369 Surf Shop San Onofre Surfing Area
A Weekend Surfing Itinerary for San Clemente, California
I’ve taken it upon myself to create the ultimate surfing weekend getaway in San Clemente, California. Beginner surfer or not, this itinerary will introduce you not only to great surfing spots, but a plethora of places including: an amazing surfboard rental shop, a quaint and cheap motel, delicious and cheap restaurants, great bars to wind down and exchange surf stories, and must-see sites to add more variety to your surf trip. No need to scope out the internet for cheap places to stay and things to do while visiting San Clemente, because I did all the research for you. All you have to do is find the best flight to Santa Ana and book all that is needed for your stay. It is possible to fit in the perfect surf trip into one weekend! You’re welcome in advance!
Morning: 1. Arrive to Santa Ana Airport. 2. Carry-on only straight to rental car (avoid checking in bags to save time and hassle to deal with luggage). 3. Drive Coast Highway to San Clemente and take in views of Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, and Dana Point with pump up music. Get pumped up! You’re going to be surfing in Cali!
4. Arrive to “369 Surf” surfboard shop to pick up boards, wax, and possibly wetsuits (depending on water temperature) from Matt. Rent surfboard roof rack if necessary.
5. Eat pre-packed lunch in car on way to San Onofre State Beach Park (technically in San Diego County).6. Take second entrance into park to avoid some traffic and a long waiting line. Entrance for one day is $15.7. Surf Old Man’s (beginner level) or Trails (beginner/intermediate level) all day and afternoon.8. Drive to “Board and Brew” for some of the best sandwiches ever. Happy hour drink specials here.9. Grab a coffee next door at “Macha” to revive.10. Head to San Clemente Pier to surf T-Street and/or San Clemente Pier. Lifeguards open the water to surfers only at 6:00pm on the T-Street side. Woo hoo!
11. Surf until dusk.12. Watch the sunset and some pretty rad surfers near T-Street surf spot.13. Check in to “The Inn at Califia Beach“.14. Wash up, walk the area, and bar hop:-“Blooms Irish Pub” (get and order of their fish and tater tacos…AMAZING!)-“OC Tavern” (the bartenders here are amazing)-“Hapa J’s“-“Outrigger Tavern“-“MRK Public“15. Prepare surf gear for morning.16. Crash hard.
1. Wake up no later than 5:15 (super early, but it will be worth it)2. Drive one minute down road to “Surfin’ Donuts“. Gonna need a big breakfast for a heavy surf day.-Pick from a variety of delicious donuts, including a blueberry fritter only served on Sundays.-Choose from a variety of coffees (weak, strong, and in between).-Cheese, bacon, jalapeno filled croissant. Yum.3. Drive to San Onofre State Beach Park. If early enough, waiting in line shouldn’t take too long.4. Eat, drink coffee, and jam out to some pump up music while waiting in car line at park.5. Surf all surfing spots on southern beaches of park….all day long. Don’t forget to GoPro some surfing action. Need that proof that you caught some waves!
Afternoon:6. Rinse off in nearby beach showers and change in changing hut into some casual dress clothes.7. Mix up your trip by heading to “Casa Romantica” to add a bit of history, beautiful gardens, and an amazing view of the ocean and pier into your trip. The first Sunday of every month has no admission fee. Otherwise, it’s only $5. Worth the visit.8. Head to get food at the closest “Pedro’s Tacos“. Everything on their menu is delicious, but try out the fish tacos here too. Gotta get as much fresh seafood as possible while on coast.9. Grab a cold brew or energy drink at the nearest convenient store (perhaps the CVS next door) to rejuvenate.10. Eat at pier for ocean view and surf watching11. Surf “San Clemente Pier” until dusk. The waves break close to shore, so be careful at this surf spot.12. Watch sunset on beach.
