12 of San Diego’s Best Beaches
With miles of perfect beaches to choose from, here’s a quick guide to help you narrow down which one is right for you
Our soft sand and blue waters stretch along 70 miles of coastline, with each beach reflecting a unique neighborhood vibe, from funky bohemian to upscale. Whether you’re here to surf, tan, or build sand castles, we’ve got the list to find the beach that’s right for you.
La Jolla Shores is one of the most popular surfing spots in all of San Diego, especially for beginners. Because of its proximity to the cliffs, this beach avoids the full force of the wind and makes for calm waters to fine tune your skills.
Oceanside Harbor is a must for surfers because of the jetties that hug the harbor entrance. If you’re a beginner, there are plenty of surfing schools to choose from in the summer months. More experienced? You can find steep and hollow south swells in the winter months.
Cardiff is a seasoned surfer’s dream. The two reefs on either side create strong breaks and long rides for surfing.
Sunset Cliffs is not for the newbie surfer. The jagged rocks and coves can be relentless and dangerous, but they also create one-of-a-kind breaks that vary in intensity depending on the time of day.
Coronado Beach is one of the best family spots because of its proximity to shops, restaurants, and the historic Hotel Del when you need a break from the sun. The sandy area is considerable and the beach itself often lands on lists of the top 10 in America.
Mission Beach neighbors Belmont Park, making it a fun stop for the family. Take a ride on the iconic Giant Dipper rollercoaster for an awesome view of the ocean or ride out the waves with your bodyboard. Forgot a board? There are plenty of rental shops lining Mission Boulevard.
Del Mar Beach comes complete with a park and playground for the little ones. This stretch of paradise also includes easily accessible restrooms and a close walk to many shops and restaurants. Be prepared for crowds and remember that in Del Mar, parking tickets are steep and quick to appear.
Moonlight State Beach in Encinitas comes equipped with a snack bar, a rental booth, restrooms and showers, and stunning sunset views. The name comes from its history of locals enjoying midnight picnics on the beach in the early 1900s—though crowds come all day long in the warmer months.
Beat the Crowds
South Ponto Beach in Carlsbad is a relaxing getaway because of its undeveloped surroundings just off Coast Highway. Isolated by tall sand dunes, it’s a nice spot to unwind and, during the winter months, hunt for stones.
Silver Strand State Beach may be a short distance from Coronado, but the crowd is half the size. No fighting for sand space here, the state park’s 2 and ½ miles is a nice escape whether you’re on the beach or bay side.
Marine Street Beach is known for its wild waves, which deter families to more friendly waters and leave the beach a fairly empty escape year-round. But plan ahead—there are no public restrooms nearby.
Black’s Beach is never crowded, mainly because it’s San Diego’s only clothing-optional beach. It’s a steep walk down from Torrey Pines but worth the climb for the open space and chance to get rid of tan lines! Also a prime spot for very advanced surfers.
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