10 Best Beaches in San Diego

The Ultimate guide to the best beaches in San Diego

1. Blacks beach

Blacks Beach is one of the best beaches in all of San Diego, not only for the waves but also the minimal crowds. Blacks beach does have a secret although… it is San Diego’s only clothing optional beach (nudity allowed). Blacks is also a significant hike down to the water, whether via the stair access point through gliderport or the road access point in La Jolla Farms it’s a mile walk down to the beach with a steep incline on the way back up. Due to these two things traffic on the beach is relatively minimal and usually just locals and UC San Diego students. During certain tides Blacks beach will fill with shells and sand dollars and is the perfect beach for an evening walk. During low tides it can be accessed via scripps beach making for a less strenuous hike in and out.

Location: 2800 Torrey Pines Scenic Dr, La Jolla, CA 92037

Access Points: Gliderport stairs located at the address above, recommended for most as this area has a large dirt parking lot that is free to the public. The Gliderport is also a great place to relax before or after the hike to Blacks Beach since you can watch the hang gliders take off or grab a refreshment from the cafe. Our local San Diego writers have also happened to included this beach for one of the best sunset date ideas in San Diego. La Jolla Farms neighborhood is another access point to Blacks Beach with a paved emergency road to walk down instead of stairs. The parking in this neighborhood is few and far between with cars being regularly towed when parked in red zones. I would recommend this access point only if you are familiar with the area.

2. coronado

Coronado Beach certainly has the most picturesque white sand in all of San Diego. Laying on the beach here will remind you of a tropical paradise with the silk sand beneath your feet. This island on the southern side of San Diego is a most see for any visitor or local in the summer or winter. The Hotel Del is one of the most prestigious in all of San Diego sitting right on the Pacific Ocean.

Location: 919 Ocean Blvd., Coronado, Ca. 92118.

Parking: There is free parking along Ocean Boulevard.  Residential parking is allowed on the majority of streets in Coronado.

3. fletchers cove

If you are looking for a family friendly option Fletchers Cove in Solana Beach has you covered. This cove is close to all the best lunch spots in Solana beach, has a large grassy area, and a children’s playground, all right on the beach. Fletchers Cove in the perfect all inclusive beach in North County San Diego for families with small children.

Location: 111 S Sierra Ave, Solana Beach, CA 92075

Parking: Free parking can be found in a parking lot on Sierra St. as well as additional parking in the surrounding neighborhoods.

4. la jolla cove

La Jolla Cove is known for the seals that relax along all the rocks but there are many other hidden gems within the cove. Right above the main beach area is a small store, you may have never given a second thought called, The Cave Store. Take a look inside for one of La Jolla Cove’s best kept secrets. For a small admission fee walk down into one of the best caves in all of San Diego, perfect for an instagram photo overlooking the ocean. The Cove is not only know for it’s beauty above water but also below! Book a snorkeling session to see fish, stingrays, and even an occasional sea turtle, but don’t forget your wetsuit since the waters in San Diego are cold year round.

Location: 1100 Coast Blvd. , La Jolla, CA 92037

Parking: There are free parking spots all along Coast Blvd. although they usually fill up very fast. Additionally there is a paid parking structure on Girard Ave. within the shops and restaurants.

5. pacific beach

Pacific Beach is known for its surfing near the Pier with generally small waves, Pacific Beach is a great spot for beginning surfers. Bring your friends and rent a long board and enjoy the day at the beach in San Diego’s Pacific Beach Neighborhood. After a long day having fun in the sun check out the night life. This area is known for its fun crowds and bars all along the main street. Grab a beer over looking the ocean to end the perfect day in San Diego.

Location: 4500 Ocean Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109

Parking: While there is no dedicated parking lot to this expansive beach, there are many lots and structures scattered throughout the Pacific Beach Neighborhood. There is also free street parking along Garnet Ave as long as you can find a spot.

