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San Diego Daydream

Sunset at Ocean Beach Pier
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Take the day off and head down south to Imperial Beach (IB). From the southernmost part of IB (Boca Rio or Tijuana Sloughs); you can look a little further south and see the hills of Tijuana. Shhhhhhh! Listen closely and you may just hear a whistle blowing and the joyous “EEEE-HAAAAW” of a donkey, painted as a zebra, posing for a picture with curious 18 year old high school graduates.

Now back to the ocean. The waves in front of you will produce fun lefts and occasional barreling rights. IB is packed with short boards and the occasional long board. When you see a long board here, you are certain to see an experienced nose rider. You will not find a huge lineup here. Nor will you find a “Kook” or tourist. However, you may spot a few pros or up and coming groms.

Skip Coronado. No offense to Coronado. It’s a beautiful place…for shopping, walking and picking fights with Navy SEAL’s, but you’re not going to find much surf here. All beach breaks, fast pitching closeouts and a ton of tourists.

If you have a boat or know someone with a boat; pay, beg or bribe them to take you out to Ralph’s. This is the most secluded surf spot in San Diego. It is pretty much at the tip of the Point Loma cliffs and you can’t walk to it. You may have as many as 5 surfers in the water with you on a good day. You almost get the feeling of being in a completely different country when you surf here. Tide permitting; you will find Awesome lefts that seem to go on for miles. It’s not that long, but it will keep reforming right when you think the section is going to take a nap.

Head a little further north to South Garbage. You can drive to this spot, but you have 2 choices when you’re going out or coming back in. You can take the stairs (North Garbage) down to the rocks and hope for a good wave to come in that you can jump into or you can climb down the cliff holding your board and the rope that seemingly grows out of the rocks. Regardless of the choice you make; you are in for a killer session if you make it down without hurting yourself. The paddle out can be brutal and long, but it is definitely worth it. Most of your rides are going to take you right and, like Ralphs, will seem to keep on going and going. You can pull back to back nose rides with numerous cutbacks intertwined throughout. Be careful getting out of the water and time your tide changes.

Ocean Beach (OB) has some killer spots to surf. On a clean day you can pull a fun nose ride through the OB pier if you don’t mind putting a couple dings in your board. This is where I broke my first board. The pier is primarily a short board spot. However, on a clean southwest swell you can push through the pier fairly easily. A good long board rule of thumb is: if the waves are hitting the bottom of the pier; move north to Pacific Beach (PB) and try the Jetty, PB Drive, Pump House, Tourmaline or PB Point.

If you are a beginner or are just looking for a mellow long board spot; North PB is your spot. You definitely have to be cautious here. PB is known as a tourist surf spot that can be filled with new surfers that exhibit the “deer in headlights” look. This can also make your surf session a fun obstacle dodging experience.

Tourmaline and PB point are great spots to find some local pro, semi-pro and phenomenal recreational long board surfers. You can also spot out local shaping legend Skip Fry making a 2 foot wave look like a fun ride. Tourmaline will give you some fun right and left waves without the attitude you will find in some other San Diego spots. PB Point is mainly a right breaking wave. A good day at the point will give you some long fun rides all the way into the cove. Be careful here on low tides. Rocks and reef will sometimes pop up right in front of you.

North a couple miles from PB you will find a world famous San Diego surf spot, in La Jolla, called Windansea. This spot is highlighted with a tiki structure set on the rocks that overlook this break. In few words; don’t surf here if you are not an experienced surfer. This is definitely a “locals” spot that demands a level of respect that many new surfers may not understand. This is a spot where you should use the Bowling Ethics Guidelines. Meaning; if someone is ready to bowl (surf) next to you, that person has the right of way.

Up the coast a few more miles, still in La Jolla, are the Shores. There is a huge parking lot with plenty of parking, lots of tourists and some great surf. This is a long beach with five or more good break spots. If you want rights; you got it. If you want lefts; you got it. If you want people in kayaks, scuba divers and a few bottom feeding sharks; you got it. This beach can get pretty crowded with everything you can imagine, but on a big wave day you find some really good surfers. The ages of surfers out here range from 3 to 90. Don’t let the age fool you. The 3 year old is probably better than most of us.

If you can hit all of these spots in one day; you’re not human, but you just had one of the best San Diego surf days you can imagine. There are over a hundred potential surf spots here and it would be near impossible to hit them all in one week or even one year. Take a break, have a beverage here in La Jolla and I’ll be back with more surf spots soon. Cheers and surf safe.


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  • City: San Diego