June 25, 2024
surfing san diego in january

Surfing San Diego in January

To kick off the year for our month by month guide, find out what to expect from swells while surfing San Diego in January, average + air ocean temperatures and the best places to surf this month.

What is it like Surfing San Diego in January?

San Diego in January is often when beaches experience the first mega swells of the winter and King Tides. The waves and swell during this time of year are usually strong and powerful. Depending on the swell size, it can be epic conditions for some surfers but borderline overwhelming for others. In facts, it is not uncommon for huge swells of 12 feet plus arrive to San Diego in January. Despite these swell peaks, the days before and after the peak typically retain challenging but more doable surf in the head high to overhead range. The swell primarily this time of year comes from the Northwest, creating consistent and clean waves along the coast.

While it’s winter, it doesn’t stop travelers flying to San Diego to catch some waves in January. The city’s mild climate and relatively warm water temperatures make it an attractive destination for surfers seeking a winter escape. While the crowds may not be as dense as during the summer months, you can still expect to see a decent number of surfers in the water.

Overall, surfing in San Diego in January is most common for big waves and cooler water temps. The at times manageable wave size, consistent swell, and relatively uncrowded lineup make it an ideal time to hit the waves. So grab your board, suit up, and get ready to experience the thrill of surfing in San Diego during the winter months.

San Diego Water Temperature and Weather in January

When it comes to surfing in San Diego in January, understanding the water temperature and weather conditions is crucial. The average water temperature during this time of year hovers around 60°F (15°C), making it necessary to wear a wetsuit to stay warm in the chilly ocean. You may even wan to wear booties. The air temperature in January ranges from the mid-60s to low 70s°F (18-22°C), providing a comfortable climate for both surfing and beach activities.

While the water may be cooler compared to other seasons, the relatively mild air temperature makes it enjoyable to spend time in and out of the water. The combination of the cool water and pleasant air temperature creates a refreshing and invigorating experience for surfers.

In terms of weather, January in San Diego is characterized by mild and mostly sunny days. Rainfall is minimal, with an average of only 1-2 inches throughout the month. The consistent sunshine and clear skies contribute to the overall pleasant surfing conditions.

It’s important to note that weather patterns can vary, and it’s always a good idea to check the forecast before heading out. Additionally, being aware of any potential storms or strong winds is essential for safety while surfing. Check the forecast.

Overall, the water temperature and weather in San Diego during January provide favorable conditions for surfing. With a wetsuit to keep you warm and the mild air temperature, you can enjoy the waves and the beautiful coastal scenery without any discomfort.

What are the Best Waves to Surf in San Diego in January?

During the month of January, San Diego offers a variety of waves and beaches that are perfect for surfing. Local knowledge is key when it comes to finding the best spots, so here are a few recommendations to help you make the most of your surfing experience.

If you are chasing big waves, Blacks will never disappoint. Other Southern breaks facing North to pick up the winter’s swell are also good like Windansea. When the surf is well overhead, it’s best to find a spot with more structure such as Sunset Cliffs. When it’s extra big, even La Jolla cove will break. This is rare and better for viewing than it is surfing unless you are experienced.

For a more mellow experience, check out top longboarding waves like Tourmaline, Cardiff Reef, and Terramar. These mellow waves will even crank during a big swell and are more manageable than a closeout beach or reef break.

By taking advantage of the local knowledge and exploring these recommended spots, you can make the most of your surfing experience in San Diego in January. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced surfer, there are waves and beaches to suit every skill level and preference. So grab your board, wetsuit, and sunscreen, and get ready to catch some amazing waves in San Diego this January.

Next up, February.


  • 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!