5 Best San Diego Surf Lessons & Rentals

San Diego’s world-class surf makes for an incredible place to take surf lessons, or to enjoy the waves in style with board rentals from the best local surf shops.
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Learn How to Hang Ten With the Best San Diego Surf Coaches and Rentals

Private Surfing LessonsSurfboards Lined up in a Surf Shop

San Diego is home to dozens of incredible museums, plenty of family-friendly activities, and its fair share of historic sights, but few things are more synonymous with Southern California and San Diego in particular than surfing!

This favorite pastime of locals has a long and storied cultural history, with many legendary surfers getting their start right on the beaches of San Diego, from the famous Windansea Beach to the ever-popular Pacific Beach.

If you’re planning a vacation to this sunny city, or you’re a San Diego native looking to pick up a new skill, there are plenty of ways to do so. The best option for beginners is to start out with one of the many surf lessons offered in the area. Once you’ve found your bearings, you can rent a surfboard from one of the local surf shops, or branch out into other beach-day activities like stand up paddle boarding.

Better yet, big discounts on both surfboard rentals and surf lessons at beaches all along the coast are included when you purchase a Go City San Diego pass before your trip.

In addition to helping you save money on kayaks, snorkels, stand up paddle boards, and pedal boat rentals, the discounts also extend to popular nearby attractions like the Maritime Museum of San Diego, numerous San Diego area museums and the Birch Aquarium at Scripps.

Experience Unparalleled Surf at the 5 Best Surf Classes and Board Rental Shacks

There are few better ways to enjoy the incredible sunny weather of San Diego than in the ocean, especially when you’re riding the waves on a surfboard.

Discover our top 5 choices for surfing lessons and surfboard rentals in San Diego, as well as a bonus rental option you won’t want to miss at the end of the list!

Surf Lessons at La Jolla Shores
Surf Lessons at La Jolla Shores

1) La Jolla: 1.5-Hour Surfing Lesson

Neighborhood: La Jolla
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The laid-back, beachy neighborhood of La Jolla is famous worldwide for its incredible surfing conditions, which makes it one of the best spots in the nation to learn how to surf.

With a La Jolla: 1.5-Hour Surfing Lesson, even total beginners who have never touched a surfboard before can learn the ropes, and more experienced surfers can improve their skills. This activity even tops our list of the Most Fun Things to Do in San Diego!

Learn to surf on the beautiful La Jolla Shores beach, where the waves are gentle and there is no danger of injury on the sandy ocean floor. Participants can go at their own pace and decide what they’re comfortable with during the lesson. Surfing lessons begin on land with the basics, then move out into the ocean once everyone is comfortable navigating on a surfboard.

Both group and individual surf lessons are available, and all equipment is provided during the lesson. This is a great activity for families and other smaller groups, though note that children must be 5 or older to participate. No prior surfing experience is necessary.

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Pacific Beach is Perfect for Surfing
Pacific Beach is Perfect for Surfing

2) Pacific Beach: 1.5 Hour Private Surf Lesson

Neighborhood: Pacific Beach
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If you’re looking for surfing lessons that can be easily tailored to the individual regardless of experience level, head to beautiful Pacific Beach for a Pacific Beach: 1.5 Hour Private Surf Lesson. Enjoy the attention of your own personal instructor in classes designed for single participants, small friend groups, or families. All classes are led by experienced instructors certified in CPR.

Lessons include rentals of all necessary gear, such as top-of-the-line surfboards, wetsuits, and rash guards for each participant. Beginners can learn the basics while still on the shore, where you’ll develop skills for positioning, surf etiquette, and safety in the water. Once the fundamentals are down, you’ll move to the ocean to catch some waves.

Other skills taught include water entry, recovery, pop-ups, paddling, surf edicate, and maintaining your balance on the surfboard. These 90-minute lessons provide the perfect amount of time to learn to surf while still allowing you to rest and relax on the beach for the remainder of the afternoon!

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Oceanside Harbor Beach Learning How to Surf
Oceanside Harbor Beach Learning How to Surf

3) San Diego: Private Group Surf Lesson

Learn to surf alongside friends and family with a San Diego: Private Group Surf Lesson! When you book the tour, you get to select your preferred beach, perhaps one near your beach hotel. Your instructor will set up a time to meet you there!

This 2 hour lesson lets you and your group get the full attention of a dedicated surf instructor, so it’s a great choice for those who want to go above and beyond simply learning the basics. While the lesson is suitable for beginners, your instructor can tailor the class to your group’s comfort level, so you can progress slower or faster depending on your preference.

Prior to heading into the ocean, you’ll learn key surfing skills from the safety of the shore. These skills include basic safety while on a board, proper techniques for paddling, the correct footwork to use while surfing, and how to assess ocean conditions. You’ll also learn about surfing etiquette as you partake in San Diego’s favorite pastime.

