Year Round

La Jolla is the perfect place to surf and people-watch. Situated at the very end of the 52 freeway, La Jolla shores are always busy.

The surf is ideal for those wanting to learn to surf, and there are quite a lot of local surf schools nearby ready to teach you the correct way to tackle the waves.

The only issue with this surf spot is that it’s located in the stingray capital of San Diego.

This adds a little bit of danger to your overall surfing experience, and you’ll have to do the “stingray shuffle” across the seabed to prevent yourself from being stung.

3.Windansea Beach (La Jolla)

Experience Level: Intermediate/Advanced

Best Time to Visit: Summer and Fall

You can find this beach below Neptune Place, La Jolla. When discussing the picturesque San Diego surf, Windansea (an abridged version of “Wind-and-Sea”) is at the top of our list – and for good reason.

The area remains steeped in lore and transition, with wild parties and riots buried deep in the past and a brighter, cleaner future ahead. It is also one of San Diego’s most consistent, most surfable breaks.

The waves pack quite a surprising wallop because of strong currents and large rocks. Many beginner surfers are caught off guard by the sheer force of these waves each year and tend to suffer serious injuries as a result.

So if you’re a beginner to the world of surfing you should definitely give this surf spot a miss! However, this exposure to dangerous waves in the south swell magnet makes it a great experience for the more skilled surfer. 



Experience Level: Beginner/Intermediate

Best Time to Visit: Summertime

This is an excellent place for a novice surfer. With stunning golden sands and crystal waters. Oceanside is San Diego’s answer to a surfers paradise.

The beach’s shifting sandbars mean it offers a good range of wave types ranging from smooth and playful to downright disorientating.

Essentially, this means that Oceanside is a great choice for surfers of all abilities! The coolest part about this beach?

Not only is it an incredible surf spot, but it has one of the best surfing communities in San Diego. Surfers run some of the very cafes and restaurants dotted around including the Beach Break Cafe.

I think this beach is great and it’s easy to see why many others share the same view!

5.Black’s Beach (La Jolla)

Experience Level: Intermediate/Advanced

Best Time to Visit: All Year Round

Nestled amongst La Jolla’s incredible spots, Black Beach stands out. The Scripps Canyon gorge wanders up to depths of 1600ft, so all waves coming in through the gorge bend can alter their position as they approach shallow sandbars.

This beach also requires additional paddling effort to get into the lineup.

However, Black Beach is not a spot to attempt if you lack experience as it can be exceptionally unpredictable for surfers. It’s recommended you only try these waves if you’re both a strong and keen surfer and swimmer. 

6.San Onofre State Beach (Lower Trestles)


Experience Level: Intermediate/Advanced

Best Time to Visit: All Year Round

Lower Trestles (also affectionately referred to as “Lowers”) is one of the most well-known surf spots in San Diego.

It has been making waves in California since the 70s and has been highly endorsed by 11-time world champion surfer Kelly Slater who calls this his favorite surf spot. Unfortunately, this means that Lower Trestles is almost always crowded.

On its busiest days, the waves can draw in over 100 surfers! While this is a great beach, it’s not suitable for beginners as there is a lot of competition to catch the waves.

Regardless, you must practice proper surfing etiquette at all times. Generally, if you’re seeking a new surf spot, this is a place for consideration. 

Final Thoughts

This guide outlines several of the most prominent surf spots that you should try while in San Diego.

However, I strongly advise that you prioritize your actual, physical surfing skill set rather than your desire to test the waters of a specific beach.

This is because many people are injured or need to be rescued at these popular San Diego surf spots due to inexperience or a lack of knowledge regarding surf techniques, and the area itself.

Simply, to remain safe you should be completely honest with yourself about your skill level.

Don’t attempt to surf in a more difficult spot if you haven’t mastered the basics – you don’t want to unnecessarily get yourself stuck in murky waters!

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