A Local’s Guide – Where to Surf, Eat, & Sleep in San Diego

Where to eat sleep surf in san diego

I may be a bit biased, as I live in San Diego, but if you’re going on a surf trip within the continental U.S., I strongly believe that you should pick San Diego as your destination. No place has better weather and more world class and regional surf spots within such a short distance as this area. America’s Finest City or the Whale’s Vagina, whatever you prefer to call it, San Diego has the perfect mix of surfing and places to hang, eat, and sleep, to make for an epic surf trip.

Below are just a few of my tips on the best places to surf and nearby places to eat, hang and sleep, starting out from Ocean Beach (closest to San Diego airport) up through northern San Diego county.

Ocean Beach

This quirky little beach town is a must visit for any surf trip. There are lots of surf shops nearby the pier to get a rental board from (South Coast Surf Shop, Ocean Beach, Surf & Skate, Bird Surf Shed, etc).

Ocean Beach Pier at Sunset

Where to Surf:

Sunset Cliffs can be a bit difficult and tricky to get down to, therefore I would recommend going with a local or surf instructor/guide to this spot. It’s been known to have a bit of localism too but the waves can be epic, especially in the winter time. Just be careful to make sure you go out and come back in at the right tide, otherwise it could be very tricky getting back to shore at high tide.

Ocean Beach Pier is a spot for all skill levels, except for when it’s bigger, because then it can get dangerous with heavier waves. It’s super close to all the hot spots though in Ocean Beach so a convenient place to surf while enjoying the town’s attractions. 

Ocean Beach Jetty is known for it’s dog friendly environment.  You might often catch some doggies surfing there and it can be fun on smaller days, but on bigger days, again watch out. I was out on a bigger day once there (4-6 ft. is bigger for me) and was surprised how easy it was for me to get out past the bigger waves with the outgoing riptide, but then I didn’t quite make it over one wave that came after me and my leash snapped and I needed help getting back in.  The spot I would stay clear from is the area closest to the jetty if you’re more of a beginner/amateur and want to get more waves, as the expert surfers tend to own the takeoff point at that area.   

Where to Eat/Drink:

Ocean Beach Pier Restaurants/Bars:

South Beach has some of the best fish, shrimp, and calamari tacos in town (my absolute faves are the grilled shrimp and fried calamari ones), plus two levels with plenty of ocean viewing. For breakfast or happy hour/dinner I would recommend Wonderland. Wonderland has one of the best ocean views in San Diego guaranteed. They also give out free shooter type shots at sunset and everyone toasts to some of the best sunset views in San Diego when the sun goes down. OB Surf Lodge is just below Wonderland as well and has a great variety of food/drink options.

Hodad’s has been featured for their amazing burgers and there’s always a line out the door. They’re burgers are great, but I actually prefer Rocky’s burgers in Pacific Beach if you ask me. OB Noodle House is another classic spot loved by the locals and tourists alike (it’s also been featured in one of those cable network’s shows and now has two locations, the other is closer to OB Jetty). If you’re in the mood for some pizza, Pizza Port is a San Diego classic, and if ya don’t catch it here, they’ve got a few other locations in north county.

Wonderland Pub Ocean Beach
Wonderland Pub at Sunset – by Ocean Beach Pier

If you’re out later at night, check out some local reggae or other great music playing at the infamous Winston’s Beach Club. OB also has a ton of great breweries that have opened up lately, too many to name.

Ocean Beach Jetty Restaurants/Bars

Te Mana Cafe is a cozy little family run business with Hawaiian vibes where you can grab breakfast, some coffee, or some bowls for lunch. Voltaire Beach House has a nice and airy open vibe and has a great drink selection as well as healthy eats.

Where to Sleep

Ocean Beach Motel: It’s not glamorous, perhaps a bit outdated, but you can’t deny it’s location smack dab in front of Ocean Beach Pier (easily walkable to OB Jetty as well) and next to most of OB’s restaurants and bars. Hey, you’re on a surf trip and you’re just here to sleep, right? I’m sure there’s also some nice Airbnb’s nearby too, but I stayed here before i moved to SD and had no problems, plus, I think Veronica Mars was filmed here from time to time so that gives it a bonus factor for me.

