Guide to San Diego County Beaches (2023)

Discover the perfect one for you

With 70 miles of coastline, San Diego is home to an incredible variety of beaches. We’ve got family-friendly beaches, dog beaches, adult-oriented, wetlands, viewpoints from the magnificent cliffs, and so much more.

A visit to San Diego isn't complete without checking out the beautiful beaches! From sunbathing on the shore, to surfing world-class waves, to kayaking along rugged cliffs, there's a beach for everyone. After all — there's a reason San Diego is referred to as California's Beach City.

    Steep cliffs keep this beach isolated. NUDITY BAN ENFORCED.
    Exit I-5 at Carmel Valley Rd, go west, then go south on Torrey Pines Rd, Park at Torrey Pines State Beach and hike 20 minutes south on the beach.For the more adventurous, you can take the cliff trail from the Torrey Pines Glider Port. Exit I-5 at Genesee Road, go west to Torrey Pines Road, then go south about a quarter mile to Torrey Pines Scenic Drive at The Salk Institute. The road ends at the free parking lot where you can find the trail down the cliff.
    Popular with mothers with young children. Offers playground equipment and recreation facilities. Exit I-5 at Sea World Drive, follow signs for W Mission Bay Dr.
    760-753-5091 (tel. no. for San Elijo State Beach)
    Recommended for expert surfers and swimmers only. Dogs are permitted on leashes. Offers showers, barbecues and fishing. Paid parking lot available, plus limited free parking along Coast Highway. Exit I-5 at Encinitas Blvd, west to Hwy 101, then south for one mile.
    760-438-3143 (for campground)
    Popular for volleyball, Frisbee, board and bodysurfing. Offers picnic area and fishing. Exit I-5 at Tamarack Ave and drive west to Carlsbad Blvd.
    760-438-3143 (for campground) – Reservation recommended.
    Excellent for swimming and popular with campers. Offered: RV dump, showers and fishing. Exit I-5 at La Costa Blvd, go west to Carlsbad Blvd, turn right and follow the signs.
    MARINE MAMMAL RESERVE. NO TOUCHING! Marine mammals are fully protected by Federal Law.
    Exit I-5 at La Jolla Parkway (the street name changes to Torrey Pines Rd), right on Prospect St, right on Jenner to Coast Blvd and follow signs.
  7. CORONADO BEACH - NORTH 619-522-7346
    Excellent for experienced surfers. Popular for volleyball. Dogs are allowed to run free. Showers located on Central Beach. Exit I-5 at Coronado Bridge exit, left on Orange Ave, right on Isabel Ave, right on Ocean Blvd, and drive to the most northern end.
    One of the widest beaches in the county. Popular with locals and visitors. Exit Coronado Bridge, left on Orange Ave and right on Isabella to Ocean Blvd.
    Attracts local surfers. Rocky cobblestone beach. Exit I-5 at Encinitas Blvd west, go south on Hwy 101 to "D" St.
  10. DEL MAR BEACH 858-755-1556
    Family beach with lots of sand year-round. Includes dog permit areas. Exit I-5 on Via de la Valle and drive west, cross Hwy 101 and continue straight through to beach signs.
    Dogs are allowed to roam free. Frisbee is popular here. Experienced swimmers only! Exit I-8 at Sunset Cliffs Blvd, right on W Pt Loma Blvd and right on Voltaire St.
    Cliffline access only! Popular with beachcombers and shell collectors. Exit I-5 at Lomas Santa Fe Drive; go west until it becomes Plaza St, right on Beach Front Dr.
    Popular with the surfers. Experienced swimmers only! Access via stairs at Ladera St and Sunset Cliffs Blvd. Exit I-8 at Sunset Cliffs Blvd, follow Sunset Cliffs Blvd around to Ladera St.
    Known for its white sand and popular with young surfers. Fishing available off jetty; showers provided. Exit I-5 in Oceanside at Harbor Drive and drive south. Paid parking.
  15. IMPERIAL BEACH 619-423-8328
    Best known for U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition, also surfing competitions are held here. Exit I-5 at Palm Ave and drive west. Pier closes at 10 pm.
    Suitable for families. No taking of sea-life, flotation devices or spearfishing. Exit I-5 at La Jolla Parkway (street name changes to Torrey Pines Rd), right on Prospect St, right on Coast or Girard.
  17. LA JOLLA SHORES 619-221-8899
    Excellent for families. Suitable for swimming and surfing. The taking or possession of sea life or artifacts is prohibited! Exit I-5 at La Jolla Parkway, right on La Jolla Shores Drive and left on Vallecitos.
    Popular with locals of all ages. Exit Leucadia Blvd off I-5, drive west to Hwy 101 and drive north to Grandview access.
    Excellent for families. Volleyball is popular; picnic tables. Exit I-5 at Encinitas Blvd, go west to beach.
  20. MISSION BEACH - NORTH 619-221-8899
    Popular with people-watchers who enjoy the combination of skaters, bicyclists and leisurely strollers. Exit I-5 at Grand Ave, drive west, take a left on Mission Blvd, and drive to the roller coaster.
    A favorite with students and surfers. Lots of restaurants, shops and pubs. Exit I-5 at Grand Ave, drive west, left on Mission Blvd and drive to the end.
    Experienced swimmers only! STRONG RIP CURRENTS! The volleyball action is here. Exit I-8 at Sunset Cliffs Blvd, right on W Point Loma Blvd and right on Voltaire St.
    STRONG RIP CURRENTS! Showers provided. Exit I-8 at Sunset Cliffs Blvd, right on West Point Loma Blvd and left on Abbott St.
    Suitable for families. Long stretch of white sandy beach. Exit I-5 at Mission Ave, go west to Hill St, drive one block north, and turn left on Third St.
    Sandy beach, boardwalk, bicycling and roller skating. Exit I-5 at Grand Ave, drive west to Mission Blvd.
    Sandy beach; excellent surfing reef! Dogs permitted south of tower 7. Exit I-5 at Encinitas Blvd; go west, then south on Hwy. 101.
    Very popular with the Del Mar race crowd and volleyball enthusiasts. Exit I-5 at Lomas Santa Fe Drive and drive to the 500 block of South Sierra Ave.
    Popular with young families due to the shallow and calm waters. Exit I-5 at Coronado Bridge, left on Orange Ave, drive past Hotel del Coronado and continue down Hwy. 75 until you reach Coronado Cays.
    Use the stairs at Swami's to access this popular surf spot. Offers picnic tables and barbecues. Exit I-5 at Encinitas Blvd and go west, left on 101 Coast Highway and drive to Swami's beach; long steep stairs.
    Offers fantastic views and a long stretch of beach. Exit I-5 at Carmel Valley Rd. west, then south on Torrey Pines Rd.
    Attracts local surfers;NO SCUBA. Exit I-5 at Grand Ave west, north on Mission Blvd, north on La Jolla Blvd, left on Nautilus St.

