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Where to Surf San Diego's Biggest Swells


It’s winter swell season in San Diego.

While everyone else in the country is starting to bundle up for the winter, here in San Diego, surf season is just hitting its stride. December through January brings in monster swells out of Alaska. That means it’s time to put on your booties, grow out your neckbeard, and get in the water at San Diego’s best winter surf spots.

Where to Find the Biggest Winter Waves in San Diego

Blacks Beach

Want to know where to find San Diego’s best winter wave? Head to Blacks Beach. A great place to surf year round, Blacks features crystal clear water that breaks in long, organized lines, which means you can always expect a good ride. Wave heights can reach up to 12 to 15 feet, but it is more difficult to break through the white water in these conditions.  

Here’s how to get there: Park in the lot at the end of Torrey Pines Scenic Drive and head towards the trail leading out of the southwest corner of the lot. Follow it down the cliff until you reach the beach. Be aware that the beach is clothing optional.  

Cardiff Reef

Encinitas, CA, is just a short drive from The REY and offers some of San Diego’s best winter surfing. Although it is home to a variety of breaks, our favorite is Cardiff Reef. Here you can find southwest swells that are perfect for cutbacks and lip action, especially during low to medium tide.

Here’s how to get there: Cardiff Reef is located just behind the Cardiff Kook at San Elijo State Beach with the best waves breaking near the mouth of the river. Parking can be difficult during peak hours, so carpool with friends or prepare to walk from the other side of the 101.  


It’s no secret, Swami’s is home to San Diego’s biggest winter swells. This local surf spot boasts the perfect right point break ideal for both longboards and shortboards. Check it out during low to medium tide when swells roll in from the west or northwest.

Here’s how to get there: Swami’s is located in Encinitas at Sea Cliff County Park. There is a long, wooden staircase that will take you down to the beach and the reef is roughly 100 meters north of this point. Beginners beware - paddling out to the main break is challenging and requires optimum fitness.  

Come Home to The REY

After a long day on the waves, come home to an apartment for rent at The REY in San Diego. We keep you connected to SoCal’s best surf spots.


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