This is our guide to the best time of year to surf in California.
When it comes to the Golden State, few places in the continental US are as well-known or beloved for their surfing scene. Whatever the time of year, you’re likely to find some of the beach crowd hitting the waves, but if you want to make sure that you get the absolute best surf available, you want to know what time of year is best.
An all-year surf destination
As mentioned, California is an all-year surfing destination, meaning that no matter what month or season you visit, you’re going to find some swell somewhere up along its very large coastline. This is thanks, in part, to the fact that the coast is hit by both the winter Northwest and West swells, which keep the waves pretty consistent no matter what the weather. Southern California, in particular, is most likely to have good surfing conditions no matter what time of year it is.
Winter is best for most
Overall, fall and winter might be considered the best time to find a surfing spot in California. However, as long as that coastline is, it really depends on where exactly you are. In North and Center, it benefits from those winter winds pushing up the swells, so winter is precisely when you want to be hitting the waves. However, further down to the south, especially in places like Malibu, there’s a strong summer swell that keeps the surfing community down there well pleased.
In general, however, if you’re able to travel up and down the coast freely, from early fall to the middle of winter is the time of year you will most reliably be able to find some waves, with the last of the Southern swells meeting the first of the Northwest swells, not to mention warmer waters.
Surf season in California
Though you might think that summer’s playful vibe would be long-gone from the beaches when the water starts to set in, from October is when you’re going to see most serious surfing communities coming out in force. The fall surf season in California tends to be a lot more chill than the summer in part because there aren’t as many tourists. It’s mostly locals coming out to play, meaning if you’re looking for a peaceful solo session or to join a group of locals, it’s much more doable.
The weather is still fine, even though it’s not summer anymore, too. Early fall is still plenty warm and sunny, and the water is getting warmer too. That combination of late summer swells and early fall swells creates some fantastic waves as well.
When should you come to California to surf?
If you want to know which part of the year you should come to surf in California, it’s a good idea to plan your beach trip for early fall, from October onwards.
However, there are online surf maps and beach cams that you check out. You never have to be disappointed by a quiet coast again, you can simply see how the swell is online.
Enjoyed Best time of year to surf in California? Check out Surfing California: Your Essential Guide To The West Coast Waves.