With incredible weather and beautiful beaches, San Diego is one of the most beautiful cities in southern California. Whether you’re a local or traveler, there is no shortage of amazing San Diego beaches, and we’re going to share the top ones with you!
Whether you’re looking for a lively beach destination close to the city, exciting surfing opportunities, a family beach, or a seaside spot to bring your dog to, there’s a beach in San Diego for you. Let’s take a look at the top 15 beaches in San Diego.
1. La Jolla Shores Beach
You’ll find La Jolla Shores Beach in northern La Jolla in San Diego county. While there are several small beaches in the area, La Jolla Shores is the largest at over a mile in length and the local surfers’ spot. La Jolla is also one of the only beaches in the area that isn’t entirely rocky.
La Jolla Shores Beach is a wonderful place to lay down your towel and catch some rays. Since it’s over a mile in length, there’s more than enough space for you to set up your area without having to be too close to other beachgoers. You can also bring your pet with you early in the morning or in the evening during the off-season.
There’s something at La Jolla Shores Beach for everyone. You can surf, go paddleboarding, take the kayak out, or go for a swim. There are also beach volleyball courts, grassy areas, and picnic tables.
Many visitors appreciate La Jolla Shores for its free parking and a lifeguard on duty at almost all times.
2. Pacific Beach
Pacific Beach is the epitome of San Diego beach life. While it’s the name of this fabulous San Diego neighborhood, it’s also the main beach in the community. The beach boardwalk and neighborhood area boast trendy hotel bars and laid-back cafes.
Pacific Beach is the ideal spot for surfers, swimmers, and sunbathers. Lifeguards are on duty throughout the year, and several restrooms are also available.
Crystal Pier, located along Pacific Beach, is a great place to escape the sand for a little bit and grab a bite to eat. Away from Pacific Beach a bit, you can find more to do, including bars, shops, and yoga studios.
Many locals and tourists enjoy hanging out at Pacific Beach. You can almost always count on a crowd! With that said, be patient while looking for parking around Pacific Beach. It’s best to arrive first thing in the morning.
3. South Mission Beach
South Mission Beach is at the very end of what’s known as the Golden Strand. The Golden Strand runs from Pacific Beach all the way down to South Mission Beach. Unlike many other beaches in San Diego where your furry friend can come with you at certain times, South Mission Beach prohibits dogs at all hours.
Beachgoers appreciate various activities at South Mission Beach. Enjoy fishing, paddle boarding, surfing, and so much more. Bonfires are allowed on the beach, perfect for hanging out at night or when the weather cools down.
South Mission Beach is the perfect place if you like to play beach sports! There are multiple sand volleyball courts for you and your friends to use. And, the beach is famous for a game known as “Over-The-Line.” Not sure what it is? You’ll definitely find plenty of beachgoers playing when you visit!
4. Coronado Beach
Coronado Beach is an urban beach that’s very popular with San Diego visitors and some locals. On one side of the beach, you have the pristine Pacific Ocean. On the other side, you have views of magnificent beach homes and mansions and the famous Hotel del Coronado where many celebrities visit.
Several hotels and resorts in the area bring a lot of tourists looking for the perfect California beach vacation. Water activities are popular at Coronado Beach. Enjoy surfing, paddleboarding, swimming, boogie boarding, and more.
While most San Diego beaches have lifeguards all year, they’re only on duty at Coronado Beach during the peak season. You can also find restrooms and showers at the beach. Best of all, everything at the beach is handicap accessible, including beach wheelchairs.
If you can, visit Coronado Beach during low tide to find incredible tide pools. If you want to bring your dog along, be sure to visit the designated dog beach.
5. La Jolla Cove
If you’re interested in going to a smaller, quieter beach, La Jolla Cove is a great option. And it’s one of the most photographed beaches in southern California because of its natural beauty. The cove is part of San Diego’s Underwater Park Ecological Reserves, which helps preserve marine life.
Since one of the main goals of this beach is to preserve marine life, fishing and removal of anything from the beach are strictly prohibited. This rule is enforced by lifeguards that are regularly on duty. If you like snorkeling or scuba diving, you’ll love La Jolla Cove.
Since it’s a smaller area, it’s easier for people to participate in these activities. There’s even the tombstone memorial underwater near the beach you can scuba dive to. This is an excellent spot for traveling with children since the cove features calm waters.
