California 9 MINS READ

The 12 Most Beautiful San Diego Beaches

The 12 Most Beautiful San Diego Beaches

California 9 MINS READ
La Jolla Cove Beach, San Diego, California.

San Diego is a luminous city graced with beautiful beaches that draw visitors from all over the world. It’s hard to resist the lure of the Pacific Ocean and the charming atmosphere of Southern California, making it the perfect place to unwind and enjoy a day at the beach. 

Whether you’re a family looking for a safe place for the kids to splash around, a surfer seeking the perfect wave, or a nature lover looking for a peaceful getaway, San Diego has a beach that will suit your needs. 

In this blog post, we’ve rounded up the 12 best San Diego beaches for everyone, so let’s dive in and explore these amazing stretches of coastline!

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The 12 Best Beaches in San Diego, California

South Mission Beach

Sunset at South Mission Beach, in San Diego.

Mission Beach is one of San Diego’s most sought-after sandy beaches. Located in the namesake neighborhood, this wide stretch of sand spans nearly two miles of oceanfront and offers visitors plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities. 

Surfing, biking, sunbathing, boogie boarding, swimming, and beach volleyball are fun-filled experiences visitors can enjoy in Mission Beach. There’s also a paved oceanfront pathway that runs north and south from the beach, and it’s perfect for biking, skating, running, and walking.

This lively beach is surrounded by various restaurants and family-friendly attractions, like the iconic  Belmont Park. Visit this amusement park to ride its massive roller coaster that speeds up to 48 mph and offers stunning views of Mission Bay.

Recommended Read: The Best Things To Do in San Diego

La Jolla Shores Beach

La Jolla in San Diego, California.

La Jolla Shores Beach is Part of La Jolla Underwater Park and is known for its reliable and predictable waves, making it an ideal spot for surfing. It also features a crescent-shaped stretch of sand perfect for jogging and sunbathing in front of the Pacific Ocean.

From La Jolla Shores Beach, make your way to La Jolla Cove, a tiny coastal inlet known for its gentle waves. Then, head to the eye-popping La Jolla tide pools, populated by many marine species like anemones, starfish, small crabs, hermit crabs, clams, and even small octopuses.

Tourmaline Beach

Tourmaline Beach, San Diego, California.

Tourmaline Beach is one of the most coveted surfing spots in San Diego. The beach is located in the Tourmaline Surfing Park, in the lively neighborhood of Pacific Beach (known for its vibrant nightlife scene), and boasts consistent and clean waves and groundswells.

If you’re not a pro surfer, no worries. You can still visit Tourmaline Beach to lounge in the sand and sunbathe while watching surfers, kiteboarders, and windsurfers against the horizon.

Just a 20-minute walk from Tourmaline Beach, you’ll find Crystal Pier, which is a top spot for fishing.

Recommended Read: The 6 Best Hotels in San Diego, California

Torrey Pines State Beach

Surfers climb down the mountain to surf in the ocean near Torrey Pines in La Jolla, CA.

Located in the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, the Torrey Pines State State Beach has everything a nature worshipper lover could want. This ocean escape is surrounded by a series of 300-foot sandstone cliffs of white and golden stone, making it one of the most beautiful beaches in California.

Torrey Pines is a great beach for surfing, and during the winter months (most often in January), you’ll find consistent, clean waves here (rideable swell with light / offshore winds).

After a heart-racing surfing session on the beach, explore the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. This 2,000-acre coastal park in La Jolla encompasses maritime chaparral, the rare Torrey pine, miles of unspoiled beaches, unique geological formations, and a lagoon vital to migrating seabirds.

Coronado Beach

Coronado Beach, in San Diego, California.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock/ Meunierd

Coronado Island is an idyllic place just a short drive or ferry ride from downtown San Diego, in the middle of San Diego Bay.

This luscious island is a bucket-list place for those seeking to enjoy some of the best San Diego beaches, including the 1.75-mile-long Coronado Beach. Behind this sandy beach, you’ll find the Hotel del Coronado, California’s most iconic resort.

After lounging in Coronado Beach’s soft white sand, head over to the lush Centennial Park, where you’ll be spoiled with stunning views of the San Diego skyline.

North Pacific Beach

North Pacific Beach, in San Diego, California.

North Pacific Beach is a fantastic beach in San Diego, California, and one of the best for many reasons. This wide sandy beach is located below a steep bluff in the Pacific Beach district, offering a stunning view of the surrounding area.

North Beach is bordered by rugged cliffs up to 75 feet in height, and there’s an extension of the Pacific Beach Boardwalk that traverses the cliff-top along much of the south end of the beach, providing breathtaking views of the area. This scenic boardwalk also has several grass parks along its path.

This San Diego beach is family-friendly and has lifeguard-supervised swimming areas and facilities at the ends of Law and Diamond Streets.

Recommended Read: Best Areas To Stay In San Diego, California

South Carlsbad State Beach

South Carlsbad State Beach, California.

South Carlsbad State Beach is a wonderful public beach located in Carlsbad, approximately 45 minutes north of San Diego. It offers visitors a variety of activities, such as swimming, surfing, skin diving, fishing, and picnicking.

This three-mile-long beach on the waterfront of Carlsbad is popular with families, runners, and cyclists who enjoy its long expanses of warm sand and many restful, sunny days.

South Carlsbad State Beach is also known for having more well-defined peaks for surfing than the faster-closing beach breaks on the main stretch. 

