Sunny Southern California. You can’t go wrong spending a few days catching the rays and waves at the best beaches in San Diego.
Having lived in San Diego for a few months now, it’s been incredibly hard to not fall in love with the beach. With the hustle and bustle of the city so close by, it is wonderful to have a seventy miles of relaxing shoreline to take my cares away. Some beaches are better for families, some for parties, and some for surfing. So, I’ve put together a list of the best beaches in San Diego for you to look through. Each one has a unique flavor, so feel free to try out a few!
1. La Jolla Shores
The best family beach in San Diego has long been known as La Jolla Shores. The gentle incline into the ocean and soft sand make it perfect for games and learning to surf. The nearby parking makes it easy to tote your umbrella to and fro as well. It is quite popular, so come early if you need to secure a close spot. But, there is quite a bit of turnover, so you will be able to snatch a spot if you wait just a minute or two.
Sandwiched between Scripps Institute of Oceanography pier and the La Jolla Cove, this beach is incredibly safe. It is staffed with lifeguards from nine in the morning until dusk every day of the year. It also has restrooms and showers available for all. The ease of this beach for families is pretty magnetizing. Just note, there are not many restaurant options within walking distance, so bring your own or look ahead of time to make sure there’s something for everyone. If you’re needing a place to stay while here, check out the Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa for a phenomenal visit.
2. La Jolla Cove
Just a short walk south of La Jolla Shores is the Cove, a stunning playground for the adventurous. Snorkeling, kayaking, and diving are all popular over here, but please keep the surfboards away. If you go snorkeling or scuba diving, look for the local and bright orange Garibaldi fish or the lobsters. With sea lions and seals using this often as a playground, there is always wild life to watch. If the tide is high, they may migrate up to the Children’s Pool. Once made as a safe place for the littles to swim, the pool has now been taken by the wildlife as their safe haven during high tide. While fishing is prohibited here, there are plenty of tide pools here to see what you can find. Just please follow the catch and release pool, and only grab these you know are safe.
3. Pacific Beach
Home to the best public fishing pier, Pacific Beach draws quite a crowd. With a plethora of hip bars and great tacos, the young adult crowd often hangs out here in the evenings. Crystal Pier is a wonderful place to fish or watch the sunset, while you can also enjoy a surfing-only part of the beach called Tourmaline Surfing Park. This is a great place to learn to surf as the waves are low, sloping, and predictable. Affectionately called “PB” by locals, make sure to stop by the Mad Beet for a refreshing juice or lunch bowl after a day in the sun. Whether you’re here to surf, party, or just catch the sun, Pacific Beach is definitely one of the best beaches in San Diego.
4. Ocean Beach
Just south of PB is Ocean Beach, which has a special place in my heart. That’s because it is one of the only dog beaches in San Diego! Bring you furry friends to play here as long as they’ve had all their shots and play well with others. In addition, the pier here is also open for fishing, and you don’t even need a California fishing license. These two attributes make it a great place for out-of-towners to mix with the local crowd. This beach attracts the hippies of the world, so don’t be surprised when the VW Vans pull up. With vintage stores and a Co-Op as well, the granola crowd will be strong here. So, come one and come all to Ocean Beach!
5. Imperial Beach
If you have a birdwatchers in your family or are heading to Tijuana, Imperial Beach is a great place to stop by. As one of the best beaches in San Diego, it boasts over three hundred different species of birds. With the Tijuana River National Estuary and the Ocean mixing together, this is home to the largest salt water marsh in Southern California. On top of the world-class birding, make sure to check out the I.B. Outdoor Surf Museum while you’re here. With a informative layout of what surfing means to the town, you’ll peruse a myriad of gorgeous surf boards.
While you’re here, check out the pier as well. Walking out along it will give you the best view of the Los Coronados Islands. If you’re spending a few days here, think about camping on Silver Strand, the isthmus that connects Imperial Beach to Coronado. Whatever you’re looking for, from sun and surf to birds and boards, Imperial Beach is well worth your time. It’s unique qualities easily put it on our list of the best beaches in San Diego.
6. Mission Beach
This beach holds a special place in my heart. It’s where I first learned to surf at six in the morning before a flight out of San Diego at seven. That being said, this is a popular beach, so get here early! Mission Beach may be the most classic boardwalk town, which easily makes it one of the best beaches in San Diego. With a great section old-time amusement rides called Belmont Park, there is fun for the whole family here. Inside, you’ll find a Giant Dipper Roller Coaster from 1925, mini golf, rock climbing, and bumper cars.
You can also walk up to Mission Bay, home to the famous Sea World. Feel free to check out a show or two here and take in the stunning sights. If you’re a scuba diver, head south to South Mission Beach Park. Just a half mile off the beach is a group of shipwrecks which have been curated to make an artificial reef. This is diver’s heaven and can be a great place for the adventurous family to play around with a guide. So, whatever you’re heading here for, you will quickly see that Mission Beach is one of the best beaches in San Diego.
If it’s good enough for Marilyn Monroe, it’s good enough to be one of the best beaches in San Diego. Settled near downtown, Coronado Beach is home to the famous Hotel Del Coronado. This majestic hotel was featured in the 1958 film “Some like it Hot”. The miles of beach have a little bit of magic in them, too. With the mineral mica that naturally mixes with the sand here, the beach looks like it is sparkling all day long in the sun. Aside from the stunning beauty of this spot, Coronado has so much to offer as well.
With the nearby award winning Coronado Brewing Company and access to the downtown trolley tour, you can easily spend a few days here. There is superb food located on the beach as well as within a few minutes walk or drive. Stroll along Ocean Boulevard to look at the gorgeous beach-view mansions and dream of what it would be like to live here. So, whether you want views of the beach, downtown, or a beautiful hotel, Coronado is quintessential San Diego.
8. Black’s Beach
Our list wouldn’t be complete without a little fun. Near UCSD, Black’s Beach consistently boasts come of the waves around. The hike down the cliffs to get here is a little bit treacherous, though. So, young families are not recommended. You can hike down in through the Glider Port Trail or the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Make sure to wear sturdy shoes for either as there are large drop off that are potentially lethal. Once at the beach, head south of the trail to find the waves.
If you choose to head north, be warned. This also double’s as San Diego’s only nude beach. While technically illegal, the difficulty of accessibility has allowed it to become what it has today. On your way out the beach, enjoy a stroll around the neighborhood at the top of the cliffs. These eight figure mansions are something to drool over with their spectacular views. But, enjoy the views yourself as this beach has fewer people around. So, enjoy a sunset here all to yourself if you have the time.
If you haven’t bought the ticket already, what are you waiting for? The beach beaches in San Diego await!
If you’ve already found the best place to stay in San Diego, you now have to find the best things to do! Hopefully this list of the best beaches in San Diego gave you a good place to start. Between the beaches, the sun, and the surf, you can easily spend weeks here forgetting about reality. So, grab your suit, towel, and a surfboard and head on town to sunny southern California!
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