About Montara State Beach

Montara Beach is less than a mile of open beach that faces directly into the Gulf of Alaska and takes a constant hammering from swell, wind, tide, fog and everything else the Pacific Ocean can throw. The good news is that the S winds that accompany fog and/or rain in this region blow straight offshore at Montara, so on those summer days when San Francisco's beachbreaks are gray, blown-out and infinitely uninviting, Montara can be smooth and sweet, albeit a little chilly.

During the winter, Montara is constantly shape-shifting and the bottom is always in a state of flux from the swell and tide. Montara on a big swell can be as spectacular as closed-out Pipeline. When the ocean mellows a bit, Montara ranges from deadly to excellent, depending on the bottom contour and swell direction. Montara is surfed mostly by beginners and intermediate surfers on the smaller windswell days. And on a sunny day in the fall or winter, sometimes the surf can be epic. In the summer, S and W swells dribble in at a point on the south end and along the beach. There's usually something to ride at Montara.

Source: Montara State Beach Surf Guide

Ability Level

All Abilities

Beg Int Adv


Local Vibe


Welcoming Intimidating

On the best peaks, sure.

Crowd Factor


Mellow Heavy


Spot Rating


Poor Perfect


Shoulder Burn


Light Exhausting

Depends on size but generally a lot of paddling, especially when overhead.

Water Quality


Clean Dirty

Mostly clean.

Additional Information


Major poundings when it's big. The occasional headless sea lion washed up on the beach suggests other hazards. There is a very high beachgoer-to-drowning ratio here.


There's parking in the dirt on the north end and in the parking lot on the south end. For some reason, it's legal for beach-goers to park in the big Chart House lot, just north of the restaurant.

Bring Your

Shortboard, gun, fish


Shifting sand.

Best Season


Swell Consistency and Wind Overview

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