Even though the water is calm here, you’ll see some people surfing the small gentle waves during the summer months. There are picnic tables nearby to enjoy lunch during your beach trip.
6. Imperial Beach
Imperial Beach is a neighborhood and seaside destination in south San Diego, located only 10 minutes from the US and Mexico border. The large sandy beach runs along the coast of the neighborhood and is generally pretty crowded with locals and visitors.
This beach is popular for just about every oceanside activity you can think of. You can find sunbathers, surfers, swimmers, sandcastle builders, anglers, and more at Imperial Beach. Grassy areas away from the beach have picnic tables, restrooms, and showers.
If you’re going to the beach with kids, there’s a children’s playground and play area if you want to get away from the sand for a bit.
The Imperial Beach Pier is a popular feature of the beach, where you can find an activity-filled plaza. Most people walk along the pier when they’re finished with their beach day or when they want to grab a bite to eat. Be sure to look out for dolphins playing in the water and hang around for incredible sunset views.
7. Torrey Pines State Beach
Torrey Pines State Beach is one of the most beautiful areas in San Diego. It boasts beautiful ocean views and stunning cliffs on the other side. To make the most of your beach trip, be sure to visit during low tide, which allows you to safely keep a further distance away from the bottom of the bluffs.
There are so many activities to enjoy at Torrey Pines State Beach. Visitors can enjoy fishing, scuba diving, surfing, and swimming. There are also lifeguards on duty, along with restrooms and showers. Beach wheelchairs are available, too.
If you’re a nature enthusiast, you’ll especially love wildlife viewing at Torrey Pines. There are also bike trails around the beach.
Torrey Pines State Beach is busy year-round. While there are plenty of parking lots and spaces for easy access, there is a $10-$25 fee to park, with the rate dependent upon demand.
8. North Beach Del Mar
Del Mar is another great place in San Diego, with several beaches to visit. One of our favorites is North Beach Del Mar, also known as Del Mar Dog Beach since it’s the only Del Mars spot where dogs can be off-leash all year except for during summer when they must be leashed.
Swimming and other water activities are popular at the north end of Del Mar. But, if you prefer not to hang out with furry beachgoers, be sure to head to the central or southern area of Del Mar City Beach. There are several sand bars along the coast that surfers and other swimmers like to hang out on.
Many people also enjoy setting up beach volleyball along Del Mar beaches.
9. Silver Strand State Beach
Silver Strand State Beach is located in Coronado, nestled between the Pacific Ocean and San Diego Bay. It’s the perfect place in San Diego where you can alternate between ocean and bay beaches within minutes if you want to.
Since Silver Strand is a state park, there are plenty of amenities to keep everyone you’re with occupied and having a good time. On the beach, you can sunbathe, swim, surf, paddleboard, you name it. Fishing is popular from the shoreline, and along with natural waves from the Pacific, boaters create small waves.
The park has established fire rings throughout the beach you can use for an evening bonfire or when it’s chilly out. While there is a parking fee, it’s a flat rate of $10-$12 for the entire day or $20 for overnight RV parking. While campers can enjoy beautiful beach views all around, camping at Silver Strand is limited to self-contained vehicles only.
10. Kellogg Beach
If you’re looking for a smaller beach to hang out at, Kellogg Beach is one of the best within the San Diego city limits. Kellogg Beach is on Point Loma, on the San Diego Bayside, so the water tends to be calmer, making it great for families or people who can’t swim well.
The beach spans for roughly the length of two blocks, depending on how much sand is there. Since boats are regularly moving through the bay, sand replenishment is typical here to make sure it’s a usable beach for visitors.
At Kellogg Beach, you won’t find the amenities you will at state beaches or larger city beaches. With that said, it offers peaceful simplicity for beachgoers looking to relax.
There’s also a walking trail along the beach that many visitors enjoy using for exercise or to check out the boats along the bay. It’s also a great place to bring pets, which are also welcome on the beach.
11. Windansea Beach
You’ll find Windansea Beach in south La Jolla. This wide sandy beach boasts large rocks that are popular for sunbathing. There’s also what some call an iconic palm-covered surf shack where surfers enjoy handing out between catching waves.
Along with large rocks and sandy areas for lounging, the waves at Windansea Beach are relatively large. It’s an exciting place for experienced surfers. With that said, swimming isn’t ideal with the strong waves and currents at Windansea Beach.