Pacific Beach/Mission Beach

PB/Mission Beach is known for more of the rowdy college and party scene, but offers some great surf and dining/entertainment. There’s tons of surf shops nearby to pick up a rental board at (South Coast or PB Surf Shop are probably your best options in PB and Cheap Rentals is great for Mission Beach).

Where to Surf:

Tourmaline Surf Park (Pacific Beach Pier, Mission Beach/Mission Beach Jetty are alternatives)

Tourmaline Surf Park
Tourmaline Surf Park – America’s 1st Surfing only beach!

I live in the middle of Pacific Beach, so Tourmaline Surf Park is a bit to the north of me, PB Pier is right west of me, and Mission Beach is a bit to the south of me. I surf 95% of the time at Tourmaline Surf Park as the waves I believe are much better there (less closeouts and longer rides) and much better for longboarders (which is the kind of board I ride most often). I like Tourmaline Surf Park the best because of that and because it has a good sized parking lot with restrooms and showers. There’s also a rich history for surfing here in San Diego at that spot and there are many local regulars that hang out in the parking lot and provide the classic surfing vibe of places like San Onofre, but within San Diego city limits.

The vibe is super friendly at Tourmaline too, however expect it to be very crowded with a lot of kooks and/or Wavestorm type boards. Nothing wrong with the soft tops really, but to me it signals surfers just dabbling into the sport that haven’t quite fully committed to it yet. Therefore, be careful too as I’ve definitely had a few collisions here with as crowded as it can get. Also, watch out for the sting rays and do the stingray shuffle as I was stung by one once here and it was the most pain I think I’ve ever felt in my life so far. It can get kind of rocky at certain times of the year, but the rocks then tend to disappear at other times of the year.

If you’re a short-boarder you might prefer Mission Beach Jetty or PB PIer and it is closer to more of the restaurants/nightlife, however Tourmaline Surf Park can be ideal for anyone. Just to the south of Tourmaline is a place called Pumphouse which can be better suited for a short boarders as it’s waves are a bit stronger than Tourmo or PB Point. PB Point is slightly north of Tourmaline Surf Park and the waves can get really epic there on a winter swell with bigger waves and some of the longest rides I’ve had next to San Onofre State Beach in San Diego.

Where to Eat/Drink

Mission Beach Restaurants/Bars

Single Fin is a locally owned, by some surfers too, cozy restaurant and bar, inspired by the Single Fin restaurant in Bali. The decor of this place is unique and cool, plenty of colored fins on the ceiling, wooden trim around the edges, and the bathroom wallpaper is hilarious. They have Bali inspired menu items as well as the best shrimp siracha tacos and spicy margarita in town. They also have amazing hamburgers too if you’re craving one.

Single Fin Restaurant/Bar San Diego
Single Fin Restaurant/Bar in Mission Beach San Diego

Miss B’s Coconut Club is another absolute fave of mine. The Jamaican/Caribbean vibes and music they play here perfectly compliment the island inspired drinks and eats here. It’s got a killer corner spot close to the beach and has an airy and open vibe. You have to order a coconut drink, served straight from a young coconut – and don’t forget to eat the yummy, fleshy, coconut meat inside the coconut after you’re done. They also have the best fish ceviche I’ve ever had. Most ceviche has tiny bits of fish but this ceviche has really good sized fish chunks in an amazing coconut sauce with the perfect mango mix and it’s served with these crispy, cinnamon sprinkled plantain chips, ya just can’t go wrong with that. Other must haves are the coconut shrimp, amazing breakfast choices, and just all their food in general is so delicious.

Miss B's Coconut Club San Diego
Daytime and nightime outside view at Miss B’s Coconut Club – airy and open vibe with a couple big fire pits!
Delicious coconut drink with yummy young coconut meat under the lid and amazing ceviche and plantain chips!

The Beach House/Cannonball/Draft

The Beach House used to be called Wavehouse and it had the flowbarrel you could watch people surf and wipeout on which was entertaining. They got rid of that for cost/insurance reasons and therefore renamed the place the Beachhouse. The food is typical bar food and drinks are typical fare, but their location smack dab on the beach can’t be beat. Above them you can find Cannonball which is where you can have some great sushi and sunset viewing for dinner. Draft is another nearby place with standard food/drink options but a huge TV perfect for sports watching, right on the beach. It would be amazing if they would show WSL surf competitions there when they are on! The area where these restaurants are is right next to Belmont Park where you can take a ride on the wooden roller coaster if you hadn’t gotten enough surfing thrills during the day!

Pacific Beach Restaurants/Bars

Mavericks, named after the biggest wave in the continental U.S. up in the San Fran area, has great surf and turf fare as well as a few must have drinks. The bar is huge, has an open and airy feel and has several areas/sections from an open outdoor space with corn hole and other games, a 2 level space with patio/street seating and the back area which has a cozy place to lounge on some couches outside while watching a game on TV. It can get really busy at certain times, so I love going there more as a daytime spot and having some brunch with their mimosa bar or a healthy lunch with their shrimp and rice type bowls complimented with a super tasty vanilla pineapple margarita or sparkling rose drink.

Mavericks Club Pacific Beach San Diego

Places with a beach view: Shore Club has a great poke dish as well as other items plus their infamous Red Bull crush. It can get super crowded but has a great outside rooftop eating/drinking area to enjoy if you can sneak a spot. El Prez also has a cool rooftop area that can get busy. They have an amazing build your own taco option, in which my absolute fave are the lobster and filet mignon tacos. Typically lobster tacos barely have any lobster in them, but the lobster in their tacos is meaty, tender and succulent, a must try. PB Alehouse has a nice rooftop area with good beach view as well. Water Bar and Tower 23 are a bit fancier than typical PB fare, if you’re in the mood for that, and they’re right on the beach.

Mexican fare: Fatfish is a great place to go an fuel up before seeing live music at 710 Club right across the street. They’ve got a cool margarita flight and amazing crispy avocado tacos. Oscars is where you want to go for some authentic Mexican tacos after a surf at Tourmo (short for Tourmalline). They have several locations in San Diego now but this was the original. There is usually a bit of a line but it’s worth it – I recommend their surf & turf tacos and if they have pineapple water that day, I would be sure to pick it up! You also have to pick up a breakfast or California Burrito at Robertos or Cotijas Mexican Grill.

For breakfast, Crushed is another perfect spot for a delicious breakfast/brunch as well as mimosa flights with a variety of flavors to pick from. Kono’s is another infamous breakfast spot located right by the pier that always has lines awaiting its great food! Lelainis is another Hawaiian spot located nearby Tourmaline Surf Spot. It’s a definite breakfast/lunch place as it closes at 4pm but they’ve got some great poke, breakfast items, spam musubi, along with so much more. They even have a little shop beside their restaurant to pick up some Hawaiian items to take home.

For dinner, The Grass Skirt is another great restaurant to try. It has an Asian infused menu, a cool Hawaiian feel inside, and a huge selection of rum infused cocktails that can be pretty strong, so watch out. There’s a couple other surprises with this restaurant which I don’t want to ruin here, just find out when you get there.

Where to sleep:

Capri by the Sea Condos Pacific Beach San Diego
Capri by the Sea – Overlooking Pacific Beach and within a very short walk to Law St. Beach and Tourmaline Surf Park

There are tons of properties lining Mission Beach that you can get via VRBO & AirBnb and I’m sure a lot of AirBnb options in PB. However my choice would be staying at Capri by the Sea condos because it is the closest to Tourmaline and all units are right on the beach and have amazing views of the ocean. It’s also close to Pacific Beach restaurants/shops, etc. It can be a bit pricey but if you have a group of people, it can definitely be a great deal, especially outside of the high season summer time frame. Pacific Terrace Hotel is a good alternative, right next to Capri by the Sea if it’s sold out.

