Like many of you, I have wondered what are the best beaches in San Diego to see and visit. After living in San Diego County, I realize there is a lot of places I have not fully visited myself. There is so much to learn from San Diego itself.
Everyone has heard of San Diego, and it is one of the most known places in the world. You mention San Diego and everyone is like “Oh, I’ve heard of that place”.
Yup it is very nice. That’s for sure.
San Diego is known for it mild temperatures, amazing weather and popular beach coastlines. Yes, there are many beaches, but how do you know which one to visit based on your likes and if your taking the most advantage of what there is to offer!
Most people and magazines mention that the best beaches in San Diego include: La Jolla Cove, La Jolla Shores, Cardiff by the Sea, Pacific Beach, Carlsbad State Beach, Coronado beach, Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, and Mission Beach.
All of these beaches are gorgeous, but so different and each one has a story to tell. I decided to dig in a little deeper to find out what makes these beaches really unique.
Why is it that people venture to these places?
Coronado Beach: “The Crown City”
One the most popular beaches found in San Diego County is Coronado Beach. It comes to no surprise that this peninsula is one of the gems that people mention.
If you have ever been to Coronado Beach, the first thing you will notice is that it is broken off. Many people believe it to be an Island, but in reality it is a peninsula.
Not an Island.
Counter to what everyone thinks.
So in order to get there you…
Must first drive across a 200 foot bridge to arrive to the peninsula.
The view is more beautiful than the bridge itself. Once you make your way across this bridge you have pretty much arrived at Coronado Beach.
Coronado is considered the “Crown City” of San Diego because of its pristine waters and popular summer days.
It is here where you can see mineral mica hidden in the sand. It is what gives the sand its gold warm toned color.
In the summer days you can see mineral mica glistening.
Besides the sand sparkling you can find many shops and restaurants along Orange Avenue.
It is one place you have to visit.
Does Coronado have a Dog Beach?
Coronado Beach like many beaches around San Diego County have an off-leash dog area.
Fluffy can definitely run lose!
This beach is found on the Northern Beach area of Coronado. It is here where many people bring their beloved dogs to this side of the beach.
An interesting thing about this beach, was the fact that Marilyn Monroe filmed at the Hotel Del Coronado.
This iconic hotel was in her movie “Some like Hot” from 1958, and has thus earned a famous streak in Coronado County.
This beach is popular among many San Diegans, especially if you live in the Encinitas area. There is nothing but amazing surfing, camping and beautiful cliff views.
This really is a gem in San Diego.
Cardiff by the Sea is broken down into different areas where people mostly hang out. San Elijo, Cardiff State Beach, and Cardiff Towne Center.
If you are there for some camping, then look no further than the San Elijo area. The best place to be if you plan on camping for the weekend or just a night.
Surfing, if you are there for either body surfing or regular surfing then look no further than the actual Cardiff State Beach area.
There are two popular reefs that people abide by that it gives them a good boost to their surfing.
If you here to stroll around the shops and look around then check out restaurant row located on the Highway 101.
It is here when where you eat or shop to your heart’s content 🙂
It doesn’t matter if you go boogie boarding or surfing or just decide to take a stroll in the beach area. This place is the place to be.
One thing you didn’t know?
Cardiff Kook is the most famous statue found in Cardiff-By-The-Sea. It is known as a iconic symbol for the popular sport of surfing. You will be surprised that random costumes appear on this statue through out the year.
So find him if you can.
If you want to learn more about this specific beach, then do not forget to check out this article here, with everything you need to know about Cardiff-by-the-Sea in California.
La Jolla Shores and Cove
After doing some research into this beach it is no wonder that La Jolla Shores always makes the top list in beaches to see.
Can you really blame the gorgeous views, and unbelievable ocean water.
The short answer is no.
La Jolla Shores is made up of many secluded coves, reefs, and cliffs. There is plenty of open space to relax for a day or even to hang out.
What to Expect when Visiting La Jolla Cove
One of the most popular things you can do here is to surf. If you are an expert surfer or have never been on a surfboard then there is no better beach to try.
La Jolla Cove like many other San Diego beaches are also famous for jogging, walking, cycling and family picnics.
Who doesn’t want to take a chance to check out these family friendly activities.
Along with all of these popular things, La Jolla Cove area is known as a popular snorkeling and scuba diving area.
If your here to take in the views then head over to the children’s pool to check out the most adorable sea lions and otters sunbathing on the boards.
And if your concern is your children, then you will happy to know that there are lifeguards on duty in the more heavily populated places such as La Jolla Shores, La Jolla Cove, and the children’s pool.
Looking for shops?
Then be sure you check out the local shopping and eateries near La Jolla Shores.
A popular place to check is near Kellogg Park where there are grassy areas to picnic if you decide to bring lunch 😉
One thing you didn’t know?
