Surfing Guide for Bay Area Homeowners

Who wouldn't want to live in Northern California's San Francisco Bay Area? Especially if you're an avid surfer. In this Bay Area guide, we'll explore surfing, one of the most popular activities to get you excited about grabbing a board, wet suit, and taking the plunge. And don't worry if you're a beginner or new to the area, this guide is just for you.


Best Beaches for Surfing in the Bay Area

Let's kick off this Bay Area guide with tips on where to surf. No matter if you're a beginner or expert, you'll always want surf that breaks on the sand instead of dangerous rocks. As for wave size, watch for waves that are at least three feet high, but avoid the big ones that reach ten feet or more, as they require advanced skills. If you can find a beach where the locals are friendly, that will make your day more pleasant. Make sure to avoid areas with too many surfers when you first start learning.  An overcrowded area with too many surfers could be intimidating and competitive, making it hard to master your board.


That said, here are some great Bay Area beaches for surfing:

  • Bolinas Beach - Good for beginners, waves are smooth and easy.
  • Stinson Beach - Good surf, best in high tides. Beach has white sand.
  • Fort Cronkhite - Beautiful, uncrowded beach that is best at mid to high tide.
  • Ocean Beach - Breathtaking views, waves form on the shifting sand below.
  • Rockaway Beach - Best between high and low tides; watch for rip currents.
  • Linda Mar - Great for beginners and intermediates, but can be challenging.
  • Mavericks - If you are a skilled surfer, this one has spectacular, huge waves.


California's Climate

The weather plays an essential part in Bay Area activities like surfing. California climate ranges from hot inland deserts to snowy mountain peaks, to cool marine regions along the coast. Overall, there are two seasons in California–summer and winter. Summers are long and dry, with low humidity and cool nights. Winters are mild and rainy, aside from the high mountain regions, where snow falls from November to April.


Southern California is famous for its perfect weather, including mild, almost non-existent winters. But Northern California and the San Francisco Bay area are slightly different. Its climate is a product of its famous rolling hills and the wind off the San Francisco Bay that comes in from the sea. These two factors create a unique Bay Area weather climate which is perfect for Bay Area activities like surfing.


All experienced surfers know the weather has a significant impact on surfing conditions. As weather patterns roll in from the Bay, winds change - sometimes very quickly. That affects the swell of the waves, for better or worse, depending. It pays to find a good surf report and check it before heading out.

  • San Francisco can be colder most of the year, and the water is cold, so don’t be surprised if you need a wetsuit.
  • San Jose enjoys a milder climate and doesn’t get the cold breeze off the Bay that San Francisco does. Plus, it’s close to the top Bay Area beaches in Santa Cruz which has some excellent surfing.
  • Santa Cruz has beautiful weather most of the year and isn’t nearly as cold as San Francisco, but you may need a wetsuit in the winter months.


Learning How to Surf

Now that we've covered the Bay Area weather, let's get down to the how-to of surfing. With practice, you should become somewhat proficient in this Bay Area activity in a couple of months. Like everything, surfing takes practice, and you can find lessons near your favorite Bay Area beaches.


Here are a few tips for riding the waves:

  • Practice by laying down and pressing your hands into the ground or on your board beneath your chest. Then, with one motion, jump to your feet. This trains you to stand up.
  • When you see a wave coming, turn and face the nose of your board toward the shore. Now lay down and paddle. Make sure the tip of your board is even with the water's surface.
  • After a few strokes, look back to monitor the wave but continue paddling. You don't want to be too far in front of or too far outside of the wave. That takes practice.
  • With the wave behind you, look forward. When you start to feel speed and momentum, it's time to stand up. Don't hesitate, though, as you may lose your balance. Once you stand, you're surfing!


Live Where You Surf

So many people dream of living in California because of the beautiful weather and beaches. The Bay Area is a unique location because of its fantastic weather as well as an abundance of good-paying jobs. Take, for example, San Jose. It’s the tech capital of the world and only 45-minutes from Santa Cruz - a major surf destination.


If you’re new to Northern California or considering purchasing a new home, check out new homes in the San Francisco Bay Area. There’s probably a planned community near where you work and also within an hour or so of the beach. We hope this Bay Area guide has given you some insight into this gem of a location.


Want to know more? Explore what Pulte Homes in the Bay Area have to offer.



Contributed to Your Home blog by Carol Youmans

Looking for more tips, ideas or inspiration? Return Home here.

Published 10.14.19

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