Best time to visit San Francisco

Surfing in San Francisco

Autumn soft offshore breezes create perfect consitions for surfing


One of the finest things about San Francisco is its location in relation to the ocean: no matter how deep you go into the city, the ocean will not be more than 10 minutes away from you. But unfortunately, San Francisco cannot boast hot beach season, as the ocean waters do not exceed 15°C, the city is still renowned for suitable surfing conditions.

Surfers may go in for sports throughout fall, winter and spring, in spite of possible winter storms and onshore spring winds, whereas the most favourable season for surfing is autumn, in particular, ​September and October. Then there is neither fog, nor strong wind, and soft offshore breezes just make for a perfect surf. The keen surfers may also take advantage of some really big waves from January till March. Surfers are advised to beware of the waters inhabited by seals, as it means that white sharks, that feed on seals, could also be around.

The best spots for surfing near San Francisco are Mavericks and Morro Bay.

Practical info

When is the best time to go surfing in San Francisco?

Surfing is best in San Francisco between September and May, during which the autumn months provide the optimal conditions for surfers. With clear skies and gentle offshore breezes, September and October offer the best experience. Waves can reach notable heights between January and March, however, as winter storms and onshore spring winds can occur throughout the surfing season. Show more

Where are the best places to go for surfing in San Francisco?

Mavericks and Morro Bay are considered the best places to surf in San Francisco. While located 20 miles from San Francisco, Mavericks is known internationally for its colossal waves, which can reach 60 feet. For beginners, Morro Bay with its small waves is recommended. Other potential surfing spots include Santa Cruz and San Jose. Show more

How warm are San Francisco's ocean waters during the surfing season?

Although San Francisco offers sunny weather between September and May, the ocean's water remains cold, reaching only 10-15°C during the season. To avoid hypothermia, surfers should wear wetsuits. A wetsuit protects surfers from getting cold, ensuring they remain safe throughout their time in the chilly water. Show more

When can surfers experience big waves near San Francisco?

Between the months of January and March, surfers near San Francisco can experience large waves, exceeding 50 feet in some cases. While surfing season can span from fall to spring, which may bring onshore spring winds and winter storms, the swells are more considerable during the January-March period, and the best spot is Mavericks, located 20 miles from San Francisco. Show more

What marine life should surfers be cautious of while surfing in San Francisco's waters?

Surfers in San Francisco need to be wary of sharks, caused by the regular presence of seals in the water. Great white sharks gravitate to colder waters such as those of San Francisco Bay to feed on seals, a local resident. While shark encounters have been reported, it is infrequent in San Francisco and surfers should still practice caution when in the water. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin