Jagged cliffs and golden sands define San Diego’s famous beaches, all of which are accommodating to travelers. Surfers, swimmers, water sports lovers and kids will always have a beach that suits them, while beachfront hotels offer scenic views. San Diego does a phenomenal job at ensuring facilities such as lifeguards and restrooms are readily available, and for the most part, tasty restaurants surround each beach. At times you will find yourself secluded, which can be welcomed. Offering a wide variety, these are the best beaches in San Diego.
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La Jolla Shores
La Jolla Shores is widely known for having some sweet snorkeling and scuba diving spots. The beach itself is not only quite pretty, but there are also lots of amenities such as seafood eateries and restrooms. One of the coolest features for kids is the semi-covered beachside playground with slides, platforms, fireman poles—the works. Later in the day, bonfires kick off at the designated fire pits, and after 6pm, pooches can pay a visit.
Tourmaline Surfing Park
Surprisingly, surfing isn’t allowed at all the beaches in San Diego, so you’ll have to find designated places to bring your board. Tourmaline Surfing Park is one of the many places that do welcome surfers and kite-boarders, but it would be a bit dicey for those looking to swim. Still, it’s a nice nook to stretch out in the sand, and there are some tidal pools to discover along some of the rocks.
Torrey Pines Beach
Torrey Pines Beach is a part of the state park, which is ladened with a special pine tree. The beach is more isolated and separate from industrialization or hotels. You’re in a state natural area, so expect to spot more birds and native species. Perfect for a romantic date or a family picnic, the spacious beach is San Diego in its most natural orientation.
Pacific Beach is a hopping destination with not only golden sand and reflective waters but a stretching pier which is now a historic landmark. Cast a line and maybe you’ll snag a fish or two. Along the over three-mile boardwalk are restaurants, cafes, shops and plenty of establishments to grab a killer cocktail. Pacific Beach is bustling, but still maintains a charming balance of a well rounded seaside haven.
Ocean Beach welcomes furry friends to on and off-leash sandy areas. Fishing, tacos, antique shops and organic food stops give it that funky Southern California flare that one certainly should experience in San Diego. The beach is spacious and excellent for swimming and basking in the sun.
Moonlight Beach undoubtedly is a stunning place to take a night walk, but its flat surfaces create optimal terrain to play, play, play. So yes, another one perfect for families, or for a group of sports fanatics that would like to play a scenic game of football. Surrounding facilities perfectly complement a day full day of fun, as there are restrooms, plenty of snacks and lots of parking spots. Some lots do require a fee.
Black’s Beach makes the list partially because it offers something many do not, the ability to truly set yourself free. Basically, it’s a nude beach, and also a favorite hub for the gay community. The atmosphere is lively, fun, and respectfully tame enough that even those who like to stay covered up flock to Black’s. To top it off, the scenery is perfect.
Windansea Beach may not be the best for swimming, as the waves crash hard against the sand and rocky edges, but it’s none the less a stunning place to catch the sunset or snap some photos. Not a lot of people come out this way, given the treacherous nature of the water, so it’s a way to escape from the crowds. Although, you may see a daring surfer or two taking on the vicious sea, or even a whale during migration season.
Surfers love Cardiff by the Sea, but paddle boarding and snorkeling are also permitted. Campers actually come and set up base at this amazing California site, and enjoy a weekend of nature and lots of water adventures. Seriously, this is real beachfront camping, and there’s nothing quite like it.
Another surfers refuge, Imperial Beach sits near the bottom of California and is the last ocean recreation area before you hit Mexico. Eco-tourism is also a top reason many choose to visit, as the Tijuana River National Estuary, where the fresh and saltwater meet, creates an ecologically diverse refuge for various species.
Del Mar City Beach
Del Mar City Beach is probably the one that has it all. Dogs are welcome on one part, while families can enjoy the sand and tidal pool exploration to the south. A grassy play and picnic area add to the notion that a day trip with the little ones may go as planned for once! Restaurants, lifeguards and bathrooms are onsite—what more could one ask for?