San Diego Surf
The Jetty is the gem of an otherwise underwhelming stretch of beach. An often wind-protected, wedging left leaves nothing to be desired when it’s firing, except maybe a smaller crowd. Surfers sit centimeters away from each other on the miniscule take off point of the singular peak that bounces off the jetty. And, stories of localism, mythical as Unicorns or Odysseus, are never in short stock.
Littering the coastline is never a good thing, unless you’re a jetty. From Oceanside to Ocean Beach, there is no shortage of man-made wave-producing rock piles in our fine county. Perhaps best on a good South swell, most jetties manage to work year-round. [Find yours today!]
Indisputably iconic with a borderline inconvenient hike in, Black’s is often slated as the best beach break in the county. Despite the hike, it’s still one of the most consistently crowded lineups, likely because the place picks up any inkling of a swell from any direction. Oh, and don’t forget the buck-naked beach walkers helping carry on the beach’s streaking history.
The next break south of Blacks, Scripps is a magnet for college students, shredders, and kooks alike. With a relatively relaxed atmosphere and often crystal-clear sandy-bottom water, Scripps is one of the easiest going and most gorgeous beach breaks in San Diego. It is often inundated with beginners – and stingrays – in the summer months, but everyone seems to coexist alright.
The shack alone is sure to stir up stories of distant-past surf sessions during the good ol’ days of surf. Windansea is one of the most historically important surf spots in the world, and perhaps the most vital to California’s development in the early years of surfing, dating back to the 1930’s. This above-average reef break is always crowded with an eccentric group of ravenous surfers, each hungrily paddling for their perceived share of waves.
This baby-blue wave making stretch of sand is set in the middle of PB. The rambling boardwalk overlooks the classic, laid back break, often referred to as Old Man’s. Gentle, crumbly waves satisfy surfers of all skill levels and hot tempers are rare as pet elephants.
Illustrious breaks and peaks not to be spoken of, the Cliffs are, simply put, mystical. At the edge of San Diego’s concrete jungle, this stretch of reef breaks makes for a winter wonderland. Spanning all the way from the outskirts of Ocean Beach to the Cabrillo National Monument, the Cliffs are an iconic series of breaks, and as their name suggests, a gorgeous place to watch the sun sink over the sea.
Technically belonging to Orange County, this series of cobblestone breaks is perceivably the closest to consistent summertime perfection a sun-drenched California kid could dream of. Especially when speaking of Lowers, which also happens to be the only stop on the WCT in Southern California. Trestles is a breeding ground for young rippers and a place to reminisce for the elder generations, but either way always packed.
One of the gentlest waves in San Diego, the Shores is the ultimate beginner spot in the county. And, its experienced surfers know this, making it one of a few places for the surf-eager rookie to go without getting stared down or yelled at. Even so, it breaks consistently and still provides a good deal of fun surf throughout the year.
Right point breaks are not what San Diego is known for, but Swami’s is one such wave. With generally mellow vibes, this wave provides justice for long boarders; a tight-knit group of lifelong locals, always on large craft, will quietly and happily take any wave they want. Plus, if you ever find yourself in a bad mood, you can go to the Self-Realization Fellowship that sits right in front of the break.
Unless there’s a really low tide and some decent swell, this right point break is usually a very forgiving wave, which makes it great for the whole family. Meanwhile, just north, Suckouts spits nimblesurfers out of sweet tubes, but beware of a crowded break. Also, a river mouth drains into the Suckouts lineup, so if rain was recent, it better be worth getting sick.