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Oceanside Harbor Reef and Surf

The Reef:

All throughout the beach at the harbor, there is no real reef but there can be the occasional rock or two in the lineup. There actually tends to be an abundance of sand along this beach for a few reasons. The first is because the pump sand into the beach to keep it from getting too rocky due to our down shore drift. Another large reason the harbor is so sandy is because the jetties act like a barrier and keep in much of the sand that would normally travel South throughout the seasons.

As you move closer to the jetties, you will find more and more rocks under the lineup so take caution as you get closer to those. Sometimes the rocks can only be a few feet below the surface on a low tide so please be careful while enjoying the surf.

The Surf:

Best Tide: Low to Medium tides are the best for these Oceanside beaches.

Best Swell Directing: Because of the direction of these beaches, almost any swell direction can get in here and create some good waves. West and Northwest provide clean and strong lines while South and Southwest swells can provide very rampy and fun waves.

Best Winds: No wind is best but if any, a East wind will do wonders.

Best Size: Anywhere from 2 - 8 feet can lead to ideal surf.

Best Months to Catch it Going Off: Pretty much year around depending on the swell and conditions.


A lot of San Diego Locals can agree that if the surf is small that the Oceanside harbor is the place to go because it always seems to be just that much bigger. Well I canít verify whether these rumors are true or not but I can tell you that Iíve been staying at a friends house in the area and weíve woken up to barreling chest high sets with no one out. I donít know if it was just luck or good timing but I had some amazing waves on these mornings and I as headed South on Old Highway 101, the surf just seemed to get smaller and a little more messy.

Because the beaches at the harbor are surrounded by jetties and river mouths, the sand underneath the waves has much more movement then that of a regular beach break and can that  in conjunction with the direction of the beaches in the harbor can lead to some fun surf with larger size then some surrounding breaks.

There is a large jetty to the North of the beach and during a strong South swell, it can produce some amazing rights that peel off into the beach. To the South of the beach there is another jetty which is usually a tad more crowded but can also produce some really fun waves with the right conditions.

The North jetty at the Oceanside Harbor beach

I will set a bit o truth and let you know that the harbor isnít always pumping with good surf, in fact, most of the time, itís blown and small. While it may be a tad bigger then surrounding areas, it can also be the much more messy then the surrounding beaches. Take that into mind and remember that to surf the perfect wave, you have to surf about 10,000 bad ones!

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