12 Best Swimming Beaches in San Diego

San Diego is home to many beaches perfect for swimming with family or for most advanced swimmers alike. Discover the 12 best swimming beaches for your next trip.
Todd Sarouhan
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Best Swimming Beaches
Sun, Sand & Swimming
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Sun, Sand & Swimming in San Diego

Beautiful Day at Del Mar City BeachBella and the Sunset at Seascape Beach

When you first think of the more than 78 beautiful beaches that line the Pacific Ocean coastline in San Diego as well as the Mission Bay and the surrounding areas, you might think of world-class surfing, postcard perfect sunsets or even lounging in the soft sands with family. For many ocean enthusiasts, swimming is what draws them to sea in search of the best beaches to dive in and go for a swim!

If you’re traveling with your family and looking for a beach that is safe for young kids you might consider Mission Beach, the Coronado Island Beaches, Solana Beaches, Moonlight State Beach and even the Del Mar Beaches to name a few, many with lifeguards on duty and calm waters.

Beachgoers Swimmers, and Snorkelers on a Beautiful Day at La Jolla Cove
Beachgoers Swimmers, and Snorkelers on a Beautiful Day at La Jolla Cove

If you’re looking for a gorgeous and perhaps secluded beach to swim morning laps, perhaps it’s La Jolla Cove, Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach or Mission Beach, all great options for serious swimmers looking for a San Diego swimming experience that will meet and exceed expectations for great waters and gorgeous views!

With year-round sunny weather and ocean temperatures ranging from lows in the high 50’s Fahrenheit in the winter months between December and March and high temperatures reaching to the low 70’s Fahrenheit in the summer months of July, August and September, you might prepare differently based on season but all seasons are open and available for an ocean swim!

Surfers at San Elijo State Beach
Surfers at San Elijo State Beach

Beaches with Multiple Activities

Many of San Diego’s best swimming beaches are good for multiple San Diego activities like surfing, snorkeling, people watching and even building sandcastles and thus make the list of the overall Best Beaches in San Diego!

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The Best 12 Swimming Beaches in San Diego

With so many beaches from Oceanside in the north to Imperial Beach and the Mexican border in the south, the beaches of San Diego pose some incredible opportunities to go for a swim.

Below are our favorite beaches in San Diego for swimming!

La Jolla Cove
Beautiful June Day at La Jolla Cove

1) La Jolla Cove

La Jolla

La Jolla Cove in the popular neighborhood of La Jolla, is a safe and popular location to go for a swim thanks to the rocky extension of rocks that protects the area from larger Pacific Ocean waves that can make swimming more difficult in true open ocean water conditions.

La Jolla Cove is smaller than some of the nearby beaches such as La Jolla Shores beach and ideally suited for swimming and snorkeling for families and strong swimmers alike. Complete with lifeguards, outdoor showers and onsite restrooms, the beach is popular with daily or weekly local swimmers that enjoy the challenge of swimming back and forth to a buoy just offshore.

After a good swim, don’t miss the tide pools at low tide, especially at the nearby La Jolla Tide Pools beach.

Coronado Central Beach
Amazing Sand Castel in Front Hotel Del Coronado

2) Coronado Central Beach

Coronado Island

When we think of San Diego’s most beautiful beaches, it doesn’t get much better than Coronado Central Beach on Coronado Island!

This white sands beach is family-friendly with generally calm waters, lifeguards on duty and restrooms for public use. Extending from Sunset Park to the iconic Hotel del Coronado, this San Diego beach is perfect for kids of all ages to play in the ocean without the challenges of battling huge waves.

When the sun starts to set and you’ve had your fill of swimming for the day, take a stroll on the boardwalk, enjoy the ocean breeze and take in the colors of a beautiful San Diego sunset.

Del Mar City Beach
Surfer at Del Mar City Beach

3) Del Mar City Beach

Del Mar

Del Mar City Beach is the main beach in the popular San Diego neighborhood of Del Mar. Located about a half hour drive north of Downtown San Diego, the beach runs from San Dieguito River mouth to Powerhouse Park and is popular with swimmers looking for an open water challenge.

