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!
Table of Contents
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 beach is divided into two parts; North and South. A waterway running from a lagoon to the ocean is spanned by two large jetties that divide the South Ponto beach and North Ponto 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.
When parking on the South side, you will walk across a wide, sandy beach to paddle out from the South jetty. Alternatively, North Ponto beach 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 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 beach breaks fairly quickly off the sandbars. These kinds of waves require skill to take off. As such, Ponto surf beach is best suited for intermediate to advanced surfers.
Furthermore, the wave that breaks to the left 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 at Ponto Surf Spot. If you go further North, you will find some mellower, but still fun, slopey beach breaks. On the other side, waves break right 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 steeply angled South 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 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 surf report here.
When is the Best Time of Year to Surf Ponto Beach?
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.
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 Surf Crowds
Okay, let’s talk about crowd 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 a few waves 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 Beach
Closest to the South in order:
Closest to the North in order:
- South Carlsbad State Beach Campgrounds
- Dip in the Road Surf Spot (*uncrowded surf spot in San Diego)
- Terra Mar Point
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!
For beginners, South Ponto State beach is actually a pretty good option. I’m referring to the stretch of beach about 100 yards South of the Jetty. It’s a sandy bottom with a crumbly inside section that is perfect for beginners when the surf is about 2-3 feet.
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 in Encinitas – cheers!
Ponto Jetties Surf Spot Review4.0 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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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.