11 Best Secluded Beaches in San Diego

Looking for a more laid-back, quiet beach day? Check out these secluded off the beaten path San Diego beaches beloved by locals and free of most rowdy tourists.
Todd Sarouhan
Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. This means if you make purchases through them, I may be compensated at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.
Best Secluded Beaches
Find Your Ideal Getaway
Secluded Beaches List
Save on Tours
Featured Hotel
Tours & Adventures

Find Your Ideal Getaway With These Secluded Shores

Hanging Out on the Beach at GarbageDramatic Sunset Over Big Rock Reef

Many first-time visitors to San Diego flock to the most popular tourist destinations, like the USS Midway Museum in the Embarcadero in Downtown San Diego or the San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park.

While these attractions can be a lot of fun, as can many of the most popular San Diego beaches, sometimes you might prefer a more relaxed atmosphere without the hustle and bustle of hundreds of visitors.

Beautiful Seascape Beach
Beautiful Seascape Beach

In this case, consider planning your trip around visiting more secluded beaches. You may not see some of these beaches on a standard travel brochure, but they are still some of the best beaches in San Diego, and they’re beloved by locals for a reason!

Local Tips
Looking to Surf?
Many of San Diego’s best secluded beaches are centered around surfing, and conditions vary with the seasons. Typically Winter is best for most of San Diego's beaches. However the occasional summer swell will hit and the waves will be firing!

These beaches are the perfect spot for a truly restorative vacation free of overpriced tourist traps and unnecessary stress. They can be great for all your favorite beach activities like swimming, sunbathing, snorkeling, surfing or just going for a peaceful stroll.

Looking Down at Blacks Beach from the Cliffs
Looking Down at Blacks Beach from the Cliffs

The 11 Best Secluded Beaches

Kick back and enjoy the West Coast breeze as you soak up the sun or wade into the ocean with our list of the best secluded beaches in San Diego.

Beautiful Beach at Boneyards

1) Boneyards


Who says surfing always needs to be a spectator sport? Surf without a crowd of onlookers at Boneyards in Encinitas, where there is always plenty of space to surf with little danger of collision. There are both easy and challenging waves depending on the day’s conditions, so surfers of all skill levels can rent a board and enjoy their visit.

One of the reasons Boneyards is so secluded is because it is a clothing-optional beach. Most tourists, especially families, tend to avoid the area and stick to more popular locations. However, if you’re perfectly comfortable with nude beaches, you’ll find there’s very little that’s objectionable about Boneyards.

Blacks Beach
Glider and Surfers at Blacks Beach

2) Black’s Beach

La Jolla

Just like Boneyards, Black’s Beach in La Jolla is also clothing-optional, which means it’s a little more complex to access than many other San Diego beaches.

You’ll want to enter from the Torrey Pines State Reserve and make your way along the Glider Port trail, but you’ll be rewarded for your efforts with a one-of-a-kind experience that many other vacationers don’t even know exists!

Even though Black’s Beach is secluded, it has remained popular with surfers over the years on a worldwide scale. The waves are a little more manageable in the summer months, but in winter, they become very challenging and best suited for expert surfers.

If you’re not sure you’re ready to rent a board and hop in yourself, you can always let local legends and the occasional professional surfer show off their skills while you watch from the shore.

The lack of tents and beach towels also makes Black’s Beach a great place to run and bike, or to stretch out and get a nice golden brown tan.

Seascape Beach
Beautiful Seascape Beach

3) Seascape Beach

Solana Beach

Seascape Beach, in Solana Beach, is somewhat secluded due to the long flight of stairs at the entrance, but this barrier to entry comes with the hidden benefit of thin crowds even during the most popular vacation months.

If you’re looking for a big beach with plenty of sand but you’re not interested in vying with other visitors for space to roll out your beach towel, this is the perfect spot for you!

Surfing is fairly popular at Seascape Beach, especially for people new to the sport. The waves aren’t especially large, which means they’re ideal for people fresh out of their first surfing lesson, though more experienced surfers may want to look elsewhere.

Other popular beachside activities here include sunbathing, swimming, running along the shore, and surf-fishing. If you’re lucky, you might just spot a whale in the colder winter months as they migrate along the West Coast.

Terramar Beach
High Tide Breaking Against the Cliffs at Terramar Beach

4) Terramar Beach


Many of the beaches in Carlsbad are frequently bustling with big crowds, but Terramar Beach is far more laid-back. This is in part because of the narrow beach, as well as the more residential surroundings. But don’t count this beach out, especially if you’re looking to beat the surfing crowds.