Exposed to the sea, the beach itself is still family-friendly with perfect sand for sandcastles or sunbathing but ocean conditions that are best left to more accomplished swimmers. Lifeguards dot the shoreline for safety and the surf can pick up at times which can add to the fun.

If you’re traveling with your dog, stop by nearby Del Mar Dog Beach and let your dog run in the sand and plow into the ocean. It’s fun to let your dog go for a swim in the ocean and this neighboring beach is the place to do it!

Seascape Beach
Beautiful Seascape Beach

4) Seascape Beach

Solana Beach

Seascape Beach in Solana is a sandy beach located below the high bluffs that is perfect for swimming in San Diego. The seas here can be steady and consistent, perfect for a swimsuit, goggles and some swimming.

With lifeguards and outdoor showers, this San Diego beach is also a popular spot for surfing with the winter months offering the largest waves. The long sandy beach is postcard perfect and a great one to consider for a morning swim or an evening sunset.

Fletcher Cove Beach
Nice Open Beach at Fletcher Cove Beach

5) Fletcher Cove Beach

Solana Beach

Fletcher Cove Beach, known locally as Pillbox, is Solana Beach’s central beach park and a great place to go for a swim! Just north of Seascape beach, you can expect plenty of sand once you walk down from the bluff to the seaside.

If you’re interested in surfing, after a nice swim in the cool ocean waters, consider renting a surfboard and trying your hand at catching a wave or two. The beach is not only a great place for a swim but like so many beaches in Southern California, a nice spot to surf as well!

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

6) Mission Beach

Mission Beach

Mission Beach is home to a mile of white sand, open space for sunbathing and great ocean waters for an afternoon swim.

The beach is one of the most iconic beaches in all of San Diego, complete with a boardwalk and the amusement park known as Belmont Park. Lifeguards are present year-round so you and your family can feel safe when diving in for a swim.

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

7) Glorietta Bay Park & Beach

Coronado Island

Glorietta Bay Park & Beach is a small, north-east facing beach in Coronado on the southside of San Diego. The beach is a great choice for families as it comes complete with picnic tables and a playground for the kids.

As with all the Coronado Beach Beaches, you can expect calmer waters for swimming, silky sand and unbelievable postcard views you won’t soon forget.

If time permits, consider visiting nearby Silver Strand State Beach, another excellent Coronado Beach for swimming.

Oceanside Pier, Pier View North & Pier View South Beaches
Oceanside Pier

8) Oceanside Pier, Pier View North & Pier View South Beaches


Located on the northside of San Diego, Pier View North & Pier View South Beaches are great beaches to go for a swim!

The beaches feature a boardwalk, firepits and lifeguards for added piece of mind while venturing out for a swim. Many visitors come here to surf but the waters, especially in the summer months can be great for swimming as well.

You can’t miss these beaches for the pier that reaches out into the ocean and makes these beaches a great choice to enjoy!

Carlsbad City Beach
Beach Umbrellas at Carlsbad City Beach

9) Carlsbad City Beach


As the northernmost beach in Carlsbad, Carlsbad City Beach is an excellent choice and one of the best beaches for swimming in San Diego!

Public access is possible by multiple stairways but the climb down is well worth the gorgeous views and lovely seas, perfect for a morning swim or family afternoon playing just offshore. Lifeguards are also on duty at this San Diego beach which is an added bonus.

Another Carlsbad nearby beach worth exploring is Tamarack Surf Beach, part of Carlsbad State Beach and great for surfing with lifeguards and restrooms facilities onsite.

Warm Water Jetty Beach
Surfers at Warm Water Jetty Beach

10) Warm Water Jetty Beach


If you prefer to swim in slightly warmer water, then Warm Water Jetty Beach in Carlsbad might be the perfect beach for you!

