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Surfing Morro Bay: A Local’s Guide

Morro Bay is one of my all time favorite places to surf on the Central Coast of California, and maybe even one of my favorite surf spots in California.

It’s not only a picturesque surf spot, but it’s also a very fun, clean, and consistent wave. The consistency is what makes surfing Morro Bay so great- there is pretty much always surf here. 

When it’s small, it’s got some nice, fun rollers that are a blast on your log.

When it really turns on at Morro Bay, expect lots of fun, clean lefts, and the occasional right. 

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Are you planning a last minute surf trip to Morro Bay?

If you’re planning a last minute surf trip to Morro Bay, we’ve got you covered. Here are the best surf hotels, surf lessons, and more!

Best surf hotels in Morro Bay

Need a car to explore all the surrounding surf breaks? Click here to check best car rental rates in Morro Bay!

Want to learn to surf in Morro Bay? Click here to book the best surf lessons in Morro Bay!

The best tours for when you’re not surfing:

The different Morro Bay surf breaks

surfing Morro Bay

Morro Rock

This is a really, really fun wave. The main break wraps right around the smaller cluster or rocks next to Morro rock, hits the sandbar, and produces a nice, mellow left. For a steeper ride, surf a little further north of this break, and you’ll potentially find some nice rides depending on the sandbars that day.

The rock usually holds anything up to 6 feet pretty well. After that, it can start to close out. The Rock can occasionally hold bigger swells, but it’s totally dependent on the ever changing sandbars. 

Morro Strand

I have a love/hate relationship with the Strand. I love it, because there’s no crowds, good waves, and it has a bit of a wild feel to it. I hate the paddle out. There’s no channel here, just a big, beefy beach break, and it can get a little rough. Once you do make it out though, it’s pure magic!

This is a beach break, and the sandbars form lefts and rights. It’s a massive beach, so if one area is crowded, you can walk 5 minutes and have your own peak just for you and your friends. 

The shape of the waves here isn’t as nice as the Rock, but it’s consistently fun. If you want to catch a lot of waves without the crowds, I recommend surfing at the Strand. 

Looking to take a surf trip in October? Check out our guide to the best places to surf in October!


Further north up highway one is a quaint little coastal town called Cayucos- aka home to some of my favorite places to surf in SLO County. Cayucos has a few different breaks all along the coast- you can pretty much find surf anywhere.

However, one of the most popular places to surf in Cayucos, especially for beginners, is at the Cayucos Pier.

How to get to Morro Bay

surfing Morro Bay

Morro bay is located right off Highway One, just south of all the amazing surf breaks in Big Sur. To get downtown and to the Rock, take the Main Street exit, and turn right on Beach Street. From there, follow the road adjacent to the harbour, and there’s a big, free, dirt lot where you can park!

To surf at the Strand, take the left hand turn at the Morro Strand State Beach light. There will be plenty of places to park right in front of the sand.

Morro Bay is equidistant from LAX and SFO.  

Best Seasons for Surfing Morro Bay

The ideal seasons for surfing Morro Bay are fall and winter. Surf is biggest and most consistent in January. The fall surf in Morro Bay is my personal favorite. It’s consistently right around head high, and clean. The water is also very warm at this time, and during September-early November the Central Coast experiences it’s nicest weather, but without the crowds! 

While fall/winter are bigger, summer and spring are still fun. When it’s small, the rock is a longboarding break, and a fun one at that! Expect nice, long rides. Summer is also a great time to at Morro Bay!

Hazards of Surfing Morro Bay


Riptides can be severe at Morro Bay. Right up against the Rock lies a channel that’ll rip you right to the outside. While this can be handy for surfers to make it quickly to the outside, be sure your swimming skills are up for the challenge if anything goes wrong.


While you’re surfing Morro Rock, you’re surfing next to a giant rock. So, that’s an inherent danger in and of itself. However, you’re not  usually that close to the Rock. Just be careful of the rocks on the beach behind you at high tide, because if you’re surfing without a leash, or your leash snaps, your board is going straight towards those rocks. 

At the Strand, there are a few submerged rocks. Some small, some pretty big. They’re fairly scattered, and I’ve never had an issue, but just be aware that they are there. 


