The tranquil Sonoma coast is not a prime surfing destination, but it's a special shoreline, nonetheless. Bodega Bay is generally affluent, and the Russian River Valley is a western gateway to world-renowned wine country. Unfortunately, the surf in Sonoma doesn't compare to the quality of its vintages. While the numerous rocky coves are beautiful beyond scenic, most of the Sonoma coast is inaccessible or does not break at all due to deep water and sheer cliffs.
There are only four towns on the Sonoma coast, and between them lie miles and miles of inaccessible or unsurfable beaches. There may be a real jewel or two, but these are only scored by the locals. The best spots are few and far between, so most surfers tend to congregate at all the same places. Salmon Creek is the county's best-known spot, while south-facing Doran Park is favored by beginners and anybody else looking for some relief from the persistent NW winds. For the traveler, a number of spots will be obvious, but finding the sublime will require some very open locals to point you in the right direction, since the forests and abundant steep cliffs lining Highway 1 do hide a few secrets.
Winter swells are relentless and lumpy, colliding violently with Sonoma's ragged coastline, deeming the surfable spots few and far between. NW swell is the predominant direction, as are NW winds. Storms bring SE winds – blowing offshore at a few select spots. South and due west swells are uncommon. The reefs are very tidally sensitive and fickle. The beachbreaks like Salmon Creek are very consistent but often junky, and it's difficult or impossible to make it out when there's a solid swell or even windswell. Many of the beachbreaks come up from deep water to throw treacherous shorepounds and don't break on small swells. Beware of brutal currents. Beginners will be most at home at Doran Park than anywhere else in the county thanks to its shallow, more graduated bottom and wind protection.