The beach gets its name from the Carlsbad Power Plant which adds warm water into the sea. Restrooms are onsite as well as lifeguards. Many people enjoy going surfing at the beach as well.

If you want to stay in Carlsbad by this great swimming beach, consider the Carlsbad Inn Beach Resort for a family-friendly, spacious hotel that will meet all your needs and more!

Moonlight State Beach
Moonlight Beach and Waves

11) Moonlight State Beach


Moonlight State Beach in Encinitas is a beautiful Southern California beach perfect for an afternoon swim, a picturesque sunset and a stroll on the beach under the moonlight, as it’s namesake suggests.

Complete with fire pits for the ultimate after hours treat, the beach can be great for a group of friends or a romantic evening for two.

San Elijo State Beach
Lifeguard Tower at San Elijo State Beach

12) San Elijo State Beach

Cardiff by the Sea

The Cardiff Beaches can be great choices for swimming in San Diego, especially our favorite in the area, San Elijo State Beach!

The beach features a campground on the bluffs above the beach and is known for longboarding. We recommend only truly strong swimmers take on this Cardiff beauty due to the rip currents that are present in the area.

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La Jolla - Full Day Snorkel Rental
La Jolla Full Day Snorkel Rental
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Tips to Know Before Visiting the Best Swimming Beaches in San Diego

La Valencia Hotel Close to La Jolla Cove
La Valencia Hotel Close to La Jolla Cove

Stay at or Near one of the Best Swimming Beaches in San Diego

If you want to stay near one of the premier swimming beaches in San Diego and would like a luxury hotel and yet a unique boutique experience, consider the 4-star La Valencia Hotel. About half a mile by foot, La Jolla Cove beach is nearby. With some of the best views in all of San Diego and high-end service and amenities to boot, this hotel could be a great choice for you and your family.

For a family-friendly option, consider the Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa for a 4-star experience between Mission Beach and the nearby calm waters of Mission Bay, perfect for kayaking, SUP or finding a quiet place for an afternoon picnic.

Another family-friendly is the Bahia Resort Hotel on Mission Bay. This bayfront hotel resort is near calm waters perfect for a swim as well as a bike path perfect for an afternoon ride. The 3-star resort also can be budget-friendly for the more cost conscious travelers.

For a more economical choice, consider the Courtyard by Marriott San Diego Del Mar / Solana Beach. Located just a block from the ocean at Seascape Beach, the hotel offers everything you and your family would need at a rate that won’t break the bank.

Surfboards on the Beach in Mission Beach
Surfboards on the Beach in Mission Beach

Save on Gear While at the Beach

While going to the beach for a swim is usually a free, and totally fruitful activity completely worth enjoying during your trip to San Diego, consider doubling up the fun by renting a kayak, a SUP or perhaps even a surfboard and taking a surfing lesson to make sure you have the best chance of riding a wave!

All of this gear can be rented at a steep discount when you purchase a Go City San Diego pass. Gear rentals can be combined with top area attractions like Belmont Park on Mission Beach or SeaWorld San Diego in Mission Bay to save you money.

Enjoy an additional discount with the Go City San Diego pass when you use our exclusive discount code (GVSD5OFF) as well!

Seasons Matter

Sea conditions are affected by the time of year and weather as much and even more at times than just the location alone.

Know that cooler winter months, while still mild overall, will come with larger more powerful swells. Summer months are generally calmer and ideal for less seasoned swimmers in open ocean locations.

Park and Beach from Above at Glorietta Bay Park and Beach
Park and Beach from Above at Glorietta Bay Park and Beach

Secluded Beach Safety

Secluded beaches can be excellent for swimming but do take extra care when swimming at locations without lifeguards and only venture out if you are confident in your abilities to self-assist in case of an issue.

Featured Hotel
Grande Colonial La Jolla
Grande Colonial La Jolla
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Near Beach
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With a fantastic bar, a relaxing lobby and prime location, experience the charms of this vintage boutique hotel when you stay at Grande Colonial La Jolla.
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Partly Cloudy in June
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