November 26, 2022
pier surf spots in san diego

Pier Surf Spots in San Diego

There are a number of piers in San Diego. However, there are only select beach piers in San Diego where surfing is possible. In this post, I’ll cover all the pier surf spots in San Diego.

Actually, there are five total piers in San Diego where surfing is possible. Similar to my post on Point Breaks in San Diego – I present you a list of all pier surf spots in San Diego from North to South. Surprisingly, surfing piers can be quite fun. Piers provide some structure in the water. In a way, they provide that structure like a point break. As such, waves sometimes will break off the pier creating a fun ride. If you are brave, you can even try to shoot the pier.

Read on to find out where in San Diego these surfing piers are and when the waves are best.

5 Surfing Piers in San Diego

In this section, find a complete list of all surfing piers in San Diego from North to South. Want to know how to get to the pier? I got you covered. Is it even fun to surf piers in San Diego? I got you covered too.

Oceanside Pier Surf Spot

Firstly, I’ll cover the Northernmost pier found in San Diego. In addition to being one of the beach piers in San Diego, Oceanside Pier is also known as one of the better fishing piers in San Diego.

Oceanside Pier is 1,942 ft long and is found at the following address: Oceanside Fishing Pier, Pier, Oceanside, CA 92054. Oceanside Pier has both free and metered street parking nearby; allowing for easy accessibility.

Most importantly, let’s talk about surfing at Oceanside Pier. After all, that’s why most of us are reading this post.

To begin, I would classify Oceanside Pier as an average wave. It’s a beach break that breaks off a sandbar created from the pier. Summer is the best time of year to surf Oceanside Pier. Actually, summer is the best time of year to surf pretty much anywhere in North County San Diego. Oceanside Pier is somewhat unique because surfing is allowed on both the North and South side of the pier. At other piers, surfing is allowed on only one side of the pier.

Overall, surfing at Oceanside pier is a sometimes fun, consistent beach break.

Oceanside Pier Restaurant: Ruby’s Diner

Oceanside Pier Tip: Take a walk on Oceanside Pier to watch the sunset. They also have lots of cool shops and stalls as you walk the pier.

Scripps Pier Surf Spot San Diego

Next, we’ll travel South down the coast to cover surfing at Scripps Pier. Scripps Pier is another beautiful beach pier in San Diego. However, this concrete pier is closed to foot traffic as it an active marine research facility. In fact, Scripps Pier is part of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and is one of the largest active research piers in the world.

To get to Scripps Pier, type in 8650 Kennel Way, La Jolla, CA 92037 to your smartphone. Parking at Scripps Pier is pretty accessible. At this location, free street parking is available. Additionally, there is a small lot near the pier for surfers and beachgoers.

As to the wave itself, surfing at Scripps Pier is actually pretty good. Firstly, Scripps Pier is a beach break. The waves can get fairly peaky here. Similar to Oceanside Pier, surfing at Scripps Pier is allowed on both the North and South sides of the pier. Generally, the South side is favored for higher quality surf.

surfing piers in San Diego
A view of Scripps Pier from the line up!

Occasionally, Scripps Pier will receive a solid winter swell that comes from the right direction. When this happens, the waves won’t close out like they typically would while surfing Scripps Pier during larger surf. Luckily, I’ve scored Scripps Pier on a day where the wind was offshore. It was pretty epic.

Overall, surfing at Scripps Pier is a good bet. The waves are consistently quality and the multiple breaks allow for crowds to spread out.

Scripps Pier Restaurant: Okay, not actually on the pier, but overlooking the pier. Check out Caroline’s Seaside Café.

Scripps Pier Tip: Take a short walk down the beach to La Jolla shores for one of the best beginner surf spots in San Diego.

Crystal Pier Surf Spot

Next, we’ll find Crystal Pier not much further South in Pacific Beach. Crystal Pier is one of the most popular beach piers in San Diego. Also, it’s another fishing pier in San Diego.

To get to Crystal Pier, punch in 4500 Ocean Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109 to your smartphone. Pacific Beach is a popular and crowded beach city. As such, parking can be difficult. You may have a decent walk from your car to the beach. With that said, most of the street parking is free!

As mentioned, Crystal Pier is probably the most popular beach pier in San Diego. Dense crowds of beach goers will pack both sides of the pier, especially during summer.

Now, let’s talk surfing at Crystal Pier. Unlike the previous piers, surfing at Crystal Pier is only allowed on the North side. The South side of the pier is designated for swimming only. Normally, waves wedge up against the North side of the pier creating a nice left off the pier. Oftentimes, the take-off zone right next to the pier is crowded with sometimes aggressive surfers. If you don’t mind sitting off the pier a bit, you can still catch some fun waves with less a crowd. Crystal Pier is considered a beach break and surfing at Crystal Pier is best when the tide is falling.

