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15 Best Beginner Surf Spots in San Diego

a group of people riding skis on a body of water

Read our blog to learn about the best beginner surf spots in San Diego!

Are you looking for a fun summer activity? Surfing is always at the top of the list, and there are plenty of beginner surf spots in San Diego. We’ve put together a list of our favorite spots where you can catch your first wave and try surfing as a San Diego beginner. Let’s get started.

How to find the Best Beginner Surf Spots in San Diego

Our guests get the oceanside view of some of the best beginner surf spots in San Diego. 

  • Check the tides. You’ll want to avoid surfing during high tide as the waves will be too strong. 
  • Look for a beach with fewer rocks. This will help prevent you from getting cuts and scrapes if you fall or get tumbled.
  • Avoid crowded beaches. You’ll want to have plenty of space to practice without worrying about running into other surfers. 
  • Make sure there are lifeguards present. This is for your safety in case you get into trouble while surfing.
  • Amenities like restrooms, showers, and food options are also important to consider when choosing a beach.

Best time of year to visit Beginner Surf Spots in San Diego

The best time of year to surf in San Diego is from early September to November. This is when the water is at its warmest and the waves are the most consistent. Of course, you can surf year-round in San Diego, but these are the ideal conditions for beginners.


SoCal’s Best Beginner Surf Spots

Southern California is home to some of the best beginner surf spots. Here’s our list of the top 15 that we think you should consider on your journey to surf the waves.

La Jolla Shores (Must try for everyone)

beautiful coastline photo of la jolla shores

 La Jolla is #1 on this list because you simply can’t talk about surfing in San Diego without mentioning this beach. As one of the best San Diego beaches, it provides consistency and quality, which is about as much as you can ask for when you’re starting out.

It’ll often have a consistent steady crowd from sunrise until sunset. One nice aspect about La Jolla Shores is that it is protected from the southwest trade winds which means that a stiff onshore won’t blow off the waves in the same way it would along with other spots on the coast. 

For this reason, it’s a top beginner surf sport in San Diego, and you’ll find that many surf schools love this area. 

Black’s Beach (Intermediate to Advanced)

While Black’s is an epic s surf spot that sits beneath the cliffs of Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, it’s still one of San Diego’s best kept secrets. It’s one of the few south-facing beaches in San Diego and gets great swells from storms down in Baja California. 

The waves here are some of the longest and most powerful in Southern California, which is why it’s not recommended for beginners. However, if you’re an experienced surfer, Black’s Beach should definitely be on your list.


Windandsea (old Neptune Beach)

Windansea is a beautiful beach located just south of La Jolla Shores. It’s known for its clear water, sandy bottom, and reef breaks. The waves here can be pretty powerful, so it’s not recommended for beginners. 

However, if you’re an experienced surfer, Windansea is a great spot to catch some waves. 

Tourmaline Beach (The Surfer’s Mecca)

a group of people on a beach

Tourmaline Beach sits on the border of the Pacific Beach and La Jolla districts of San Diego. This beach is largely used for surfing and sunbathing year-round. 

Considered a “surfers’ mecca,” head here for one of the best beginner surf spots in San Diego. There are numerous amenities – lifeguards, restrooms, showers, fire pits, picnic tables, BBQs – and free parking. What more could you want? 

Pacific Beach (Beginner Surf Spot with Softest Landing)

a young girl riding a wave on a surfboard in the water 

Pacific Beach is often referred to by locals as “PB.” It has gentle waves and consistent conditions, which makes it a great beginner surf spot in San Diego. It also has a sand bottom break, which means you don’t have to worry about falling; it won’t be too hard on your body. 

One of the best public beaches in San Diego, there are also several amenities nearby like public toilets, restaurants, bars, and lifeguards, making this an ideal place to start if you want some smaller waves to get used to the sport. 

Crystal Pier (Best Historic Beginner Surf Spot)

Crystal Pier is a historic wooden pier that’s been around since 1927. It’s located in the heart of Pacific Beach and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in San Diego. 

