The 52 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
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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.

Southern California and San Diego in particular 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 City 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.

The 52 Best Beaches in San Diego

Best Family Beaches

San Diego is a great spot for a family vacation! The best family beaches are flat and sandy with calmer waters. Many of these beaches also have a lifeguard station and convenient nearby restrooms.

Don’t forget to also check out nearby kid-friendly attractions like SeaWorld San Diego and LEGOLAND California after you hit the beach, both offered at a steep discount on admission prices through the Go City San Diego pass.

Coronado Central Beach
Amazing Sand Castel in Front Hotel Del Coronado

Coronado Central Beach

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.

This beautiful beach, also a favorite for swimming in San Diego, extends from Sunset Park all the way to Hotel del Coronado - Curio Collection by Hilton, providing beach front access to hotel guests. There’s also a boardwalk, so anyone who wants to take a stroll while breathing in the fresh ocean air and watching the sunrise or sunset can do just that!

La Jolla Shores
La Jolla Shores Boardwalk and Main Lifeguard Tower

La Jolla Shores

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.

This amazing beach, also featured as one of San Diego’s best snorkeling beaches, is huge at about one mile long! There’s plenty of grassy areas to enjoy picnics and games. If you want to hit the water, this is the perfect beach to start your scuba diving adventure as it’s right off the shore from the La Jolla Underwater Park.

Fletcher Cove Beach
Nice Open Beach at Fletcher Cove Beach

Fletcher Cove Beach

Solana Beach

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

Pillbox, as it's known to the locals, isn’t a large beach. But the real gem of the Solana Beaches is when high tide hits, most of the beaches in Solana are underwater! There are some spots that won’t be covered so you can still enjoy the sand, without getting stuck in the waves but be careful when visiting with your family.

Best Surf Beaches

San Diego’s surfing culture can be felt throughout the city, but nowhere is it more prominent than at its beaches. Experience West Coast waves firsthand, or watch the pros who frequent these surfing spots.

Grab a Go City San Diego pass so you can take advantage of discounts on gear rentals or take a surf lesson so you can feel strong as you give surfing a try!

Blacks Beach
Glider and Surfers at Blacks Beach

Blacks Beach

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!

To access this unique beach, you have to climb down a pretty steep, sometimes slippery path. If this isn’t feasible to you, especially if you’re carrying anything or you have any mobility challenges, it’s best to find another route. There’s a paved path at the Blackgold and La Jolla Farms crossroads. However, know that most parking has a two hours limit.

Windansea Beach
Lifeguard Keeping Watch at Windansea

Windansea Beach

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 Southern California.

For parking, there’s only about 10 spots that are designated for beachgoers and just a few more in total. However, feel free to park along the street if those are full. Beware when the sand is low, you may have to climb down a couple of sandstone ledges. So, plan your descent accordingly and know you’re headed to one of the most beautiful beaches in San Diego!

Swami's
Surfers Riding Waves at Swamis

Swami’s

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.

Along with world-class surfing, Swami’s has lifeguards on duty, as well as restrooms open for public use. Plus, you can rinse off the dried sand from your legs and feet in the onsite outdoor showers to keep the sand at the beach instead of decorating your car and taking it back with you!

Best Sunbathing Beaches

Sometimes, all you want to do is lay down on the sand and soak up the sun! San Diego is home to a number of amazing sunbathing beaches that offer plenty of space, a calm atmosphere, and convenient amenities close by so you can rest and relax without stress. Escape from the commotion of Downtown San Diego or the Gaslamp Quarter with one of these amazing sunbathing beaches!

North Pacific Beach
Relax at North Pacific Beach

North Pacific Beach

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.

If you do not want to go on the beach, there is a perfect little park above it on Law Street where you can sit and sunbathe or have a picnic with the family while enjoying the fresh sea breeze, and the beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean. Afterward, you can go take a quick stroll out on the pier or along the boardwalk.

Mission Beach
Aerial Shot of Mission Beach with South Mission in Distance

Mission Beach

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!

What makes this place magical, aside from the beautiful sand and hypnotizing waves, is that no matter how sunny or nice it is, Mission Beach as a whole stays pretty uncrowded. Belmont Park sits on a section of Mission Beach, so many visitors are over enjoying the rides, while you have plenty of room to sunbathe!

Don’t miss the beach's boardwalk that runs the length of the beach and is perfect for jogging, cycling or a simple stroll enjoying the views of the ocean.

Coronado Shores Beach (South Beach)
Relaxing at Coronado Shores Beach or South Beach

Coronado Shores Beach

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.

Coronado Shores Beach is a great family beach and has lifeguards on duty so it’s a safer place to swim. The beach has some free parking spots as well, so you don’t have to worry much about where to park. Also know that the walk to the beach is not challenging, making it one of the easier beaches to access.

Best People Watching Beaches

If you’re looking for a way to keep your beach day interesting, you might take up people watching while you tan. You’re sure to find all sorts at these popular beaches, and you can lay back and relax while keeping an eye on what your fellow beachgoers are up to.

