Imperial Beach - Beaches

The Imperial Beach coastline has moderate-sized waves and lots of diverse wildlife, making these beaches popular choices for casual surfers and birdwatchers.
Imperial Beach - Beaches
Overview
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The Neighborhood
Known For
Bird Watching
Surfing
Stay Nearby

Explore the Beaches of Imperial Beach

With a name like Imperial Beach, it’s clear to see that beach day activities are a large part of the town’s character and history.

This is a great place to try your hand at some surfing, whether you’re completely new to the sport or you’re just looking for a more laid-back surfing experience. Don’t forget to rent a surfboard and any other gear you might need like a snorkel or kayak so you’re prepared to hit the beach!

There are also some amazing birdwatching opportunities at Imperial Beach, and many have called it the best place to spot rare birds in Southern California. There are as many as 370 different bird species that either call Imperial Beach their home or pass through it during their migrations. Notable waterfowl and shorebirds include gull-billed terns, black skimmers, and the endangered light-footed clapper rail.

While the beaches are the main draw, there’s lots more to do in Imperial Beach. The pier is another well-known attraction that’s frequently used for fishing, watching the boats out at sea, and taking gorgeous pictures of the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean.

Go Biking with Go Pass!

Coronado - Full Day Bike Rental
Coronado - Full Day Bike Rental
Enjoy Coronado Island while taking a full day bike rental. Use your Go Pass and Grab your bike, helmet and map, then plan your personal tour of the island. Take in the beautiful view of the San Diego skyline during your picturesque ride.
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Local Tips
What kind of deals does the Go Pass offer?

The Go San Diego Pass gives visitors the ability to save up to 55% on attraction admissions.

Combine our exclusive 5% discount to save even more and consider the All-Inclusive pass to maximize your savings. Plus the pass gives you the ability to skip the line when visiting select attractions.

The Imperial Beach Neighborhood

Imperial Beach is a great spot for a vacation or just a weekend trip depending on your location. The neighborhood is a mere 20 minutes from Downtown San Diego and many popular attractions in the area. If you’re flying in from far out of town, it’s about a 25-minute drive south of the San Diego International Airport.

Butting up to the US and Mexico border, the Imperial Beach beaches are as far south as you can get and still be in the United States. Great for a day trip into Tijuana and still close enough to the many attractions in Balboa Park like the world-famous San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Natural History Museum, these beaches are a great choice for tourists and locals alike.

It’s no secret that Imperial Beach is a big part of San Diego Surf Culture. Perhaps the most apparent example of this is the Imperial Beach Outdoor Surf Museum, which showcases the development of different surfboard designs from as early as 1930 all the way up to 1985. The museum’s integration into Palm Avenue is a clear reminder of just how much surfing is baked into the culture of Southern California, no matter what neighborhood you’re in.

If you want to save on renting a surfboard or checking out popular San Diego tourist attractions, be sure to grab a Go San Diego Pass before your trip! You even score an extra discount by buying your pass through our link.

There are plenty of great hotels in Imperial Beach if you want to stay close to the surf. The Sand Castle Inn is family-friendly and pet-friendly, and it comes with WiFi access in both the lobby and rooms. If you’re looking for the best family-friendly hotels and best pet-friendly hotels in San Diego, make sure to check out our dedicated articles covering both topics!

Another Imperial Beach favorite is the Pier South Resort, Autograph Collection, a waterfront hotel with WiFi, a fitness center, a pool, and beach access.

Popular Activities

The World Famous San Diego Zoo
The World Famous San Diego Zoo
Discounts Available
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USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum
USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum
Discounts Available
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Explore San Diego Bay
Explore San Diego Bay
$42 per person
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Patriot Jet Boat Thrill Ride
Patriot Jet Boat Thrill Ride
$32 per person
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Surfing and Bird Watching in Imperial Beach

Bikes Allowed
Bikes Allowed
Fishing
Fishing
Kiteboarding
Kiteboarding
Paddle Boarding
Paddle Boarding
Running
Running
Skateboarding Allowed
Skateboarding Allowed
Snorkeling
Snorkeling
Sunbathing
Sunbathing
Surfing
Surfing
Swimming
Swimming

The waves in Imperial Beach are relatively small and consistent, so it’s a great place for low-stakes surfing. If you’ve never tried before, get some lessons at a local surf school and take the opportunity to learn a new and exciting skill!

If you’re interested in nature, Imperial Beach is also a great spot for birdwatching. There are plenty of local species to spot both on and off the beach, and many more can be found in the wildlife refuge.

Bird Watching

Bird Sanctuary at the Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge
The Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge is full of local and exotic creatures of all kinds, and it’s frequented by birdwatchers. Head to the Visitors Center to plan your hiking trail, then keep your eyes peeled for plants and animals on land, in the sea, and in the sky.

Surfing

The Spirit of Imperial Beach Statue at Sunset
Imperial Beach City Beach stretches across four miles of shoreline. It has accessible waves for surfers of all skill levels, lifeguards, and the IB Outdoor Surf Museum. Check out the Imperial Beach Pier, where you can fish, birdwatch, have a picnic, or let the kids enjoy the nearby play area.

Featured Activity

Interact with Dolphins at SeaWorld San Diego
Visit SeaWorld San Diego
The world-famous SeaWorld San Diego is home to animal shows, roller coasters and other rides for the entire family. Enjoy encounters featuring the famed Orcas, dolphins and sea lions, or take a tour through the habitats.
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Imperial Beach - Beaches
are Known For:
Birdwatching
Birdwatching
Surfing
Surfing
This Month's Forecast
67℉ / 79℉
Sunny in September
Oct
63℉ / 78℉
Sunny in October
Nov
56℉ / 73℉
Sunny in November
Dec
51℉ / 68℉
Sunny in December

Stay Nearby

Pier South Resort, Autograph Collection
Beachfront
4 Star Rating4 Star Rating4 Star Rating4 Star Rating
Pier South Resort, Autograph Collection
from $188 / night
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Sand Castle Inn
Beachfront
3 Star Rating3 Star Rating3 Star Rating
Sand Castle Inn
from $215 / night
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