Stretching for over three miles between Cliff House and Fort Funston is Ocean Beach. The beach runs along much of San Francisco’s westerly suburb, the aptly named Sunset. Despite this Ocean Beach still feels pretty wild, particularly towards the southern end where it is backed by dunes.
Like the rest of San Francisco’s beaches the weather can be somewhat hit and miss. It’s generally a miss during the summer months when the fog tends to roll in early morning and late afternoon, which is also when the wind picks up. In fact the best time to visit is any time except the summer!
As the name suggests, Ocean Beach faces due west into the Pacific. This means there can often be powerful waves, which combined with strong rip currents make the beach notoriously dangerous. So dangerous in fact that there are no lifeguards on duty as no one should be going in the water.
If that isn’t enough to put you off taking a dip then the water temperature may well - even in the summer the water is freezing. Oh, and did we mention the odd great white shark sighting!
With all those waves it is little surprise that Ocean Beach is well known as a surf spot. On its day it can be world class but conditions can often be challenging including an infamously hard paddle out when it gets bigger. To some extent this helps prevent less experienced surfers getting into too much trouble, but this really isn’t a spot for beginners.
Dogs are allowed off leash on the northern end of the beach, but must be kept on the leash at the southern end. This is largely to protect the resident population of snowy plovers.
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