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Traversing along the San Diego River from Ocean Beach to Sea World, this bike route includes two paths plus connections to the Mission Bay Bike Route. Along the way view estuary habitats, one of San Diego's dog beaches, places to eat and the Ocean Beach pier.



Where adventures abound and recess never ends

In San Diego, it’s easy to find surefire kid-favorite neighborhoods, each with its own unique spirit, where families can learn and explore together. From tots to tweens to teens, discover the top family experiences in each of them.


Beaches & Bays

Using the beaches: rules and safety

Make the most of your visit to one of San Diego's stunning beaches by understanding the rules and responsibilities required of beachgoers with this handy FAQ.



Camping, clamming and shell collecting

Nestled between Imperial Beach and Coronado you’ll find Silver Strand State Beach. One visit and you’ll understand why it’s call that. Here you can enjoy swimming, surfing, boating, kayaking, water-skiing, volleyball, camping and picnicking. Anglers can fish for perch, corbina, grunion and yellow-fin croaker. The area also features a wonderful bike path, part of the Bayshore Bikeway, that takes riders past the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge and offers great views of the bay and skyline.



Jul 4, 2023

ThePort of San Diego Big Bay Boom July 4th Fireworks Show is back, promising another spectacular display over San Diego Bay. Fireworks will be discharged simultaneously from barges placed...

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Jul 20 - Jul 23, 2023

Comic-Con International is the largest comics and pop culture event in the United States, attracting thousands of artists, celebrities and fans of comic books, movie memorabilia and all things related...

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Aug 27, 2023

San Diego's finest annual cycling event across the Coronado Bridge and around the bay! Ride the bridge, Bike the Bay for the 16th annual ride on Sunday, August 27, 2023! Cruise around San Diego Bay...

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Guide to San Diego County Beaches? ›

The least crowded beaches in San Diego are San Onofre State Beach, areas of Torrey Pines State Beach, and Black's Beach. These beaches tend to receive fewer visitors because access requires some walking, hiking, and/or an entrance fee.