One of the most popular nudist beach (clothing is optional) is called Blacks Beach. Just keep in mind that in order to get to this beach it is a little dangerous since you have you bypass some steep cliffs.
Keep in mind, that if you go swimming then there are no lifeguards present!
There are firepits a galore! Every night almost every firepit is taken up and you see nothing but twinkling lights! If you plan on having a bonfire just makes sure you arrive early as to secure a nice fire pit.
Who doesn’t want to have s’mores for dinner!?
Sunset Cliffs National Park
After researching this beach, I knew i had to go check it out. It is not only a beach, but a hiking trail with spectacular panoramic views!
It’s not like any other beach and no wonder this is one that ranks in the top 10 in most people list.
The hike is found to be about 3 miles in length and is considered easy to intermediate since it is very popular among many families.
It is mostly flat ground so the hike is not treacherous. Although, because of the steep cliff formations, it is best not to get too close to the edge.
As always, just practice caution when hiking through this and any other trail.
What makes this beach and hiking unique is the fact that there a lot of cliff formations and also coastal padding when you walk along it.
You will also notice also one thing about this beach. There is a lot of popularity among kayakers, surfers, and ocean gazers.
A lot of people prefer to kayak to have a closer view of the cliff formations.
One thing that I found according to the city of San Diego, is that Sunset Cliff National Park is made up of 68 acres of park found between the western edge of Point Loma and along the Pacific Ocean.
It is recommended that you start your hike at Adair street and walk south to Ladera Street for the best sunset views 🙂
This beach like many others draws the younger crowd of college students and young adults. The party scene and beach club vibe is stronger here than almost any other beach found in San Diego County.
At night, parking is definitely more limited and you see larger crowds come alive at night. If the beach party scene is your thing then definitely check Pacific Beach out.
If not. Then fret not that there is still so much beautiful beach to see here.
If your a surfer?
Then definitely check out Tourmaline Surfing Park. You will definitely notice all levels of surfers here and it is a popular place to hang out
If your a family?
Fret not. There is still beautiful beaches and coast for you and your whole family to take in.
Head over to North Pacific Beach as this is where most families love to hang. Not only is it gorgeous here, but you definitely have lifeguards available in this area.
And who doesn’t like a sense of security?
You can also find restroom facilities, which are found at Diamond Street.
If your Bicyclist?
Are you coming to rent bikes and cruise along the beach? Then definitely be sure you grab your rental bike along Pacific Beach Drive and Grand Avenue.
There lots of shops that offer just that and along the way you will definitely see a lot of beach bars.
After doing some research, I realized that this beach attracts young adults and college students too.
But it is also known as a popular beaches known for its classic downtown area. It is here where you can find many bars and nightclubs along with many restaurants.
You can definitely see the city come to life at night as the streets get filled with many people looking for the most popular hip scenes.
One of the most popular classic vibes to this beach is the amazing boardwalk and museum. What makes this beach very iconic is a roller coaster called the “giant dipper roller coaster”.
It was first built in 1925 and since then has been demolished and remodeled over and over again.
In addition there is all kinds of smaller carnival rides such as bumper cars, a roller coaster, rock climbing area, an arcade, and mini golfing.
More or less the popular area is actually referred to as Belmont Park. It is found between Mission Boulevard and West Mission Bay.
Fishing? then head on over the Mission Bay Jetty a place where people go who enjoy reeling in the fish.
Amusement park junkie?
Head over to Belmont Park where you will find the giant roller coaster, bumper cars etc.
If you do plan on parking here, your best bet is near the Belmont Parking lot since there are lots of people and parking can be limited. It is best if you Uber or get a ride to get dropped off.
Like many beaches all around San Diego County there are many that are just drop gorgeous.
With the summer weather heating up, there is really no excuse on why you shouldn’t be going more.
Every beach offers you a little something different. Each is unique in their own way.
Any of these beaches will definitely be the mini weekend or vacation escape you need.
Whether you go to party or just take a relaxing trip is your choice.
Party at Pacific Beach or Mission Beach.
Or you choose a little hiking with spectacular views such as those found in Sunset Cliffs Beach or La Jolla Cove.
Or whether you opt for a classic beach where you can invite fluffy such as Coronado Beach.
It really does not matter.
Thankfully after doing a lot of research on various beaches there is a little something for everybody.
So do not worry if you are not choosing the perfect beach. They all have a special little gift waiting for you.
So bring you surfboard if your surfer, or your family, or your dog! Or all three!
What are you favorite beaches?
Jess and Jeanette are two sisters who created Unseen Beaches. This beach travel site was inspired by their family beach vacations while growing up. Helping you discover the best U.S. beach destinations worth visiting, staying, and eating.