Unfortunately, our (large) fishy friends have been known to hang out around this area from time to time. It’s usually not a problem, but there have been sightings. Be aware of your surroundings, and if something feels off, go with your gut.

Curious about other surfing dangerous? Check out our guide to the dangers of surfing.

surfing Morro Bay

Tips & Tricks for Surfing Morro Rock

  1. My #1 tip for surfing Morro Rock is to take the channel out, rather than trying to punch through the main break to make it to the outside. When you’re standing and facing the main break, you’ll notice a gap to the left of the break and the rock. This is the ideal spot to paddle out, and it’ll really save your arms!
  2. Unless you’re on a massive log, don’t fight for the main peak. You won’t win this way. There’s usually several folks on 10 foot boards or even kayaks that like to sit DEEP and take the first wave of the set every time. The good news is, if you sit a little further in you’ll be able to catch plenty of fun waves. 
  3. Check the wind, and try to come mid-day. This surf spot gets packed during morning and sunset sessions. I’ve had some of the best sessions from 1-3 pm, when there’s no wind, and nobody out. You practically get the whole beach to yourself and it’s pure bliss. 

Surf Competitions and Events in Morro Bay

It’s pretty neat that our sleepy little surf town has been hosting more and more surf competitions and events.


Morro Bay is home to a WSL qualifying event December 4th to December 10th, 2023.

Witches Paddle

Every year right around Halloween (usually the weekend before) is the annual Morro Bay Witches Paddle. Everyone gets dressed up like a witch, and takes to the Morro Bay (harbor) on a stand up paddle board with their broom in hand.

FAQs for surfing in Morro Bay

How big are the waves in Morro Bay?

The size of the waves in Morro Bay depends on the season and swells. If you’re looking for the size of the waves in Morro Bay today, check the Morro Bay surf forecast.

The waves in Morro Bay are biggest during the winter, and are on average 6 feet. In the spring, they get a little smaller, and average around 4 feet. Summer is the smallest time of year for surfing in Morro Bay, and fall is when it starts to pick up a bit.

Can beginners surf in Morro Bay?

Yes! Morro Bay is a good surf spot for beginners in California– in the summer at least. When the waves are small, Morro Bay is pretty friendly for beginners, especially if they go further down the beach away from the main break, or over to the Cayucos pier.

Can you surf Morro Strand State Beach?

Yes! Morro Strand State Beach is one of my favorite places to surf in Morro Bay. It’s usually way less crowded than the rock, and the waves have a nice shape.

How high is the rock in Morro Bay?

Morro Rock is 576 feet tall!

Surf shops in Morro Bay

Morro Bay has a few great surf shops if you need any surfing equipment, or just want to check them out:


Wavelengths is my favorite Morro Bay surf shop. I love their merch, and everyone that worrks there is super friendly. They have two different buildings: one is a classic surf shops with new clothes, surfboards, wetsuit, and gear.

Across the parking lot is the Wavelengths outlet store- they have awesome deals on used surfboards and wetsuits, and some great merch on sale too.


Joe’s Surfboard Shop

Curious about surf shops further south? Check out my guide to the best Pismo beach surf shops.

What to bring for the Morro Bay surf

  1. Surfboard: You’ll want to bring a surfboard, unless you plan on renting. Keep in mind, the surf shops are a bit of a ways from the rock if you plan on walking.
  2. In the summertime you’ll be fine with a 3/2. In the winter, you’ll want a 4/3, booties, and maybe a hood. 
  3. Something to change on. At the Rock, the parking lot is dirt, so you’ll want something to stand on when you change, so you don’t get your wetsuit and clothes all muddy. A nice changing mat will quickly become your favorite Morro Bay surfing accessory!
  4. Water jug to rinse off. Due to the drought in California, the showers at both of these Morro Bay breaks are shut off. I highly recommend bringing a big water jug to rinse yourself & your suit off after your session.

Final Thoughts: Surfing in Morro Bay

That’s a wrap on my guide to surfing in Morro Bay. This surf break is really something special. If you’re curious about other surf breaks in the area, check out my surf guide to Pismo, and Cayucos surf guide.

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