About Doheny State Beach

If you aren’t aware of what existed before it, Doheny is an ideal beginner’s wave.  Swells slip past the swell-choking jetty, break softly over a bed of cobblestones and form into slow shoulders. A few hundred yards north, by the San Juan Creek, there’s a sandbar and reef that break better on stronger swells. During the winter of 1993 and the El Nino winter of 1998, perfect sandbars formed near the rivermouth and produced hollow freight-train rights. If you can withstand the sky-high fecal counts, it’s these types of bars that’ll quench the thirst for days past. Those days are all too rare, though, so Doheny, if anything, will serve as great place to introduce your child to his/her first wave.

Water quality at Doheny is often poor and can be especially bad after it rains. As a reminder - stay out of the water at Doheny and at other surf spots near creek mouths and major storm drains for up to 72 hours after a rain.

Source: Doheny State Beach Surf Guide

Ability Level

Beginner - intermediate

Beg Int Adv

Beginner, intermediate if it's pumping

Local Vibe


Welcoming Intimidating


Crowd Factor


Mellow Heavy

Moderate. Think summer, kids' surf camps, families of beginners and the odd kayaker.

Spot Rating


Poor Perfect

Shadow, but serviceable version, of its former self.

Shoulder Burn


Light Exhausting

Dry hair paddle-outs 365 days a year.

Water Quality


Clean Dirty

Toxic after a rain.

Additional Information


Gnarly water quality after it rains.


Bring dollar bills or a state park pass. Turn into the Doheny parking lot and feed the machine.

Bring Your

Fish, funboard, longboard


Sharp rocks, sand.

Best Season


Swell Consistency and Wind Overview

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