The waves at Terramar Beach are suitable for surfers of all skill levels, so feel free to rent a surfboard whether you’re an expert or a beginner. Many local surfers like to frequent the area on the weekends, looking for the especially long point-break waves.

When the tide goes out, surfers come ashore to walk the beach and check out the newly formed tide pools. You can spot all kinds of local undersea life, from crabs to sea stars to even the occasional octopus!

North Ponto Beach
Lifeguard Tower at North Ponto Beach

5) North Ponto Beach


If you’re not particularly interested in beachside relaxation and you just want to surf, there’s no better place to do it than at North Ponto Beach in Carlsbad. You won’t find a wide sandy beach here, but that just means you won’t have to compete with big families and noisy beachgoers for space, and you can focus on the waves.

Surfing conditions at North Ponto Beach are well-suited to intermediate and advanced surfers, which makes the area a well-known spot for local pros. Waves are short but often fast and powerful, providing a uniquely challenging experience that isn’t overwhelming or especially dangerous for newcomers.

Visitors looking to test their skills should be sure to rent a surfboard and head to the water right away!

Not interested in surfing? You can also head to the campground on the bluffs, go for a swim or scuba dive, and try your hand at fishing.

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

6) 15th Street Beach

Del Mar

15th Street Beach in Del Mar consists of a series of bluffs and interweaving trails that provide a pathway through to a secluded coastline. With smaller crowds and an extensive shore perfect for oceanside walks, you can certainly enjoy a quiet day here, though most visitors come for the easy access to the water.

The narrow strip of sand at 15th Street Beach means there’s little space for sunbathing, which is why the vast majority of people at this beach have come to swim or surf.

Rent a board and enjoy the fast and consistent reef breaks, especially in the winter, when the sunny San Diego climate provides the perfect conditions for a temperate beach day.

Casa Beach & Wipeout
People Walking Along the Beach at Wipeout Beach

7) Casa Beach & Wipeout Beach

La Jolla

Both Casa Beach & Wipeout Beach are lesser-known beaches, but unlike some other secluded beaches, they still have plenty of sand and space!

The tides tend to be rougher here so swimming and surfing is discouraged. Instead, visitors can enjoy a wide range of activities on dry land, or have fun in the shallows near the shoreline.

Wipeout Beach has a wider shore than its neighbor to the north, which makes it a great spot for sunbathing and contributes to the relaxed vibe of the area. At low tide, it’s common for tide pools to form, providing an opportunity for up-close observation of plenty of sea creatures you might otherwise only see inside aquariums.

At South Casa Beach, it’s a little easier to venture out into the water on calm and clear days, though it’s still a good idea to not go too far.

Rent snorkeling or scuba gear and check out the kelp beds and reefs just a few steps away. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for sea lions and seals as well, which often wander here from their breeding grounds at the nearby beach known as The Children’s Pool.

Big Rock
Checking Out the Tide Pools at Big Rock Reef

8) Big Rock

La Jolla

Big Rock is one of the best-known La Jolla hotspots for those fully immersed in San Diego surfing culture, but it's challenging waves and rocky shores mean it’s typically only frequented by the most dedicated surfers.

If you feel like you’re up for a challenge, there’s no greater rush than renting a surfboard and catching a heavy, fast wave here. Just keep in mind that the surf can sometimes get more crowded when conditions are right for wind swells, typically around mid-tide.

If surfing isn’t your thing, you can still watch others try their hand at it, or you can take advantage of the gorgeous natural scenery to snap some commemorative photos of your trip. Thanks to the rocky beach, it’s common to see tide pools at most tides as well.

Garbage Beach & AB's
Sunset Surf at Garbage Beach

9) Garbage Beach & AB’s

Sunset Cliffs

While the name might not sound very appealing, don’t let that deter you from visiting Garbage Beach & AB’s, in Sunset Cliffs, if you’re looking for incredible reef breaks without big crowds.

Only experienced surfers should be renting boards and testing their skills at Garbage Beach, but if you’re not quite there yet, you can still have lots of fun watching others at these secluded beaches. The waves here are so high-quality that the beach is host to multiple regional and local surfing championships every year.

Surfing at AB’s can be a little more challenging and risky. This is because it’s a reef break, so it’s better to only try surfing here if you know what you’re doing, and if you have a friend or two on standby just in case you wipe out. Avoid high tide here, but rising low and mid tides provide much more amenable conditions.

The coast is somewhat rocky but with plenty of sand, which makes it an equally ideal spot for sunbathing, looking at tide pools, and walking up the bluffs just in time to catch the sunset as it reflects on the water.