Capri by the Sea Pacific Beach Ssan Diego
Capri by the Sea – an inside view of one of the rental condos

La Jolla

With a world class wave and scenery to match, this part of town is a must visit when coming through San Diego. For surfboard rentals, there are plenty of shops right nearby La Jolla Shores that provide lots of options, Surf Diva is a place run by women and they offer lessons not only for women but men too. Outside of surfing, eating, & sleeping, I’d recommend mixing in some hiking at Torrey Pines and exploring around the Scripps area to find the La Jolla swings with some amazing views of the area.

Where to Surf:

Black’s Beach (Experts) La Jolla Shores/Scripps (Beginners/Intermediates)

Blacks Beach Surf Spot
Blacks Beach Surf Spot – some of the biggest, barreling waves in San Diego

If you’re an advanced surfer, Black’s Beach is an obvious must surf spot as it is known for some of the biggest waves and actual barrels, yes barrels, in San Diego. It’s a beach break but a deep water canyon present is what produces the huge waves (bigger in the winter usually). I did attempt to surf this spot once (I’m an average skilled but experienced surfer that knows my limits), however I went out on a very small 2-3 foot day just to say I surfed Black’s Beach. I admit that I really couldn’t get out past the white wash as the currents are just so strong and the fact that it’s a beach break means it’s harder to find a channel to get out past all of the crashing waves, however I did surf a few whitewash waves there before. Just an FYI for those who don’t know, this is also known to be a nude beach so be prepared.

Windansea surf spot La Jolla
Windansea Beach – a San Diego classic surf spot

Another classic spot in the La Jolla area is Windansea Beach. It’s another spot close to Tourmaline that has a rich surfing history here in San Diego. The summer time waves are smaller and friendlier for more average-intermediate surfers and the wintertime swell is more for experienced and advanced surfers. This is a beautiful spot and the location of the infamous surf shack that was recently destroyed by high incoming waves but was is repaired and replaced now.

La Jolla Shores Surf Spot
La Jolla Shores Surf Spot

For beginners or intermediate surfers, La Jolla Shores is your best bet. Scripps can be good too but I’ve just never had much success surfing there as the waves pitch up fast out of nowhere and close out quickly. However La Jolla Shores is known for being beginner friendly and the beach is wide and sandy and is good for families with a grass area as well for picnics and barbecues. They also have lots of fire pits as well but claim yours early, as they go fast.

Where to Eat/Drink:

Dukes is a must visit, as this chain is inspired by the Hawaii surfing legend. Its top level is a more casual bar/restaurant vibe, called Barefoot Bar, with amazing views of the La Jolla coastline. Grab yourself a Mai Tai and enjoy some appetizers for dinner. I recommend the Korean sticky ribs, poke tacos, or the basic fish and chips. There’s a lot of other fancy restaurants in this area but the Barefoot Bar option here is my best bet for a traveling, more budget conscious surfer.

Where to Sleep:

I’d definitely go the AirBnB route if you want to sleep here over night as the hotels are more high end and expensive. However I’d recommend La Jolla as a day place and staying overnight elsewhere in the city.

North County (From Del Mar up to Oceanside)

Anything form Del Mar up to Oceanside is typically referenced as “North County”. I still consider these areas to be “San Diego” as they are located in San Diego county. There’s too many surf spots to go into detail here about, I’ll just reference the classic ones in Cardiff by The Sea and Encinitas. However, I’d recommend downloading our app, da Surf Engine, to get the nitty gritty details on all of the surf spots in the San Diego county area, plus worldwide!

If you’re in this area and a music lover, you must check out some live music in Solana Beach at The Belly Up, it is by far my favorite music venue in the San Diego area indeed! For surfboard rental, I recommend staying at the Surfhouse boutique hotel as they have a complete surf concierge service.

Where to Surf:

Swamis (Cardiff by the Sea and Beacons/Grandview are other options).