Lifeguards are on duty from 9 am until dusk to monitor surfers and those brave enough to swim here. However, we recommend checking out the other best beaches in San Diego for swimming.
Limited parking is available close to the beach. There are about ten close to the beach entrance, but you’ll need to look for the closest street parking if those are taken. If you’re trying to hit the beach with your pet, be sure to come early in the morning or after 6 PM.
12. Leucadia State Beach
Leucadia’s State Beach, also referred to as Beacon’s Beach by locals, is a popular area for swimming, surfing, fishing, and picnicking. You’ll take a long walk downstairs to get down to the beach, but it’s well worth it for the beautiful sand and ocean views.
As with most California beaches, Leucadia’s State Beach is a great place for water activities. With that said, the currents tend to be less aggressive than other areas on the coast, making swimming reasonably safe. Plus, lifeguards monitor the beach throughout the year.
Beachgoers love to snorkel off the coast, and many people enjoy eating lunch or hanging out at the picnic areas. The best part about this beach is its authentic neighborhood vibe. Even though it’s popular amongst visitors, the locals take pride in their coast which is very apparent when you visit.
13. Dog Beach
Dog Beach is in the Ocean Beach community of San Diego. It’s one of the most famous beaches, known as one of the first official off-leash dog beaches in the United States. You can find lots of free parking nearby, providing easy access for you and your furry beach date.
Dog Beach celebrates the coming together of beachgoers and their furry friends. The wide sandy beach is perfect for swimming, sandcastle building, and dogs to run and play with you and other canines.
It’s a safe place for dogs and people alike to swim since it’s nestled along the channel. Lifeguards are also keeping watch throughout the day. There’s a grassy area near the beach where you can find restrooms and showers.
14. Ocean Beach City Beach
If you want to experience one of the best beaches in Ocean Beach, Ocean Beach City Beach is the place to go. It’s a little bit further south of Dog Beach, and it’s the main beach in the neighborhood. The palm trees lined beach is beautiful, and the vibrant neighborhood is filled with shops, restaurants, and brewpubs.
Ocean Beach is bustling, and it’s common to see people surfing, swimming, and participating in other water adventures. There’s plenty of room on the sand for sunbathers to lounge. It’s also a great place to play beach volleyball, throw a frisbee, and stroll oceanside.
Head under the pier if you’re at the beach during low tide. This is where you can find several tidal pools with lots of marine life.
Throughout the summer months, lifeguards are on duty from 10 am until dusk. While the beach is open after dark and before 10 am, you’ll want to use caution if swimming or surfing these hours.
15. Moonlight State Beach
Last but not least on our list of awesome sandy beaches in San Diego is Moonlight State Beach. This state beach got its name from when people came to have picnics on the beach at midnight in the 1900s. It’s now a beautiful, wide beach that’s known for incredible opportunities for swimming, surfing, and fishing.
Moonlight State Beach is a favorite for adults and children alike because you can do all your favorite beach activities in one place. The beach even offers a rental booth where you can rent paddleboards, kayaks, and snorkel gear.
Unlike many beaches in San Diego, there are designated swimming and surfing areas here. This makes it easy for surfers and swimmers to avoid getting in each other’s way while staying safe and having fun. Lifeguards are also on duty from dawn until dusk.
At Moonlight, you can also find volleyball and tennis courts around the park. There’s also a hiking trail, snack bar, and restroom area with showers.
Let’s take a look at some common questions about San Diego’s incredible beaches!
Are San Diego beaches good for swimming?
Yes! Most beaches in San Diego are great for swimming and even have lifeguards for extra safety. Our favorite swimming beaches are La Jolla Cove, Pacific Beach, South Mission Beach, and Coronado Beach.
What is the cleanest beach in San Diego?
According to this report, San Diego beaches are some of the cleanest in the entire state. So, you can rest assured that any beach you pick is a clean choice! With that said, Moonlight State Beach is about as pristine as you can find.
What are the best dog beaches in San Diego?
If you’re looking to spend a beach day with your furry loved ones, you’re in luck! While Dog Beach is the number one spot, it’s also well worth checking out the dog beach area at Coronado Beach.
San Diego Beaches Final Thoughts
San Diego is known for having some of the most beautiful beaches on the west coast of the United States. From wide sandy beaches and rocky shores to exciting watersports and stunning views, there’s a perfect spot for every type of beachgoer. We hope you found your ideal beach destination on our list of the best San Diego beaches!