The beach is also famous for its campground, the South Carlsbad Campground, which provides amenities like picnic tables and fire rings. Premium campsites overlook the ocean, while standard sites are slightly inland. A must-visit for those seeking a perfect beach day in Southern California!

Imperial Beach City Beach

Imperial Beach City Beach, California.

Located in San Diego’s South Bay region, just five miles north of the Mexico border, Imperial Beach City Beach is the southernmost beach in California.

This 4-mile sandy beach spoils visitors with an array of outdoor activities such as surfing, sport fishing, beach volleyball, and horseback riding along the coast. Birdwatching is also a popular activity here, as the beach is visited by 370 different bird species, including notable gull-billed terns, black skimmers, and the endangered light-footed clapper rail.

Another well-known attraction in Imperial Beach is the Imperial Beach pier, frequently used for fishing, watching the boats out at sea, and taking gorgeous pictures of the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean. The pier also provides sweeping views of the Los Coronados Islands and is a popular spot for watching the sunset.

Silver Strand State Beach

Silver Strand State Beach, California, USA.

Silver Strand State Beach is a dreamy 2 ½ mile beach between Imperial Beach and Coronado in San Diego County. The beach comprises both the Pacific Ocean and San Diego Bay, offering outdoor enthusiasts a wide range of activities such as swimming, surfing, boating, water-skiing, volleyball, and picnicking. 

Strolling along the beach, visitors may also have the chance to see moon snail shells, cockle shells, and an occasional sand dollar in the sand. Additionally, anglers can fish for various species such as perch, corbina, grunion, and yellow-fin croaker. 

The beach also offers heartwarming views of the Silver Strand State Beach’s isthmus, a narrow strip of land that connects Coronado Island with the mainland. With so many activities and beautiful views, Silver Strand State Beach is a must-visit destination for anyone looking for a fun-filled day at the beach.

Del Mar North Beach

Del Mar North Beach, California, USA.

Also known as Dog Beach, North Beach is the only beach in Del Mar where dogs can be off-leash almost year-round.

The beach is located in the charming town of Del Mar and stretches from 29th Street to Solana Beach, offering plenty of space for pups to run free and enjoy the sand and surf.

During the summer months, dogs must be on leash, but for the rest of the year, they can enjoy the freedom to roam and play with other four-legged friends.

North Beach is also popular among volleyball enthusiasts, with several courts set up on the wide flat part of the sand.

Surfers can find breaks on sandbars near the river mouth and reefs north of it, adding to the diversity of activities available. Whether you’re a dog owner looking for a place to play with your furry friend or simply a beachgoer looking for a unique experience, North Beach in Del Mar is definitely worth a visit.

Cardiff State Beach

Cardiff State Beach, California, USA.
Photo Credit: Marcel Fuentes

Located on the scenic San Diego Coast, Cardiff State Beach is a gem among California beaches. This state park is home to a long, sandy beach with warm waters, as well as a protected ecological reserve is known as San Elijo Lagoon.

Cardiff State Beach has two reefs that make for excellent surfing, while its kelp beds provide great diving opportunities. The beach is also dog-friendly, but pets must be kept on a leash at all times.

Visitors to Cardiff State Beach can explore tide pools during low tide at Seaside Beach, located at the south end of the park, where they can discover starfish and sea cucumbers. The town of Cardiff-by-the-Sea is located nearby, with a variety of shops and restaurants to enjoy after a day at the beach.

San Onofre Surf Beach

San Onofre Surf Beach, California, USA.

San Onofre Surf Beach, located in San Onofre State Beach Park, is a world-famous destination for surfers, offering a range of surf breaks that cater to all levels of experience. The beach is home to the iconic Trestles, which is considered one of the best surf breaks in the country.

Beyond surfing, visitors can enjoy volleyball courts and fire rings located next to the long linear parking area.

The San Onofre State Beach Park, where the beach is located, is known for its scenic geologic features, such as the dramatic bluffs surrounding the area, and it’s a prime place for spotting whales, dolphins, and sea lions offshore.


What are the best beaches in San Diego?

The best San Diego Beaches are:

  • South Mission Beach;
  • La Jolla Shores Beach;
  • Tourmaline Beach;
  • Torrey Pines State Beach;
  • Coronado Beach;
  • North Pacific Beach;
  • South Carlsbad State Beach;
  • Imperial Beach City Beach;
  • Silver Strand State Beach;
  • Del Mar North Beach;
  • Cardiff State Beach;
  • San Onofre Surf Beach.

Are 2 days in San Diego enough?

We recommend planning at least 3 days to explore San Diego and its main tourist attractions.

What are the 4 highlights of San Diego?

The top highlights of San Diego are the San Diego beaches, Balboa Park, San Diego Zoo, and the Gaslamp Quarter.

What is the best time to visit San Diego?

Visiting San Diego from May through early October is the best bet. During this time of year, the weather is mild (average high temperature is 24ºC), making it a joy to enjoy enjoying the beach and outdoor attractions.

Does San Diego have swimmable beaches?

Yes, San Diego has plenty of beaches where visitors can swim and enjoy watersports like surfing and paddleboarding.

What is the best white sand beach in San Diego?

Coronado Central Beach is a 1.5-mile stretch of white reflective sand in San Diego.

What is the best, least crowded beach in San Diego?

The top secluded beaches in San Diego are:

  • Black’s Beach;
  • Sunset Cliffs;
  • Silver Strand State Beach;
  • Swami’s Beach;
  • Tamarack Beach.

What beach has the clearest water in San Diego?

La Jolla Cove Beach is known for having the clearest water in San Diego.

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