Pacific Beach
Beautiful Spring Day at the Beach in Pacific Beach

Pacific Beach

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!

Feel free to go for a swim to cool off! If you get hungry while visiting, there are plenty of amazing eateries dotted along the beach, both restaurants and bars alike. You’ll be able to grab a bite to eat without sacrificing the gorgeous views of this beautiful beach and continue some of the best people watching in San Diego.

Ocean Beach Pier & City Beach
North Side of OB Pier

OB Pier & City Beach

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.

If you want a different viewpoint, feel free to take a stroll on the longest pier on the West Coast, at Ocean Beach. This unique pier reaches about ½ mile into the ocean, so while people are great to look at, you can take a moment and spot some amazing sea life as well.

Del Mar South Beach & 15th Street
Surfers Going to the Beach at Del Mar South Beach

Del Mar South & 15th St Beach

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.

This beach sits on the north end of Torrey Pines State Beach, at 6th street, and extends to the area just south of Powerhouse Park. So, while this beach is less packed, you still have the perfect opportunity to kick back and watch fellow beachgoers and surfers enjoy their day in the sunshine.

Best Swimming Beaches

There’s nothing quite like soaking up the sun on the beach and cooling off by taking a dip in the ocean. San Diego has some amazing swimming spots at many of its beaches, where the currents are gentle and there is a minimal risk of riptides or other disruptions.

La Jolla Cove
Aerial Shot of La Jolla Cove

La Jolla Cove

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.

Locals love this spot, and visit it weekly, and sometimes even daily to take a dip into the ocean and go for a swim as no boards of any kind are allowed. While this beach is smaller than La Jolla Shores, it still hosts a good amount of people, and its waters are near-perfect for swimming. Also considered one of the best San Diego beaches for snorkeling, if you’re looking for a laid-back beach experience, La Jolla Cove is the place to be!

Coronado Central Beach
Amazing Sand Castel in Front Hotel Del Coronado

Coronado Central Beach

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.

Also featured as one of the best family beaches in San Diego, perhaps one of the best parts of this beach isn’t the beach itself; it’s the Coronado Bridge that you need to drive over before coming up on the oceanfront. The bridge is 200 feet tall and gives you one of the most beautiful views of the area as you’re coming into the beachfront.

Glorietta Bay Park & Beach
Looking Towards Downtown San Diego at Glorietta Bay Park and Beach

Glorietta Bay Park & Beach

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.

There is also a Clubroom and Boathouse that is open every day of the week where you can rent kayaks, as well as other types of gear on an hourly basis. So, no matter when you visit, you have options at this beach from kayaking to swimming!

Best Secluded Beaches

Looking for something a little less crowded? These more secluded beaches may be less popular with tourists, but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth visiting. In fact, the lack of crowds means you can enjoy your trip without rushing to the beach in the morning to get a good spot.

Terramar Beach
High Tide Breaking Against the Cliffs at Terramar Beach

Terramar Beach

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.

The entrance to Terramar Beach is through a locked gate that’s meant for just residents and guests of a particular housing community. However, if you want to access this beach you can walk to it by entering from Carlsbad Boulevard at Cerezo Drive. The waves here are fun for surfing, bodyboarding and of course, swimming!

Seascape Beach
Beautiful Seascape Beach

Seascape Beach

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.

This is one of our favorite beaches in San Diego. The beauty and seclusion are just out of this world. Don’t forget to stay for the sunset, it is a memory that will last for years!

Boneyards
Beautiful Beach at Boneyards

Boneyards

Encinitas

Tucked away in between 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.

This is not a hotspot beach so it’s very laid back and doesn’t get much foot traffic or visits from tourists. You can sit, and enjoy the sweeping views of the adjacent cliffsides, and gorgeous waves with the locals. So, while it can be difficult to find, this beach is a must-see.

Best Tide Pool Beaches

Some people prefer to scuba dive to see what’s under the water, but you don’t have to suit up to check out some sea creatures. San Diego has some of the best tide pool beaches, where you can see all kinds of marine life without even getting your toes wet.

La Jolla Tide Pools
Kids Looking at the Tide Pools at the La Jolla Tide Pools

La Jolla Tide Pools

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.

The La Jolla Tide Pools are one of the best that America’s Finest City has to offer. You’ll have to check the local tide tables and make sure you visit at low tide as the rock formations are breathtaking and something you can only ever expect to see on a postcard, in a painting, or at this beach!

Marine Street Beach
People Enjoying the Beach at Marine Street Beach

Marine Street Beach

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.

Keep in mind that on the sunniest of days, this beach can get busy. If you love the idea of having more people to play some volleyball, then this beach is perfect for you! However, if you don’t like crowds, it may be best to go earlier in the day or in the evening to watch the sunset from one of the best locations to do so in all of San Diego!

