The 9 Best Surfing Beaches in Southern California

Southern California is world-famous for its beaches.

Curious where to find the best surfing beaches in southern California?

We've got you covered in this guide.

With miles of coastline and a temperate climate, it's no wonder why people flock to the Golden State to enjoy the sand and surf.

But with so many beaches to choose from, which one should you visit if you're looking to catch some waves?

California is a mecca for surfers. From surfing in Encinitas to checking out in all the San Diego surf spots, you can literally surf all year long.

Here is a list of the best surfing beaches in southern California:

1. Silver Strand State Beach, Oxnard

First on our list of best surfing beaches in southern California is Silver Strand State Beach.

Located just south of Ventura, Silver Strand State Beach is a favorite among surfers and locals alike.

The waves here are consistent and there are plenty of beginner-friendly spots.

The best time to surf is during the summer when the swell is at its highest.

The best time to visit Silver Strand State Beach is during the summer when the swell is at its highest.

The waves here are consistent and there are plenty of beginner-friendly spots.

There is ample parking available at Silver Strand State Beach.

However, we recommend getting there early in the day during peak season as spaces fill up quickly.

Parking fees are $8 per day for California residents and $10 per day for non-residents. 

2. Huntington Beach

Second on our list of best surfing beaches in southern California is Huntington Beach.

Huntington Beach, also known as “Surf City USA,” is one of the most popular beaches in California.

It's home to the US Open of Surfing and draws surfers from all over the world.

The waves here can be challenging, but there are also many beginner-friendly spots.

3. Doheny State Beach, Dana Point

Third on our list of best surfing beaches in southern California is Doheny State beach, Dana Point.

Doheny State Beach is located in Dana Point, California and is a popular spot for surfing, swimming, and picnicking.

The waves here are small and gentle, making it the perfect place to learn how to surf.

The beach is also located near many restaurants and shops, so you can grab a bite to eat or do some shopping in between surfing sessions. 

The beach does get crowded during the summer months.

To avoid the crowds, we recommend visiting during the weekdays rather than on weekends. 

4. Trestles, San Onofre State Beach

Fourth on our list of best surfing beaches in southern California is Trestles, San Onofre.

The waves at Trestles are world-renowned for their speed, power, and length.

Riders can expect to catch some serious air time if they manage to stay on their boards.

The wave breaks are caused by a reef that runs parallel to the shoreline.

This reef creates a fast-moving water channel that eventually forms the perfect wave. 

Trestles is also popular because it's one of the few remaining coastal areas in Southern California that has been relatively untouched by development.

As a result, the waves here are super clean and clear.

The pristine conditions make it a great place to surf year-round. 

5. Bolsa Chica State Beach, Huntington Beach

Fifth on our list of best surfing beaches in southern California is Bolsa Chica State beach.

This beach is a great spot for all levels of surfers.

The waves here are consistent and there are plenty of beginner-friendly spots.

Bolsa Chica State Beach is located in an area with very consistent waves.

Whether you're a beginner or an experienced surfer, you'll be able to find a spot where the waves are just right for you.

The best time to surf here is during high tide when the waves are at their biggest.

If you're coming from out of town, be sure to check the tide chart in advance so that you can plan your trip accordingly.

Bolsa Chica State Beach is a long, wide beach with plenty of space for everyone.

There are also several different access points so that you can find a spot that's just right for you.

6. San Clemente State Beach

Sixth on our list of best surfing beaches in southern California is San Clemente State Beach.

San Clemente State Beach is one of the best surfing beaches in Orange County.

The waves here are consistent and there are plenty of beginner-friendly spots.

The waves at San Clemente State Beach are some of the best in Orange County.

They're consistent and there are plenty of beginner-friendly spots.

If you're just starting out, we recommend paddling out at T-Street.

The waves here are perfect for beginners and more experienced surfers alike.

7. The Wedge, Newport Beach

Seventhe on our list of best surfing beaches in southern California is The Wedge.

The Wedge is infamous.

The Wedge in Newport Beach is a must-visit for any serious surfer.

The waves here are massive and can reach up to 20 feet high.

The Wedge is best surfed during the summer months when the swell is coming from the southwest.

During this time of year, the waves can reach heights of 20 feet or more.

These massive waves are created by a phenomena known as “the wedge.”

This occurs when two large masses of water (the ocean and the shoreline) come together at a shallow angle.

As the waves hit the shore, they bounce off the beach and create a wall of water that surfer's ride on.  

The first thing you'll notice when you paddled out to the Wedge is how deep the water is.

There are no shallows here, so you'll need to be a strong swimmer to even make it out past the break.

Once you're out beyond the break, you'll see why this place gets its name.

The waves here are huge!

You can expect to catch some serious air on these waves.

But beware, with waves this big comes big consequences.

If you wipe out, you're likely going to get slammed into the sand hard.

So be careful and have fun! 

8. La Jolla Shores area

Number eight on our list of best surfing beaches in southern California is La Jolla Shores.

La Jolla Shores is THE best place to learn how to surf.

With it's gentle waves and sandy bottom, you can easily practice how to duck dive on a longboard all day long.

La Jolla Shores is located just north of downtown San Diego in the town of La Jolla.

To get there, simply take I-5 North until you reach exit 25A for La Jolla Parkway.

Follow La Jolla Parkway for about 2 miles until you reach the beach. There is plenty of public parking available.

The waves at La Jolla Shores are usually gentle and easy to ride, making it a great spot for all levels of surfers.

9. Windansea Beach, La Jolla

Last but not least on our list of best surfing beaches in southern California is WIndansea Beach.

Nestled in the heart of La Jolla, Windansea Beach is one of San Diego's best surfing beaches and surf shops.

With its gentle waves and sandy bottom, Windansea is ideal for beginners and intermediate surfers alike.

Windansea Beach got its start in the early 1900s when a group of local surfers built a wooden shack on the sand.

The shack served as a place for the surfers to change into their wetsuits and store their boards.

Over time, the shack became a gathering place for surfers and non-surfers alike, and it quickly became known as the “Windansea Surf Club.” 

In the years since the Surf Club was founded, Windansea Beach has become one of La Jolla's most popular attractions.

Today, the beach is well-known for its gentle waves and sandy bottom, which make it ideal for beginners and intermediate surfers alike.

Common questions about the best surfing beaches in Southern California

Where are the biggest waves in Southern California?

The biggest waves in Southern California can be found at The Wedge in Newport Beach.

Which beach has the best waves in Southern California?

The best waves in Southern California can be found at Huntington Beach, Doheny State Beach, Trestles, San Onofre State Beach, Bolsa Chica State Beach, and San Clemente State Beach.

Where do most surfers live in California?

Most surfers in California live in the Orange County area.

Why are the waves so big in Southern California?

The waves in Southern California are big because of the Pacific Ocean. The Pacific is one of the largest oceans in the world and it has a lot of power. When the weather is right, the waves can get massive.

Final thoughts

Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned pro, there's a beach on this list that's perfect for you. So grab your board and hit the waves at one of southern California's best surfing beaches.