Surfing Morro Bay: A Local’s Guide

An Overview of Surfing Morro Bay

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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How to get to Morro Bay

Morro bay is located right off Highway One. 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.  

surfing Morro Bay

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 learn to surf at Morro Bay!

The Wave(s)

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. 

Hazards of Surfing Morro Bay

Rips

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.

Rocks

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. 

Sharks

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.

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. 

What to Bring

  1. Surfboard: high volume shortboards or longboards tend to fare best at the rock, unless it’s over head high. 
  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.
  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.

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