Point Loma Tide Pools at Cabrillo National Monument
Much Life in the Tide Pools at Cabrillo National Monument

Point Loma Tide Pools at Cabrillo National Monument

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!

There’s a $15 parking fee per vehicle, and there’s two designated parking areas near the tide pools. The beach is rocky and no swimming is allowed. It is not your typical day at the beach with your family. However, the views are beautiful, the tide pools are easy to find and there’s a lot to learn at the Point Loma Tide Pools.

Best Dog Park Beaches

At dog park beaches, you and your furry friend can enjoy fun in the sun together. Take your pet to the shore so they can run along the beach and get their paws wet. Don’t forget to book a night in one of the best pet-friendly hotels in San Diego!

Del Mar Dog Beach
Dogs Enjoying the Beach at Del Mar Dog Beach

Del Mar Dog Beach

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.

Parking is available behind the beach on Camino del Mar as well as 29th street. And, if you want to take a stroll up from the beach to get a better view, you can take your pup up the trail that will lead you to James Scripps Bluff Preserve.

Ocean Beach Dog Beach
Doges Chasing Frisbee at Ocean Beach Dog Beach Series 2 of 3

Ocean Beach Dog Beach

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.

This beach is just north of Ocean Beach’s bike path, so you can stop in after some exercise with your furry friend. Or you can access the beach easily by parking in the designated parking lot which is just right off the beach as well. The beach is one of only a few beaches in San Diego that allows dogs off leash.

North Beach (Dog Run Beach)
Coronados Dog Run Beach at Sunset

North Beach (Dog Run Beach)

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.

Keep in mind that while this is an off-leash dog beach, the ‘off leash’ area is designated so just make sure you pay attention to where you are. Check the signs as some areas, such as the parking lot and above mentioned grassy park require your pet to be on a leash for their own safety.

Best Snorkeling Beaches

Many San Diego visitors opt to head to the Birch Aquarium at Scripps to check out the local marine life, but if you really want an experience like no other, you’ve got to get up close and personal. Snorkeling at the beach or bay is an unbeatable experience for any marine enthusiast.

La Jolla Cove
Aerial Shot of La Jolla Cove

La Jolla Cove

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.

The beach is one of the best beaches in San Diego for swimming as well as snorkeling. After an afternoon of snorkeling, be sure to enjoy the grassy area above where you can take a lunch break while still taking in the breathtaking views of La Jolla Cove. There are restrooms available at this beach as well as outdoor showers so you can rinse your snorkeling gear before leaving.

San Diego - La Jolla Underwater Park
Green Sea Turtle La Jolla

San Diego - La Jolla Underwater Park

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.

This unique and magical place boasts an ecological reserve that reaches from La Jolla Cove to La Jolla Shores Beach and includes everything in between. Therefore, it is against the law to fish, or board in this area. Also, do not remove anything from the beach, unless it is trash. This goes for the shells in the sand as well.

La Jolla Shores
La Jolla Shores Boardwalk and Main Lifeguard Tower

La Jolla Shores

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.

Featured as one of the best family beaches in San Diego, the beach is also popular for its beauty and the plentiful parking nearby. This is a great spot to relax and have a cookout with your family and friends. There is plenty of grass and picnic tables are available not far from the water!

Best Nude Beaches

San Diego has its fair share of nude beaches, which are perfect if you’re looking to skip the tan lines or just feel comfortable in your own skin. These beaches tend to be more secluded as well, so you can avoid some of the crowds present at more popular ones.

Blacks Beach
Glider and Surfers at Blacks Beach

Blacks Beach – North End

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.

Keep in mind that it’s not very easy to get down to the beach as it’s a pretty steep and slippery hike down a cliff road. The beach is known as one of the best surfing beaches in San Diego, but the hike down keeps many from visiting this location, which is why it’s the perfect place to enjoy a day at the beach without the need for a swimsuit.

Boneyards
Beautiful Beach at Boneyards

Boneyards

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.

Known as one of the best beaches for surfing in San Diego, if you are looking for a spot that is not packed with people to enjoy some privacy while enjoying the nude beach, you can access Boneyards in a spot that is north of Swami’s Beach, but south of D Street. You will find people surfing, and others bathing in the sun, without the consequence of tan lines.

Go Snorkel with Go Pass!
La Jolla - Full Day Snorkel Rental
La Jolla Full Day Snorkel Rental
While visiting San Diego, discover the sea creatures of San Diego with a Full Day Snorkel Rental with your Go Pass in La Jolla. Take pictures of the areas marine life and coral. Snorkel, mask, wet suit and flippers are included in your rental.
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Local Tips
What is a Go City San Diego pass?

The Go City San Diego pass allows visitors to experience more attractions while simultaneously saving money.

With the pass, you can visit San Diego’s top attractions like the San Diego Zoo or LEGOLAND, all while saving up to 55% off on admissions. Plus, the pass gives you the ability to skip the line when visiting select attractions.

Use our exclusive discount code GVSD5OFF to save an extra

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