November 26, 2022
ponto jetties surf spot review

Ponto Jetties Surf Spot Review

Ponto Jetties Surf Spot, also known as Ponto Beach Surf Spot, is found in North County San Diego. North County San Diego is a haven for quality surf spots. One of these rippable breaks is Ponto Jetties.

In this local’s guide for surfing Ponto Jetties, you can expect information on how to get to Ponto, what the wave is like, and what kind of crowds you’ll experience in the water. At the end of this post, you will find my overall Ponto Jetties Surf Spot review. Enjoy!

Ponto Jetties Surf Spot Review
Ponto Jetties Surf Spot Review
Where is Ponto Jetties Surf Spot?

Ponto Jetties Surf Spot is located in Carlsbad, California. Specifically, it’s just north of Leucadia in the southern part of Carlsbad known as La Costa.

Ponto is also a State Beach part of South Carlsbad State Beach. I would recommend you enter ‘Ponto State Beach’ into your smartphone map program of choice for directions. Below, is a pin on the map for Ponto surf break.

Ponto is divided into two parts; North and South. A waterway running to the ocean spanned by two large jetties divides the North and South sections of the beach.

In terms of parking at Ponto State Beach, you have a few options. Fortunately, all of these options are free parking. Nothing annoys me more than having to pay for parking when I go surfing.

Firstly, your best bet is the street parking directly in front of the north side of the jetty. Next, you can find additional dirt parking due North from here if the street parking is full. Finally, your 3rd option is on the South side of the jetty. Here, you will find a sandy beach lot.

ponto beach surf spot parking
Parking in the sand lot on the south side of the jetty

When parking on the South side, you can walk across a wide, sandy beach to paddle out from the southern jetty. Alternatively, the northern side also has a wide beach. However, this side has a rocky section nearest to the ocean. They are smooth rocks, so they are normally harmless to walk across. However, they can be cold on a chilly morning! During these times, I recommend you wear a set of good surf booties.

ponto surf break
The rocky section in front of Ponto surf break on the north side of the jetty

Ponto Jetties Surf Spot Overview

In this section, I’ll share a general overview of the wave found surfing at Ponto Jetties.

To begin, I’ll start with a bit of history. Ponto surf spot was originally a reef break years ago. However, the city built jetties in 1996; turning this spot into a beach break.

Today, Ponto surf break is one of the best waves in North County San Diego. Most notably, it fires during South summertime swell. During times like these, waves are fast and hollow. To my surprise, the wave at Ponto Jetties Surf Spot breaks fairly quickly off the sandbars. These kinds of waves require skill to take off. As such, Ponto Surf Spot is best suited for intermediate to advanced surfers.

Furthermore, the wave that breaks to the right from the North side of the jetty is the break known for its hollow rides. This section of wave is considered the most advanced section found at Ponto Surf Spot.  Due North, you will find some mellower, but still fun, slopey beach breaks. On the other side, waves break left off the South jetty. While these waves are not as hollow, they are still super rippable and fun. The southern section of the jetty tends to work better on a North swell.

Fortunately, Ponto Surf Spot has a sand bottom despite its advanced nature. As a result, the hazard level is low. At times, you do need to remain aware of strong, shifting currents that flow between the jetties.

All in all, Ponto Surf Spot is a top tier wave. It’s the place to be in North County for talented surfers.

Surfing Ponto Jetties SW Swell

Surfing Ponto Jetties SW Swell

Surfing Ponto Jetties Quick Facts

Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Type: Beach break, sand bottom

Wave Height: Knee high to a few feet overhead. Ponto shines during head high conditions.

Tides:  Low to medium tides handle waves best here.

Water Temperature: Average 65° F. The average water temperature in San Diego by month is found here.

Swell Direction: West, Northwest, & Southwest. In my opinion, best during SW.

Wind Direction: Best with no wind or a N/NE.

Check your current Ponto beach surf report here.

When is the Best Time of Year to Surf Ponto San Diego?

In this section, you will find a seasonal guide to the best time of year for surfing Ponto Jetties.

Winter: Generally, San Diego has its best, largest, and most consistent surf during the winter. However, surf spots in North County San Diego are normally a notch smaller than breaks in South County. South County is more exposed to NW swells. As a result, surf spots in North County like Ponto are not quite as consistent. Due to Ponto’s sandbars and direction, it can closeout during winter. During winter, your best bet is the South Jetty of Ponto Beach.

