Oceanside Harbor Standup Paddle Guide
Oceanside Harbor, located in northern San Diego county, offers a calm, quaint destination for a relaxing standup paddle session. This quiet alcove provides nearly three-quarters of a mile of peaceful, wave-free space, excellent for both beginners and seasoned SUPers alike.
Year-round pristine weather makes Oceanside Harbor the perfect destination for low-key water sporting every season of the year.
Quaint shops, fishing spots, and abundant local sea life — like the harbor seals and sea lions — makes Oceanside Harbor the perfect destination for both individuals and families.
|Northern Launch Point Coordinates||33.211305, -117.395972|
|Southern Launch Point Coordinates||33.208770, -117.394594|
|Location||280 Harbor Dr S, Oceanside, CA 92054|
Getting To Oceanside Harbor
The easiest way to access the harbor is by exiting Interstate 5 at Harbor Drive and heading west, Follow the road signs west until you hit a junction. Take the junction left to enter the harbor. Upon entering the harbor, head right toward the two paddle board launch points.
While you can technically launch from any public dock (non-public docks are gated), there are two launch points specifically designated for paddle boards and kayaks.
The docks at these launch points are lower, making it much easier to simply lay your board in the water and step directly onto it and push off with no drop off whatsoever.
The first launch point you’ll pass, the South Launch Point, is located directly across from the blue and white “Oceanside” letters, about 600 yards from the Harbor entrance. Parking on either side of the street is free, but it is limited.
The second launch point, the North Launch Point, is located on the northern end of the harbor directly in front of the Cape House restaurant. Street parking is available and free, though limited. The Northern launch point also offers ample parking in the larger lots.
Pay attention to the parking signs. Half of the parking lots in the harbor are designated to permit holders only. Any parking spaces that do not have a sign are open to the public and free.
The North launch point is near the farthest and least populated end of the harbor. As a result, it’s less busy and far quieter.
This can be especially helpful if you’re newer too paddle boarding and want some space to gain your sea legs. It also has a much more private feel if you’re looking for a more personal experience.
Staying on the North side, you’ll pass the historic Oceanside Yacht Club and the scenic Oceanside Marina Suites Hotel.
This launch point also provides an opportunity to see the entire harbor from point to point. Less than a mile across, you can easily get from one end to the other relatively quickly depending on how fast you want to paddle. But the joy is to take your time and relax.
The South launch point begins directly adjacent to Sea Lion Island, a floating platform where sea lions, and occasionally harbor seals, love to catch some sun.
While these animals can be a fun sight to see, it is worth noting that they are wild animals, so proceed with caution. In fact, one of the many benefits of paddle boarding in the harbor is the opportunity to see some of Southern California’s unique wildlife up close and in person.
Depending on the time of year, you can spot the aforementioned sea lions, brown and white pelicans, many species of fish — including perch, halibut, sand bass, bonito, and even sand sharks (don’t worry, they’re harmless).
You may even see the occasional dolphin pods, which have been spotted all the way inside the harbor. If you go during whale watching season (December through May), you may even be able to catch the magnificent California Gray Whales spouting and jumping off the coastline.
This launch point also faces the harbor inlet, leading out to the Pacific Ocean, making it much easier to take your board out to sea.
Taking this route, you can paddle south along the white, pristine strand beachIt’s also a short, straight shot to the west side of the harbor, where you’ll find Harbor Pelican Deli and Fish Market — an excellent local spot.
Moving to the south of the harbor, you’ll see a row of quaint shops, restaurants, and bars styled after a quaint old sea town.
If you love fishing, the Harbor also offers a number of opportunities. The Oceanside Harbor Fishing Pier is one of two spots in all of Oceanside that do not require a fishing license.
This small public pier is located about 60 yards south of the Southern Launch Point and Sea Lion Island. The calm waters make this location an excellent spot for beginner fishers. Because the Harbor is shielded from the open ocean it also becomes a safe haven for many fish species!
If you would like to fish anywhere else in the harbor, including off of your paddle boarding, you will need a fishing license. Oceanside SEA Center, located at the southern point of the harbor, is a California Fish and Wildlife License Dealer, allowing you to purchase a license.
The main attraction of the harbor, especially for paddle boarders, is that it provides a quiet, peaceful spot to simply cruise. Being shielded from the outside ocean current, the Harbor has no waves or rough currents, making paddling a breeze.
Because boat speeds are regulated, even residual wake is rarely an issue. While these features make this location a perfect spot for beginners, it also offers a uniquely calm spot even for experienced borders. And should the seasoned border wish to take on a bigger challenge, leaving from the South launch point out past the jetty offers just that.
While the outer edges of the harbor are mainly rocky, the harbor overall is full of docks should you need to pull over and rest.
One of the best times to go is just before dusk, Here you’ll see the bright blue Oceanside sky begin to turn a vibrant orange as the sun begins to set.