Monday, September 20

Kayak Surfing Around San Francisco

There are two main surfing spots that I know of within a reasonable distance of San Francisco:

- Bolinas north of Stinson Beach off Highway 1.
- "Surfer's Beach" at Linda Mar south of Pacifica off I-280.

Bolinas is the classic beginner's spot where the waves are forgiving and the beach is shallow enough to be a safe rolling zone. Sometimes to can push off with your paddle! It is located here, just north of Stinson Beach off Highway 1. The drive can take about an hour from San Francisco, but is very dependent on traffic since it narrows down to a 2 lane highway that is highly trafficked by tourists. There have been reports of sharks and actual attacks over the past few years, but you'll need to make that call for yourself!

Linda Mar is much closer to San Francisco and is located off the 280 freeway. You'll find it here across from the Taco Bell right near the Safeway off to the right, about 5 minutes south of Pacifica heading down Highway 1. The surfzone is between Rockaway Beach and Shelter Cove. The waves can tend to "dump" at Linda Mar and so you frequently find yourself surfing the foam, which is fun all the same. I've had to call it quits at Linda Mar more than once since the waves can get quite big, so don't feel bad about making the call to get out of the water.

For those who have never surfed in the ocean in a whitewater boat, I think it is a blast. It is great practice for the river and gives your combat roll a workout. Keep in mind that paddling out against crashing waves takes a lot of stamina, so be prepared.

As for surfer etiquette, there are lots of resources online that you can Google, I found this page to be a good summary. Just remember to be courteous around boarders, and that the person nearest the break has the right of way! It's easier for us to catch waves, and so be considerate at places like Linda Mar which get very busy.

I always check the tide times, size and flows before heading out. Very high tides and strong flood currents can make for dangerous kayak surfing. Although there isn't always a method to the madness, I usually try & hit the water about 30 to 60 minutes before high tide, or right around max flood. Let me know what you find to be the best formula!


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