We validated Jason-2 satellite altimeter Sensor Geophysical Data Records (SGDR) by retracking 20-Hz radar waveforms over the California coastal ocean using cycles 7–34, corresponding to September 2008–June 2009. The performance of the ocean, ice, threshold, and modified threshold retrackers are examined using a reference geoid based on Earth Gravitational Model 2008 (EGM08). Over the shallow ocean (depth < 200 m), the modified threshold retracker, which is developed for noisy waveforms with preleading edge bump, outperforms the other retrackers. It is also shown that retracking can improve the precision of sea surface heights (SSHs) for areas beyond 2–5 km from the shore. Although the ocean retracker generally performs well over the deep ocean (depth > 200 m), the ocean-retracked SSHs from some of the cycles are found to be less precise when the waveforms do not conform to the Brown ocean model. We found that the retrackers developed for nonocean surfaces can improve the noisy ocean-retracked SSHs. Among the retrackers tested here, the ice retracker overall provides the most precise SSH estimates over the deep ocean in average using cycles 7–34 in the study region.