top of page

The Best Places to Surf in Encinitas

Updated: Dec 13, 2023

Encinitas is, without a doubt, my favorite part of southern California.

With beautiful weather, great waves, and friendly people, I have always recommended people to visit Encinitas on their California surf trip.

There is an atmosphere here that you won’t find anywhere else in California.

Surfing in Encinitas

Surfing in Encinitas is unique due to the beach and waves options. The beaches are incredibly beautiful.

When it comes to the wave options, you can drive around Encinitas and find a little wave somewhere even if everywhere else is flat.

While you drive around looking for a spot to surf, the drive is pretty.

The town of Encinitas has a great vibe with great people and food as well along with scenery that is unique to Encinitas alone.

Waves in Encinitas

When it comes to wave quality and size, each spot in Encinitas works differently.

When we discuss the surf spots one-by-one, I will mention the best conditions for each one of them.

Season-wise, the fall would be considered the best time of the year to go surfing, although summer is a popular time because of the sunny weather.

You won’t get as many crowds during the fall though because school is in session and people aren’t usually taking vacations that time of the year.

Surf Culture in Encinitas

Surf culture here is great. Most people are incredibly friendly, all peace and love, on the beaches and in the water.

Respect others out there and you will be respected as well.

Surfers of all levels are welcomed in the water, on any kind of board depending on where you are surfing!

Gear Needed to Surf Encinitas

During the fall season, you will need a 3/2 full suit until winter starts to roll around.

In between the transition from fall to winter, you may have to pair some booties with your suit until it gets too cold and then you will need booties, gloves and a 4/3 full suit during winter.

You may not need gloves during the winter, but if you are going to be surfing for long periods of time, you will be more comfortable with them.

When spring rolls around, all you will need is a 3/2 full suit.

During the summer, you really only need a spring suit or jacket. If the water gets warm enough, you might be able to pull out the board shorts and bikinis!

The 4 Best Surf Spots in Encinitas

Moonlight Beach

With an average wave height around 3-5ft, Moonlight Beach offers fun waves and all-around vibes.

This spot is a sanded beach break that is the best on an incoming tide.

All levels of surfers are more than welcomed here!

Moonlight Beach is beautiful and has free parking, making it a nice and accessible surf spot.

The swell directions that work best here would be a SW, NW, or W swell paired along with NE and E winds.

The crowd is not too bad as well.

On perfectly sunny, nice days, the beach can get packed along with the water, but if you catch this spot during the fall or winter you may be in for a treat.


Cardiff is my favorite spot to surf in Encinitas.

The people are welcoming there and there’s no shortage of perfect rights to surf.

The average wave height is 3-6 ft on a reef that is grass-covered.

There’s a little channel to paddle out for when the waves are bigger and you want to avoid getting in people’s way and also avoid getting trampled by a wave.

The mellow rights and channel make this spot surfable for all levels of surfers, but is always occupied by longboarders unless it is bigger.

Cardiff works best with a medium to low tide paired with NW or W winds and light, east winds.


If you are willing to fight for your waves and paddle through a crowd if it means that you may catch perfect rights, then Swami’s is the place for you!

Really though, the crowd here is terrible when it is firing and when the waves are small.

The average wave height ranges around 3-7ft.

The longboarders tend to hang far out back while short boarders catch the inside, steeper waves.

The perfect rights break on a reef point. The best swell and wind combination is a W or NW swell with east winds.

South Ponto

South Ponto offers easy access and a fun beach break for everyone.

The average wave height is 4-6 ft and breaks on a sand bottom.

The best wind for this spot is a NE or E wind paired with a SW or NW swell.

The best tide to surf here is low tide that’s starting to push high, it gives enough room to break well while giving it a little push.

The crowd isn’t too bad because people are able to spread out all the way down the beach to find a sandbar that looks appealing, but if the waves are firing that’s when you will see a crowd out there.

Things to Do In Encinitas When the Waves Are Flat

The views that Encinitas has to offer, I would say, are the main attraction for people.

Moonlight State Beach is beautiful and has fire pits so you can roast s’mores while you’re wrapped in blankets after a long day in the sun.

There are the Self-Realization Fellowship Meditation Gardens which are very pretty and something neat to check out. There are wineries and great food in town as well.

Encinitas Surfing

The reason I love this place so much is that you have a chill atmosphere everywhere you go, along with great waves to tire you out throughout the day.

Visiting or returning here is a no-brainer for your southern California trip, you can’t miss out!


bottom of page