Best Beaches in San Diego

Discover the best San Diego beaches for families, privacy or people watching, plus the best beaches for dogs or to go surfing, snorkeling, sunbathing & more!
Best Beaches in San Diego
San Diego’s Best Beaches
Best Beach List
Save on Gear
Featured Hotel
Tours & Adventures

Checking Out San Diego’s Best Beaches

With more than 78 beautiful beaches along the pristine coastline, from Oceanside to the north to Imperial Beach and the Mexico border to the south, San Diego California is home to some of the most picturesque beaches in the country!

No matter what kind of experience you’re looking for or who you're looking to have it with, you’re sure to find the perfect beach to suit your needs.

Family-friendly beaches offer a peaceful and safe place for kids to play, while tide pool beaches provide entertainment and education for young and old visitors alike. Relax at a secluded beach, sunbathe, or people watch.

San Diego is also full of surfing and swimming opportunities. There are beaches with big waves for surfing and choices with less turbulent waters better suited to swimming.

Buy a Go San Diego pass before you visit to save on gear rentals, surf lessons, and nearby popular San Diego attractions like the La Jolla Underwater Park: Kayak and Snorkel Tour and the Maritime Museum.

Best Beaches in San Diego

Coronado Central Beach

1) Coronado Central Beach - Best Family Beaches

Neighborhood:
Coronado Island

Coronado Central Beach is a gorgeous white sand beach, which makes it ideal for playing and making sandcastles. Kids will also enjoy the minimal, gentle waves which allow visitors both young and old to wade into the water or go for a swim. Lifeguards patrol the coast and restrooms are available.

La Jolla Shores

2) La Jolla Shores - Best Family Beaches

Neighborhood:
La Jolla

La Jolla Shores beach is one of the most popular beaches in La Jolla, especially when it comes to swimming. The beach is protected by the bay, so kids can swim without fear of any strong currents. Families will also enjoy the nearby boardwalk, which is full of carnival games and arcades.

Fletcher Cove Beach

3) Fletcher Cove - Best Family Beaches

Neighborhood:
Solana Beach

If you’re looking for a kid-friendly surfing spot, look no further than the beautiful beach of Fletcher Cove, which offers a more laid-back experience. Even beginners can ride the waves when you make use of the Go San Diego pass’ discount on surfing lessons. This is also a great spot for bodyboarding and watching the sunset.

Blacks Beach

4) Blacks Beach - Best Surf Beaches

Neighborhood:
La Jolla

Blacks Beach is a little secluded, but it’s worth the trip for its world-class surfing, especially toward the southern end of the beach. If you’re planning to visit, keep in mind that there is a clothing optional section near Torrey Pines, or you might be in for a surprise!

Windansea Beach

5) Windansea Beach - Best Surf Beaches

Neighborhood:
La Jolla

Windansea Beach’s strong currents might interfere with swimming, but they also create some of the best waves for surfing in the area. You can also check out the Surf Shack, a local historical landmark originally constructed back in 1946 and associated with early carefree surfing culture in San Diego.

Swami's

6) Swami’s - Best Surf Beaches

Neighborhood:
Encinitas

Swami’s is best known as a surfing beach geared toward talented surfers, as the waves from the point break can be quite challenging. Its unique location near the Self-Realization Fellowship and its meditation gardens makes this a relaxing yet fun spot to rent a board and rise to the occasion.

North Pacific Beach

7) North Pacific Beach - Best Sunbathing Beaches

Neighborhood:
Pacific Beach

North Pacific Beach’s laid-back vibe is one of its best qualities. While it can get a little crowded at times, the bluff around the beach helps to block any wind, letting you sunbathe in peace. There are also spots for picnicking and swimming, and the shoreline is perfect for strolling.

Mission Beach

8) Mission Beach - Best Sunbathing Beaches

Neighborhood:
Mission Beach

Mission Beach is a picturesque San Diego beach with white sands, lots of sunshine, and plenty of space for sunbathing. When you need to cool off, head to the ocean for some surfing, where the waves are accessible to surfers of all skill levels. Take some surfing lessons and give it a shot! Mission Bay is just to the east and features many great sunbathing beaches as well!

Coronado Shores Beach (South Beach)

9) Coronado Shores Beach - Best Sunbathing Beaches

Neighborhood:
Coronado Island

Coronado Shores Beach is flat and wide with calm waters, which makes it an ideal location for both sunbathing and swimming. Kite flying is another popular activity here. At low tide, look out across the water and see if you can spot the old shipwreck half-submerged beneath the waves.

