When the waves are crashing in Pacifica, die-hards like Neil Conway come out to the pier to see how big they are.
"They're big waves, there's no doubt. They just don't have the big winter push behind them. But still, this is big," Conway said.
RELATED: Big waves forecast to hit Bay Area beaches
Others will dip a fishing line in the water to see what's biting. One veteran fisherman says with this sort of surf, fishing is for the birds.
"If you're going to fish in here now tough luck of you can catch something," said Benjamin Rayray of Pacifica.
Up the coast at San Francisco's Ocean Beach, catching waves was easy. Holding on to them, well that was something different.
"It's definitely something you want to prepare for. If you're starting to surf, you don't want to go out on a day like today," said Shannon Ma.
Hawaiian pro surfer Kealii Mamala was also checking out the estimated 12- to 15-foot waves at Ocean Beach while he gets tuned up for the Titans of Mavericks surf competition.
"A lot of guys surfing nowadays like to challenge themselves and this is a good place to challenge yourself," said Keali Mamala, a pro surfer.
High surf means powerful riptides and sneaker waves that can drag a distracted person on the beach out to sea with deadly consequences. One surfer said that's why she treats the waves like a living, breathing organism.
"You can definitely feel the ocean pulsing. They're pretty big and heavy. There's a lot of water moving out there," said Anna Teresa Hernandez.
And for many of us, it's best to watch it move from a distance.
Click here for your Bay Area AccuWeather forecast.
Cruising the Great Highway in San Francisco on a beautiful, sunny day. pic.twitter.com/ieDAdOznN3— Matt Keller (@MattKellerABC7) November 3, 2016
High Surf Advisory in effect Thursday https://t.co/cw4r0svBcv— Marin County Sheriff (@MarinSheriff) November 2, 2016