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12 Awesome San Diego Beaches

August 7, 2019

With over 70 miles of coastline and an average annual high temperature of 70˚F, San Diego offers some of the best beaches in the U.S. There are over 100 named beaches in San Diego County and they range from well-known family-friendly spots to secluded hideaways—but all are beautiful and worth a visit. Scroll down to learn more about 12 of San Diego’s best beaches!


Torrey Pines State Beach

What better place to begin than Torrey Pines State Beach, one of the most striking beaches in San Diego. The 4.5-mile beach is located just below the Torrey Pines State Reserve, a rugged 1,750-acre oceanfront reserve that has miles of hiking trails, including one that leads down to the beach.

Ultimate San Diego Beach Guide: Torrey Pines State Beach
Photo credit: Nick Amoscato / Flickr

Coronado Central Beach

Coronado’s main beach is beautiful on its own but add in the backdrop of the iconic Hotel Del Coronado and you have yourself the perfect San Diego postcard. Sunbathers flock to this beach for its spaciousness, soft white sand, and views of Point Loma, Mexico, and the Islas Coronado.

Ultimate San Diego Beach Guide: Coronado Central Beach
Photo credit: Leandro Neumann Ciuffo / Flickr

Windansea Beach

Tucked away in a cove in La Jolla and offering only 16 parking spaces, this picturesque beach generally stays under the radar, but it’s well known in the surf community. This famous reef break has drawn expert surfers for decades. Note that while the strong shore break makes for great surfing, swimming and snorkeling are not recommended here.

Ultimate San Diego Beach Guide: Windansea Beach
Photo credit: Frank Mckenna / Unsplash

Cardiff State Beach

If you’re looking to escape the crowds head to Cardiff State Beach, situated across from the San Elijo Lagoon State Marine Conservation Area in Cardiff. This wide sandy beach is a favorite for surfers (pros included) and locals. At low tide, tidepools reveal themselves and you can spot their little inhabitants which include hermit crabs, sea snails, and other critters.

Ultimate San Diego Beach Guide: Cardiff State Beach
Photo credit: Tim Buss / Flickr (cropped)

Moonlight State Beach

Encinitas’ Moonlight State Beach is a favorite for North County families. There is lots of space, along with three volleyball courts, several picnic tables, a concession stand, and an equipment rental stand. In the summer, Moonlight hosts a free concert series, taking place on certain Sundays from 3 to 5 p.m.

Ultimate San Diego Beach Guide: Moonlight State Beach
Photo credit: Tim Buss / Flickr (cropped)

Tourmaline Beach

Tourmaline Beach is located within Tourmaline Surfing Park in North Pacific Beach. Swimming is prohibited in most areas of the beach, but Tourmaline is great for sunbathing and watching the surfers, kiteboarders, and windsurfers who frequent the park. Dogs are allowed before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m. (although these hours may change seasonally).

Ultimate San Diego Beach Guide: Tourmaline Beach
Photo credit: Claude Piche / Unsplash 

Imperial Beach

Situated just five miles from the Mexican border, Imperial Beach is California’s southernmost beach and one of San Diego’s best kept secrets. This four-mile stretch of beach offers a break from the usual crowds and is located within walking distance of some great inexpensive eateries. Visitors can take a stroll along the Imperial Beach Pier, which extends 1,491 feet into the ocean; a seafood restaurant called The Tin Fish sits at the end. The Tijuana River National Estuary, the largest coastal wetland in California, is adjacent to the beach and has four miles of walking trails and excellent birdwatching.

Ultimate San Diego Beach Guide: Imperial Beach
Photo credit: Dakota Corbin / Unsplash

La Jolla Shores

La Jolla is bursting with natural beauty, and its main beach, La Jolla Shores, not only offers stunning scenery but also family-friendly perks such as a large grassy park with barbecues, a playground, gentle waves, and firepits on the sand. The beach’s underwater canyons and sea caves draw kayakers, snorkelers, and scuba divers. Beachgoers may spot some leopard sharks, particularly in August and September, but not to worry—they are harmless!

Ultimate San Diego Beach Guide: La Jolla Shores
Photo credit: Jon Lee Clark / Flickr

Pacific Beach

It doesn’t get much more SoCal than Pacific Beach, or PB as it’s referred to locally. This beach town is filled with laid-back bars and restaurants, along with lots of beach equipment rental shops. The two-mile long beach and the 3.5-mile boardwalk can get crowded but the atmosphere is lively and the people watching is never dull.

Ultimate San Diego Beach Guide: Pacific Beach
Photo credit: Roman Gomez / Unsplash

Black’s Beach

Black’s Beach is one of the best places in San Diego to lose all your tan lines…and your inhibitions. The secluded beach is known for being clothing-optional (the northern end of the beach, that is), but it has a lot more to offer than exposed flesh. It’s one of the most beautiful beaches in the city and its surf break has attracted surfers for decades.

Ultimate San Diego Beach Guide: Black's Beach
Photo credit: Moonjazz / Flickr

Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach, or OB, is one of San Diego’s most charming neighborhoods. Part surfer, part hippie, OB offers some great brewpubs and dive bars, as well as numerous antique shops. The southern part of Ocean Beach lures sunbathers, swimmers, and surfers; the northern end (Dog Beach) draws visitors of the four-legged variety. Don’t miss the Ocean Beach Pier, the longest pier in California!

Ultimate San Diego Beach Guide: Ocean Beach
Photo credit: Jon Sullivan / Wikimedia Commons

Beacon’s Beach

Encinitas favorite Beacon’s attracts local sunbathers and surfers. It’s a little tough to get to, which keeps it largely crowd (and child) free. So, if tranquility and great views are what you’re after, this is the place for you. Note that the beach gets quite narrow during high tide.

Ultimate San Diego Beach Guide: Beacon's Beach
Photo credit: Jennifer Regnier / Unsplash 

Written by Whitney Currier for Knockaround.

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