6. windansea

Windansea is a beach beloved by the locals of San Diego for the surfing and sunset views. The moonscape style beach is perfect for any tide, with the beach being only available to sit on during low tide, the higher rocks offer seating during high tide. This beach is perfect to get a tan on in the summer for any local or visitor, but we wouldn’t recommend it to new surfers. Windansea is a notoriously local surf spot to prevent overcrowding of the waves. We recommend La Jolla shores just a few miles away for anyone looking to learn to surf.

Location: 6800 Neptune Pl, La Jolla, CA 92037

Parking: There is a very small parking lot with approximately 10 parking stalls at windansea, but there will rarely be an opening. The surrounding neighborhoods are a sure way to find parking for Windansea beach.

7. Mission beach boardwalk

Mission Beach Boardwalk is a perfect way to spend the day on the beach if you’re looking for something a bit more exciting than sunbathing. This boardwalk has all the fun you could ever ask for, roller coasters, arcades, mini golf, and more! The Belmont boardwalk is open year round and has great food. While Belmont park has specific hours of operation, Mission beach is always a great beach to catch some sun rays at.

Location: 3146 Mission Blvd. San Diego, CA 92109

Parking: There is a large parking lot adjacent to Belmont Park at the aforementioned address.

8. moonlight beach

Moonlight Beach is another great family friendly beach located in Encinitas, CA. Encinitas is a beautiful suburb of San Diego with great culture and beautiful scenery and gardens. Moonlight Beach has great beach volleyball courts that are perfect for family fun or a competitive game between friends.

Location: 386 B Street Encinitas, CA 92024

Parking: There is a paid parking lot with an entrance on C Street, but first look for free street parking in the area.

9. San Onofre

Our furthest north beach, right on the boarder of San Diego and Orange County is San Onofre beach. This beach is known for its incredible camping throughout the year, but you can also get a day pass to enjoy the surf and sand without the large crowds. This beach does have an admission fee of $15 per vehicle for the day, but it’s well worth the price.  Trestles is a world renowned surf beach, watch some of the best surfers in the world from the sand as they practice for world championships at San Onofre.

Location: This state beach is 3 miles south of the city of San Clemente on Interstate 5 at Basilone Road.  San Onofre Bluffs and San Onofre Surf Beach are located south of San Clemente on I-5 (Exit Basilone Road). The San Mateo Campground is located on the outer edge of San Clemente; 1 mile inland from I-5 (Exit Cristianitos)

10. new point, Point loma

The lighthouse at the very south end of Sunset Cliffs National Park in Point Loma. This beautiful monument and cliffside is the perfect way to spend the day along the southern San Diego coast. Since this is a national monument there are specific hours of operation 9am to 5pm. Take in some of San Diego’s history while over looking the cliffs and crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean.

Location & Parking: 1800 Cabrillo Memorial Dr, San Diego, CA 92106

frequently asked San Diego beach Questions

What is the appropriate attire for the beach in san diego?

San Diego mostly stays sunny year round. In the summer, spring, and fall months you can expect to be wearing clothing to stay cool. This means bikinis & boardshorts are what most people will be wearing to the beaches in these months, where whether can range from 60-90° F. On colder days such as in the winter months a jacket and possibly a blanket are a must for San Diego beaches! In the colder winter months expect the temperature to range from 45-75° F.

How big do the waves get at San Diego beaches & are the beaches good for swimming / surfing?

Surfing in very popular in San Diego for a good reason: there is consistently waves year round! In the summer months when the swells come from the SW waves can range from 1 foot all the way to 10 feet! In the summer waves will be big big less consistently than in the Winter, and is the best time for swimming. Some beaches may receive blockage from the channel islands and be better for swimming than others. In the Winter is when the ocean really comes to life in Southern California and the waves can get all the way up to 15-20 feet on the biggest of swells. Going in the ocean in the Winter should be reserved for water experts as the current becomes much stronger and the ocean becomes more dangerous.