July 21, 2024
surfing oceanside pier

Surfing Oceanside Pier Review & Guide

Oceanside is stacked with great surf breaks. Going surfing at Oceanside Pier is a must do for any surfer visiting North County San Diego. Not only are you in the heart of re-energized downtown Oceanside, but you get a top notch beach break.

In this post, find out what it’s like surfing Oceanside Pier, the best time of year to surf it, and which board to pack from your quiver.

Where is Oceanside Pier Surf Spot?

Oceanside Pier is in the center of a revitalized downtown of Oceanside. High rises, restaurants, and boutique hotels line the coastline. There is not much separation between fun in the water and exciting nightlife.

To orient yourself, Oceanside is the northernmost township in San Diego county. To get here, it’s as easy as punching in Oceanside Pier on your smartphone. The location is built into all the map apps.

[mappress mapid=”51″]

Upon arrival, parking can be a challenge. To surf Oceanside Pier, I recommend looking for parking North of the pier on Pacific Street. It is metered parking between 8am and 6pm. However, it’s probably the closest and most inexpensive parking you can find. The other paid lots in the area are a bit pricey.

oceanside pier parking
Metered street parking nearby the surf at Oceanside Pier

From here, it’s an easy walk to the pier where you can decide if you’d like to enjoy surfing Oceanside Pier on the North or South side.

Oceanside Pier Surf Spot Overview

In this section, find out what to expect when surfing Oceanside Pier.

Oceanside Pier is a beach break. Waves break off sandbars on both sides of the pier. Not all piers in San Diego allow surfing on both sides of the pier; making this spot unique. The sand bottom here forms peaky waves. You can surf left or right. Just pick a spot in the lineup and you’ll be able to find a good ride.

surf oceanside pier
Surfing Oceanside Pier on the North side.

Somewhat surprisingly, this beach break does a pretty job of holding large swell; up to 3 feet overhead. While not an overly advanced break, this wave better caters to intermediate surfers. Try surfing Oceanside Pier during a mid-tide and you’ll get the good stuff.

Overall, Oceanside Pier surf spot is a fun and above average beach break that can handle swell.

Surfing Oceanside Pier Quick Facts

Level: Intermediate

Wave Height: Shoulder high to several feet overhead.

Tides:  Medium tide works best.  

Water Temperature: Average 64° F. Check my table on the water temperature in San Diego by month to know what the right wetsuit thickness is.

Swell Direction: SW, W, SSW, or WNW.

Wind Direction: E, NE, Santa Anas.  

For a live, daily surf report; check the Oceanside Pier surf report on Surfline.

When is the Best Time of Year for Surfing Oceanside Pier?

Surfing Oceanside Pier is generally consistent year-round but summer is probably the best season for Oceanside Pier surf. Consider this your guide on what to expect by season.

Winter: While surf is consistent here in Winter, it’s not as high quality here as some of the other seasons. Generally, Winter is a great time for surfing San Diego. However, surf spots in North County like Oceanside Pier are so far North that they can miss the peak of the swells.

oceanside pier surfing
Surfing Oceanside Pier in Winter

Spring: Surfing combo swells at Oceanside Pier deliver some of the best waves here. Springtime combines North and South swells to make for peaky, fun waves.

Summer: The consistent South swells of summer deliver heavy swells to Northern San Diego. As such, surfing Oceanside Pier in summer is when you can expect the heaviest swells. Not suprisingly, Oceanside Pier hosts the Super Girl Surf Pro at the end of every summer.

Autumn: Similar to Spring, Autumn also deliver combo swells making for days that are exceptionally peaky and fun. Autumn has a leg up on Spring due to Santa Ana winds being more common.

Overall, surfing Oceanside Pier is good all year because of groundswells from the West but, summer is when surf is the largest.

Which Board to Bring for Surfing Oceanside Pier?

Like most beach breaks, I recommend surfing Oceanside Pier with a shortboard for better performance and handling tighter drop ins. With that said, you can surf Oceanside Pier on just about any size of board.

Depending on the conditions, I recommend a fatter, more fun sized board when the surf is shoulder high or below. Heck, a longboard is good here too. Oceanside Pier may not be the best surf spot for longboarding, but it’s not bad.

When the wave height is above shoulder high, you almost always want to bring the shortboard in your quiver. In conclusion, choose the right board and enjoy surfing Oceanside Pier!

Oceanside Pier Crowds

There are are a lot of locals that surf Oceanside Pier but don’t worry, the vast majority are friendly. I would not consider Oceanside Pier a hyper localized surf spot. So, that’s a plus. However, this is a popular spot and can get busy; especially during summertime.

The good news is that being a beach break, there is more than one breaking peak scattered up and down the coast on both sides of the pier. As such, surfers can spread out a bit and find their spot. The busiest areas of this break tend to be wedged right up next to the pier.

Try surfing Oceanside Pier a bit removed from the pier and during a slower season like Winter.

surf crowds
Lighter surf crowds at Oceanside Pier on a winter day.

Surf Breaks Near Oceanside Pier

Surfing Oceanside Pier is great but there’s more to this part of town; there are some other excellent breaks nearby.

Closest to the South in Order:

Closest to the North in Order:

All in all, there are no shortage of surf spots in the area. All are within a short drive from one another.

Surf Lessons Oceanside Pier

Fortunately, there are several places to get surf lessons at Oceanside Pier if you are a beginner surfing the area. Below, are a couple of my favorite outfits that run surf lessons at Oceanside Pier.

Oceanside Surf School: These guys run affordable private surf lessons at Oceanside Pier and they are offered year round.

Mark’s Surf Instruction: Mark offers both private and group lessons for 1-2 hours depending on your preference. He is an awesome instructor.

Surf with Me! If you didn’t know, I also offer private 2 hour surf lessons in North County San Diego. I will come to your preferred beach including Oceanside Pier. Wetsuits and boards are included with the lesson.

oside pier surf
An evening walk along the pier is great for watching surfers below.

Oceanside Pier Surf Spot Review


Accessibility: Downtown Oceanside is busy and available parking can be hard to come by.


Waves: A fun and well shaped beach break that is consistent year-round.


Crowd: Get’s busy especially in summer, be sure to spread out.


Scenery: Picturesque views of the pier, coastline, and Oceanside high rises.


OVERALL: Another classic beach break in North County that can be extra special on large, combo swells.

Bottomline: Is Oceanside Pier Surf Spot in our top 10 surf spots in San Diego? No. But, check the spots that made the list.

I release a new surf spot review monthly. Subscribe here to read it first.

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


  • 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!

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