April 25, 2024
point breaks in san diego

Five Point Breaks in San Diego

You might think that Point Breaks in San Diego are rare. However, you will be pleasantly surprised to learn there are five Point Breaks in San Diego! In fact, I’ve been surfing many of these point breaks for years!

In this post, I will share details on each of these five point breaks in San Diego; where they are and what to expect while surfing each of them.

What is a Point Break?

To begin, let me quicky define what a point break is before you go chasing around all the point breaks in San Diego.

First, a general defining characteristic of all point breaks is they have some kind of point or landmass that comes to a headland along the coastline. You can think of point breaks as a large land mass that juts out into the ocean. If you are looking at a map, it may look triangular.

Secondly, the wave will begin to peel along the coastline as it hits the headland. Due to this point break structure, you can get some of your longest rides at point breaks. Basically, the wave continues to peel and break offering up many sections for powerful turns.

For some point breaks, you will have the option to go left or right. At others, they will be one direction only.

Finally, the pointed headland typically causes waves to break in one general area. As a result, there are not multiple peaks to take off from. This creates a tight take off window that is normally jockeyed over by several surfers for the best position. However, when you are able to get that wave window; you will be blessed with a long, juicy ride. For this reason, surfing point breaks are fun and one of my favorite types of breaks to surf.

point break san diego
A long wave breaking down a point break.

Other common surf break types include beach breaks and reef breaks.

Okay, now that you know what a point break is – let’s find the best point breaks in San Diego!

Five Best Point Breaks in San Diego

In this section, I am going to share the only and five best point breaks in San Diego. I will not be rating them in order of best to worst. Instead, I will be listing the breaks based on geographical location; from North to South.

Terra Mar Point (Northernmost point break in San Diego)

Starting in North County, Terra Mar is the northernmost point break found in San Diego. Actually, this is another little gem of north county surfing in San Diego. It’s only a short walk up the beach from one of my favorite uncrowded surf spots in San Diego – Dip in the Road.

Specifically, Terra Mar Point is situated in Carlsbad. Enter 5399 County Hwy S21, Carlsbad, CA 92008 for directions to the break. After arriving, you will be able to find street parking along the Coast Highway. Park in the dirt shoulders along the road. The easiest entry to this wave is a staircase found on the South side. At the bottom, hop off from the beach and begin your paddle. It can be a long paddle during a high tide!

Terra Mar Point (pictured above) is a popular surf spot for Carlsbad surfers. This point break is nice because you can catch both lefts and rights off the peak. Most importantly, the rides are long. Overall, Terra Mar Point is a pretty mellow wave that is best for longboarders. However, when the surf is overhead plus, it is one of the few surf spots in North County that holds a powerful swell.

Overall, Terra Mar Point is a fun wave and worth checking out if you are passing through or live in North County San Diego.

Swamis Surf Spot San Diego

Next, we’ll move a bit South down the San Diego coastline for another point break in San Diego. This will land us at Swamis Surf Spot.

best point break in San Diego
Swamis Surf Spot showing off it’s point break

The easiest way to get to Swamis is entering 1298 S Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA 92024 into your smart phone. Once you have arrived, Swamis has free parking in the lot at the break. When the lot is full (which often is), try parking along the stretch of Coast Highway next to the lot or Vulcan Avenue above the train tracks.

In my opinion, Swamis Surf Spot is the best point break in San Diego. In fact, it’s one of the better waves found in San Diego, period. Like Terra Mar Point, Swamis also breaks both left and right. However, the longest lines are usually found going left off the point. Swamis is also a somewhat mellow wave that is popular with longboarders. However, this place is mobbed with shortboards during a pumping, wintertime swell. Swamis point break structure holds swells up to double overhead. As a result, the takeoff runway gets hectic and crowded with skilled surfers.

In summary, surfing this popular point break in San Diego should be near the top of your list.

La Jolla Cove

Moving further South, La Jolla Cove is the next point break in San Diego on the list. La Jolla Cove is considered a big wave surf spot and only breaks when the waves are big.

