Updated: Sep 29, 2019
Serene Waters Surf Adventures provides surf lessons in San Clemente, Dana Point, Newport Beach, and Huntington. We also serve San Diego for surf lessons. Fell free to give us a call and chat if you have any questions. We found this article on Surfline and though we would share about the golden states best surfing month.
October is Californias Best Month to Surf and here is why:
Year after year, Fall is traditionally the best season for quality surf throughout the Golden State. Furthermore, October always seems to produce the goods so it's not uncommon that the entire month will deliver.
California surfers, stay put! There's no need to travel, as it's pretty much set in stone that a number of your local breaks will turn on this month. Save your money for the upcoming holidays or for surf trips when Spring rolls around.
Beside the meteorological aspects that take place in California during this time of year (more on that shortly), there are a couple of other reasons that make this season standout that much more.
First off, most of the tourist that flock to the Golden State beaches each summer have left town. Therefore, driving is not as hectic, parking can be found, the beaches aren't blackballed and there's considerably fewer swimmers/waders wandering into the lineups. Secondly, the groms are back in school. (Well, except for the morning surf classes and the ones who are skipping.) Nonetheless, after the chaotic masses of summertime, the water seems much less crowded in the Fall. With fewer people in the lineups, now all you need is waves and good weather...check!
Aside from the sporadic tropical systems that flare up, winter storm activity over the world's oceans are the major culprit for significant swell productivity. So with the Southern Hemisphere's winter starting to slow down (but still very prominent) and the Northern Hemisphere's winter starting to turn on, this seasonal transition will ultimately result in both North and South Pacific swells arriving into California. In addition, as winter storms generally track from west to east across the Pacific, more solid and consistent swells are pushed toward the West Coast. With this steady presence of North and/or South Pacific swells, practically every break (summer spots and winter spots) will see surf during this season. And yes, when there's a combo swell running (which is quite often in the Fall), the plethora of beachbreaks throughout the state can get really good with crossed up peaks and bowls. Even those random stretches of beach that are usually mediocre or worse can fire. Now, we just need the cherry on top -- favorable weather conditions.
The presence of the strong high pressure that has dominated the North Pacific throughout the Summer will gradually weaken and become more sparse over the Fall months. Not only does this open the door for a gradual increase of storm and swell development throughout the NPAC, but also those classic Fall conditions will arise as well.
To clarify, high pressure is associated with fair weather (clear and cool). Furthermore, lighter winds can be found closer to the center of these areas of high pressure. As well, weaker high pressure will lead to lighter winds. During the Fall, weaker high pressure will often nudge into the West Coast. As a result, California will see calm-to-light offshore winds in the mornings, only a light-to-moderate afternoon seabreeze, clear skies and possible glass-offs. Now, with the high in place along the West Coast, we can get two more gold stars:
1) The high will act as a blocker, keeping the stormy weather associated with the approaching fronts from slamming the coast while redirecting these fronts toward the Pacific Northwest.
2) The center of this high will sometimes push further inland over the Great Basin, which given the diverging clockwise flow of air around high pressure systems in the North Hemisphere, will sometimes lead to Santa Ana conditions and offshores for California.
To sum everything up, combine the blend of North and South Pacific swells with great weather conditions, a chance for Santa Anas and less people in the water -- what more do you want? Warm water? Sure...the water is still relatively warm after heating up all summer and the days are still fairly long, allowing for more time to surf (although the days are getting shorter as we move toward winter).
This Fall already kicked off with a good start, which was a combination of everything stated above. In case you missed it, check it out the coverage of the first swell of Fall. And if you did miss it, or are frothing for more, check out the California forecast as more classic Fall surf lines up for the Golden State next week.
Ready to head to one of the most diverse (and populated) surf zones in the world? Surfline Travel can guide you through all the twists and turns, from the spaghetti-like freeway system of SoCal to the barren stretches of Pacific Coast Highway. Major international airports include LAX, San Francisco and San Diego. Rental cars are a plenty as well. But nothing is cheap. From lodging to gas to food, expect to pay top dollar for everything from a burrito to parking meters.
Unlike the U.S. East Coast (which is mainly one giant sandbar), California has everything for every surfer. There are perfect points like Rincon, bombing beachbreaks like Newport, dribbly longboard waves like San Onofre, big-wave hell spots like Maverick's and ledgy reefs like...well, we'll keep those a secret. But regardless, you can find what you're after and plenty more in California.