Generally, Crystal Pier Surf Spot is an intermediate wave. Although, it’s fine for beginners when smaller. In fact, it’s one of the surf spots I learned to surf at. It’s conveniently located South of Tourmaline Beach, the best beginner surf spot in San Diego.

Overall, surfing at Crystal Pier is fun; although not super consistent. It’s best during a combo swell which will most often happen in the Fall season.

Crystal Pier Restaurant: While not on the pier itself, Kono’s Café is a great post surf breakfast immediately next to the Pier.

Crystal Pier Tip: Crystal Pier is super unique in that there are cottages on the pier. You can sleep above the water!

beach piers in San Diego
Crystal Pier during Christmas!

Ocean Beach Pier Surf Spot San Diego

In this section, learning about surfing at Ocean Beach Pier. Ocean Beach Pier is the longest pier in San Diego at 1,971 feet. Because it’s so long, it is also a popular fishing pier in San Diego.

To get to OB Pier, punch in 1850 Ocean Front St, San Diego, CA 92107 to your smart phone. Generally, parking at OB Pier is pretty easy. There is a free lot immediately next to the pier. When the lot is full, look for street parking in the eclectic neighborhood of Ocean Beach San Diego.

pier surf spots in san diego
Ocean Beach Pier Surf Spot

Okay – how is the surfing at Ocean Beach Pier? The surf at OB Pier is probably the best on this list. Ocean Beach Pier is a beach break like the other surfing piers in San Diego found on this list. While you can surf on both sides of this pier, the surf is best and most consistent on the North side. Chances are you are trying to shoot this pier when surfing on the South side of the pier.

When surfing at Ocean Beach Pier on the North side, you have a chance to catch both lefts and rights. This pier can hold an overhead swell. As such, surfing at Ocean Beach pier is best during wintertime North/Northwest swells.

Overall, the quality of surfing at Ocean Beach Pier is fair to good. I also wrote a comprehensive review of Ocean Beach Pier Surf Spot for all the finer details.

Ocean Beach Pier Restaurant: Check out Ocean Beach Pier Café – can’t beat breakfast above the water!

OB Pier Tip: Since this is the longest pier in San Diego, it’s a great pier to take a walk and enjoy the expansive views of the coastline and city of San Diego!

Imperial Beach Pier Surf Spot San Diego

Finally, the last and Southernmost pier in San Diego on the list – Imperial Beach Pier. IB Pier is a wooden planked pier; 1,491 feet long. It also a fishing pier in San Diego.

To get to Imperial Beach Pier, punch 10 Evergreen Ave, Imperial Beach, CA 91932 into your smart phone. There is paid parking at Portwood Pier Plaza and also some free street parking available.

Surfing at Imperial Beach Pier is not for the faint of heart. Imperial Beach Pier Surf Spot is the most advanced pier wave on this list. The sandbars in this area create incredibly hollow waves during powerful swells. As a result, it is possible to get a barrel here.

Surfing at Imperial Beach Pier is allowed on both the North and South side. Generally, the lineup is not very crowded due to the level of surfing and it’s far Southern location. Furthermore, the water is polluted at times due to it’s proximity to the Tijuana River.

In summary, surfing IB Pier is for experienced, hungry surfers.

Imperial Beach Pier Restaurant: The Tin Fish sits on the end of the pier and is a great place for grub.

Imperial Beach Pier Tip: It’s so close to Mexico! When surfing at IB Pier, take the extra time to drive across the border and check out TJ for some real good street tacos!

piers in san diego
The Tin Fish at the end of Imperial Beach Pier is a great place to eat!

What to be Aware of When Surfing Piers in San Diego

Overall, surfing piers in San Diego is a fun experience. Generally, there are a few things to keep in mind whenever surfing at any pier.

  1. Watch out for fishermen

Generally, most piers allow fishing. As such, watch out for hooks and lines which can sometimes be near the surfing area.

2. Watch out for the pier!

Yes, normally you are surfing away from the pier. However, sometimes you take off right next to the pier in a close window. Bold surfers will try to shoot the pier. Be careful if you try this.

3. Select your waves wisely

The structure of piers consistently creates waves that break away from it. Conserve your energy to catch the best waves. Also, the takeoff area can be crowded with other surfers. Know your priority and respect others in the water.

Follow these rules and you will have fun at these five pier surf spots in San Diego or surfing at any pier around the world!

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