Heading to San Diego and planning on visiting the beach here? As well as planning on bringing your drone? Well, we put together a guide listing the 10 best beach places to take San Diego drone photography.

Being a licensed drone pilot as well as owning several drones there’s a lot of components to consider when it comes to flying it in public places. But, this shouldn’t deter you from bringing your drone to the beach.

Afterall, there’s amazing aerial shots you might be missing out on from that  aerial perspective view. So let’s just into it.

10 San Diego Aerial Photography Places

Drone photography in San Diego beaches offer amazing aerial views. But, research first to make sure you can fly here.

There are sometimes lifeguards who also tell you where you can or can’t fly. Trust, me I have had my fair share with these types of people. It’s always best not to respond in a defensive way or acknowledge how wrong they are.

Rather, ask for clarification on why you can’t fly here and state there must have been a misunderstanding because according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) you are compliant with flying your drone here. The FAA is in charge of regulating all U.S. airspace.

In an amicable manner show your evidence. Well, discuss later what types of evidence you can show, but first let’s jump to those beach places.

solana beach san diego drone photography
Photo by Maddie Metzger

FLETCHER COVE

Fletcher Cove is a perfect place to catch some epic shots with your drone. It is considered a less tourist beach place than La Jolla Shores.

As of June 2020, you can fly here! On the Solana Beach homepage, there is nothing that states you can’t fly your drone here.

solana beach information
FLY Fletcher Cover Map
Fletcher Cove Verifly

What can you expect of Fletcher Cove?

  • Houses overlooking the ocean
  • Many sea cliffs are falling due to erosion
  • No rocks
  • No pier
  • Restrooms

TIDE BEACH PARK

Tide Beach Park is a lesser secluded area of Solana Beach. It can be access through Pacific Avenue and Solana Vista Drive. Here you will find a stairwell leading to the beach. You can spot several wildlife that are found within the tide pools.

What can you expect of Tide Beach Park?

  • Houses overlooking the ocean
  • Seaweed
  • Tide pools
  • No restrooms
  • No volleyball nets
encinitas san diego beach drone photography
Photo by Steve Iverson

CARDIFF BY THE SEA

Cardiff by the Sea also goes by Cardiff. Located in Encinitas you can’t go wrong with visiting this place. You will often spot beachcombers looking for treasure. There is an array of many shops and restaurants nearby.

What can you expect of Cardiff by the Sea?

  • No homes nearby
  • No rocks
  • Restrooms and showers

OCEANSIDE HARBOR BEACH

Oceanside Harbor Beach is one of my favorite beaches for drone photography. Perfect for San Diego drone photography. You got the sunsets along with the Oceanside Pier.

Nearby this beach is the Oceanside Harbor Village. Oceanside Harbor Village is home to restaurants and shops worth visiting.

What can you expect from Oceanside Harbor Beach?

  • Hotels nearby
  • Restrooms
  • Lifeguards
  • Pier

BEACON BEACH

Beacon Beach is one of a few beaches found in Leucadia State Beach. We put together everything you must know from visiting Leucadia State Beach: here.

Unfortunately, this place doesn’t carry many amenities, but it’s still worth taking nice san diego drone photography here.

What can you expect of Beacon Beach?

  • Houses overlooking
  • Sea cliffs with erosion
  • No restrooms
  • No public showers
grandview beach in encinitas
Photo by Ben Steward

GRANDVIEW BEACH

Grandview is another beach in Leucadia State Beach. You find a lot of surfers here. On 1700 Neptune Avenue Street you can find parking. You will have to take a stairway to get down there.

Unfortunately, just like its sister beach Beacon Beach, you don’t have many amenities here.  There are a lot of sea cliffs so be careful here. On August 3, 2019, sadly 3 people lost their lives at Grandview.

What can you expect of Grandview Beach?

  • No restrooms
  • No showers
  • Sea cliffs all around
  • Seaweed
Photo by Jeremy Gallman

MOONLIGHT STATE BEACH

Moonlight State Beach is one of a kind. It’s a perfect place for drone photography. You have flat land along with palm trees. I highly recommend going in the mornings to take shots here.

It’s a more popular place so expect it to be crowded like Oceanside Harbor Beach. It’s a more equipped beach. You can find a snack bar, restrooms, and even a playground.

What can you expect of Moonlight State Beach?

  • Palm trees
  • Homes nearby
  • Restrooms
  • Snack Bar
san elijo state beach
Photo by Jeremy Ricketts

SAN ELIJO STATE BEACH

San Elijo State Beach is one of the most equipped beaches you will find in San Diego. They have a beach campground here. If you love camping we put together a: Beginners Guide to Beach Camping Gear You Need this Summer. Lifeguards and restrooms are found here. This beach has rocks so be careful.

