San Diego Beaches are far more than just a place to swim or sunbathe... "The Beach" is actually a way of life, and a defining influence in residents' lives.
San Diego is known for its outdoor activities including yachting, boating, sailing, surfing, wind surfing, body surfing, body boarding, skim boarding, kite boarding, wake boarding, jet skiing, water skiing, snorkeling, scuba diving, roller blading, skateboarding, roller skating, volleyball, biking, hiking and fishing -- just to name a few!
The mild San Diego weather makes beach-going a viable option all year-round. Obviously the beaches are most crowded during the summer, so you might try visiting them during the late spring or early summer, or try some of the smaller, less well-known spots during peak season.
|Map - Beaches of San Diego
Beaches in San Diego County
San Onofre State Beach
Because of its lack of development, this 20-mile coast greenbelt between Orange County and San Diego County offers an opportunity to see what Southern California's coastline must have looked like 100 years ago -- barren bluffs, native vegetation and a tidal wetland. San Onofre State Beach is a 3,000-acre coastal-canyon park, which includes three unique beach areas - Trestles, Old Man's and Trails, which can be enjoyed by day or overnight camping.
Oceanside City Beaches
Many associate Oceanside only with the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Reserve. However, Oceanside is actually one of the most popular San Diego beaches in its own right. It has wonderful sandy beaches with relatively small crowds, making for easy access, easy parking and plenty of room to spread out. If you want to get away from it all, try Buccaneer Beach on the south end. If you're looking for more action, try Oceanside City Beach (The Strand) by the pier at the foot of Mission Blvd. This is the classic West Coast beach -- boardwalk, pier and wide open sand. It's one of the best beaches in San Digo for children to swim or boogie board. There are a number of parks along the boardwalk, restrooms, picnic tables, barbecues and a playground. Other attractions include surf and volleyball competitions.
Carlsbad has more than 6 miles of beautiful coastline -- from Buena Vista Lagoon to Batiquitos Lagoon. The north half of the Carlsbad coast has a series of small beaches divided by sea walls. The cliffs here are low and the Coast Highway passes next to the shore, offering views of the ocean and access to the beach.
Although it was was recently named one of the "top-five family beach destinations in the US," Carlsbad's beaches still remain one of San Diego's best kept secrets. You can enjoy swimming, surfing, fishing, diving and relaxing in this spectacular environment year-round. Surfing lessons are easily obtained and there are plenty of free activities -- from Jazz Concerts in the Parks to hiking on the Carlsbad trail system.
Carlsbad City Beaches
Carlsbad State Beach
This small beach is located at the foot of coastal bluffs, on Carlsbad Boulevard, Highway S21 at Tamarack just south of the town.
South Carlsbad State Beach
This area was set aside as public park land, so that current and future generations can enjoy the fun of beach side camping. The facility is always crowded, so you must reserve ahead. But for those who do, it can be one of the most rewarding memories of a San Diego beach vacation.
This area is perfect if you're looking for a less "touristy" location or a somewhat secret beach. The most notable thing about Encinitas isn't the beach itself, but the beach culture of the town that combines refined tastes with free-spirited attitudes. The historic La Paloma Theatre and the Martini Ranch often host surf movies and live surf bands. There are three primary beach zones here, each with its own unique character and appeal.
Leucadia State Beach (Beacon's Beach)
The park is located north of San Diego, west of I-5, at Neptune. Access is via a trail at the foot of Leucadia Boulevard. Swimming, surfing, fishing and picnicking are popular at this small, rocky beach.
Encinitas City Beaches
Moonlight State Beach
Located at the end of Encinitas Boulevard, this is the easiest of Encinitas' beaches to find and use. It offers a large parking area, lifeguards, restrooms and a snack bar. It's a welcome respite from the rocky shores and cliffs to the north and south.
This section of coastline is relatively wild. The north half of Cardiff (San Elijo) has patches of reef that keep most of the wave action off the beach, leaving more sand on the beaches. While the south half is mostly shore break, with waves pounding relentlessly on cobblestone beaches.
San Elijo State Beach
San Elijo State Beach extends along Coast Highway 101, 3/4 mile north from San Elijo Lagoon's entrance channel, near the community of Cardiff-by-the-Sea. The narrow stretch of sand is backed by bluffs and there's a nearby reef that's popular with snorkelers and divers. The beach is located in front of a campground. It offers swimming, surfing, showers, picnicking -- and as a sign of the times -- it has ATT Wi-Fi Service, enabling visitors with laptops and PDA' to access the Internet.
