San Clemente

Your Guide to San Clemente

Surfing in San Clemente can bring you a unique surfing experience in the Orange County. This wave-rich city is a jewel and your perfect location for your surf trip.

If you’re itching to ride the waves, get on board and check out the best surfing spots in San Clemente!

San Clemente Surf Breaks

From T-Street to Trestles and the beach breaks in between, San Clemente shines with the best waves in Southern California. Tap the adrenaline junkie in you with its fast and hollow beach breaks. Awaken your senses with their slow and crumbly cobblestone reef breaks. With the right kind of swell, San Clemente is an ultimate surf hub with its miles of coastline.

San Onofre

This surfing spot has been one of the best San Clemente surf breaks. Since the 1930s, the locals and tourists have been enjoying competitive and recreational surfing in San Onofre.

During summers or on weekends throughout the year, families drive from all directions to visit ‘San-O’ to ride the gentle surf that the vicinity offers. It has better longboard surf along the coast. Beginners in surfing may also enjoy the area.

Around one million tourists visit San Clemente Beaches including San-O. Nearly half of the number of visitors is in for day-use. If you want to catch the waves, you need to catch them early!


To the south of San Clemente lies another surfing gold, the Trestles. Its handful of surf breaks makes the region a go-to place for surfers and surfers-wanna-be.

The waves can be ‘world-class,’ and you might want to ride ’til your heart demands. The intense crowd makes it challenging to do so. You can get to the beach by taking a mile walk down the trail. If you’re not familiar with the route, you may park somewhere next to Carl’s Jr. located just east of the Christianitos Fwy exit. Follow the people carrying surfboards towards the beach, and you’re on your way to surfing madness.


Hail to one of the most popular surf breaks in San Clemente! You can almost always find an exciting wave to ride. All thanks to a near-shore reef, you may enjoy waves with better shapes than most beach breaks in town.

During the periods of higher tides and smaller surf, the reef forms a peak and breaks all the way into the shore. The quality of the lefts and rights of the ridge depend on the swell’s size and direction.

In summer months, ocean conditions in San Clemente for surfing, especially in T-Street, may only allow you to surf during the morning and evening hours.

The Pier-South Side

The south side of San Clemente Pier is also a famous beach for swimming and bodyboarding. It’s closed during the summer months. During southerly swell, you need to beware of the high current running toward the pier. It has been responsible for many lifeguard rescues.

The Pier- North Side

The north side of the San Clemente is another one for the books. Although large swells often produce closed-out conditions, you may find someone surfing the pier nearly every daylight hour of the year.

This surfers’ influx may be due to the convenient access from the large public parking lot at the bottom of the Avenida Del Mar.

The surf conditions on the north side can be terrible or excellent. It depends on the size and peak level of the swell. The beach break waves at the pier also differ with wind and tide fluctuations.

San Clemente State Beach

San Clemente State Beach sits just to the south of Calafia Beach Park. Although fickle, quality surfing experience is possible when the conditions are just right. The shallow sandbars can produce hollow, shifting peaks.


Like the San Clemente State Beach, Calafia may also offer great waves depending on the conditions. The surf at Calafia is sensitive to tides.


Just south of the North Beach sits the ‘204’. In this area, the swells refract over offshore reefs before breaking on shallow sandbars. For easy access, you may park in the lot at the North Beach and walk south until you find the right peak. The surf may vary because of continually changing sandbars and swell directions.

North Beach

At the north end of the town sits the North Beach. It’s where the Avenida Pico meets the Pacific Ocean. The North Beach is a popular family destination for body boarding and swimming. The parking spaces are plenty in the lot adjacent to the beach.

Restrooms are available, too. If hunger strikes you after riding the waves, you may grab a tasty lunch at the North Beach Burger. The snack place is open during summer months.

How to get to San Clemente, California?

To get to San Clemente, you need to fly into John Wayne Airport in Orange County. Hop on the 405 Freeway and head south. Buckle up as it merges into the 5 Freeway. You’ll be there in no more than 20 minutes.

You may also fly into Los Angeles Airport, Long Beach Airport, or the San Diego Airport. Through them, your drive will be a bit longer. From LA or Long Beach, follow the same directions but prepare on staying on the 405 Freeway for much longer. From San Diego, get on the 5 Freeway heading north. Once you pass the Camp Pendleton Marine Base, you will pass through trestles and on your way into San Clemente.

San Clemente Car Rental

Renting a car via one of the agencies at the airport may be your best option since you’re traveling within the United States. You need to make sure that you’ve made your reservations ahead of time. If not, you may find yourself stuck in a car that you might hate.

San Clemente Surfing Lessons

For beginners in surfing, you may learn to ride your first wave with the help of these San Clemente surfing camps:

  1. Paskowitz Surf Camp
  2. Billabong Surf Camps
  3. Leucadia Surf School
  4. Endless Summer Surf Camp
  5. JP’s Surf Camp
  6. Colas Surf Camp
  7. Barney’s Surf School

San Clemente Surfboard Rentals

Surfboards everywhere! Find your surfing best friend in one of these San Clemente Surfboard rentals.

  1. Killer Dana Surf Shop 128 Avenida Del Mar, San Clemente, CA 92672
  2. BC Surf Shop & Blue & Coast Surf, N El Camino Real, San Clemente, CA 92672
  3. Trestles Surf Outlet (Rip Curl): S El Camino Real, San Clemente, CA 92672
  4. Kaysen Surf Designs: Calle De Los Molinos, San Clemente, CA 92672
  5. Terry Senate Surfboards: Calle De Los Molinos # B, San Clemente, CA 92672
  6. T-Street Surf: S El Camino Real, San Clemente, CA 92672
  7. Rick Rock Surfboards: Calle Valle # E, San Clemente, CA 92672
  8. T Patterson Surfboards: N El Camino Real, San Clemente, CA 92672
  9. Stewart Surfboards Store: S El Camino Real, San Clemente, CA 92672
  10. Jack’s Surfboards: Pacific
  11. Lost Surfboards: N El Camino Real, San Clemente, CA 92672

You won’t go wrong in choosing San Clemente as your next surfing destination. Check it out and see for yourself!

  • BECOME A San Clemente INSIDER

    Stay updated with all things San Clemente

    • Latest Articles