The Top 11 Best Surfing Beaches in San Diego

What are the Best Beaches to Surf in San Diego?

Discover where the best places to surf in San Diego are located and get in touch with Pacific Surf to book a surf lesson with our trusted team today.

Aerial photo of the coastline of San Diego

San Diego is a veritable surfer’s paradise, offering some of the best waves and beaches in the world. With over 70 miles of coastline, San Diego has no shortage of surf spots to choose from. This makes it one of the most ideal places for surfers to catch some waves or to try their luck at surfing for the very first time.

The following are some of the best places to surf in San Diego. Each of these beaches typically has smaller and gentler waves, with sandy bottoms and fewer hazards like rocks and reefs.

1. Pacific Beach

Known locally as PB, Pacific Beach in San Diego is regarded as a dream surf spot for beginner wave riders, due to its gentle waves and consistent conditions.

With a sand bottom break, it is also incredibly forgiving. So if you do happen to have a tumble while attempting to stand up, you can rest assured you’ll live to fight another day. Lifeguards, public toilets, plenty of restaurants and bars plus a lively surf community make it one of the best beaches to surf in San Diego.

Chalk it up as one of those must-visit destinations if you’re ever in town and enjoy the small waves that seem to be breaking here on the regular.

Book your San Diego surf lesson in Pacific Beach with Pacific Surf School today.

2. Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach is a funky little area with a throwback vibe that makes it popular amongst trendy locals and curious travelers alike.

As a beginner surfer in the area you’ll no doubt enjoy the fact it almost always has surf and that all the waves are pretty mellow. On the downside, it can get crowded, but with such an interesting mix of people in the water you’ll always have something to look at.

When it’s small, the peaks near Newport Avenue can be super fun if you’re only just learning to surf. As you progress though you can move further north towards what’s known as “Avalanche Jetty”, where peeling right-handers run down a man-made rock wall.

Just remember when you paddle out that you pay respect to the local crew who surf here. Many of whom have been chasing waves here since the 70s and 80s.

Book a surfing lesson in Ocean Beach with Pacific Surf School.

3. La Jolla Cove

You can’t make a list of the best beaches to learn how to surf in San Diego without mentioning La Jolla. With its predictable lineup, quality waves, and ample parking, many surfing neophytes will find it easy to reach and hard to leave. As such, there are often people surfing La Jolla from the moment the sun rises till just after sunset.

La Jolla is also protected from the southwest trade wind. This means that a stiff onshore won’t blow out the waves in the same way it would at many other spots along the coast.

There are lots of beginners who use La Jolla as a testing ground before moving onto bigger and better waves. That being said, if you book a surf lesson with Pacific Surf, you’ll still get more than your fair share of decent rides on any given day.

Book a surfing lesson in La Jolla with Pacific Surf School.

4. Mission Beach

Head south of Belmont Park and you’ll run smack bang into one of the best beaches to learn how to surf in all of San Diego – Mission Beach.

Perfect for those who are only just learning to surf, Mission Beach is a sand-bottom break that can deliver some seriously fun sessions. Visit it when the swell is small and clean and the tide is high for your best chance of catching some short but epic left and right-handers.

If you’re feeling confident, head down to the South Jetty at the southern end of the beach. Here you’ll stumble upon a better-quality wave with more to offer in terms of rideability and size.

Note that like many other places in San Diego, Mission Beach can get crowded.

Book a surfing lesson in Mission Beach with Pacific Surf School.

5. Imperial Beach

Imperial Beach, located in the southernmost part of San Diego County, is a popular destination for surfers from all over the world. This beach is known for its consistent waves, beautiful scenery, and relaxed atmosphere.

The waves at Imperial Beach are ideal for surfers of all skill levels, with some of the best breaks happening during the winter months. The pier is a popular spot for experienced surfers, but beginners can still find plenty of space to catch some waves further down the beach.

One thing to keep in mind when surfing at Imperial Beach is its proximity to the Tijuana River Estuary. Depending on the season and weather conditions, there may be water quality advisories in effect. Make sure to check before paddling out.

6. Sunset Cliffs

There are numerous beaches in San Diego where you can catch some waves, but if you’re looking for a spot that’s off the beaten path, then Sunset Cliffs might be just what you’re looking for.

Sunset Cliffs is located in the Point Loma area of San Diego and features a stunning coastline with breathtaking views . The waves here are best suited for intermediate and advanced surfers, as the reef break can produce some powerful waves.

The lineup at Sunset Cliffs is also known to be quite competitive, so it’s important to respect the locals and wait your turn. But if you’re able to snag a wave, the long rides and hollow sections make it all worth it.

Note that parking can be difficult at Sunset Cliffs, so it’s best to arrive early or park further away and walk.

The Best Surfing Beaches Around San Diego

Aerial photograph of the coastline around Big Sur, near San Diego.

While San Diego is home to many incredible surfing beaches, there are also some great spots located nearby.

