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Oceanside Surf Guide: The Best Places to Surf in Oceanside

Updated: Jun 10, 2023

Many San Diegans consider Oceanside, California, to be the last stop in north country before hitting the 17 mile stretch of coastline closed off for the Camp Pendleton military base.

Much of north county San Diego has a rich surfing culture from Del Mar to Encinitas.

Oceanside is no exception. It’s some of the best pure beach break in all of San Diego county and has quite a bit of different peaks to choose from on its stretch of coastline.

We’ll run down some of these spots and what to expect when surfing them.

What’s So Special About Surfing in Oceanside?

Waves in Oceanside

Alright, if you're going to Oceanside or planning on moving there then you better like a good old fashioned beach break.

Seriously, there aren’t really any obstructions on the coastline besides two jetties and a pier, other than that it's about 4 miles of straight beach break.

O-side is no joke either, pretty much all of the breaks are built to hold serious size.

Look for a northwest swell during the winter or south/ southwest during the summer for Oceanside to get good.

Since it's so exposed, the swells will hit really good so expect size and power.

The Surf Culture in Oceanside

Much like the rest of San Diego county’s beach towns, Oceanside has a close-knit community of surfers that hold a lot of pride in their beach town.

A lot of Oceanside’s surfers come down from inland Oceanside to hit the waves because the main beach town is pretty aged and touristy.

There are also plenty of surf shops that are most likely more than happy to give you directions on where to sit out at Oceanside and rent boards if needed.

Equipment Needed to Surf in Oceanside

Summer will most likely be fairly cold so 2-3mm jacket or 3/2mm spring suit would be ideal.

August and September will be pretty warm and will likely require nothing but trunks.

Then during the winter and spring a 4/3mm wetsuit is definitely needed for longer sessions.

The Best Surf Spots in Oceanside

Harbor Jetty

The first break along Oceanside’s coastline is Harbor Jetty which sticks directly out of Oceanside Harbor. Harbor Jetty is a pretty straightforward jetty break.

It’s a right handed break that usually breaks on a southwest swell.

On small days it’s a great beginner wave but on big days it has potential to get maxed out and break past the jetty.

Something to look out for here is the poor water quality due to its proximity to the harbor and San Luis Rey River.

Locals aren’t too bad here but will definitely sniff out a kook.

First Jetty

Another jetty break just south of the Harbor Jetty is the First Jetty.

The great thing about this jetty is that it breaks on both sides of the jetty so it offers something for both goofy and regular footers.

This is primarily a winter wave that takes west swells really well.

It has the potential to max out but it's capable of holding size like the rest of Oceanside.

It’s best for intermediate to advanced surfers especially when maxing out because it gets pretty hollow and powerful.

Water quality and locals are another thing to look out for.

Oceanside Pier

The main municipal pier in Oceanside, both sides of the pier will break pretty decently.

The pier probably isn’t the best break in Oceanside but since it’s the main draw to the beach it tends to draw in a lot of crowd.

Especially when it's small, the pier will be flooded with beginners. Like the rest of Oceanside, the pier is capable of holding size and power on the right swell and is a magnet for the best O-side surfers.

Locals aren’t too much of a problem here but water quality especially after the rain won’t be the best.

Oceanside Beach

The remaining three miles of beach is simply known as Oceanside beach. The beach ends right where Carlsbad Beach starts.

Like any long stretch of sandy beach break there are plenty of peaks to surf and despite some heavier crowds there’s plenty of room to spread out.

Then expect the negatives that come with beach breaks, wind and closeouts especially when it starts to get too big.

Like the rest of Oceanside, water quality is always a concern so be on the lookout for that. Since there’s so much space, locals won’t pester you too much so this is probably the best stretch of beach to explore as an outsider.

What To Do In Oceanside When the Waves Are Flat

Oceanside is a fun beach town with plenty to do when the waves aren’t firing.

The California Surf Museum is in Oceanside and has plenty of exhibits that detail the rich history of surfing in California.

Adult tickets are only $7 and students are $5. Oceanside beach is also extremely popular and a nice place to lounge out and enjoy the San Diego sunshine.

It’s also worth walking or biking the strand which is a boardwalk along the beach.

This is a great opportunity to see some of the town and people of O’Side.

There’s also a great art museum called Oceanside Museum of Art that has a really interesting and diverse collection.

Oceanside Surf Guide

Oceanside, California is a great stop in a surf tour of North county San Diego, so hopefully you got a grasp of the best spots in the town!


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