As the class progresses, you’ll get to try your hand at surfing some easy waves, or work your way up to more challenging breaks. Hone your skills and before you know it, you and your group will be surfing like San Diego natives.

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Private Surfing Lessons
Private Surfing Lessons

4) San Diego: Private Surf Lesson

The San Diego: Private Surf Lesson class comes complete with everything you need to learn the basics of surfing, or to improve your skills if you’ve already surfed a few times before. This class provides all participants with their own wetsuit and a free surfboard rental, so no need to worry about bringing your own gear. Simply bring a willingness to learn and a desire to have fun!

During the private surf lesson, you’ll learn how to do one of the most popular outdoor activities in San Diego, which is a great way to embrace the local culture during vacation. Get a feel for basic surfing skills on the beach, then hit the waves and test out everything you’ve learned, all while being tutored by 1-on-1 instruction.

On top of simply learning how to stay on your board while surfing, you’ll also learn how to judge ocean and wave conditions, how to recover after a wipeout, and how to share the beach with other surfers and swimmers.

One of the best parts of this tour is that your instructor will meet you at the San Diego beach of your choosing, so you won’t have to venture far if you’re staying at one of San Diego’s best beach hotels.

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Surfboards Lined up in a Surf Shop
Surfboards Lined up in a Surf Shop

5) Solana Beach: Full Day Surf Board Rental

Neighborhood: Solana Beach
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If you’re ready to head straight to the beach and surf, but you don’t want to deal with the hassle of bringing your board, make use of the Solana Beach: Full Day Surf Board Rental. This is a great way to try out surfing without committing to buying your own board, or to simply travel comfortably without having to pack your surf gear.

Enjoy the quality breaks of Solana Beach at your own leisure, as you’ll get to keep your surfboard for the entire day. Choose from a wide variety of boards, from beginner-friendly options to more advanced surfboards, as well as other options like shortboards, longboards, and soft-tops.

Surf shop staff can assist you in choosing the best beach for your skill level, and also provide advice about the beaches with the best surf conditions each day. On top of the surfboard itself, you’ll also get a leash and wax, and you can rent a wetsuit for an additional fee.

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Stand up Paddleboarding with Kids
Stand up Paddleboarding with Kids

6) Bonus: La Jolla: Stand Up Paddle Board Rental

Neighborhood: La Jolla
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If you’re looking for something a little different than surfing that will still get you on a board in the water, try your hand at stand-up paddle boarding instead!

Paddle boarding also made our list as one of the Most Fun Things to Do in San Diego.

Best of all, you don’t even have to bring your own gear. With the La Jolla: Stand Up Paddle Board Rental, you can skip the unwieldy process of packing a paddle board in your luggage, or just try something new without committing to buying the equipment yourself.

Paddle through the beautiful blue waters of La Jolla’s best beaches on your very own board, and travel at your own pace. Stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) is a popular local activity that dates all the way back to ancient Hawaiian traditions.

This rental makes it easy to hit the beach as soon as possible, so you can set up your towels and umbrella at the perfect early-bird spot on the sand and head right to the ocean. Rentals last for two hours, during which time you are free to explore the sea caves and Ecological Reserve of La Jolla. Paddle boarding offers the perfect opportunity to spot local marine life and sea birds, and it’s also a fun way to stay active and learn a new skill while on vacation.

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Go Surfing with Go Pass!
La Jolla - Surf Board Rental
La Jolla - Surf Board Rental
La Jolla is home to some of the world's best beaches for surfing, and with your Go Pass, you can enjoy this experience. Whether you are a rookie or a pro, get a full day Surf Board rental. The waters are perfect for those learning.
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What activities does the Go City San Diego pass include?

There’s a variety of activities included with the Go City San Diego pass such as: The San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, LEGOLAND, SeaWorld, Hiking Tours, Whale Watching, Museum Tours, Speed Boat Adventures & more!

For the most popular attractions and water-sport rentals as well as the biggest discounts, consider the All-Inclusive Pass.

Use our exclusive discount code GVSD5OFF to save an extra 5%!

The Best Way to Enjoy San Diego Surfing

Wondering what you should know before you go when it comes to surf lessons and surfboard rentals? Read on for some key tips.

Don’t Be Intimidated

All surfing classes on the above list are beginner-friendly, so don’t worry about falling behind. Even if you’ve never surfed before, you’ll feel right at home in these classes.

Bring the Right Equipment

Some surf lessons provide a wetsuit for you, while others require you to bring it yourself, or may charge an extra fee to rent one. You’ll want to make sure you’re wearing appropriate gear, and also bring some sunscreen and water along too.

Skip the Crowds & Score Better Waves

If you’re renting a surfboard or paddle board for a limited time, the best way to spend as much time in the ocean as possible is to hit the beach early in the day. Typically there is less wind early and it will make the waves much better! You can also avoid the largest crowds by going to the beach on a weekday.

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