Garbage Beach & AB's

Despite its name, Garbage Beach is gorgeous. Surfers looking for the best reef breaks in San Diego should definitely put Garbage and AB's on their bucket lists.
Why you'll love this beach
Why you'll love this beach
Surfing Waves, Beautiful Vistas and Large Sandy Shores
Garbage Beach & AB's
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

Two Surfers on a Wave at Garbage Surf Break Series 1 of 3Hanging Out on the Beach at Garbage

Don’t let the name fool you. Garbage Beach is actually one of the most attractive beaches on Point Loma. True, most of the coastal areas along the western edge of Point Loma are rockier than their Coronado Island counterparts, but that’s exactly what makes them so irresistible for surfers. If you’re looking for a combination of sweet waves, warm sand and Pacific Ocean vistas, Garbage Beach and AB’s are the places to be.

AB’s is also known as Abalone. It’s a reef break and beach a short walk south of Garbage. The swells are typically smaller at AB’s than the break at Garbage, but what they lack in wave height they make up in curls. You can get lots of smooth rides at AB's with waves at 5–6 feet.

What makes Garbage and AB’s especially popular compared to other Point Loma surf spots is the size of their beaches. While many breaks around Sunset Cliffs only have a small stretch of sand or get submerged completely at high tide, these two gems have large sand beaches. That way you can surf as much as you want and then stretch out on the beach to catch some rays. There are also several tide pools at low tide for observing colorful marine creatures.

If you decide to head to Garbage Beach in the afternoon, you may want to stick around for one of the best California sunsets ever. Garbage is directly below the famous Sunset Cliffs Natural Park. After you’ve had your fill of turquoise waves, hike up to the top of the bluffs to watch the deep red evening sky.

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Things to Do

Running
Running
Sunbathing
Sunbathing
Swimming
Swimming

Surfing Extraordinaire at Garbage Beach and AB’s

It doesn’t take long to discover why surfing at Garbage and AB’s is so coveted. The profile of these breaks offers consistent waves practically year-round. Of course, it’s important to check out a tide chart before going so you know exactly when low tide is. Many of the breaks around Sunset Cliffs work best near low tide.

Garbage Beach

Garbage offers humongous rights and fast lefts. The right-handers are at least 150–300 meters long on a normal day, and they can give you rides of up to 500 meters on the best days. This reef break has a good bottom with rocks that are mostly flat, so wipeouts aren’t as painful as at other spots. Still, the surf culture and layout of the break makes Garbage best for surfers with some experience under their belts.

The best time to visit Garbage is during a rising low tide or mid tide. Any combination of west groundswells and east wind directions provides excellent lineups. The wave quality here is exceptional, which is why this break is often the site of regional surfing championships.

AB’s

AB’s is a reef break, meaning that it’s best left to the pros. This break has an excellent channel for paddling out smoothly. It offers long left-handers and solid rights as well. Like Garbage, AB’s works best during a rising low or mid tide.

How to Get There & Parking

Free Parking
Free Parking
Lot Parking
Lot Parking

Getting to Garbage Beach and AB’s

Getting to Garbage Beach and Abalone is relatively easy, though there is some minor climbing involved. First, you need to get to Point Loma Nazarene University. There’s a public parking lot at the campus that can save you a lot of time.

To reach the university from I-5, take exit 20 on I-8 heading west. Follow the signs to Nimitz Boulevard going south. Stay on Nimitz for 1 mile, and then turn right onto Chatsworth Boulevard. Turn left when you reach Catalina Boulevard. After another mile, you will see Point Loma Nazarene University on your right-hand side. Turn right at Lomaland Drive and park in the free lot.

Parking at Garbage & AB’s

From here, you need to descend the sandstone bluffs below the parking lot. You’ll see a well-worn path leading down to the beach. Near the bottom, the cliffs get steeper, so visitors have to use a knotted rope to climb the rest of the way.

Another option for parking at Garbage Beach is near the north end of Sunset Cliffs Natural Park. To get there, take the same exit 20 to I-8, and then continue straight onto Sunset Cliffs Boulevard. Follow Sunset Cliffs Boulevard for about 3.5 miles until it curves into Ladera Street. There is a small parking lot near the corner of Ladera Street and Cornish Drive, with a stairwell going down to the shore. This option may require you to wade through some water to get to Garbage Beach.

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Know Before You Go & Tips

No Alcohol
No Alcohol
No Camping
No Camping
No Dogs
No Dogs
No Glass Containers
No Glass Containers
No Motorized Vehicles
No Motorized Vehicles
No Smoking
No Smoking
No Trash Cans
No Trash Cans
Public Transportation
Public Transportation
Shade
Shade

Things to Know Before You Go

Unstable Cliffs

The sandstone cliffs at Garbage and AB’s can be unstable during and after rainstorms. This doesn’t mean you can’t get down to the beach, many college students make the trip in flip flops, but you do need to be careful. Always use the rope to descend safely.

Avoid the Crowds

Since both of these spectacular and popular breaks are close to the campus at Point Loma Nazarene University, things can get pretty crowded on the weekend. If your travel plans allow, go during the week instead to catch waves in more laid-back surroundings.

Respect the Local Surfers

It’s very important to respect the surf culture around Point Loma. Some of the locals can get protective of “their” spots. However, the majority of surfers here are friendly and helpful to fellow surfers. Just know that snaking waves or dropping in on veteran surfers is something you definitely want to avoid.

Garbage Beach & AB's
is Known For:
Surfing
Surfing
Know This:
Tide Pools
Tide Pools
This Month's Forecast
67℉ / 79℉
Sunny in September
Oct
63℉ / 78℉
Sunny in October
Nov
56℉ / 73℉
Sunny in November
Dec
51℉ / 68℉
Sunny in December

Stay Nearby

The Inn at Sunset Cliffs
Beachfront
3 Star Rating3 Star Rating3 Star Rating
The Inn at Sunset Cliffs
from $175 / night
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