Map of beaches in North County San Diego good for beginner surfing. From North to Sounth: Oceanside, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Cardiff, La Jolla, Mission Beach
Best Spots for Beginner Surfers in San Diego:

Cardiff (South Encinitas) & La Jolla

Located in Southern Encinitas, a town united by it's love of surf culture, Cardiff a gorgeous, quintessential California beach. It's a rare beach that can offer something for everyone, but Cardiff has it all! Right next to Swamii's (a world class wave, famous with competitive surfers), Cardiff can challenge experienced surfers while still offering waves that are PERFECT for beginners just taking their first few lessons.

La Jolla is one of San Diego's best and most popular beaches. Somewhat protected from the prevailing southwest wind, it's a safe, gentle spot to learn or enjoy surfing. There are year-round lifeguard services, good facilities and decent parking. Most of the formal surf schools operate here for this reason, and a lot of local kids practice their basics at the Shores before graduating to bigger and better breaks.

Almost all of Southern California’s oceanfront communities can be classified as “surfy,” but Encinitas seems to embody this spirit better than most. You’d be hard pressed to find a lineup—or a line at the local Starbucks—that isn’t occupied by some level of surf celebrity or industry insider. Add the fact that fun-to-excellent surf can be ridden here almost every day of the year—if you’re willing to drive the coast for 30 minutes in either direction.

Oceanside has miles of gentle beach break, but it's best known for the jetties on either side of its harbor entrance. On the steepest of south swells that pass the rest of the coast by, Oceanside Harbor and Del Mar Beach (on the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base) can get big and hollow. Oceanside is one of our most popular destinations for San Diego surf lessons.

Carlsbad's beaches remain one of San Diego's best kept secrets. The north half of the Carlsbad coast is composed of a series of small beaches divided by sea walls, while South Carlsbad State Beach is where you'll find happy campers, riding bikes around the campground and body boarding on the often uncrowded beach below.

Located right next to the Belmont park and Mission bay, Mission Beach is a lively city beach close to downtown San Diego. It's wide beach and sandy bottom allow beginners to easily catch some waves before heading over to the roller coaster right down the block!

Learn More About San Diego Surf Spots