7. Manhattan Beach

Manhattan Beach, just north of Los Angeles, is known for its consistent waves and attracts surfers from all over. With its pristine white sand and crystal-clear waters, Manhattan Beach offers an idyllic setting for learning how to surf.

The beach’s location is also ideal for those who want to learn how to surf. It’s easily accessible and is conveniently located near various surf shops and schools that offer lessons and equipment rentals. This makes it easy for beginners to get started and to learn from experienced instructors who can guide them through the basics of surfing.

Manhattan Beach has a welcoming surf community that is supportive of beginners. Surfers of all levels can be seen out in the water, and the community is known for being friendly and helpful to those who are new to the sport. This makes the area an excellent place for beginners to feel comfortable and to learn from others who share their passion for surfing.

Book a surfing lesson in Manhattan Beach with Pacific Surf School.

8. Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach, also known as “Surf City,” is widely regarded as one of the best beaches to learn how to surf. Located in Orange County, California, this beach offers consistent waves and long stretches of sandy beaches that make it an ideal destination for both experienced surfers and those just starting out.

One of the primary reasons why Huntington Beach is a great place to learn how to surf is its consistent waves. The waves at Huntington Beach are reliable, making it easier for beginners to get a feel for the water and to practice their technique. Additionally, the waves at this beach tend to be relatively small and manageable, which is perfect for those who are just starting out.

Book a surfing lesson in Huntington Beach with Pacific Surf School.

9. Santa Cruz

Located on the Central Coast of California, Santa Cruz is a top destination for surfers from all over the world. With its consistent waves and stunning scenery, it’s no wonder why this spot has become known as one of the best surfing beaches in California.

The city is home to several popular surfing spots such as Steamer Lane, where surfers can catch some of the most challenging waves on the West Coast. But even if you’re a beginner, there are plenty of other places to surf in Santa Cruz that offer more manageable waves.

Book a surfing lesson in Santa Cruz with Pacific Surf School.

10. Santa Monica

Located in Southern California, Santa Monica is a premier destination for surfers looking to catch some of the best waves on the West Coast. With its picturesque coastline and consistent swells, it’s no wonder why this beach is considered one of the best surfing spots in San Diego.

The area has several popular surfing beaches such as Surfrider Beach, which boasts long, peeling waves perfect for experienced surfers. For beginners or those seeking smaller waves, there are other spots like Bay Street Beach that offer more manageable conditions.

Book a surfing lesson in Santa Monica with Pacific Surf School.

11. Torrey Pines State Beach

Among the beaches around San Diego’s coastline, Torrey Pines State Beach stands out as one of the top surfing destinations near San Diego.

Located just north of La Jolla, Torrey Pines State Beach offers breathtaking views and powerful waves that attract surfers from all over the world. The beach stretches for miles and has various surf breaks that cater to surfers of all levels. The waves at Torrey Pines can get quite large, making it an ideal spot for experienced surfers looking for a challenge.

However, beginners need not be intimidated as there are also smaller waves in the area that are perfect for learning how to surf.

Sign Up For Surfing Lessons Today

San Diego’s coastline features several surfing beaches that are considered some of the best beaches to surf in San Diego and in the world. From the consistent waves at Huntington Beach to the stunning scenery at Santa Cruz, there’s something for every surfer in this beautiful coastal city. Whether you’re a beginner looking to learn how to surf or an experienced pro seeking a challenge, these top surfing destinations in San Diego offer the perfect combination of waves, scenery, and community to make your surfing experience unforgettable.

If you have always dreamt of catching a wave and experiencing the thrill of surfing, then there is no better time to take the leap and book a lesson with us here at Pacific Surf. With experienced and knowledgeable instructors, state-of-the-art equipment, and prime surf spots at the best surfing beaches in San Diego, Pacific Surf provides the ideal environment for both beginner and advanced surfers alike. Not only will you learn the fundamentals of surfing, but you will also gain confidence in the water and have a blast while doing it.

So why wait? Contact us today to sign up for a lesson today and get ready to experience the rush of riding the waves like a pro! From one-time sessions to multi-day surf camps, there are plenty of options available to fit your schedule and budget.

Choose from the best surfing beaches in San Diego to improve your skills and kickstart your surfing adventure with Pacific Surf today.

Pacific Surf School instructors teaching students surfing fundamentals


The best time for beginners to learn to surf in San Diego is during the summer months, from June to August. During this time, the water is warmer, and the waves are generally smaller and more forgiving, making it easier for beginners to learn the basics of surfing.

Black’s Beach is considered to have the biggest waves in San Diego, particularly during the winter months when the swells are larger. It’s important to note that the waves at Black’s Beach are often reserved for experienced surfers due to the strong rip currents and heavy shore break.

La Jolla Cove is often considered one of the safest beaches to surf in San Diego, particularly for beginner and intermediate surfers. The waves are typically smaller and gentler compared to other beaches in the area, and there are fewer hazards such as rocks and reefs. Other beaches with relatively safer surfing conditions include Tourmaline Surfing Park and Del Mar Beach. However, it’s always important to check the surf and weather conditions before heading out and to exercise caution when surfing in the ocean.

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