Note: There is currently a high surf advisory until 10 pm on December 30, make sure to check weather conditions before heading to the beach to unsure you stay safe.
For many, New Year’s Day means sleeping in a nursing a hangover, but other people decide to start the year on a different, colder note. The annual New Year’s Day Polar plunge is back for 2024 if you want to brave the cold what at Ocean Beach. After the refreshing (or freezing) plunge, you can warm up at the annual after party hosted by The Riptide bar in SF’s Outer Sunset neighborhood at 12pm on January 1st at Ocean Beach and Taraval Street.
New Year’s traditions range from eating grapes at midnight to infamous polar plunges. Many SF residents stay far away from the beach and opt to be cozy and warm New Year’s Day while others love the tradition and honor it every year.
Plunging in cold water, known affectionately as polar bear swims have been around for decades. The first-documented New Years’ Day plunge took place in 1904 when a South Boston swim club called the L Street Brownies took a group plunge into Dorchester Bay. Today, you’ll find local polar bear swims on every continent, including Antarctica.
Besides the shock value and camaraderie of the event, many cultures across the globe have made cold water and ice bathing a regular practice. In Finland, the practice of ice bathing is over 300 years old and has recently enjoyed a resurgence in popularity among people in their 20s and 30s, according to Conde Nast Traveler.
The Riptide will host a warm-up party before the plunge, if you need a little encouragement before running into the chilly water. Then, after diving into the Pacific you can join The Riptide for cozy after party featuring warm cocktails and plenty of strong shots. All ages are welcome to the plunge, but The Riptide is 21+. If you’re looking for something unique, a little unconventional, and definitely fun, to start 2024, this is it.
The 2024 Plunge will take place January 1st on SF’s Ocean Beach (at Taraval Street) at 12pm sharp. No lifeguard will be present, and the water temp is expected to be in the high-50s, so swim with caution and bring some warm clothes and a towel for after the swim. The Riptide is located at 3639 Taraval Street.
By Grant MacHamer and Dana Flynn