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Cardiff's Reef and Surf



The Reef:

The reef at Cardiff is similar to the surrounding area's, such as Swami's and San Elijo. It is consisted mainly of rocks that are grouped together and the occasional sand spot. The beach itself is consistent of small rocks that run up and down the shoreline.

Under the main reef, the rocks are usually not a problem as there tends to be a lot of water on top of the reef but caution must be taken at low tides. Most of the rocks are covered in grasses or moss but occasionally some of the rocks will have barnacles on them which can easily cut into your foot and cause some pain. An easy solution is to watch where you are walking and just be careful.

If you decide to head North over to Suck Outs, TAKE EXTREME CAUTION! The reef is usually right underneath the water and can easily ruin somebody's day. I was out surfing on a low tide and I was duck diving under a set wave and the shallow reef grabbed a hold of one of my fins and took it off. I'm happy it wasn't my foot or leg but it was still a bummer none the less.

The Surf:

Best Tide: Low to Medium tides are best. High tides cause the wave to have trouble breaking and can be very mushy.

Best Swell Directing: West and Northwest swells give Cardiff those awesome walls and even better shoulders.

Best Winds: No wind is best but if any, a East wind will do wonders.

Best Size: Anywhere from 2 - 8 feet. Cardiff can become pretty hectic and scary once it gets larger than 8 feet, be sure to take caution when paddling out.

Best Months to Catch it Going Off: From September to April when the Northwest and West swells stop giving us waves!


The surf at Cardiff varies greatly depending on the swell, size and conditions. In the winter months, Cardiff can be one of the best waves along the coast with it's long and pealing rights all the way into the beach.

While on smaller days, Cardiff might be a predominant long boarding break, Cardiff can still offer some amazing drops, walls and playful lips for the short boarder group. There are actually a few different waves to surf at Cardiff from the main point, inside section and Suck Outs.

The main point is the main break at Cardiff and is usually crowded on good days. Although the crowd can be a challenge, this wave is truly fun and has a lot to offer all of us surfers.

The inside section can be tricky but is where I have most of the fun! On a good swell with the right conditions, this inside section can wall up for days it seems and provide enough speed to launch into orbit! I have had some of the best walls of my life on this inside section and would compare them to a Rincon style wall where the only thing to do is to hold on and start pumping.

Suck Outs is located just North of the main peak at Cardiff and can lead to some of the best barrels in North County. The waves come out of the deep blue, hit this very shallow, almost exposed reef and just lurch over and continue to peal toward the beach. This wave is not for beginning surfers and even experience surfers should be cautious of the quickness and power that this little wave can put out.

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