Ultimate Guide To The Best Beaches In San Diego

Bobby Dyer
Beeeeech

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.

Victor UNKvULoxDcY Unsplash

 

Torrey Pines Beach

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:

Hiking

Natural Beach Vibes

Coastal Cliffs

 

BLACKS BEACH

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:

Surfing

Nude Sun Bathing

Natural Beach Vibes

 

LA JOLLA SHORES

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:

Surfing

Swimming

Families

 

La Jolla Cove

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, take in the beautiful fish swimming around your legs. And feel safe, this is a family beach area and there are always lifeguards on duty

La Jolla Cove Is Best For:

Snorkeling

Sea Lions

Swimming

La Jolla Snorkeling

 

Wind An Sea

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:

Surfing

Fishing

Sun Bathing

 

PACIFIC BEACH

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, 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:

Partying

Surfing

Sun Bathing

 

MISSION BEACH

WATER SPORTS AND A BOARDWALK OF ACTIVITY

A classic boardwalk beach town that is nearly two miles long, and has numerous rental shops. 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. A hot nightlife scene for young adults and the young at heart. No matter what age you are, there are biking, beach volleyball, boogie boarding, surfing, whale watching, sport fishing, and scuba diving activities to choose from. 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:

Surfing

Families

Exercise On The Boardwalk

 

OCEAN BEACH

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

California Culture

Stephen Arnold XSTQzSLJA4c Unsplash

 

SUNSET CLIFFS

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, 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:

Sunsets

Surfing

Secluded Beaches

 

CORONADO

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, classic film trivia with the Coronado Hotel being a glamorous spot for old film stars and 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 is one of the beaches of charm and beauty.

Coronado Is Best For:

Vast Sandy Beaches

Surfing

Families

Imperial Beach

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:

Surfing

Less Crowded

Vast Beach For Exercise

Lance Asper L5aI2jU0i50 Unsplash

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!

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Cofounder of ITH Hostels. I love traveling, hosting, gardening, golfing, fishing, and sailing.

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