Pacific Beach

10) Pacific Beach - Best People Watching Beaches

Neighborhood:
Pacific Beach

Pacific Beach is best known as a great sunbathing spot with lots of space, but this also makes it a fun spot to people watch. It’s frequented by locals and tourists alike, and thanks to the sheer number of visitors, you’re sure to see something you won’t soon forget!

Ocean Beach Pier & City Beach

11) OB Pier & City Beach - Best People Watching Beaches

Neighborhood:
Ocean Beach

At Ocean Beach Pier & City Beach, there are plenty of opportunities to people watch, whether you’re focused on the shore or on those in the ocean trying their hands at surfing. The waves here are gentle, but there are many beginners, so you might still spot a wipeout or two.

Del Mar South Beach & 15th Street

12) Del Mar South & 15th St Beach - Best People Watching Beaches

Neighborhood:
Del Mar

Del Mar South & 15th St Beach are both more challenging surfing locations, which makes them an excellent spot to sit back and watch talented surfers strut their stuff. Many professional surfers can be spotted here, riding the waves and enjoying the laid back surfing culture that permeates the whole beach.

La Jolla Cove

13) La Jolla Cove - Best Swimming Beaches

Neighborhood:
La Jolla

The waters at La Jolla Cove are especially well-suited to swimming thanks to the rocky points out in the ocean, which break up any larger waves before they can reach the shore. This means you’re also free to snorkel and scuba dive to catch a glimpse of various tropical fish.

Coronado Central Beach

14) Coronado Central Beach - Best Swimming Beaches

Neighborhood:
Coronado Island

Go for a swim at Coronado Central Beach, which features gentle and calm waves as well as clean, white sands. There are lifeguards stationed on the beach for safety, and restrooms for your convenience. Once you’ve dried off, head up to the nearby boardwalk for some food and carnival games.

Glorietta Bay Park & Beach

15) Glorietta Bay Park & Beach - Best Swimming Beaches

Neighborhood:
Coronado Island

The coastline at Glorietta Bay Park & Beach is small compared to more sprawling beaches, but this is all the more reason to go for a swim. This Coronado beach has a calm, relaxing atmosphere that’s perfect for unwinding while still having amenities like a playground for kids and picnic tables.

Terramar Beach

16) Terramar Beach - Best Secluded Beaches

Neighborhood:
Carlsbad

Terramar Beach is located in a more residential area, which means it avoids being overrun by tourists. You can rent a board and surf without the risk of bumping into others, or just enjoy the peace and quiet that comes with relaxing on the beach during an otherwise-busy vacation.

Seascape Beach

17) Seascape Beach - Best Secluded Beaches

Neighborhood:
Solana Beach

To access Seascape Beach, you’ll need to first descend a flight of stairs. Once you do, you’ll be treated to an incredible San Diego beach with a little bit of everything. You can rent some gear for surf-fishing, but most people choose to surf on the fairly calm but consistent waves here and sunbathe on the beach.

Boneyards

18) Boneyards - Best Secluded Beaches

Neighborhood:
Encinitas

Tucked away near Swami’s and D Street Beach, Boneyards isn’t exactly easy to find, but those who go looking for it know that the secluded beach is one of the best in the area. This is a clothing-optional beach that also has a lively surfing scene with some great waves.

La Jolla Tide Pools

19) La Jolla Tide Pools - Best Tide Pool Beaches

Neighborhood:
La Jolla

The La Jolla Tide Pools form when the tide goes out and seawater pools in rocky dips in the shoreline. They’re perfect for educating kids about the plants and animals in the ocean, but they can be just as entertaining for adults too, especially if you’ve never seen them before.

Marine Street Beach

20) Marine Street Beach - Best Tide Pool Beaches

Neighborhood:
La Jolla

Marine Street Beach has all the hallmarks of a perfect beach day experience. It’s a secluded beach that offers an incredible view of the sunset each evening and a sandy beach for beach volleyball but the real draw is the tide pools. Here, you can see a sample of what’s hiding in the kelp beds off the coast.

Point Loma Tide Pools at Cabrillo National Monument

21) Point Loma Tide Pools - Best Tide Pool Beaches

Neighborhood:
Point Loma

The Point Loma Tide Pools are full of small fish, plants, and sea creatures native to the California coast. You may even see larger creatures like octopi and lobsters in some of the bigger pools. In addition to the tide pools, this beautiful beach is also close to the Cabrillo National Monument!