What can you expect of San Elijo State Beach?

  • Rocks
  • Campground
  • Restrooms
  • Lifeguards

NORTH BEACH

North Beach is also known as Dog Beach which is located in Del Mar. It’s one of several dog-friendly beaches you can find here in San Diego. Del Mar is also home to the Del Mar Fairgrounds. This fair is hosted yearly every summer attracting thousands of visitors. And no you can’t fly your drone over this fair.

What can you expect of North Beach?

  • Dogs
  • Seaweed
  • Sea cliffs with erosion
  • Restrooms near Lifeguard Tower 17
Seascape surf
Photo by David Di Veroli

SEASCAPE SURF

Seascape Surf is one of the most isolated places. Sometimes you will see lifeguards during the summertime here. You won’t find any restrooms here and you need to take a stairway down to get here found on Sierra Avenue. You can find also plenty of parking located along Sierra Avenue.

What can you expect of Seascape Surf?

  • Homes nearby
  • Sea cliffs have erosion
  • No restrooms
  • No showers

Tips for drone photography in California

There are a few tips worth considering when flying your drone in San Diego. Remember to some people drones are considered a threat and to others a nuisance. You want to be compliant always when flying just in case you come across someone who tells you otherwise.

Tip #1: Fly at off Peak Times

I usually try to avoid people always when I plan on flying my drone. Most tourists and locals you can spot during afternoon times and evenings. Although, sunsets are amazing to catch. I normally fly my drone during sunrises.

Yes, it requires me to be up earlier, but most often you will encounter fewer people at the beach. Often, I avoid weekends including Mondays. Usually, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are less crowded.

Tip #2: Check the Forecast

When my sister and I used to live in Florida we witnessed its bipolar weather. Summertimes could be in the 90s followed by rain. It was nothing like California weather. Make sure it’s a clear cast day.

Tip #3: Check the Airspace

There are several apps that will tell you if you are flying in controlled airspace as well as nearby hospitals. The following type of airspace classes exists A, B, C, D, E, or G.

Uncontrolled G airspace is your best friend. Typically under 1,200 ft, there is no Air Traffic Control present that is needed with guiding airplane operations. You still have to follow the visual flight rules (VFR) minimum though.

I personally use B4UFLY, AIRMAP, or KITTYHAWK to check my airspace.

B4UFLY app pic for san diego drone photography

B4UFLY: Is an FAA app created along with the help of KITTYHAWK allowing drone operators to see where they can or can’t fly their drone.

Airmap app pic san diego drone photography

AIRMAP: I love this app! It’s my favorite one! Just like B4UFLY and KITTYHAWK this app will tell you where you can or can’t fly. However, it also allows you to notify Air Traffic Control that you will be flying your drone nearby.

Kittyhawk app pic san diego drone photography

The new FAA updated their regulations states you can fly within 5 miles of an airport, but you must notify either: LAANC or FAA DroneZone that you are gonna fly your drone near 5 miles of an airport. AIRMAP notifies Air Traffic Control.

Tip #4: Get Drone Insurance

I know that this is probably an opinion to most, but I strongly recommend getting drone insurance before you fly. Verifly which recently rebranded its name to Thimble offers on-demand drone insurance. Sometimes it’s as cheap as $10 for an hour.

If you were ever to crash your drone near a house, car, building, or person you run the risk of being sued. If it’s over $500 damage you will need to report it to the FAA within 5 days.

You can avoid these headaches by being sued personally if you are covered with Thimble. They cover up to $10MM of drone damage including people for a drone under 35lbs. Learn more by visiting their homepage.

Conclusion

So there you have it 10 great beach places for San Diego drone photography. I hope this gives you a heads up on what to expect of some beaches. It’s always best to be prepared and compliant.

For the past 4 years, I have flown drones I have not had heated escalating situations and I also hope you never to as well. Only once I had a woman yell at me to take my drone down because I was filming at the beach which according to her was private property.

I had to bring my drone down and address here calmly. I showed her through my apps along with my Unmanned Aircraft Systems Remote Identification that I was compliant and filming the waves. I showed her the footage as well so she could see. Never once filming her.

She calmed down a bit and let me fly. But, moral of the story is drones are not liked amongst some people so be prepared to deal with some people who will want to cause you trouble when filming.

And luckily, she didn’t attack me or shot my drone done. It’s best to be as calm as possible and state how you are compliant.

Let me know in the comments below what are some of your favorite San Diego beach spots for aerial drone photography. Until next time safe flying.

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