Knowing the water temperature in San Diego before paddling out for a surf is always a wise observation! This post will help you determine the best wetsuit for surfing based on the time of year and how long you think you can last in the water.
So what is the water temperature in San Diego? The ocean water temperature in San Diego will vary by the time of year. Generally, the average water temperature will lie between 58° and 65° Fahrenheit.
In this post, we’ll explore what to expect while surfing in San Diego at different times of year by reviewing the water temperature by month.
Water Temperature in San Diego by Month
The water temperature in San Diego in February is typically the coolest. On the flip side, August is normally the warmest. The below table will help you determine the water temperature while surfing in San Diego by month:
|MONTH||MIN ℉||MAX ℉||MIN ℃||MAX ℃|
|January||58.1 ℉||60.3 ℉||14.0 ℃||16.2 ℃|
|February||58.0 ℉||59.7 ℉||14.1 ℃||15.8 ℃|
|March||58.1 ℉||60.7 ℉||14.0 ℃||16.5 ℃|
|April||59.8 ℉||61.5 ℉||15.1 ℃||16.8 ℃|
|May||60.7 ℉||64.5 ℉||15.1 ℃||18.9 ℃|
|June||62.8 ℉||66.4 ℉||16.3 ℃||19.9 ℃|
|July||65.4 ℉||68.5 ℉||17.9 ℃||21.0 ℃|
|August||66.2 ℉||69.0 ℉||18.4 ℃||21.2 ℃|
|September||65.2 ℉||68.3 ℉||17.8 ℃||20.9 ℃|
|October||63.5 ℉||66.4 ℉||16.9 ℃||19.8 ℃|
|November||61.8 ℉||63.9 ℉||16.1 ℃||18.2 ℃|
|December||59.2 ℉||61.7 ℉||14.6 ℃||17.1 ℃|
Note that we pull the average water temperature in San Diego by month from Sea Temperature. Most importantly, the listed highs and lows are generally an average. For example, the ocean temperature in February can dip in to the mid 50s (Fahrenheit). Conversely, the ocean temperature in August or other summer months can get well into the 70s. These warmer water temperatures are actually typical during El Nino patterns.
Is the water temperature the same at all surf spots in San Diego?
Generally, the water temperature will remain somewhat consistent throughout San Diego county. After all, we aren’t talking about that large of a geographic region. The San Diego coastline stretches 70 miles from the border of Mexico to the Orange and Riverside counties. This area includes both South County and North County San Diego surf spots.
The variance in water temperature for all surf spots in San Diego shouldn’t be much more than 1°F.
Should I wear a wetsuit while surfing in San Diego?
Depending on the time of year, a wetsuit may or may not be recommended for surfing in San Diego. As a good rule of thumb, you will be most comfortable wearing a wetsuit through Autumn, Winter, and Spring surfing season. Summer is the one time of year where surfing in San Diego is comfortable in board shorts. The ocean can reach a balmy 70°F. However, beware when an upwelling occurs as the temperature will suddenly drop for a few days!
At all other times of year, I recommend a wetsuit for surfing in San Diego. For this reason, it’s important to consider wetsuit thickness. I personally wear a 4/3 wetsuit during winter months to stay warm. In the Fall and Spring, the 3/2 wetsuit is my rubber of choice. Finally, I strip down to a 2/2 wetsuit or no wetsuit at all during Summer.
Check out my full guide on the best wetsuit for surfing.
Where can I check the current ocean temperature in San Diego?
There are a number of different resources for checking current San Diego ocean temperature. My personal favorite is Surfline. Their app will allow you to check surf spot temperatures for free. I pay about $60 a year for their premium subscription that includes long term surf forecasts for San Diego.
Does upwelling impact the water temperature?
In this section, I’ll share how upwelling can impact water temperature. First, let’s define upwelling. Upwelling is a process in which currents bring deep, cold water to the surface of the ocean. Upwelling is a result of winds and the rotation of the earth.
In San Diego, upwelling normally only happens a few times a year. Most commonly, upwelling will occur during the months of April through June. This is also a time of year for fishing in San Diego.
As a result, significant changes in ocean water temperature can change in the course of a single day. One day, you could be surfing in San Diego in board shorts. The next, you will be putting on your full body 3/2 wetsuit.
I hope this article will give you a good idea what to expect next time you go surfing in San Diego!
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