There are few better photo opportunities in San Diego than those found in and around Sunset Cliffs National Park, and Garbage Beach is no exception.

Silver Strand State Beach
Lone Beach Umbrella at Silver Strand State Beach

10) Silver Strand State Beach

Coronado Island

If you’re looking for a more relaxed and secluded version of a typical beach day experience, you’ll want to check out Silver Strand State Beach, located at the southern end of Coronado Island!

This beach features a wide, sandy shore as well as a beautifully secluded Crown Cove, on the bay side, with calm waters perfect for swimming, paddle boarding and more. You can rent some equipment and head out to the water, or put your umbrella in the sand and work on developing your tan.

Silver Strand State Beach allows RV owners to stay on the beach overnight, which means there’s always something fun to do here no matter what time of day it is. Gather around a fire pit to roast marshmallows and share stories at night, and wake up early to catch the sunrise glimmering over the water.

Other notable features include the bike path, which stretches a full 10 miles around the beach, and the Crown Cove Aquatic Center, which is a great attraction for all-ages fun.

Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge
Bird Sanctuary at the Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge

11) Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge

Imperial Beach

In search of the perfect, quiet spot to get back to nature on your vacation? Look no further than the Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge, located in Imperial Beach.

On top of sporting a beautiful secluded beach from which you can spot northernmost Mexico, Tijuana Slough’s real treasure is the way it provides a unique way to experience nature first hand.

The wildlife refuge includes beaches, dunes, scrublands, open waters, and wetlands, meaning it’s very easy to see a wide variety of local flora and fauna within a day’s hike. Follow the trails to check out different zones of the refuge, or spend a day surfing, paddle boarding or kiteboarding in the waves. Keep in mind that the waves here can be challenging, and they are best suited to experienced surfers.

Tijuana Slough is also the perfect place to do some birdwatching, as there are hundreds of species that call the area home. You might even spot some endangered species from the observation decks.

Go Hiking with Go Pass!
San Diego Hiking Tour
San Diego Hiking Tour
San Diego is not just sunny beaches, but home to some of the best hiking in the country. With Go Pass, choose from two trails for your hike. Mission Trails Regional Park and Tecolote Canyon Trails offer trails for beginners and experts!
Buy Now
Local Tips
What activities does the Go City San Diego pass include?

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

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

Use our exclusive discount code GVSD5OFF to save an extra 5%!

Tips for Making the Most Out of Your Secluded Paradise

People Walking Along the Beach at Wipeout Beach
People Walking Along the Beach at Wipeout Beach

Avoid having a hectic trip and embrace relaxation with these tips for making your vacation a resounding success.

Save on Local Activities & Attractions

If you’re looking to check out a few local attractions without disrupting your easygoing vibe, consider pairing a morning or afternoon on the beach with spots that are a little off the beaten trail, such as the Japanese Friendship Garden and the Coronado Museum of History & Art.

You can save on admission and gear rental when you purchase a Go City San Diego Pass and use our promo code, GVSD5OFF, for an additional discount which you can stack to double the savings.

Be Courteous of Locals

The more private and intimate vibes of these beaches mean it is especially important to be a courteous visitor. Locals may not take kindly to large, loud groups who are overly disruptive.

Give other beachgoers space and make sure to clean up after yourself to keep these beaches enjoyable for everyone.

Book a Nearby Hotel

Even though you don’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn to find a spot at these beaches, staying nearby is still ideal. Consider spending the night at an excellent waterfront hotel like the La Jolla Cove Suites, or at another of our picks for the best hotels on the beach in San Diego!

Sunset Surf at Garbage Beach
Sunset Surf at Garbage Beach

Visit In Season

Many of San Diego’s best secluded beaches are centered around surfing, and conditions vary with the seasons. Beginners will find easier waves in the summer months, while more practiced and skilled surfers should try to take advantage of the bigger winter swells.

Featured Hotel
La Jolla Cove Suites
La Jolla Cove Suites
3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars
Have you wondered what it would be like to stay in a prime spot near the ocean with a stunning sunset view? La Jolla Cove Suites can offer you this and much more.
Prices Starting at $132
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
62°F / 76°F
Partly Cloudy in June
66°F / 81°F
Sunny in July
68°F / 83°F
Sunny in August
66°F / 82°F
Sunny in September
Tours & Adventures
San Diego Harbor Cruise
San Diego Harbor Cruise
$36 per person
Buy Now
Visit the San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Visit the San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Discounts Available
Learn More
Looking for Something Different?
More Best of Beaches