Analytical review of the cyclical surfing conditions in Morro Bay

For surfers on the California’s Central Coast, Morro Bay is your best shot at getting decent surf. It gets a lot of size, usually has something year-round and has lots of options even if that aren’t great ones. How good is it really and when objectively is the best month?

lots of low quality beach break and a big rock in the ocean

Surfline gives a daily surf report that assesses its size and quality. Since December 2016, using IFTTT I have the daily surf reports dumped into a Google Sheet. I get the Surfline rating on a 6-point scale of very poor to good as well as the max wave height and min wave height.

I used this grading scale to quantify wave quality:

  • Very Poor = 0
  • Poor = 1
  • Poor to Fair = 2
  • Fair = 3
  • Fair to Good = 4
  • Good = 5

Analyzing my 665 days of Morro Bay Surfline surf reports shows that December has the best quality surf with 49.7% of the maximum points possible (if it were graded as Good every day). This means that the best month of the year averages only being between Poor to Fair and Fair. Here’s the full data summary:

Rank Quality Max height (ft) Min height (ft) Very Poor Poor Poor To Fair Fair Fair To Good Good
Jan 2 48.7% 7.6 5.0 3% 16% 34% 27% 19% 0%
Feb 8 38.2% 6.1 4.0 9% 36% 18% 30% 7% 0%
Mar 6 39.4% 5.0 3.3 5% 27% 37% 27% 3% 0%
Apr 11 33.3% 6.3 4.1 8% 45% 23% 18% 5% 0%
May 12 32.3% 4.3 2.9 18% 29% 31% 19% 3% 0%
Jun 10 33.7% 4.3 2.9 13% 28% 35% 23% 0% 0%
Jul 9 36.8% 3.4 2.2 2% 34% 44% 21% 0% 0%
Aug 7 38.7% 3.2 2.1 6% 18% 53% 21% 2% 0%
Sep 5 42.0% 3.2 2.1 7% 20% 30% 43% 0% 0%
Oct 4 42.1% 5.7 3.7 5% 26% 29% 34% 3% 2%
Nov 3 47.3% 4.9 3.2 3% 13% 40% 30% 13% 0%
Dec 1 49.7% 6.2 4.0 0% 21% 21% 45% 12% 0%
ave 40.2% 5.0 3.3 7% 27% 33% 27% 5% 0%

Overall this quantified how limiting the surf is here (quality wise) in ways I feel like I always knew but didn’t want to admit. October – January are the most surfable but only if you are ok with Fair surf (or worse).

Anyone that has seen The Rock on a big day knows that it can certainly get big out there. The Fall from surfing perspective starts in October as the average wave height nearly doubles from September and stays big through April.

December and January are the best combination of size and quality of surf in Morro Bay according to Surfline data from the past 650+ days

The worst months to surf Morro Bay is pretty easy: April and May have the coldest water temperatures and the two worst wave quality grades. Good time to take a surf trip instead.

The worst months to surf Morro Bay is pretty easy: April and May have the coldest water temperatures and the two worst wave quality grades

 

TLDR: Morro Bay surf is too small May-September and too low quality from February-August. October-January is your best bet.

1 Comment

  1. Nick Pullano
    ·

    Yes that is local ambassador Pat Pemberton in the first picture.

    Reply

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