Del Mar Dog Beach

22) Del Mar Dog Beach - Best Dog Park Beaches

Neighborhood:
Del Mar

Unleash your dog at the Del Mar Dog Beach so they can experience the beach with you or bring friends and play a game of beach volleyball! Your pet will love running into the waves, but if you really want to have some fun, take them with you surfing! This is one of the few San Diego beaches that allows dog surfing.

Ocean Beach Dog Beach

23) OB Dog Beach - Best Dog Park Beaches

Neighborhood:
Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach Dog Beach is open for you and your dog year-round. The dog friendly beach is divided into sections for dogs of different sizes, with a smaller area for tiny dogs and less confident swimmers and a larger space for big dogs. Surfers can also enjoy fun waves from the OB Jetty.

North Beach (Dog Run Beach)

24) North Beach (Dog Run Beach) - Best Dog Park Beaches

Neighborhood:
Coronado Island

North Beach is also known as Dog Run Beach because of its pet-friendly policies. The dog friendly beach is flat and wide, with no rocky terrain to trip up your pup and great scenery. It includes nearby Sunset Park, a grassy area that is also accessible to pets but only on leashes.

La Jolla Cove

25) La Jolla Cove - Best Snorkeling Beaches

Neighborhood:
La Jolla

Waves are a nonissue at La Jolla Cove thanks to the protection offered by rocky outcroppings. The calm surf makes this beach a great place to swim, but it’s also an ideal spot for snorkeling. Dive deep and try to catch a glimpse of the state fish, the Orange Garibaldi.

San Diego - La Jolla Underwater Park

26) San Diego - La Jolla Underwater Park - Best Snorkeling Beaches

Neighborhood:
La Jolla

The La Jolla Underwater Park is full of all kinds of marine life, making it a must-see for snorkeling and scuba diving enthusiasts. The 6,000-acre artificial reef is entirely submerged. The park is divided into four zones, each of which attracts different kinds of fish and other sea creatures. You might even see a green sea turtle if you are lucky!

La Jolla Shores

27) La Jolla Shores - Best Snorkeling Beaches

Neighborhood:
La Jolla

If you’re feeling a little claustrophobic from the crowds at La Jolla Shores, head to the water. Swimming is popular at the beach thanks to its gentle waves, but these are also great conditions for snorkeling. The bay waters are calm and clear, so you can peek below the waves.

Blacks Beach

28) Blacks Beach – North End - Best Nude Beaches

Neighborhood:
La Jolla

While it’s primarily known for its great surfing, Blacks Beach also has a swimsuit-optional section near where the beach meets the Torrey Pines State Reserve. The beach isn’t usually crowded, as most surfers stick to the southern end, so you don’t have to worry about accidentally giving anyone an eyeful.

Boneyards

29) Boneyards - Best Nude Beaches

Neighborhood:
Encinitas

Boneyards is a well-hidden San Diego beach with some truly amazing scenery! This clothing-optional beach is more popular with locals than it is with tourists thanks to it being a little more difficult to find, but it’s worth the search for access to the beach’s rocky reef surf break and steep waves.

Go Surfing with Go Pass!
La Jolla - Surf Board Rental
La Jolla - Surf Board Rental
La Jolla is home to some of the world's best beaches for surfing, and with your Go Pass, you can enjoy this experience. Whether you are a rookie or a pro, get a full day Surf Board rental. The waters are perfect for those learning.
Buy Now
Local Tips
What activities does the Go Pass include?

There’s a variety of activities included with the Go San Diego Pass such as: The San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, LEGOLAND, SeaWorld, Hiking Tours, Whale Watching, Snorkel Rentals, Museum Tours, Speed Boat Adventures and more!

For the most popular attractions and water-sport rentals as well as the biggest discounts, consider the All-Inclusive Pass.

Featured Hotel
Tower 23 Hotel
Exterior view, Tower 23 Hotel
Beaches
Beaches
Beachfront
Beachfront
Boutique
Boutique
4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars
At Tower 23 Hotel, you don’t have to compromise your lifestyle or your luxury when you travel. This boutique hotel in Pacific Beach is about more than comfort.
Prices Starting at $289
Check Availability
Looking to Save on Tickets?
Save on Tickets
Explore all that San Diego has to offer & save up to 55% on attractions
This Month's Forecast
Oct
61℉ / 81℉
Sunny in October
Nov
53℉ / 75℉
Sunny in November
Dec
48℉ / 69℉
Sunny in December
Tours & Adventures
San Diego Harbor Cruise
San Diego Harbor Cruise
$28 per person
Buy Now
USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum
USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum
Discounts Available
Learn More
Looking for Something Different?
More Best of Beaches