Swamis Surf Spot – View from above

Swamis is one of the most well known classic point break surf spots in the San Diego area, specifically in the surf town of Encinitas. It is a true point break and offers some of the best waves around, especially in the winter time. Because the wave does break primarily in one area, it can get competitive there and I’ve definitely been run over by an aggro surfer dude and yelled at by an old grumpy man for paddling out to the waves in the wrong area. Therefore, just be careful and extra mindful of surfing around the peak to not get in anyone’s way. When the waves are mid sized, this wave can really suit any skill level, however when the waves get really big, unless you are experienced, I wouldn’t recommend going out.

Grandview surf spot
Grandview Surf Spot

Just north of Swamis in the Encinitas/Leucadia area you can find Beacons and Grandview spots. Both of these surf spots are great for all skill levels, pending wave conditions in a given day. Parking tends to get crowded at Beacons, but I’ve usually had good luck finding a spot in the small lot above Grandview beach.

Cardiff by the Sea is another great surfing area (south of Swamis) with lots of surf breaks for all skill levels. Rob Machado lives in the Cardiff by the Sea area and raves about the great waves available. Cardiff State Beach has a big parking lot (paid though – about $10/$15 a day) and restroom facilities. It hosts lots of surf competitions in the area, including the only self shaped board contest hosted by Shaper Studios. Up further north is San Elijo State beach area where you’ll find the infamous Cardiff Kook Statue.

There are many great spots to surf in Carlsbad and Oceanside as well. In Carlsbad, Tamarack, Terramar, and Ponto Beach are some of your best options. North and South of the pier in Oceanside are known for some good surf and host many professional surfing competitions, such as the Super Girl Pro. Oceanside Harbor can also provide some great surf too, however sometimes it gets blackballed during the summer season.

Where to Eat/Drink:

Cardiff Beach Area Restaurants/Bars:

Las Olas restaurant
Las Olas Mexican Restaurant

Las Olas is a great little Mexican beach side place that’s perfect for a post surf grub fest. They used to have this fried cheese crisp thing with carne asada on it which was so greasy but so yummy. I don’t see that on their menu now, but they have lots of other tasty Mexican dishes along with healthy options as well, if you’re not on “vacation” mode! Tower 13 is another bar/restaurant right across the alley from Las Olas which is also beach side and has some great food choices. They also have this amazing tequila infused pineapple drink with pineapple juice from pineapples that have been marinating in tequila which is an amazing smooth and tasty adult beverage.

Pacific Coast Grill Encinitas San Diego
Pacific Coast Grill – amazing beach/surf view

For beach side dining, Chart House, Pacific Coast Grlil, Ki’s Restaurant are your best options. They’re a bit more high end and fancy, but they’ve got the best views of the beach.

Encinitas/Leucadia Area Restaurant/Bars:

Hapifish Sushi is my favorite dinner time sushi place in this area, just south of Beacon’s/Grandview surf spots. It has a beachy, open vibe and I love their unique sushi roll options, many with surf inspired names. Their Salmon Pesto and How We Roll (w/ sweet potato fries, salmon, avocado, and yellowtail) are my faves. Some of the great surf/San Diego inspired rolls are Boneyards (named after a nearby surf spot), Beach Bum, Hang 10, Stay Classy, and more.

Swamis Cafe is the perfect spot to grab some light and healthy breakfast before a surf sesh or some brunch after a surf sesh with some delicious and tasty but a bit heavier options. It’s a classic place that has grown to many other locations in and around the San Diego area.

Oceanside Area Restaurants/Bars:

The Lighthouse offers some great seafood, including a delicious poke stack and views of the harbor. Rockin Baja Lobster is another fun place on the harbor that has yummy fried lobster treats. Ruby’s Diner is all the way out on the pier and offers some great views along with standard diner fare. Hello Betty Fish House has a great rooftop patio area.

Where to Sleep:

Surfhouse adventures hotel
Surfhouse Adventures Boutique Hotel for Surfers

Surfhouse Adventures Boutique Hotel is my recommended place to stay. I went to their grand opening event and saw the place first hand and have to say it is very well done and their goal is to give guests a true and local authentic experience. Their rooms are named after various surf spots in the Encinitas area. It’s really a one stop shop for all your surf trip needs in and around north county San Diego. They provide boards, surf instructors or guides, pending your needs, photography and even planning a custom trip for you if needed. They even offer yoga practice if you desire it.

