A local’s guide to surf Swami’s State Beach
In this post, I will share a comprehensive review on Swamis Surf Spot San Diego from a local’s perspective. To share a bit about myself first, I’ve been surfing San Diego for nearly a decade. I have even lived and surfed in Encinitas for about a half decade. Surprisingly, you’ll rarely find me surfing at Swamis. It’s certainly not because of a lack of waves of Swamis. In fact, Swamis Surf Spot is one of the surfing gems in all of San Diego. Read on for my pros and cons of surfing at Swamis, where to park and what to expect.
Where is Swamis Surf Spot?
You’ll find Swamis Surf Spot nestled in Encinitas – the cozy North County surf mecca of San Diego. Wetsuits are found hung over balconies on every corner as you drive through town along the Pacific Coast Highway. If you are approaching Swamis from the South, you’ll find a free parking lot to surf Swami’s State Beach on your left. Be warned – parking is scarce in the lot.
You may have to settle for street parking along Pacific Coast Highway or Vulcan Avenue on the other side of the train tracks. If you can’t snag a parking spot to surf Swami’s State Beach – less crowed lots and waves are found nearby. Check San Elijo State Beach to the South or Moonlight Beach to the North.
Swamis Surf Spot Overview
Swamis Surf Spot is one of two breaks that commonly come to mind when surfing in San Diego. The other, is Black’s Beach in South County San Diego. However, the crown of surfing in North County San Diego is rightfully owned by Swamis Surf Spot.
To begin, Swamis Surf Spot rests at the bottom of a beautiful bluff. At the edge of a cliff, you’ll find this magnificent right-hand point break. When the surf is on, Swamis pumps! Even when it’s not pumping, you will still find consistently above average surf hitting this exposed beach and reef break. Don’t be fooled on this right hander though. I’ve paddled out to Swamis Surf Spot plenty of times to find left handers peeling down the reef to the North. Most importantly, be sure to sit in the right spot. Regulars and goofy footers can both catch plenty of waves surfing at Swamis. Keep reading for a complete breakdown of Swamis Surf Spot San Diego.
Surfing Swamis Quick Facts
Surfing Level: Intermediate.
Swamis Surf Spot is a gently sloping point break. When the waves are average or below average, you will find plenty of long boarders and fun boards surfing at Swamis. These Swamis surf conditions favor the intermediate or even novice. When the surf is pumping, you’ll find advanced and expert surfers in the Swamis line up. Surfing Swamis during big surf is special because Swamis Surf Spot is one of the few breaks in San Diego that can hold surf-able conditions when its double overhead. As a final note, other hazards to watch out for while surfing Swamis include crowds and a shallow rock reef.
Type: Point break, reef rock bottom
Wave Height: Knee High up to Double Overhead +
Tides: This spot is ideal at a low to mid high tide.
Water Temperature: Average 64° F. Swamis Surf Spot water temperature will dip into the 50s during Winter and reach the 70s during Summer. Check my post on the best wetsuit for surfing in order to know how much rubber to wear. Check out my Gear Guide for all my other surfing gear recommendations.
Swell Direction: This spot favors a West or Northwest swell direction.
Wind Direction: Swamis surf conditions favor a calm or offshore East wind direction
*For a daily, up to date Swamis surf report, check Surfline.
When is the best time of year for surfing at Swamis?
The best time of year to surf Swamis Surf Spot is arguable during the winter. Although, the consistency of surf at Swamis lends it to be a year-round break. Let’s take a look at what each distinct season has to offer at Swamis.
Winter: Hands down, this is the best time of year to surf Swamis Surf Spot. Strong NW swells power down the California coast that really allow Swamis to light up. Swamis will see its largest and most consistent surf during this time of year. Also, keep an eye for those calm winds during dawn patrol sessions. You will be in for a treat when Swamis wintertime swell rolls in. Keep an eye on the Swamis surf report for approaching big swells.
Spring: I’ll be honest. Surfing Swamis during the spring isn’t my favorite time of year for this break. The NW winter swells begin to die off and the South summer swells haven’t fully arrived. With that said, springtime at Swamis Surf Spot can be a bit hit or miss. The downside of surfing Swamis or anywhere in San Diego during Spring (particularly May and June) is the dense fog. Marine layer is common this time of year throughout San Diego.
Summer: Swamis Surf Spot isn’t traditionally a summertime spot, but South swells will still make this right-hand wave run. However, the rides aren’t typically as long as you’ll see during other times of year. During summer, Swamis becomes a popular choice for long boarders. The bonus of summertime surf at Swamis, is you can paddle out in boardshorts!
Fall: As summer winds down and Autumn begins, Swamis will begin to pick up NW swell in addition to SW swell leftover from summer. Swamis is not typical beach break that fires with combo swells, but surfing Swamis is still a ton of fun at this time of year. Better yet, there is a chance offshore Santa Ana winds will roll through in the Fall. Surfing San Diego in offshore winds is always special but surfing Swamis in offshore winds is an event.
