Mystery Outer Reef Break at Sunset Cliffs – ‘It Only Breaks When It’s Big’

by on December 19, 2018 · 7 comments

in Ocean Beach

Here is another one from ACE – Albert C Ellliott – taken mid-day, at Mystery outer reef break, Tuesday, December 18.

ACE says this is one of our local MYSTO spots. It’s hard to see, hard to photograph and hard to surf. I asked him what size of wave he thought it was.

He responded:

Hard to tell – maybe a California 10’ – 12’ wave.  Wave size depends on who you ask.

The spot is sooo far out there it is really hard to get a good read on what is going on from the cliff with a long lens.

I surfed out there a few times when I was young. Real shifty wave with sneaker sets. Hard to get a good line up spot on land. You never really know if you are in the right spot until a set comes in. … They say there is no surf there until there is…

Mystery outer reef break. Only breaks when it is big.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Tyler December 19, 2018 at 12:31 pm

Saw this going off on Monday evening. I had never seen it break. Really cool.


Vern December 19, 2018 at 1:51 pm

Surfed there a number of times myself. Kinda shifty, indeed.
Definitely worth the paddle (but then again, most waves are).


Richard December 20, 2018 at 8:29 am

It’s hard to tell by the photo but the mystery spot could be called “Indicators” outside No Surf. Adjacent to Luscombs. It’s a tricky wave when it brakes. Hard to line up. But if you connect, hold on.


Judy December 20, 2018 at 9:09 am

Looks like Indicator to me as well.


Tyler December 20, 2018 at 11:58 am

The left I saw breaking WAY out there was not Indicators. It was a section of reef I’ve never seen a wave form before.


sealintheSelkirks December 23, 2018 at 5:09 pm

These waaaay outside reefs, west of Indicators, broke a couple of times during the 70s during Giant New Zealand swells and not just big norths in Winter like this one (I assume is a big N or NW?). A couple of people I knew took out Zodiacs or a Whaler to get to them unless the channel was closing out between the jetties. Couldn’t do beach launches when it was that big, too much whitewater to get through. I’d hitch a ride whenever possible!

But you’d sink an anchor and even in the channel the swells would lift and drag it so somebody always had to stay in the boat on a rotating basis.

Riding pocket rocket pintails-1975 or thereabouts (I had a purple 7’4″ Channin for this size wave then). Or we paddled which was a long-ass trek out and I can’t imagine doing that paddle on a 6′ trifin because our boards floated far better back then!

Unfortunately most of my friends didn’t have the cash for good cameras or telescopic lens to take pictures. Part of this time was during Nixon’s ‘Stag-flation’ economic downturn…we were all just scratching to eat and pay bills. So I really liked seeing this picture of an old surfer’s memory of a wave I’ve probably been on before. Nice Winter Solstice and b-day present! Great catch photo dude!



Karlsbad December 5, 2020 at 6:17 pm

I surfed indicators only once. I believe it was winter of 82/83 with John Durwood and Raz.. ( I worked at Canyon) We just gotten off the plane and back from the North shore of Oahu and caught as the swell hit here. There was nobody out …people on the cliffs watching and the fire department was there ….we three the only people that paddled out. Spooky long paddle . You have no idea about lineup cuz you’re so far out …until a set comes and then you realize you’re in the wrong place. I rode one of my boards from Hawaii 7-2 pintail. You need a lot of board there . Wish we had had some pictures oh well memories.


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