Surfhouse Adventures Hotel – inside room view

If you want to camp it there are plenty of areas a San Elijo State Beach or at Carlsbad State Beach that allow “beach” (as in up on the cliffs, not true beach side) camping. However get your reservation in early as spots get taken fast.

If you’re up in Oceanside, there are some great options via AirBnB and VRBO for beach side condos as well.

San Onofre/Trestles

This area contains world class waves and regional California classic surf spots. The Trestles area technically goes into south Orange county but I am claiming Lower and Upper Trestles for San Diego county, as it is still within that border!! There’s a great place called Nomads in San Clemente that provides a similar offering as Surfhouse Adventure Boutique hotel does in Encinitas and can provide for your board rental and even transportation needs to this area of prime surf spots.

Where to Surf:

San Onofre Trails, San Onofre State Beach-Point/Old Man’s, Churches, Middle’s, Lowers, Uppers (Cottons I believe is located in Orange County)

San Onofre Trails Surf Spot
San Onofre Trails Surf Spot – Trail 1 of 6

San Onofre Trails offers the ultimate secluded getaway in San Diego, as it is a bit further of a trek down the cliff to get to. Trail 1 is the closest and probably has the most surfers and it also tends to be a bit sandier, and less rocky than trails 2-6. You can find some perfect hideaway spots if you really want to get lost in the waves at this place. The Wheeland Brothers (surfer brother duo band) even wrote a few songs inspired by this place.

San Onofre State Beach Surf Spot
San Onofre State Beach A San Diego Classic Surf Spot – Longboarding long party wave friendly surf vibes

San Onofre State Beach is the ultimate longboard surfing spot in southern California and even world wide. A majority of the longest waves I’ve ever clocked with my RipCurl Search GPS watch have been ridden here. This is a place where you go and make a full day at the beach for a full on surfing kind of day.

The parking line to get into the beach can be long at times, especially in the summer. They even have a porta pot in the car line area in case someone just can’t wait any longer. However, usually it doesn’t take more than a half hour to get through the line and at least you don’t have to hover like a vulture then to find a spot once you get through the line. There is a $15/day cost to park a all San Onofre spots, but well worth every dollar (another reason I make a full day of it here when surfing).

I like sitting at San Onofre Old Man’s next to the big hut and typically surf out from that area as it’s less rocky than up at San Onofre Point. However it can still get pretty rocky at low tide. Sometimes I even wear my booties in the summer when I’m there at low tide because I’m such a rock wimp. The vibes are always good here and it’s a true surfer community that comes and hangs out and surfs here. This is the perfect place for a beginner to learn to surf, if they can get past the rocks.

North of San Onofre is where the Trestles surf area officially begins.

Churches is the southern most surf spot area, north of San Onofre (and a bit of a walk from Old Man’s), and is a great option for surfers of all skill levels and board types. It’s just north of the military area where the only actual camping on the beach (not cliff side) is available in San Diego. However, you have be in the military or know someone who is to get access to camp here.

North of the Churches surf spot is Middle’s. Rather than parking at San Onofre Beach and walking all the way up, I would recommend taking the Cristianitos exit on the 5 and parking on the side streets by the Carls Jr. restaurant. After you find a spot, get prepared for the “Trestles Walk” which can be quite a hike. I’ve seen lots of people bike or even skateboard down to the Trestles area, however, I’m not coordinated enough for that. I typically prefer surfing in the Trestles area during the summertime as I don’t need to lug my heavier wet suits with me and it makes the hike lighter and easier.

Middles tends to be really rocky so I’ve never had the desire to surf there. You can catch some great waves there so if you aren’t scared of rocks, this would be a less crowded alternative to Lowers!

Lower Trestles Surf Spot
Lower Trestles Southern California’s Perfect Wave

Lowers or Lower Trestles is de creme de la creme surf break in California and worldwide. It is a world class wave that has hosted the highest tiers of the WSL’s world tour surfing contests and is often frequented by the pro surfers and training surfer groms that live nearby in San Clemente and make the drive from other regions in California. It’s known for their perfect, skate like waves and for true performance. I’ve seen some professional World Surf League events here and it’s a shame they’ve stopped them and replaced them with a fake wave up at the Surf Ranch.