Which board to bring for surfing Swamis?
Your board of choice for surfing at Swamis is dependent on the swell size and wave height. In the next few bullets – I’ll recommend my suggested board size based on wave height.
1-4 ft: Swamis Surf Spot is a long boarder’s heaven during smaller surf. As such, a longboard should be your go to-choice when Swamis surf conditions are small. If it’s above waist high, consider taking out the fish or fun size board.
4-8ft: You will get away with a fish when Swamis is about 4ft. Anything above 5ft, it’s time to break out the short board. In these conditions, surfing at Swamis gets real fun!
8ft + Finally, the big waves. It doesn’t happen often, but these Swamis surf conditions require a Gun. Get your step-up board out and hold on tight! You are likely to spot local pros like Rob Machado or Taylor Knox when Swamis Surf Spot is firing.
In summary, check the Swamis surf report before paddling out so that you choose the right board length.
Swamis Surf Spot Crowd Factor
In these next few paragraphs, I have to touch on the crowds found surfing at Swamis.
There aren’t many downsides to surfing Swamis, but crowds are certainly one of them! Morning, afternoon, or evening. It really doesn’t matter what time of day or year you paddle out to Swamis. There will be people, and a lot of them. Consequently, this is one of the reasons I stray away from surfing at Swamis too often. I personally prefer a less crowded wave even if the wave is not as good; like one of these San Diego surf spots.
Be aware that Swamis is a local’s surf spot. You normally won’t find aggressive locals looking to fight. However, it’s all about positioning yourself to catch a wave out here. There is likely going to be a more eager surfer who paddles out of their way to take priority from you. Remember, Swamis Surf Spot isn’t a beach break, so you won’t find multiple peaks. Instead, this is a point break with one general area to take off.
If you find the rare lucky moment where the Swamis lineup is empty, you will score! Your best bet for an empty Swamis lineup is during poor to fair conditions. I paddled out once during a breezy, rainy afternoon to find only a small handful of surfers in the lineup. Know before you go. Check the cameras in your Swamis surf report through Surfline.
Swamis Surf Spot Amenities
In this section, I’ll cover available amenities at Swamis. That way, out of town travelers will know what to expect for their day trip surfing at Swamis.
First and foremost, Swamis does have a freshwater outdoor shower head at the bottom of the beach staircase. I personally love a quick rinse after a surf session. Additionally, restrooms are found at the top of stairs. The final key amenity are the bike racks also found at the top of the stairs. These are perfect for surfers staying nearby. Even when the car lot is full, plenty of bicycles with surf racks attached can be found in the lot to surf Swami’s State Beach.
Unfortunately, this is a surfer’s beach so the Swamis Pet Policy is not dog friendly. There will also be lifeguards on patrol for those who surf Swami’s State Beach.
Finally, you will find benches to hang out and a nice grassy lawn at the entrance to surf Swami’s State Beach. If you enjoy people watching like me, there is a good chance you will see some interesting characters enjoying this area at the park entrance.
Surf Breaks Near Swami’s Surf Spot San Diego
Closest to the South in order:
Closest to the North in order:
Surfing Swamis Local Tip
Before we end, I will share a couple local tips.
Be sure to check out the Swamis Meditation Gardens before or after your session surfing at Swamis! You’ll get a fantastic and up-close view of the break from above. As a bonus, try finding your inner Zen here. The gardens are located in Self-Realization Fellowship Encinitas.
For a bite to eat, be sure to check out Swami’s Café across the street. Their breakfast menu is fire. I recommend an Acai bowl or breakfast burrito post surfing Swamis. As a bonus, one of the best surf shops in Encinitas (Hansen Surfboards) is next door.
Swamis Surf Spot San Diego Review4.0 out of 5.0 stars
Accessibility: Free nearby parking. However, it can fill up quickly.5.0 out of 5.0 stars
Waves: One of the longest waves and best point breaks San Diego county has to offer.1.5 out of 5.0 stars
Crowd: Busy. The crowd stinks. This really brings down the overall rating for Swami’s Surf Spot San Diego.4.0 out of 5.0 stars
Scenery: One of the more picturesque views in North County San Diego, especially with the Self Realization Gardens perched atop the bluffs.4.2 out of 5.0 stars
OVERALL: In summary, Swamis Surf Spot is one of the best surf breaks in all of San Diego. You have to deal with the crowd factor so be patient. You will be rewarded when you are.
Bottomline: Is Swamis in our top 10 surf spots in San Diego? Yes! Check the others out here.
Enjoy surfing Swamis San Diego! Shaka! I release a new surf spot review monthly so be sure to subscribe:
Please keep your parks and beaches clean by picking up after yourself. Do me a favor and surf Swami’s State Beach how you found it. Check out Surfrider San Diego if you are looking to participate or contribute to a charitable ocean cause.