Surfing in the winter continued: Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Jacksonville

So far we have discussed how to be prepared for winter surf, tips for staying warm, and winter surfing in San Diego.

To continue on the theme of winter time surfing, the following gives you even more reasons to ring in the winter season.

Discover the best spots for beginners and all levels that offer the best winter surf!

It is a common misconception that surfing is a summer sport; while you may have to swap the board shorts or bikinis for wetsuits, you definitely don’t want to pass up the opportunity to score fun waves during the winter. So take advantage!

As previously mentioned, some of the benefits of surfing in the winter include lower, mellower crowds and access to year-round surf lessons provided by professional instructors and surf academies.

Another significant benefit of surfing during the winter is that you’ll have the opportunity to practice on better waves backed by a bit more size. This way, once spring and summer rolls around again, you’ll be primed and ready to go. With surfing, there’s no need to have an off-season!

Consider these upcoming months the defining months, where you can expect to surf as much as possible; this is how you’ll see the biggest difference when the crowds pick up again and you are back at your favorite summer break.

Also, surfing is about simply having fun, and there’s no need for the fun to end! The beauty of surfing is that you can train all year round, and expect to see steady growth if you do so.

If you only surf during one or two seasons, you will not improve as much as you could nor have as much fun as you could be having!

In surfing, progression is directly correlated with how often one surfs – it sounds simple, but the person who surfs three times a week will eventually out-perform the person who surfs once a week, talent and other considerations aside!

Depending on where you live, you can find perfect breaks that turn on during the winter and provide great conditions for beginners, intermediate, and advanced surfers. Make sure you suit up! – read on to learn what thickness of wetsuit is appropriate for each location.

Los Angeles

The swells that hit Los Angeles and the surrounding area during the winter are generally North and West (W/NW) swells. Luckily for you, the winter season is considered the most consistent season in California out of the whole year! And, as previously mentioned, crowds are often much smaller.

One of the great locations for wintertime surfing in Los Angeles and the greater L.A. area, is South Bay, including Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, Torrance/Palos Verdes and El Porto. From West L.A., this requires about a 40 min. to max 1.5 hour drive each way. It is worth it – especially for a weekend trip!

If you want to make a weekend trip out of it – consider driving further south, down the coast, until you reach Orange County. There are plenty of beach breaks and point breaks in O.C. that provide some solid, beginner-friendly winter waves.

Some popular locations include Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, and Dana Point. These spots are:

1. Very consistent, meaning you don’t have to rely so heavily on the surf report that day. 2. Softer and more beginner-friendly; unlike other breaks, they don’t pick up the very heavy, intense winter swell.

Surfing in Los Angeles or O.C. during the winter, a 4/3 wetsuit will be appropriate and keep you warm throughout the duration of your session – read more about the different types and thickness of wetsuits here.

Make sure that you have cold water wax and a towel and warm clothes to change into after!

Further North, the winter season is also the prime season for Ventura and Santa Barbara areas.

Practicing in winter arenas will help you to prepare you for summer swells in California which are typically more crowded, sporadic, and experience longer flat spells.

San Francisco

Winter time, surfing time in San Francisco!

In case you were wondering – yes! It is still possible to surf in the winter time in Northern California.

In fact, fall and winter are actually considered the best seasons for surf due to the NW swell direction!

There are a number of breaks all within the Bay Area, extreme and beginner friendly. During the winter you can expect to see huge, scary surf at famous spots like Maverick’s and Half Moon Bay.

However, there are still beginner options in SF during the winter and crowds are definitely more tame! With the right wetsuit and gear you can definitely brave the cold.

Linda Mar/Pacifica State Beach is a good option for beginners as it is more protected from heavy, powerful NW winter swell.

The shape of the bay and the geographical features pick up the incoming swell while still being manageable for beginners.

Bolinas is another popular choice for beginners as it provides a patch of softer, less steep waves that are suitable for longboards, in addition to the main shortboard peak.

A 4/3 wetsuit is definitely recommended with the addition of a hood and booties. To avoid freezing, make sure to get warm quickly after your session, and revive yourself with a hot coffee or beverage at your local shop nearby!


Charting to the other side of the country, let’s explore wintertime surf in Jacksonville, FL, another location where you can book amazing surf lessons with professional coaches!

Winter months bring the biggest swells to Jacksonville, which can be another benefit if you’re looking to challenge yourself in bigger surf (at your level, of course).

Atlantic Beach, a long stretch of beach with plenty of spots to paddle out from, provides surf year-round for beginner levels and up.

You can also explore spots like Huguenot Park, a more intermediate surf break, which also performs year-round but is best during the winter.

By now you hopefully are more confident than ever that you are ready to conquer the winter months! What are you waiting for? Get out there!

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