San Elijo's Reef and Surf
a diversity of terrain under the water at Pipes. From large
boulders in the line up to soft sand, this lineup seems to
capture it all. A lot of the terrain differs from season to
season. In our Summer cycle, the beach is almost all sand
with little to no rocks in the water. Because the sand is
brought in, it fills in the little holes and reefs that
usually are exposed in Winter time. In the Winter season,
much more of the reefs and rocks are exposed and while sand
will still be present, the rocks are much more noticeable.
reefs are nothing to be scared of, they consist of large
rocks that are all mostly rounded and smooth on the edges.
Some rocks have barnacles growing on them which can cause a
cut or two on your feet but for the most part, the reefs at
San Elijo are fairly subtle and calm.
one aspect that I'd like to note. After or during larger
sized swells, the inside section of San Elijo can create a
sort of canyon about half way out in the water. While
walking in the water on your way out to the outside, there
can often be holes or small drop offs that you can easily
years ago I was out with a buddy surfing San Elijo and sure
enough I was walking out in the shallow portion of the water
and fell about 3 feet into a hole that had been dug out by a
larger swell a few days earlier. I didn't get hurt but it
did manage to make me jump right back out of there! These
holes or canyons shouldn't be considered dangerous but
caution should be taken while walking out, just lean on your
board in case you fall into on. That way you can just
transfer weight and not fall all the way like I did.
Tide: Low to Medium
Swell Directing: West and Northwest swells are fun and
usually very clean but a South swell can also provide for a
very fun day of surf at Pipes
Winds: No wind is best but if any, a East wind will do
Size: Anywhere from 2 - 8 feet. At around 8 feet, the
waves begin to close out and it becomes near impossible to
get a decent ride.
Months to Catch it Going Off: Because of the direction
of this spot, it's surfable year around but best in the
at San Elijo can vary depending on swell direction,
conditions and size, however I have found through many years
of surfing that on smaller days, knee to chest high, the San
Elijo breaks can be a blast! There are often small walls
with rampy shoulders that offer a playground for fun on
A beautiful and
fun day of surf!
Labor Day, 2005
bigger days, the outer reefs begin to work and can create
some awesome A-Frame waves with some long and fun walls! I
have had some awesome waves at these reefs and while other
breaks may be crowded beyond belief, the San Elijo breaks
may be almost empty with some awesome waves.
recommend watching the breaks from the parking lot to find
the best looking peak before paddling out. I often find
myself paddling out and then paddling back and forth from
peak to peak following the better looking waves. The few
times I remember to watch before paddling out, i usually
find myself having a better session.
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