What is the least crowded beach in San Diego County? ›

The least crowded beaches in San Diego are San Onofre State Beach, areas of Torrey Pines State Beach, and Black's Beach. These beaches tend to receive fewer visitors because access requires some walking, hiking, and/or an entrance fee.

What is the number 1 beach in San Diego? ›

La Jolla Shores Beach is the best beach in San Diego because not only is there a wide stretch of sand for general beach-going, it's also an access point to the San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park. This human-made ecological reserve is home to an abundance of sea life with unusually clear water for California.

What is the most scenic beach in San Diego? ›

Torrey Pines State Beach is located between La Jolla and Del Mar and one of the most scenic beaches in San Diego. Towering above the sandstone cliff is the Torrey Pines Reserve with some great hiking trails. Torrey Pines State Beach is long and wide you can walk all the way to Del Mar from here.

What is the most laid back beach in San Diego? ›

Roughly 30 minutes from downtown, Solana Beach is a great place if you want to be close to the beach but not too far from central San Diego. One of the more laid-back neighborhoods, there are a number of great juice bars and coffee places to relax at.

What is the hippie beach in San Diego? ›

Known for its laid-back hippie beach vibe, Ocean Beach, San Diego—also referred to as “OB”—is a favorite of locals and visitors looking for a chill, off-the-beaten-path experience in Southern California. Located just north of Point Loma, the small coastal neighborhood sits at the very end of Highway 8.

What is the most walkable beach in San Diego? ›

Mission Beach, in the heart of San Diego California, has a concrete boardwalk that stretches about 2 miles from Mission Beach to Pacific Beach. It's a great place to walk on a sidewalk if you like to be where the action is.

Which of these is a popular beach in San Diego County? ›

Coronado Beach

Wade into the gentle waters full of swimmers, paddle boarders, and surfers, or, when you're not exploring the beach's salty tide pools, join a seaside volleyball game.

What is the safest beach in San Diego? ›

Hands-down, Mission Beach is the go-to San Diego beach for families. You've got it all here, including a 2-mile long boardwalk for walking or biking, an amusement park and plenty of sand and water!

What month is best for San Diego beaches? ›

The late summer and early fall months from August, September and October are invariably the best, while the late winter and spring (February to April) are the least predictable.

What beach has the softest sand in San Diego? ›

Mission Beach is a favorite for San Diego residents and for good reason: miles of soft sand, surfing and other water sports to enjoy, and a vibrant dining and nightlife scene.

What is the bluest beach in California? ›

Coronado Beach is considered by many to be the prettiest Southern California beach. The clear blue waters, white sand shoreline, and iconic sunsets make Coronado Beach one of the most beautiful beaches in Southern California.

What is the prettiest beach in California? ›

The top 10 beaches in California
  1. Seacliff State Beach. Best for wildlife spotting. ...
  2. Pfeiffer Beach – Big Sur. Best beach for photography and long walks. ...
  3. Huntington Beach. ...
  4. El Matador State Beach – Malibu. ...
  5. Sonoma Coast State Park. ...
  6. Baker Beach – San Francisco. ...
  7. The Lost Coast. ...
  8. Tourmaline Beach – La Jolla.
Dec 15, 2022

Why is La Jolla so popular? ›

La Jolla's biggest draw for locals and visitors alike are the beautiful beaches. During the summer and autumn months, the surf is relatively gentle, with warm waters in 70s. Swimmers, snorkelers, scuba divers, kayakers and surfers can enjoy the golden sands of La Jolla Shores, the Cove and Windansea.

What is the whitest beach in San Diego? ›

Coronado is one of San Diego's most popular beaches with soft white sand, many watersports, and the iconic Hotel Del Coronado as the backdrop.

What is one of San Diego's most notable attractions? ›

  • Must-See California Theme Parks & Attractions. San Diego is packed with great things to see and do including these top theme parks and attractions. ...
  • Balboa Park, The Cultural Heart of San Diego. ...
  • SeaWorld San Diego.

Where is the best bioluminescent beach in San Diego? ›

Some of the best spots to catch the phenomenon are places farther away from the San Diego lights, including Torrey Pines State Beach, Sunset Cliffs and Solana Beach.

Where is the hidden swing in San Diego? ›

Park in the Birch Aquarium parking lot and if you can, park in the back of the parking lot. You will see a small trail once you reach the back of the parking lot. Cross over the small bridge and then begin your ascent up the short trail. You will quickly see this La Jolla swing.

