San Luis Obispo - North Surfing

About San Luis Obispo - North

Kicked-back San Luis Obispo County (or 'SLO' for short) is better recognized for its esteemed California Polytechnic State University and opulent nearby Hearst Castle than for its surf. Not a pointbreak graces this bucolic, 85-mile stretch of coastline, though connoisseurs of fickle beachbreaks and quirky reefs might find SLO intriguing. Very consistent in terms of swell and onshore wind, SLO has few sheltered spots and a lot of hit-and-miss reefs and beachbreaks. The prevailing wind direction is NW, and the surf is usually blown-out by noon. Few spots blow offshore with SSE storm winds, but there are a handful that are sideshore/offshore with NW wind. NW swell is the predominant direction, often junky. Springtime is basically one big blow-out with the coldest water temperatures of the year due to upwelling. Summer S swells definitely ignite a few places. Rocky inlets and heaps of seals, sea lions, and elephant seals are hallmarks of the shore abutting pleasant San Simeon, as are excruciatingly slow tourist traffic, bitter onshore wind, and velvety-green marine terraces.
A gorgeous coast, San Simeon attracts people of all types, including surfers, who are generally disappointed with the area's nicely convoluted yet maddeningly volatile surf breaks. Pico Creek is the popular spot here. If you're heavily invested in scoring big in San Simeon, there's a 97 percent chance you'll be severely let down. You'll likely find yourself in search of a rideable peak somewhere else, burning a deep hole in your gasoline fundage as you hunt. Random, medium-quality reefs and spotty beachbreaks line the Highway 1 coast down through Cambria, where tourists are the norm and B&Bs rule the roost.
Few secrets remain, as far as SLO surf spots go. Santa Rosa Creek/Moonstone is the focal point. Since Morro Bay's beach faces due west, any and every kind of swell hits the sandbars there, occasionally converting an ordinary California beachbreak into a magical mile or two of feathering A-frames and vomiting tubes. Besides Hazard Canyon, Morro Rock is the most famous spot in SLO County, and it's usually crowded. Below Morro Bay is a big knob of earth best known for the lovely Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant and Hazard Canyon. A 24-karat spot and one of the most well-known breaks in California, the Canyon is a serious righthand reef with a legendary local posse. Neither Avila, Shell Beach, Pismo, or Oceano offer much in the way of perfection; rather, it's whole tractor-trailer loads of beachbreak after beachbreak after friggin' beachbreak, but for a few quirky reefs below the bluffs at Shell Beach. One of the more consistent and shapely of all Central Coast beachbreaks, the Pismo Beach Pier is the hub of south-county surfing. North of Pismo, Avila Beach can have something during large swells and bouts of that pesky NW wind, but don't get your hopes up. The area just north of Cayucos can be semi-offshore during N wind, and San Simeon Bay, although not really a surf spot, can prove valuable in times of true desperation.

Surf Spots