Spring: Surfing Ponto Jetties during Spring is a mixed bag. NW swells begin to fade. However, early season South swells can hit this region providing that summertime surf where Ponto Surf Spot really shines.

ponto surf break
Lines at North Ponto during an early Summer swell

Summer: In the summer, North County San Diego surf spots normally light up. Ponto Jetties Surf Spot is no exception. At this time, South and Southwest swells rumble off Hawaii toward California. Due to Ponto’s southerly facing position, the break is positioned well to receive these swells. In my experience, surfing Ponto Jetties is most consistent, large and hollow throughout summer. At this time of year, the North jetty at Ponto surf break is best.

Fall: Surfing Ponto Jetties in Autumn can also be exceptionally fun. During this season, South swells continue to approach this area that combine with early North + Northwest swells. This combination produces fun, peaky waves on both the North and South end of Ponto Jetties.

Which Board to Bring for Surfing Ponto Jetty?

In the following paragraph, I’ll share which board to choose from your quiver for surfing Ponto Jetties.

As mentioned earlier in this post, Ponto Jetties Surf Spot features a fast breaking and sometimes hollow wave. Due to this, a shortboard is normally your best bet in surf anything shoulder-high and above. My personal go to for Ponto surf break is normally my Pyzel Phantom. The Pyzel Phantom has both added volume and rocker. When combined, this allows for paddle power in smaller surf and that added rocker to make the drop in. Overall, this board usually covers the spectrum of conditions found surfing Ponto.

On the flip side, when the waves are below shoulder-high; this would be the appropriate time to break out your fish or funboard. The waves can get really playful and slopey here for smaller surf. When this happens, a fish is perfect!

Finally, it is possible to longboard and SUP Ponto Jetties. Although, this isn’t recommended due to the wave speed and crowds. I would recommend sticking to the area North of the northern jetty where the crowds are thinner, and the wave has less punch. Believe it or not, I have seen people foil out here! Foiling is quickly coming more popular in San Diego.

Ponto Jetties Crowd

Okay, let’s talk about crow factor found while surfing Ponto Jetties.

When the surf is on, Ponto can get aggressive. The advanced ability of this wave brings in a lot of talented surfers. Combined with only two prime take off points (one situated directly in front of each Jetty), that doesn’t leave a ton of room for spacing out. As a result, you can often find yourself in a paddle battle. I have witnessed more than one shouting match while in the lineup at Ponto Surf Spot.

My best recommendation is to get on the outside of the peaks when the crowd is heavy. You may not be in a position to catch as many waves, but you’ll still find enough on the outside without having to deal with the crowds.

End of the day be respectful, and you’ll have a good time catching waves. With that said, Ponto isn’t always crowded. When the surf isn’t firing, the crowd is smaller and mellow.

Surf Breaks Near Ponto Jetties

Closest to the South in order:

Closest to the North in order:

Ponto Jetties Local Knowledge

In this section, I always try to share the best local post surf grub in addition to any tips for the break itself.

This time, I’ll start with some wave hacks. My favorite way to spend my session is paddling out from the South side of the jetty. First, catch a few waves. Next, paddle to the North jetty to spend most of your time in the best section of the break. Finally, paddle back across the channel and catch a wave to shore from the South side of the jetty. Yew!

If that’s not enough, Ponto Beach is a great place to hang out to make the day of it. They have a wide sandy beach with poles for volleyball and space for activities like spike ball. When the day is over, head to Fish 101. Fish 101 is a short drive South (one mile or so) down the PCH. They have some of the best fish tacos and dishes you can find – cheers!

Ponto Jetties Surf Spot Review

4.0 out of 5.0 stars

Accessibility: Easy and free street parking with several options to choose from. A rocky walk to the water on the North side of jetty, but overall pretty easy.

4.0 out of 5.0 stars

Waves: One of the best and more advanced caliber waves in North County San Diego. Peaky, slopey, and at times, hollow. High fun factor. Best bet, summertime.

3.0 out of 5.0 stars

Crowd: Will get crowded and hectic during a good swell. Know your place in the lineup and choose your wave carefully.

3.0 out of 5.0 stars

Scenery: Average views of the coastline. Pretty, but nothing spectacular.

4.0 out of 5.0 stars

OVERALL: Ponto Jetties Surf Spot is a solid wave and is particularly good during a South summer swell. If you can snipe your waves in the crowds or catch it when the crowds are down – you’ll be smiles from ear to ear!

Bottomline: Is Ponto Jetties in our top 10 surf spots in San Diego? Yes! Check the other top spots here.

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ponto beach sunset
Catching the sunset at Ponto Beach – enjoy your session!

Please keep your parks and beaches clean by picking up after yourself. Do me a favor and surf Ponto Jetties how you found it. Check out Surfrider San Diego if you are looking to participate or contribute to a charitable ocean cause.

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