The weather is getting hotter, the sun is getting brighter, and the waves are getting better. Here is your ultimate guide to the best beaches in San Diego!
We have started in the north and made our way south along the coast with all the beaches you need to experience in San Diego.
Hike along the cliffs and go for a swim
This park earned its name from the Torrey Pines that live here. Take a break from the water and wander across nature trails through the majestic pines. Right along Highway 101, you will see spectacular views, including perhaps some hang gliders soaring above you with the birds. After visiting, you will see why this is one of the best beaches in San Diego.
Torrey Pines Beach Is Best For:
Natural Beach Vibes
NATURE: BIG WAVES, MASSIVE CLIFFS, A NAKED GOOD TIME
This beach is located just north of La Jolla, and is known as an optional nude beach. With its large cove quality, it is secluded and connects with the beautiful Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve Park. Blacks Beach offers great waves for surfing and a natural landscape.
Blacks Beach Is Best For:
Nude Sun Bathing
Natural Beach Vibes
Beautiful coastline with a pristine beach
This mile-long sandy stretch of beach is known for being the safest swimming water in the summer months. Although the beach can get very crowded in the summer, the vibe and views are absolutely amazing. The sandy shoreline is perfect for surfing or cooling off with a swim. During certain times of the year, you can every swim with some friendly leopard sharks!
La Jolla Shores Is Best For:
SNORKELING, WILDLIFE, BEAUTY
La Jolla Cove is an exquisite area where seals call to one another and have no fear of humans, allowing you to get close to them as you both swim. The Underwater Park Ecological Reserve is right beside this beach, so all wildlife is protected and preserved here – do not take anything but what you brought with you! Enjoy a scuba or snorkeling lesson, and take in the beautiful fish swimming around your legs. Feel safe while you’re hanging out, as this is a family beach area and there are always lifeguards on duty
La Jolla Cove Is Best For:
Local Surfers with a rugged coastline
Wind an Sea is more of a locals beach in La Jolla. You will find amazing surfers taking on big waves and strong tides. The scattered rocky coastline creates great surf breaks and small secluded beaches to enjoy. Be sure to take a photo underneath the world-famous surf hut when you come to Wind an Sea!
Wind An Sea Beach Is Best For:
PARTIES AND EXCITEMENT, A CLASSIC CALIFORNIA EXPERIENCE
Pacific Beach is the stereotypical California beach experience. There are surfers at all times of day with their boards under their arms, college kids talking loudly to each other about classes and the future as they sunbathe their cares away. There are events day and night, and all week long at this happening beach. If you get a little too crazy, you can book a bed at our beach hostel and have a complimentary breakfast in the morning to set you right the next day! With tons of local businesses, and a farmer’s market every Thursday, this is a bustling beach town where excitement awaits by the surf.
Pacific Beach Is Best For:
WATER SPORTS AND A BOARDWALK OF ACTIVITY
A classic boardwalk beach town that is nearly two miles long, Mission Beach also has numerous rental shops for water sports and activities. Belmont Park, an amusement park on the boardwalk, gives thrill right by the ocean, featuring the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster. If you want some amusement park, fun this is the beach for you. Along with the roller coaster, there is also miniature golf, bumper cars, rock climbing, and an arcade.
Mission Beach is a popular beach with the 20-something crowd, since there are plenty of bars and it is so close to Pacific Beach. We recommend spending the time to walk from Mission to Pacific Beach, instead of taking a car or bus. Pacific Beach boasts a a hot nightlife scene for young adults and the young at heart. No matter what age you are, there are places to bike, play beach volleyball, boogie board, surf, whale watch, sport fish, and scuba dive! If you want some sound waters, Mission Bay is a quick walk away, and is home to SeaWorld San Diego. It is the largest aquatic park of its kind and there is plenty of space to enjoy some leisure time in this one-of-a-kind oasis on your own, with family or friends.
Mission Beach Is Best For:
Exercise On The Boardwalk
BOHEMIANS, HIPPIES, SURFING, OH MY!
Closer to the heart of the city this beach has a hippie/bohemian feel. As you walk the small streets and take in the colorful beach bungalows, you will see your fair share of tie-dye shirts and barefooted residents. This is an active community with community co-ops, local shops, and a drum circle/fire-throwing event every Wednesday night on the beach. Enjoy the chill vibes of Ocean Beach, where no one is judging – just existing contently by the sea. If you are staying closer to Downtown San Diego, this is the closest beach to you and easy to skip over to when you feel the need for the sea.
Ocean Beach Is Best For:
Laid Back Vibes
Farmers Market & Drum Circle
PEACEFUL NATURE AND A SPECTACULAR VIEW
This unique coastal environment features expansive ocean views, dramatic cliff formations, and caves. A native coastal sage scrub habitat that connects to Point Loma Ecological Reserve, Sunset Cliffs have my vote for the best beaches in San Diego and is an attraction for San Diego residents, as well as national and international visitors.
With its rugged coastline and panoramic views, this area is popular with surfers, ocean-gazers, and folks who like beautiful drives. Sunset Cliffs Boulevard runs the length of the cliffs – it begins at Adair Street and continues south, to Ladera Street. It is a breathtaking view of the most amazing sunsets that you will ever see. Grab some serenity of the Pacific Coastline as you gaze out at the sunset from the best vantage point in San Diego.
Sunset Cliffs Is Best For:
CHARM WITH VAST GOLDEN SANDS
As you travel across the 200-foot tall Coronado Bridge, you will enter into the charming beach town of Coronado. There are quaint shops along Orange Avenue, and classic film trivia with the Coronado Hotel being a glamorous spot for old film stars, plus the set for “Some Like It Hot”, a Marilyn Monroe movie from the 60s. From there, walk down onto the expansive beaches of sparkling sand. It really does sparkle because of the mineral mica, making it healthful as well as beautiful. Grab a brew from the Coronado Brewing Company, take a trolley tour; this beach is filled with charm and beauty.
Coronado Is Best For:
Vast Sandy Beaches
More locals than tourists
Imperial Beach is San Diego’s closest beach to Mexico. You won’t find as many tourists in Imperial beach, due to its location being approximately 20 minutes south of Downtown San Diego. Imperial Beach has a beautiful pier that creates great waves for surfers! If you want to get some exercise, you can run for miles along the beautiful stretch of coastline.
Imperial Beach Is Best For:
Vast Beach For Exercise
If you have any more questions about finding the best beaches in San Diego, stop by one of our hostels and we will give your more insight! Enjoy your vacation in San Diego!