Night:13. Head back to “The Inn at Calafia Beach“.14. Get dressed and have a couple of local beers bought from the liquor store across the street in the cute, middle area of the inn.15. Catch a Lyft or Uber to San Clemente Pier area to walk the pier and watch surfers out in the water.16. Pop into the “Fisherman’s Restaurant and Bar” located on the pier for a local beer at the bar.17. Walk around area and enjoy the ambience.18. Head to “LaRocco’s” pizza shop. Make sure you get the garlic knots and a calzone.19. Pop into some locals’ bars: -“Ole’sTavern” -“Knucklehead’sSports Bar and Grill” -“VineRestaurant and Bar” (DJ in the back if you wanna dance)20. Crash even harder than the night before.21. The best surf weekend ever.
1. San Onofre State Beach Park surfing spots have rocks near the shore that you will have to walk on and around to get into the water. Don’t be afraid to invest in some water socks (I felt it was necessary to purchase some since my foot was still recovering from my sea urchin accident in Hawaii). You can find some good water socks on Amazon. Many are cheap, super comfortable, protective, warm, and great for surfing and any beach activity. Check these that I found on Amazon: BPS Low Cut ‘Soft Skin’ Water Socks or High Cut ‘Storm’Water Socks.
2. San Clemente Pier has little or no rocks while walking out into the water. It’s great that there aren’t rocks, but still be cautious walking out into the water. According to some locals, stingrays like to nestle in the shallow water in the sand. Don’t be too nervous though. All you have to do is shuffle your feet while walking out in the water and that will be enough to scare them off.
3. A weekend getaway to San Clemente may be worth it if you are coming from the Midwest or east coast. However, it will obviously cut into your surf time, add more travel time, and most likely will be a bit more expensive. If this is the case for you, look into some surf spots in North Carolina, Florida, Rhode Island, Maryland, and New York to save time and money. Otherwise, west coast peeps: San Clemente is for you! Find some cheaper flights on Google Flights into Santa Ana most days of the year.
4. If San Onofre is too busy, check out the surf report at “Doheny State Beach” (also has some beginner surfing areas). We didn’t get a chance to experience Doheny, but it’s still a decently close driving distance from San Clemente. I also heard some great things about it from a local at a surf shop.
5. If you plan to go to San Onofre State Park, be sure to bring all the necessities you may need for all day. Not only is this park great for surfing, but it has some good fishing spots, beach volleyball, and even areas to grill and picnic on the beach. If you decide to leave the park and have plans to come back, you may run into a long car line that could mean minutes (or even hours) to not only be able to enter, but wait for a parking spot to open up. If possible, stay at the park all day until you are ready to leave for good…hence bringing everything you need for the day.
6. Make sure to apply sunscreen if you plan to be out in the water all day. Though you may have some clouds, you can bet your bottom dollar that you’ll still catch some of those UV rays and may get burnt, meaning being uncomfortable the rest of your stay.
7. Drink a lot of water. If you’re a beginner like me, you will be gulping a ton of salt water while nose-diving or fighting to get above the waves. Lots of salt water will make you thirsty. Also, you won’t realize how much you are sweating while out in the water getting your surf on, and since you will be in the water all day, you want to hydrate before, during, and after a long session (beginner or not).
8. If you have time, try to physically prepare your body. Practice popping up and work your upper body. You’ll be using your arms and necks muscles a lot, so be sure to build up a bit of muscular strength and endurance.
9. Watch some tutorial videos on how to surf. While you’re at it, watch some surf competitions to observe (and get pumped up).
If you’re itching to go surfing and a week long surf vacation isn’t in your nearest future, plan a weekend surf getaway to San Clemente, California. No matter what surfing level you are, you will be sure to find some rad waves to catch (advanced surfers, be sure to check out Trestles) that will satisfy your rip craving. It can be done in one weekend. I know this because the itinerary listed is the exact itinerary we used on our surfing weekend getaway to San Clemente this month. We surfed our butts off and still had time to experience in and around the city. Though my body hurt for 6 days after our trip, it was worth every single second. It was the best weekend surfing trip ever. I highly recommend this itinerary. You won’t be disappointed, I promise. So, what are you waiting for? Book that trip, skip the planning, and enjoy your amazing weekend surf trip in San Clemente, California.