To get here, simply type La Jolla Cove, San Diego, CA 92037 into your smart phone.

When you arrive, it’s likely that the surf will be flat. Normally, La Jolla Cove is a place where seals chill on the beach and tourists go for sightseeing. However, there are select days of the year (usually wintertime) when waves actually break off the point of La Jolla Cove.

San Diego point breaks
A partial view of La Jolla Cove

In order for waves to break here, the wave height needs to be at least triple overhead + (12 feet). As such, there normally isn’t enough swell to surf here. When there is no swell, it doesn’t even look like a surf spot. When the swell is pumping, locals will flock to the area and tourists will flocks to the point’s edge to watch surfers catch big, heavy waves. Due to this, you need to be very experienced and a strong swimmer in order to surf here. Also note, this point break is a predominantly left breaking wave.

Overall, this is the heaviest point break in San Diego. It doesn’t break often, but when it does; know your limits.

PB Point

Not far down the coast from La Jolla Cove, you will find our next best point break in San Diego on the list. Meet, PB Point.

PB (Pacific Beach) Point is located just north of one of the best longboarding spots in San Diego – Tourmaline Beach. Punch in 398 Sea Ridge Dr La Jolla, CA 92037 on your smartphone. This will bring you to a neighborhood where you can street park along Calumet Avenue. Typically, street parking is easy unless there is swell in the water. After you park, find the concrete stairwell at the end of a sidewalk entrance at Sea Ridge Drive and Linda Way. You will know you are in the right spot when you see sweeping views of Tourmaline Beach and Crystal Pier.

From here, paddle out straight and then to the North. You’ll have to walk along a rocky beach and it’s a bit of a paddle – so be prepared. Upon arrival to the wave, you’ll find a point break that breaks both to the left and right. This wave breaks pretty fast for a point break due to the rocky bottom. In one spot, there is actually a pretty critical boulder sticking out of the water which you’ll need to maneuver adeptly. Due to this, PB Point is not a place for beginner surfers.

Overall, this is a solid point break in San Diego well known with locals and breaks well when 4-6 feet plus.  

Ralph’s Point Loma (Southernmost point break in San Diego)

Finally, we have reached our final point break in San Diego. This spot is called Ralph’s. I have to say that Ralph’s is probably the most unique surfing spot in San Diego.

For starters, I don’t even have an address to punch in to get to Ralph’s. Ralph’s point break is boat access only. It is found at the southernmost tip of Point Loma. This is also where you will find Cabrillo National Monument. In fact, you will see great views of this point break from the top of the monument. If you drive down the hill to the tide pools, you can get a closer view of the surfers in the water. However, it is not allowed to paddle out from shore. Also, that paddle would be dangerous.

best point breaks in San Diego
A less known point break in San Diego – Ralph’s near the end of Point Loma.

When accessing Ralph’s by boat, it’s normal to see a few boats anchored in the lineup. There will be more boats when the swell is up. Although, the crowd won’t be too dense because the boat only access limits many.

As to the wave itself, Ralph’s is a very long, and very high-quality right-hand point break. Ralph’s will break most consistently during a fall or wintertime swell. Long rides coupled with spectacular scenery of the monument and port of San Diego – some might even say it’s a world class wave.

Overall, it will be an adventure any time you surf Ralph’s.

Final Note on Surfing Point Breaks in San Diego

You might be surprised after reading this article since many are not aware that there are so many point breaks in San Diego. Now that you have this list, start checking them off one by one. Once you check them all off, you can try surfing all of the best point breaks in the world! On the other hand, learn more here about other types of surf breaks in San Diego such as reef breaks and beach breaks. Subscribe for more stories like this below:

PS. On the subject on surfing point breaks, every surfer must watch the move Point Break! It’s a classic surfing movie from the 90s with Keanu Reeves 🙂

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  • Gavin Bechtold

    Gavin has been living and surfing in San Diego for over a decade. He loves the ocean and is lucky to call San Diego home. Frustrated with mainstream reviews, he set out to create the best source of surf reviews for San Diego beaches. Check the About page for more info!