Do you want to know where the best beaches in San Diego are? I mean, when you think of San Diego, you’re probably simultaneously thinking of those pristine beaches. It’s one of San Diego’s biggest attractions! When it comes to the beaches, the question isn’t, “should you go”…instead it’s “which one should you go to”? Let’s dive in!
10 of the Best Beaches in San Diego
1. Mission Beach
Mission Beach is San Diego’s most lively and vibrant beach. It has a very stereotypical “California beach life” type of atmosphere. Here the shirts are optional and string bikinis are, everywhere. Within the nearly two miles of oceanfront boardwalk, you can find anything from rental shops, surf lessons, beach volleyball courts, an arcade, and even the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster.
And when you need a break from biking along the boardwalk or surf lesson, there’s plenty of bars and eateries along the shoreline to indulge in.
2. Pacific Beach
Come join the party! Pacific Beach (or PB to locals) is just north of Mission Beach, and is mostly known for its party atmosphere.
You’re guaranteed to have a good time here whether you’re lazily strolling along the pier, or grabbing some ice cream or an acai bowl at the local food stand.
3. Ocean Beach
Ocean Beach (or OB to locals) has its own unique energy that I adore. This funky and hippy-happy community creates a fun atmosphere, while maintaining the groovy vibes from the SoCal of old.
There’s a strong surfer and skater scene here, but the beach is more laid back and has fewer tourists than other popular beaches such as Pacific Beach and Mission Beach.
4. La Jolla
La Jolla’s coastline is easy to love, it has it all. Dramatic sea cliffs (check!), hidden coves (check!), rocky reefs (check!), and beautiful sandy beaches (double check!).
- La Jolla Cliffs – This is possibly one of my favorite spots in San Diego. The Torrey Pines Gliderport is also located here, where you can paraglide or hang glide down the steep 300-foot sea cliffs.
- La Jolla Cove – Super popular spot right here. Depending on the time and day, good luck finding parking. This is where you can get up close and personal to the many seals and sea lions that sunbath on the rocky shores.
There’s also a large park for picnicking, or you can go swimming and snorkeling or adventure kayaking around the sea caves.
If you have time, I’d recommend breakfast at Brockton Villa. A lovely restaurant with views overlooking the coastline.
- La Jolla Shores – La Jolla Shores is a unique little spot because the beach is in the shape of a crescent. It’s great for swimmers and surfers! My favorite though is to come in the evening for the sunset and fire pits.
- Windansea Beach – Although beautiful, Windansea is not where you want to be if you’re looking for a relaxing day at the beach. The scenery, however, is stunning due to the rocky landscape and reefs you can walk out on.
5. Coronado Beach
The beaches of Coronado are legendary! And we cannot forget the iconic Hotel del Coronado that’s beautifully located right along its shores.
Come here for a family friendly day on the beach, and wander around Orange Street for food and shopping.
6. Del Mar Beach
The Del Mar beaches are broken into 4 main sections:
- Del Mar City Beach – This is the main beach in Del Mar. It starts at Powerhouse Park going north
- Del Mar North Beach – This beach is referred to as Dog Beach because you can let your dogs run off-leash here.
- South Beach of Del Mar – This beach runs south of Powerhouse Park towards the north end of Torrey Pines State Beach
- Torrey Pines State Beach – Torrey Pines is actually between La Jolla and Del Mar. It is a gorgeous slice of sand and I highly recommend making a visit.
7. Solana Beach
The further north you go, you’ll see less tourists and more authentic seaside communities. Solana Beach is no exception. Beautiful Solana Beach resides below dramatic cliffs, and makes for picturesque views.
But don’t forget to stroll down the Cedros Avenue Design District for cafés and eclectic boutique shopping.
I fell in love with Cardiff-by-the-Sea the first time I visited. Between the great surfing, seaside cliffs, and sandy beaches, this spot is strikingly beautiful!
Another personal fav about this spot is the Patagonia store located near the beach that’s just fun to wander and browse through.
9. Swami’s Beach
This strip of sand is not just a beautiful beach, but its waves are also highly coveted by local surfers. It’s actually an internationally known surf spot!
So venture out if you dare. Fun fact: Swami’s was also popularized by the Beach Boy’s hit “Surfin’ USA”.
Upscale Carlsbad is a quaint, seaside village resort that you’ll never want to leave. Full of family fun activities, there’s also a nice little park and walkway for strolling and rollerblading along the coast.
In addition to the beach, it’s also a great spot for shopping, restaurants and wine tasting.
Going to San Diego? Check out these popular posts:
- 20 Things to Tick Off Your San Diego Bucket List
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- 10 Reasons to Visit San Diego
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What do you think are the best beaches in San Diego? Love to know in the comments below!