San Clemente State Beach

San Clemente State Beach is a beautiful coastal expanse nestled under steep, rocky bluffs. You can find it halfway between the San Mateo Point and the San Clemente Pier. The surfing here is generally sub-par, there’s no reason why you should surf here over T-Street or San Onofre. This is going to be a pretty short guide. There isn’t much technical information to cover relating to surfing, as most of the place is just one giant shore-breaker. Nonetheless, there’s a few corners to be had, and it’s undoubtedly a beautiful place to spend a Sunday afternoon. 


Technically there’s a another State Beach called Calafia State Beach just north of San Clemente State Beach. For the sake of this guide, I’m going to lump them into one group. You can find Calafia State Beach at the end of Avenida Calafia, and you can find San Clemente State Beach by taking a left at the left at the sign. The main difference between the two is that Calafia State Beach has hourly parking meters, while San Clemente State Beach does not. You’ll need to use your California Explorer Annual Pass to get into San Clemente State beach (or pay a full $15 for the day).

Aerial views of San Clemente State Beach and the railway
Surfliner Tracks

Surf Conditions

There’s no sugar coating it, surf conditions here are generally pretty bad. Things are rarely firing here, and the wave shape is so hollow that most rides will be ridiculously short. If you decide to stop in, I would recommend boogie boarding or body surfing.

Mustache Surfer at San Clemente State beach
Such An Epic Mustache
At the south end of the beach there is a small reef that serves up an okay left. On the far north end you can find a similar situation providing okay lefts and rights.  In the summer months the lifeguards will separate surfers and swimmers. You’ll see signs that designate the locations where you’re allowed to surf and swim. This is a blessing for both parties, as neither would be able to do their own thing at the same time. As with most San Clemente surf spots, S-SW swells work best here. Catalina Island will end up blocking a lot of the westerly swells. If you’re looking for better wave shape, give T-Street a try. It’s going to be far more consistent around the 2-5′ range.


I generally always recommend Pedro’s Tacos to anyone who is in San Clemente, because its hands down the best taco joint of all time. You can literally never go wrong with Pedros Tacos. For the sake of mixing it up a bit I have to recommend Selmas Chicago Pizzeria in downtown San Clemente for your after surf grub. A cold beer and a Chicago-style deep dish is sure to satisfy your appetite of epic proportions.


The only time parking will be a pain is in the middle of summer. This is an awesome place for the average beachgoer to spend the day, so the parking lots will be pretty jammed. Since not everyone wants to pay the full $15 to park at San Clemente State Beach, most of the traffic jam will be at the Calafia parking lot. It’s really not a big deal though. The parking situation pales in comparison to Saturday in Laguna Beach, for example.

Aerial views of San Clemente Coastline
Calafia Parking Lot

Family Factor

This is one of the best places to bring the entire family for the day. If you didn’t notice all of the umbrellas from the drone photos, surfers here are more in the minority than other premiere surf spots. Get out there and enjoy one of the great beaches that California has to offer! Surfs up!

San Clemente Coastal views of the pier
San Clemente by Drone

Purchase Canvas Prints

If you would like to purchase canvas prints from the San Clemente State Beach Surf Guide, click on the specific image you are interested in, and you will be directed to Imagekind for printing and distribution. There are multiple sizes and styles available for purchase.

Click on the Canvas You Want to Purchase

Headshot for Web

About Derek

Surfing is my passion! When I moved to Orange County and wanted to learn, I found a huge lack of information about where to surf. Little by little, I am going to create a comprehensive guide about every surf break in Southern California. Join me on my journey. If you are interested in hiring me for professional drone photography services, please visit Drone Zone.

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