Donut's Surf Break

Donuts Surf Break offers adrenaline-pumping hollow waves with a price. This incredible reef break is only for experienced surfers, and its boat access only.
Why you'll love this beach
Why you'll love this beach
Experienced Surfers Only - Take on the Adrenaline Rush of Donut's Surf Break
Donut's Surf Break
Overview
Explore & Save
Things to Do
Popular Activities
Get There & Parking
Featured Activity
Know Before You Go
Stay Nearby
Similar Beaches

Highlights

Things to Do
Tips
How to get there
Parking
Things to Do
Tips
How to get there
Parking

Overview

Point at Cabrillo National MonumentBoat Surfing at Donuts Surf Break off of Cabrillo National Monument

Donuts surf break is one of the best kept secrets in San Diego. This beautiful and dangerous reef break is located off the west coast of Cabrillo National Monument. It’s hard to get to and harder to surf successfully, but for those who do, this break is unforgettable and addictive. There’s a tight-knit surfing culture here, making Donuts a place for experienced surfers only.

For surfing pros, this high-adrenaline break can be the highlight of an entire trip. When the swell direction and tide is right, you can enjoy line after line of gorgeous waves breaking left. Even better, since reaching Donuts takes some work, it’s usually less crowded than other hangouts.

Speed up with Go Pass!

San Diego Speed Boat Adventures
San Diego Speed Boat Adventures
If you are looking for a great time out on San Diego Harbor, hop on a boat from San Diego Speed Boat Adventure! Get behind the wheel of a 13-foot speedboat with a friend and take in the sights of the Harbor with your All-Inclusive Go Pass!
Buy Now
Local Tips
How does the Go San Diego Pass work?

The Go San Diego Pass is easy! Simply choose between the three pass types: All-Inclusive, Explorer and Build Your Own.

Once you’ve purchased the pass, download the Go City app and start exploring the over 78 attractions and tours available in the city, begin planning your itinerary and watch your savings grow!

Things to Do

Surfing
Surfing

Important Things to Know Before Going

Experienced Surfers Only

If you’re going to Donuts, you’re there to surf. The coast and ocean views on the way are great, but you’re interested in the amazing surf and the occasional hollow waves. With the right conditions, this place offers some of the best waves around. However, it’s only for experienced surfers who are in great physical shape.

As a reef break with rocky areas and a rough coastline, spills can be costly. Rip tides, rocks and sea urchins can also be a major headache. Longboards are a must, but whether or not to bring a leash is a tricky question. On one hand, you really don’t want it getting tangled around a rock, but without it you may have to chase your board into dangerous whitewater near the cliff faces.

Don’t Get a Trespassing Ticket

In any case, surfers visiting Donuts need to be able to paddle hard through the whitewater. If you get stuck at the base of a cliff, you can expect a tidy trespassing ticket. The beach in front of Donuts Surf Break is part of a military base and access from Cabrillo National Monument is strictly forbidden. This is why you will get a trespassing ticket.

Check the Surf Forecast

Check out the surfing conditions ahead of time. Winter is usually the best time of year for perfect waves. You’re looking for southwest swells with winds from the east. The best tide position is a rising mid tide.

How to Get There & Parking

Boat Access Only

The Donuts surf break is boat access only. It’s located near the tip of Point Loma’s western edge. Drop anchor a short distance north of the ranger station and the Coast Guard station.

It may seem tempting to try reaching Donuts from the coastal area of Cabrillo National Monument, but it’s strictly prohibited. Cabrillo is technically part of a military base, so the federal government has laws regarding the beaches and coastline near Point Loma. Of course, it’s perfectly legal to go surfing at Donuts, but you’ll have to do it from the ocean.

Getting to Donuts Surf Break

Getting to this awesome surf spot means taking your boat outside of the reef and dropping anchor. If you’re launching from San Diego Bay, you can head south from Harbor Island, reaching the Pacific Ocean and curving west around the tip of Point Loma and the New Point Loma Lighthouse.

If you’re staying at one of the resorts in Mission Bay, you can follow the Mission Bay Channel and the Entrance Channel out to the Pacific Ocean and then turn south, hugging the coastline around Sunset Cliffs all the way to the southern edge of Point Loma.

Renting or chartering a boat is relatively easy from many of the harbors and marinas around San Diego. Harbor Island is located right across from San Diego International Airport. There are a number of marinas near Shelter Island, such as the Point Loma Marina off of North Harbor Drive. Countless charter companies in Mission Bay can take you to Donuts. Many are concentrated near the Entrance Channel in Quivira Basin, easily reached by taking Ingraham Street or West Mission Bay Drive to Quivira Road.

Featured Activity

Gray Whale during Whale Watching Tour in San Diego
Half Day Whale Watching Tour
Enjoy a 4-hour expert led tour departing from beautiful San Diego Bay on a two-story whale watching yacht. Take in the views, enjoy the marine life & marvel at the majestic gray whales as they migrate along the coast.
Buy Now

Know Before You Go & Tips

No Camping
No Camping

Inside Tips for Surfing Donuts

Experienced Surfers Only

The location of Donuts surf break, close to point where the Pacific Ocean meets the mouth of San Diego Bay, creates strong currents for surfing and boating alike. For this reason, many experienced surfers recommend keeping a maximum of three people in your boat. Taking more than that appears to increase the likelihood of anchor failure, as the current can drag heavy boats towards the reef.

Go with a Local Surfer

If it’s your first time going to Donuts, speaking with local surfers is highly recommended. At the very least, they can help you mark the offshore location on your map. That way you can scout out the best spots to anchor and approach the break.

Plan for a Full Day

Because of the effort involved in reaching this spectacular spot, you should plan on spending a full day boating and surfing as long as the conditions are right. Take along something to eat and plenty of liquids, in addition to a generous amount of sunblock. Besides having a nutritious lunch, it’s a good idea to grab some trail mix or another snack with lots of protein, carbs and natural sugars. That way, if your blood sugar drops, you have a filling source of instant calories to replenish your energy.

Do Not Enter the Cabrillo Sea Cave

Be very careful around the coastal area of the Cabrillo Sea Cave. The rock formations may capture your interest on the way to Donuts, but they’re located inside a protected area of Cabrillo National Monument. Anyone who attempts to access them can receive federal fines and be arrested. In addition, the strong currents and tidal changes make them extremely dangerous.

It’s best to enjoy any coastal vistas around Point Loma from a safe distance on your boat.

Donut's Surf Break
is Known For:
Surfing
Surfing
Know This:
Boat Access Only
Boat Access Only
This Month's Forecast
63℉ / 73℉
Partly Cloudy in June
Jul
67℉ / 77℉
Sunny in July
Aug
69℉ / 79℉
Sunny in August
Sep
67℉ / 79℉
Sunny in September

Stay Nearby

Best Western Yacht Harbor Hotel
Family Friendly
2 Star Rating2 Star Rating
Best Western Yacht Harbor Hotel
from $121 / night
View Hotel
Kona Kai Resort & Spa
Family Friendly
3 Star Rating3 Star Rating3 Star Rating
Kona Kai Resort & Spa
from $189 / night
View Hotel
Humphreys Half Moon Inn & Suites
Family Friendly
3 Star Rating3 Star Rating3 Star Rating
Humphreys Half Moon Inn & Suites
from $159 / night
View Hotel
Best Western Plus Island Palms Hotel & Marina
Family Friendly
3 Star Rating3 Star Rating3 Star Rating
Best Western Plus Island Palms Hotel & Marina
from $117 / night
View Hotel
Show more San Diego Hotels >>