The waves here are gentle and perfect for beginners. Crystal Pier is also great for people-watching, as you can see all the beautiful people walking by while you’re catching some waves. 

Law Street (Perfect beginner surf spot for groups)

Law Street is a great beginner surf spot in San Diego because it’s not as crowded as some of the other beaches on this list. It’s located in the Pacific Beach area and offers beautiful sunset views. 

You’ll find that the waves here are very consistent and slow – perfect for beginners. Practice your balance, get comfortable falling off, and relax on the sandy beaches when it’s all done.

Mission Beach (Perfect for your transition from beginner to advanced)

a group of people on a beach

This is one of the best spots to learn to surf in San Diego. Mission Beach is also a sand-bottom break that can be ultra-forgiving when you’re just getting started. You’ll want to visit Mission Beach when the swell is small and clean, and the tide is high. This will be your best chance of catching some sort but fun waves. 

Once you’re feeling confident, you can head to the South Jetty where there are some better-quality waves. They have more to offer experienced surfers in terms of size and rideability. Since it’s one of the best beginner surf spots (and a favorite during Spring Break), it can get crowded. 

Oceanside (The most iconic San Diego surf spot)

a close up of a pier next to a body of water 

Oceanside Pier is a 1,942-foot-long wooden pier located in Oceanside, California. It’s one of the longest piers on the West Coast and a popular spot for fishing, surfing, sunbathing, and spending time as a family in San Diego

It’s also considered one of San Diego’s beginner surfer hot spots. You can catch great waves on both the north and south sides at any time of the year. Because of this, you can expect there to be a crowd (both tourists and locals alike!). 

Head here as a beginner to experience some of this magic. You’ll learn the sport here at one of the best beginner surf spots in San Diego, and then you can continue coming after you’ve got it down. 

It’s also one of the top San Diego lookout points. So, surf until the sun sets- you won’t regret it!

Moonlight Beach

Moonlight Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Encinitas, California. It’s known for its beautiful sunset views, gentle waves, and fire pits. The waves here are perfect for beginners and the fire pits make it a great place to relax and enjoy a beach party after a long day of catching waves. 

Trestles Beach

Trestles Beach is a world-famous surf spot located in San Clemente, California. The surf conditions are ideal because of the long waves and consistent surf conditions.  

If you want the best beginner experience, head to Lower Trestles. Among its attractions are perfect year-round waves and a classic reef/point break. There are also perfect-peeling lefts and rights, easy paddle-outs, and infinite wave faces to explore.


San Onofre

a group of people standing on top of a sandy beach

Photo courtesy of California BeachesAn hour’s drive from downtown San Diego will take you to the world-famous surf spot of San Onofre. Known locally as “San O” or “Old Man’s Beach,” this spot has been a favorite among beginners since the 1930s. 

For the best conditions, go during the hot summer months when there is a southern swell blowing in from the northeast.

Del Mar

15th Street in Del Mar is the perfect family-friendly beginner to intermediate surf spot. It’s the perfect blend of gorgeous beaches, amenities, and restaurants. There is also a nice park where you can let the kids play and relax after an easy morning of surfing.

If you’re looking for some weekend activities, definitely check out the Del Mar Racetrack too.

San Elijo State Beach

San Elijo State Beach is located just north of Del Mar in Cardiff-by-the-Sea. This beach is a great beginner surf spot because it’s wide open with few rocks and plenty of space to practice. The waves here are also gentle and perfect for beginners.


Carlsbad State Beach

If you’re looking for a beginner surf spot near San Diego, look no further than Carlsbad State Beach. The best part about this beach is that it’s never too crowded, so you’ll never have to compete for waves. 

What’s more, there are waves for all levels, so bring your beginner friends if you have some experience – you’ll all have fun!

Our City is Full of San Diego Beginner Surf Spots

Ready to get out there and learn how to surf? The city has a lot to offer in terms of beginner surf spots in San Diego. Try one and fall in love or try them all! And, if you’re interested in having fun on the water some other way, consider driving your own speed boat in San Diego!