I’m not a wave pool hater, I just think they should have added to the tour with that stop vs. replacing a true world class wave here in the U.S. When they do have the WSL surf events here, you can often even find yourself out surfing with the pros in the lineup before the events. I had a little paddle battle with John John Florence once, well I was humoring myself that I was even trying to make the same wave as him, ha.

It’s a super crowded lineup that is typically focused around one peak area, but I’ve found if you are patient you can get some amazing rides here that are well worth the walk and wait. It can also be a bit rocky here and some surfers have been known to do the rock dance, however if you catch it at high tide and head out slightly to the north of the peak, you can avoid the rocks for the most part.

Uppers or Upper Trestles has waves that can be just as high quality (but just maybe not as consistent) as Lowers that tends to be a bit less crowded and has a slightly shorter walk. I’ve surfed this spot once on a summer day and saw a rainbow, the only time I have or will probably ever surf and see a rainbow here in California (in Hawaii it happens all the time).

Where to Eat/Drink:

With both San Onofre and Trestles surf areas, it is best to pack your meals and bring plenty of fluids for a full day at the beach. You can have bonfires and barbeque all day long at San Onofre State Beach.

Where to Sleep:

Nomads Combo Hotel and Canteen/Restaurant in San Clemente – nearby Trestles

Nomad’s Hotel is my top choice, especially if you’re focusing on surfing in the Trestles area. They provide a full service of lodging, dining, board rental, and even transportation to Trestles if you didn’t rent a car or just want door to door service. The shuttle to nearby T-Street or even down to Lowers and Upper Trestles is free for those staying at the hotel. However if you’re a sunny afternoon surfer like me, the shuttle’s timing won’t work for you as they cater to the early morning surfers and the shuttle leaves at 8:30 am and picks you up at 12 pm (noon), typically the time I head out! You also need to reserve a spot on the shuttle a week prior to the date you want to go.

They also offer surfboard, wet suit and even skateboard/bike rentals. All inclusive packages are also available that include train station pick up, drinks/food, surf guides/lessons, transportation to local beaches and board/wetsuit rentals. If you don’t want the full packages, you can opt for private or group lessons as well.

Even though I live nearby in San Diego, I stayed at one of their smaller rooms, the Boat Room, once. It was a great way to make a full day of it at both San Onofre and Doheny Beach up in Orange county one holiday weekend without having to travel back and forth to Pacific Beach both days. The room was brightly colored and provided the basics I needed to get a good sleep before my next surf sesh. They have other bigger rooms available as well as bunkhouse option for those on a budget. Prices overall were a good deal.

Their restaurant is adjoined to the hotel and is a great place to relax and unwind after a full day at the beach. They offer a variety of healthy for you surfer type foods including my favorites, their Jaco poke bowls with coconut rice and Watufaka Spam Bowl with a delicious mix of spam and avocado and mango.

If you want to camp it, official camping is available at the San Onofre Trails area, but I really wouldn’t recommend it unless you have an RV or camper van situation. Tent camping is kind of a joke since you’re pretty much popping up a tent on a parking lot and you can’t even really see the ocean from your tent camping spot. However I know some rebels who have truly camped it guerilla style there, you just gotta be sneaky and find a place to hide away.

This concludes my local surfer recommendation on places to surf, eat/drink, and sleep in San Diego county. If you want the nitty gritty details on all the main spots in San Diego county, I’d recommend checking out my app, da Surf Engine (available in the Apple app store) as you can search for your perfect surf spot to visit based on a variety of factors from skill level, board type, wave type, wave length, etc and even potentially find some surf buddies in your area or where you are planning to visit.

Enjoy your surf trip to San Diego and if you want to pick up an authentic t-shirt souvenir for some of the above surf spots, designed by a local, check out some of our t-shirts below on our SurferShops.com store!

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