What beach in San Diego has all the seals? ›

La Jolla Cove: The Ultimate Spot to See Seals in San Diego

La Jolla Cove is part of the La Jolla Ecological Reserve and Marine Park. You'll find the seals framing the north and south end of the beach.

What beach in San Diego has the best sand dollars? ›

Best sand dollar beach near me in San Diego, California
  • All "sand dollar beach" results in San Diego, California. Showing 1-60 of 71.
  • Coronado Central Beach. 10.9 mi. ...
  • Shell Beach. 10.7 mi. ...
  • Silver Strand State Beach. 13.3 mi. ...
  • Black's Beach. 10.2 mi. ...
  • Imperial Beach Pier. 17.0 mi. ...
  • Silver Strand State Beach Back Bay. ...
  • Mission Beach.

Why is it called Blacks beach in San Diego? ›

Black's Beach was named for the Black family who had a horse ranch overlooking the beach. They sold the land, and then it was subdivided into La Jolla Farms lots. The Farms' residents retained the Black family's private road to the beach.

Where is the best beach in San Diego to find shells? ›

What San Diego beaches are good for shell collecting? One of the best areas for finding shells would be at the north end of Tourmaline Surfing Beach in the Pacific Beach section of San Diego -- which also has a nice parking lot.

Why is La Jolla beach sand black? ›

As it turns out, the sand is largely composed of an iron ore called magnetite, which, as its name suggests, is highly magnetic. It's derived from the erosion of igneous rocks in the Sierra Nevadas.

What is the safest place in San Diego for tourists? ›

10 Safest Neighborhoods in San Diego
  • Nestor.
  • Egger Highlands.
  • Miramar.
  • Scripps Ranch.
  • Alta Vista.
  • Rancho Penasquitos.
  • Rancho Bernardo.
  • Carmel Valley.
Jan 15, 2023

Which beach is best to relax La Jolla? ›

Marine Street Beach

If you're hoping to have a relaxing day soaking up the sun or playing in the waves, this is one of the best beaches in La Jolla!

What beach can you sleep on in San Diego? ›

Located on the San Diego Coast, San Elijo State Beach offers camping, swimming, surfing, showers and picnicking. The narrow, bluff-backed stretch of sand has a nearby reef popular with snorkelers and divers.

Is Carlsbad or Oceanside nicer? ›

The Oceanside Pier is worthy of a visit and walk to the end and back. Otherwise, the beaches, restaurants and appearance of Carlsbad is more appealing than Oceanside. Carlsbad also has the Outlet Malls, Legoland, and a few resorts and golf courses to offer.

What beach in San Diego has the warmest water? ›

So Mission Bay, La Jolla cove, some of the Coronado beaches (facing the city, not the ocean), will be the warmest water, and “warmer” is still relative. Take a wetsuit, just in case. Where are the best beaches in Florida's west coast? Where are the best views of San Diego?

Are San Diego beaches swimmable? ›

With lovely weather, sunny coastlines, and the tempting waves of the Pacific Ocean beckoning from the shoreline, San Diego is the perfect place to go swimming, surfing, and so much more.

Which beaches are polluted in San Diego? ›

The southern region of San Diego is known as South Bay. Within this region lies the laid-back beach town of Imperial Beach, which is the southernmost beach in California. This is the only beach that backs up to the U.S.-Mexico border. For years, this community has dealt with sewage leaks infiltrating their beaches.

What is a family friendly beach in San Diego? ›

Best Family Beaches in San Diego
  • Coronado Beach is a family favorite. ...
  • La Jolla Shores has a beach, playground, and sunset views. ...
  • Torrey Pines State Beach offers hiking and a beach day. ...
  • Del Mar Beach is picture perfect. ...
  • Carlsbad beaches are relaxing after a stop at Legoland. ...
  • Moonlight Beach in Encinitas is perfect for play.

What beaches in San Diego have shade? ›

Beach parks with shade • Dunes Park, Seacoast Dr., Imperial Beach. 619-423-8328. Ellen Browning Scripps Park, Coast Blvd. near La Jolla Cove.

What are the rainiest months in San Diego? ›

Rainfall follows a seasonal distribution pattern, with much of the region's precipitation occurring between December and March.

What is the cheapest month to go to San Diego? ›

High season is considered to be June and July. The cheapest month to fly from United States is January. Enter your preferred departure airport and travel dates into the search form above to unlock the latest San Diego flight deals. Bank of America operates ATMs at San Diego International Airport (SAN).

