Paddling Out at Fort Point: Tips for Advanced Surfers


Fort Point is an iconic surf break located beneath the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California. This challenging spot attracts experienced surfers from around the world who come to test their skills in the powerful waves and strong currents.

Key Points

  • Fort Point is a challenging surf break located beneath the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco
  • The spot is known for its powerful waves, strong currents, and occasional barreling opportunities
  • Paddling out at Fort Point requires skill, experience, and knowledge of the local conditions

Understanding the Conditions at Fort Point

The waves at Fort Point are generated by swells coming from the Pacific Ocean, which are amplified by the unique underwater topography near the Golden Gate Bridge. The spot is known for its steep take-offs, fast-moving walls, and occasional barreling sections.

However, the conditions at Fort Point can be treacherous due to strong currents, heavy boat traffic, and the presence of rocks and other hazards. Surfers must be aware of these dangers and take appropriate precautions when paddling out.

Preparing to Paddle Out

Before attempting to surf at Fort Point, it is essential to assess your skill level and ensure that you have the necessary experience and equipment. Here are some tips to help you prepare:

  • Check the surf forecast and tide charts to determine the best time to paddle out
  • Observe the conditions from shore and watch other surfers to get a sense of the wave patterns and currents
  • Make sure you have a sturdy surfboard, a well-fitting wetsuit, and a leash
  • Consider paddling out with a buddy or joining a guided tour for added safety

Paddling Out and Catching Waves

Once you are ready to paddle out, follow these steps:

1. Enter the water near the Fort Point pier and paddle out along the rocks on the left side

2. As you approach the lineup, watch for incoming sets and time your paddle to avoid getting caught inside

3. Position yourself in the lineup and wait for the right wave

4. When a suitable wave approaches, paddle hard and pop up quickly to avoid the steep drop

Remember to always respect the locals and follow proper surf etiquette when sharing the waves with other surfers.

Exploring the Area Around Fort Point

In addition to surfing, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy in the area around Fort Point. Here are some suggestions:

  • Take a walk or bike ride across the Golden Gate Bridge and enjoy the stunning views of the city and bay
  • Explore the nearby Crissy Field and Presidio, which offer hiking trails, beaches, and picnic areas
  • Grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants and cafes in the nearby Marina District


Is Fort Point suitable for beginner surfers?

No, Fort Point is not recommended for beginner surfers due to the challenging conditions and hazards. It is best to start at a more forgiving break and work your way up to advanced spots like Fort Point.

What is the best time of year to surf at Fort Point?

The best time to surf at Fort Point is typically during the fall and winter months, when the swells are larger and more consistent. However, the spot can be crowded during peak season, so be prepared to share the waves with other surfers.

Are there any guided tours or lessons available at Fort Point?

Yes, there are several companies that offer guided tours and lessons at Fort Point and other nearby surf spots. These can be a great option for intermediate to advanced surfers who want to learn more about the local conditions and improve their skills.

What should I do if I get caught in a rip current at Fort Point?

If you find yourself caught in a rip current at Fort Point, the most important thing is to stay calm and conserve your energy. Do not try to swim directly against the current, as this will only tire you out. Instead, swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current, then paddle back in.

Are there any other hazards to be aware of when surfing at Fort Point?

In addition to strong currents and heavy boat traffic, surfers at Fort Point should also be aware of rocks, shallow reefs, and other underwater hazards. It is important to familiarize yourself with the layout of the break and always surf with caution.


Paddling out at Fort Point is an unforgettable experience for advanced surfers who are up for a challenge. With its powerful waves, stunning views, and rich history, this iconic spot is a must-visit destination for any serious surfer.

However, it is important to approach Fort Point with respect and caution, as the conditions can be treacherous and unforgiving. By preparing properly, following local etiquette, and staying aware of your surroundings, you can safely enjoy the thrill of surfing one of California’s most legendary breaks.


About the author

Krystal Collins is deeply immersed in the San Francisco community, embracing its vibrant culture and adventurous spirit. As an active participant in the city’s diverse neighborhoods and outdoor scene, she brings authoritative insights into San Francisco’s rich cultural heritage, lively parks, scenic beaches, and distinct neighborhoods. Her first-hand experiences with transportation, local dining, and community events provide her with an authentic understanding of daily life in the city.