North America
California (USA)
Next Big City
San Diego
Next Town
Imperial Beach
Rider Ability:
Intermediate, Expert
Shop, Rescue, Food, Parking


Chop, Small wave, Medium wave, Big wave
Swimmers, None
Best Tide:
No information

This is a large wave location, with powerful, dumping surf. Usually larger here than anywhere else on the Southern California coast in winter due to more open exposure. Typically, it's chest to head high on any given day. Summer is usually chest high or smaller. Winter can have double overhead waves, and larger. The world famous big wave break, Cortes Bank, is just 90 miles off the coast. The water outside the surf zone is usually choppy. The water inside near the beach is usually flat and smooth due to whitewater washing over and smoothing the chop, so it makes for great butter riding with fun ramps.


Rocks, Bystanders
Beach Users:
July, August

The tide swing is about 7 feet, so the beach can be over 100 yards wide during low tide, to non-existent with water washing up to the rocks during high tide and high surf. Private condos bordered with large granite rocks line the entire beach. The beach itself is generally soft dry sand mixed with cobblestones and dried kelp. It's a safe and easy area to self-launch, provided there is enough beach, otherwise you risk crashing your kite into the rocks or condos. It can get very crowded in the summer with tourists, swimmers, and surfers.


Shorty, Normal

Air temperature is normally 60-75°F year round. November through April can bring rain, wind, big surf, and crystal clear weather between storms. April through July can bring thick fog with light winds to the beach all day long, while only just 1 mile inland, it's very sunny with a bit more wind. Water temp: summer: 63-71°F (3/2 full or shorty wetsuit). Winter: 52-64°F (3/2 full to 4/3 full wetsuit required).


Best Months:
January, February, March, April, November, December
Wind Type:
Best Direction:
Main Direction:

This is a light to medium wind location, with usual riding winds of 12-14 knots. It's generally a bit stronger than most other spots in San Diego, depending upon conditions. Typical riding wind is from the NW or SW at 12-15 knots, depending upon conditions. Winter: the strongest winds hit from November through April, though very infrequent, and hard to forecast. These are generally from passing pressure systems and typically blow 14-24 knots, usually starting from the SW on the day before the storm, and then NW on the day after. The famous Santa Ana ENE winds rarely ever make it to the beach here. However, they can cause inland heating, resulting in a rideable NW wind day (while only 1 mile inland, the wind is blowing the exact OPPOSITE direction!). Summer: the rest of the year usually brings a light W or WSW wind, from 5-11 knots, with occasional stronger days. The wind usually kicks in early, around 10am and dies around 1pm due to the heat. Catalina Eddy effect SW winds can sometimes reach 'ridable' strength, but the wind can be gusty with lots of holes. These winds are usually best from 8am through 1pm before backing down for the day. Summertime is the best time to leave San Diego, and head to Long Beach (2 hours north), Baja Mexico, or Central or Northern CA. As for forecasting the wind here, its a crap-shoot. The local forecasters don't have a clue. The wind just happens or doesn't, even if weather conditions stay the same. Ask a local for a better opinion. The condos can also create a `wind-cushion` if the water is too close, making it hard to get out past the surf, even in stronger winds.

How to get there

Short walk

Direct route: from downtown San Diego, take I-5 South to Coronado Avenue (NOT the Coronado Bridge). Exit Coronado Avenue, and follow it all the way to the beach (about 2 miles), where it dead ends into a public parking lot right next to the beach. Park here.

Extra information

Zones, Other

This is more of a small surfer community, so surfers have the right-of-way, even if it's windy. There is also very active lifeguard service. Expect to be approached if you look like a newbie, or are getting too close to swimmers or surfers. There are only a handful of locals kiteboarding here, so try and ride when and where they ride and be courteous. Otherwise, you can ride up at Silver Strand State Beach, about 4 miles to the north (where most San Diego riders ride). Current rules: stay 200 feet away from all surfers and swimmers. No kiteboarding between Imperial Beach Blvd and the pier. No kiteboarding north of the pier all the way to the YMCA camp. Lifeguards can call kiteboarders off the water at any time, though they tend to be lenient. Please Note: there may be significant sewage pollution from Mexico after a large rain (winter), so stay out of the water until it clears, usually 3-4 days after the rain. Unfortunately, the wind likes to blow around this time.


Nightlife in Imperial Beach is small and somewhat local. Still some good times can be had at any one of the few pubs. For big time nightlife, head to San Diego (20 minutes north), or Tijuana (which is only 15 minutes south).