What is the cheapest month to visit San Diego? ›

The cheapest time to go to San Diego is the beginning of the year. The months of January and February see the fewest travelers coming to the city. Airfare and hotel rates typically reflect this slow off-season, and visitors are welcomed with some of the cheapest prices you'll find all year.

What beach has black sand in San Diego? ›

Black's Beach Basics. With arguably some of San Diego's best waves, Black's Beach can be found in the vicinity of the University of California San Diego campus, at the southern end of Torrey Pines State Beach and north of La Jolla Shores.

What beach has sand that doesn't get hot? ›

That world-famous sand.

Everything you've heard about Siesta Beach's sand is probably true. Made of nearly pure quartz crystal, it's fine, white, and powdery. It feels nice and soft on your feet and doesn't get too hot when temperatures rise.

Which beach in California has the whitest sand? ›

Iconic Carmel-by-the-Sea is known for its many attractions, but perhaps none more so than its splendid, white-sand beach.

Where is a purple sand beach? ›

Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur is famous as the “purple sand beach.” But that's not its only claim to fame: beautiful Keyhole Arch, which sits just offshore at Pfeiffer Beach, is one of the most photographed spots in Big Sur.

Is there a pink beach in California? ›

Pfeiffer Beach, Los Padres National Forest, California

While driving through California's Big Sur, you'll discover both breathtaking mountain views as well as expansive blue seas — and the pink sands at Pfeiffer Beach.

What is the name of the most famous beach in California? ›

Santa Monica Beach and Pier

Arguably California's most famous beach, Santa Monica features 3.5 miles of sand, stunning sunsets, and mountain views. The 1,600-foot Santa Monica Pier is an icon all its own.

What is the richest beach in California? ›

La Jolla. The epicenter of beachfront luxury, La Jolla is arguably the most prized city in San Diego. As a result, homeowners searching for beach homes in La Jolla will find some of the loftiest price tags in California.

What is the most expensive beach in California? ›

In Malibu, the most expensive beach town in the US, one neighborhood along the surf has earned the moniker "Billionaire's Beach." Music mogul David Geffen reportedly sold his home there last year for $85 million.

What's the cleanest beach in California? ›

Malibu, Laguna, Crystal Cove, Doheny Beach, Carlsbad, and Pismo Beach are the cleanest beaches in California.

What famous person lives in La Jolla? ›

Both Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers have houses there. The Fairgrounds and Racetrack is a good place to begin your search. Rancho Santa Fe has been a favorite haunt of Bing Crosby and Howard Hughes. Let's not forget about Phil Mickelson, Bill Gates, and Jenny Craig.

Which is better La Jolla or San Diego? ›

Whether to stay in downtown San Diego or La Jolla depends on the activities you hope to enjoy during your visit. La Jolla is minutes from the beach, quiet, and luxurious, whereas downtown is urban, bustling, great for nightlife, and easier to visit many of the city's attractions.

What does La Jolla mean in English? ›

It is suggested that the Kumeyaay name for the area was transcribed by the Spanish settlers as La Jolla. Another suggestion for the origin of the name is that it is an alternative spelling of the Spanish phrase la joya, which means 'the jewel'.

Does San Diego have swimmable beaches? ›

If you're looking for a gorgeous and perhaps secluded beach to swim morning laps, perhaps it's Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach, the Imperial Beach Beaches or Silver Strand State Beach, all great options for serious swimmers looking for a San Diego swimming experience that will meet and exceed expectations for great waters ...

Is La Jolla Cove free? ›

La Jolla Cove is free to explore and open 24 hours per day, though swimming is never recommended without a lifeguard present.

What month is best to swim in San Diego? ›

The late summer and early fall months from August, September and October are invariably the best, while the late winter and spring (February to April) are the least predictable.

What are the best months to visit San Diego? ›

The best times to visit San Diego are March through May and September through November. You can find some great deals on travel rates during the low seasons in comparison to the peak summer season.

Can you drink wine on the beach in San Diego? ›

Beaches and bays - Alcohol is prohibited on San Diego's beaches and Mission Bay Park. Alcohol is also prohibited in parking lots adjacent to beaches and beach parks. Posted signs provide rules regarding alcohol policies.

Where is the bluest ocean water in California? ›

What beach in California has the clearest water? La Jolla Cove is widely known to have some of the clearest water anywhere.


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