Surfing in San Clemente || A Surf Travel Guide 

San Clemente is one of the great epicentres of the surfing world. Famous for the dreamy cobblestone a-frames of Lower Trestles, and home to renowned shapers such as Matt Biolas, the town has shaped the surfing of several world-class surfers, including Kolohe Andino and the Colopinto brothers. But what’s the place like as a visiting surfer? Here’s everything you need to know about surfing in San Clemente. 

Table of Contents

Overview

Best Time of Year

The best time of year to surf in San Clemente is between April and October. This is when south swells hit the coast and light up Trestles. However, San Clemente is super consistent and there is usually something to ride no matter when you visit. Even in winter, expect to be surfing fun punchy beach breaks. 

Trestles (San Clemente Surf Spot)

San Clemente Surf Spots 

T-Street

T-Street is the go-to surf spot in San Clemente. For those who live here, the morning caffeine fix and wave check is done from the cliff at T-Street. There’s almost always something to surf here and you can expect a stupidly high level of surfing–an area rivalled only by Australia’s Gold Coast. The banks change a little but for the most part, you’ve got a-frame wedges up and down the beach. 

Lower Trestles 

Lower Trestles is the jewel in the crown of surfing in San Clemente and one of the best in the world, let alone California. On its day, the place is a perfect a-frame with long sweeping rights and rippable lefts. It’s a forgiving wave that allows you to try anything on, almost making you surf well. The level of surfing here is off the charts, and it is among the world’s most crowded surf spots. 

Upper Trestles 

Just up from Tretsles is the lesser known, but only slightly less crowded upper Trestles, it’s a fun a-frame peak, with a predominant right that’s fun, but doesn’t have the same level of perfection as Lowers. A good option of Lowers is too hectic though. 

Church

Within the nature reserve, Church is another fun take on the cobblestone right point. Another good option if the scene at Lowers is out of control. 

San Clemente Surfing Crowd

How to Get There?

Getting to San Clemente is straightforward. Fly into LAX and make the one-hour drive south to reach San Clemente.

Getting Around 

You’ll need a car to surf in San Clemente. Or, failing that an electric bike could work just as well. Because the waves are spread between the Trestles Wetlands Nature Reserve and San Clemente itself, having wheels allows you to whip between the two at will. 

Where to Stay?

House of Trestles 

The House of Trestles is one of the only hostels in town and by far the cheapest place you can stay. There are hostel rooms here for $40 per night. It’s not glamorous but seeing as decent hostels are rarer than hen’s teeth in North American surf towns, House of Trestles puts you next to San Clemente’s best breaks for an almost reasonable price. 

T Street Beach (San Clemente Surf Spot)

Tips for Surfing in San Clemente 

Consistency

It’s very very consistent in these parts. While Lowers might not be firing day in day out, there are always waves to surf, whatever time of year you surf here. Summer south swells will offer the biggest chance of scoring Trestles, whereas, in winter, expect fun beachies as the norm!

Crowds 

As you’d expect for one of the most famous surf towns on earth, it comes with the crowds. Getting a wave at Trestles on a good day is an ordeal in itself. Don’t expect your wave count to be high. While T-Street is also crowded, there’s more space out there, so you’ll generally get more waves.

Cost of Living

I won’t lie, the cost of living in Southern California is frightening. It’s one of the most expensive surf destinations on Earth, so budget carefully. 

San Clemente Surf Shops 

Final Words 

It’s no doubt that San Clemente is one of the best surf towns in the world. One that promises world-class waves (on its day), consistent swell, a wicked place to get boards and a decent place to hang out. For more information on surfing in San Clemente, flick us a message below.  

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