Cardiff State Beach
George's is the popular name for this beach. It's a span of coast in front of the San Elijo Lagoon, which is also called 'Restaurant Row.' The sand here comes and goes based on the the tides. Locals enjoy savoring George's from one of the restaurants along the row -- especially on a stormy night when the waves can crash right up to the windows.
Solana Beach City Beaches
Unlike much of North County where you'll find wide, straight beaches that are uninterrupted for miles, the coastline in Solana Beach is more rugged, with cliffs extending to the water's edge. There are staircases going down the cliffs at many street corners, but a visit to Solana Beach can be an adventurous experience. One staircase might lead you to a deserted spot, while another might lead to a busy beach filled with surfers, sunbathers and fishermen.
San Diego City Beaches
Black's Beach (formally known as Torrey Pines) is a 2-mile long, sandy strip situated at the base of 300 feet high cliffs. There is a glider port overlooking the beach where hang gliders and can often be seen soaring with the air currents. Due to the high cliffs, access to the beach is very difficult. If the tide is low, it's accessible from beaches to the north or south. Two warnings: First, the cliffs here are unstable and slides can occur without warning; And, second, this is a popular spot for nude sunbathers.
Children's Pool Located at 850 Coast Boulevard, the Children's Pool (aka "the Casa"), is a small beach protected by a seawall. It's very picturesque and just a short walk from the commercial area of La Jolla. There are grassy parks, as well as several small beaches are nearby, including Wipeout Beach and Shell Beach. Children's Pool is one of the best beaches in San Diego for scuba divers because of the reefs. However, these reefs can create very strong currents and other hazards in high surf. During much of the year, you can see seals and sea lions on or near the beach. Swimming and diving are allowed at the Children’s Pool, but you must stay at least 20 ft away from the seals. A nature reserve, called Seal Rock, is just offshore.
Seal Beach and Seal Rock
During the Fall, Winter and Spring, seals and sea lions are often found on Seal Beach and Seal Rock (located near the Children's Pool).
La Jolla Shores
Located at 8200 Camino del Oro (next to a residential area), La Jolla Shores is a sandy beach about 1-mile long. The waves here are usually the most gentle of all San Diego beaches (although rip currents may still be strong at times). The grassy Kellogg Park is located nearby and is ideal for picnicking. La Jolla Shores is adjacent to the San Diego La Jolla Underwater Ecological Reserve and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Scripps Pier are at the north end. The Steven Birch Aquarium is only about 1/2 mile away and is open to the public daily.
La Jolla Cove Located at 1100 Coast Blvd, La Jolla Cove is a very small beach. While it's only a short walk from the commercial area of La Jolla, it still retains a unique character. Although the beach itself has unusually coarse sand, grassy Scripps Park is nearby and an excellent area for picnicking. The area is part of the San Diego La Jolla Underwater Park Ecological Reserve. Excellent water visibility and plentiful marine life make this a popular spot for scuba divers and snorkelers. Due to its exceptional beauty, this cove is one of the most photographed beaches in San Diego -- and, in fact, all of Southern California.
Mission Beach is in the middle of a continuous stretch known as "The Strand," which extends over two miles (from Mission Bay to Pacific Beach). The Strand is the most popular beach area in the city and draws huge summer crowds. It's the closest thing in San Diego to classic East Coast beaches such as Atlantic City and Coney Island. The boardwalk is a haven for people-watchers. You'll find all kinds of free-spirited souls skating, skate boarding, surfing and cycling down "The Strand."
Mission Bay Beaches
North Pacific Beach
You might want to stop and enjoy places like Ocean Beach and Dog Beach. Ocean Beach is known as one of the hippest beaches, with areas for swimming as well as colorful characters. Dog Beach is one of the best San Diego beaches for dog-lovers. Here you’re allowed to bring your canine companions right on the beach, which is something that most California beaches prohibit.
South Mission Beach
Torrey Pines State Beach
Surrounded by the San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean, Coronado is a 7.4 square mile beach community that definitely has "a village feel."
Coronado City Beaches The main Coronado City Beach was just named #5 on Dr. Beach's 2008 list of "America's Top 10 Beaches!" The beach runs along Ocean Boulevard and is flanked by lovely homes and mansions. You'll find tide pools and fishing in front of the world-famous Hotel del Corronado (pictured above). Restrooms, shower facilities, lifeguards on duty. There is free parking on Ocean Boulevard, but free spots are hard to find.
Silver Strand State Beach
Located 4.5 miles south of Coronado Village, Silver Strand State Beach features extensive beaches on both the Pacific Ocean and San Diego Bay. Its mild climate makes Silver Strand one of the best San Diego beaches for recreation. Camping, swimming, surfing, boating, water skiing and volleyball are popular activities. Amenities include: Fire rings, lifeguards, restrooms, showers.
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