Ever since the Beach Boys idealized Southern California’s surf culture in the sixties, people from across the country have flocked to the coastal city of San Diego looking for some “Fun, Fun, Fun” of their own. With 70 miles of gorgeous coastline, there is a beach to make every dream come true. Whether you imagine free-spirited hippie culture, itty-bitty bikini beach parties, epic surf walls and barrels, or sophisticated California cuisine with a view, there is a beach community that will meet your expectations. Discover your place in the sun, then stay for the one thing they all have in common – a magnificent sunset.
If you’re coming to San Diego primarily for recreational water sports, July through October are the best months where the water temperatures are at their highest. The winter months of December through February are the rainy season in San Diego, which certainly doesn’t mean rain every day, but check the weather forecast before finalizing your plans. Locals have nicknamed early summer May Gray and June Gloom, because of heavy marine layers along the coast during those months. They usually burn off by early afternoon, and rarely affect the inland areas. You could do the zoo or Balboa Park in the morning, and the beach in the afternoon.
Year-round sunshine and mild temperatures ensure that it’s always the right time to visit a San Diego beach. There is a wide array of large and small beaches all along the coast, each with its own unique gifts to offer. Snorkel with bright orange Garibaldi fish at a tiny beach tucked beneath towering cliffs, sunbathe on a wide open white sand beach, or indulge in an amenity-laden resort beach. Consider what you want in a San Diego beach, look through the list of beaches below, and build your California Dreamin’ vacation around the ones you like the best. When the time comes to grab your flip-flops, towel, and sunscreen, you won’t want to waste a minute!
Mission Beach – Mission Beach is one of the premier beaches in San Diego, appealing to young locals, college students, and families. It features Belmont Park, the Wavehouse complex, and a long boardwalk.
Mission Bay Beaches – Mission Bay is a man-made aquatic park with 19 miles of beaches. Water in the bay is calmer and warmer than the ocean, perfect for enjoying any one of these family-friendly beaches.
Pacific Beach and North Pacific Beach – These two beaches are divided by the iconic Crystal Pier. North Pacific Beach is dedicated to surfers and families, and PB is known for its bikini beach party atmosphere.
Black’s Beach – Black’s Beach is two beaches in one. On its northern end is one of the largest nude beaches in the United States, and on its southern end is one of the most challenging surf breaks around.
Children’s Pool Beach – Often mired in controversy between beach access advocates and animal rights activists, this small La Jolla beach is a top attraction for watching harbor seals and sea lions.
La Jolla Cove – Towering sandstone cliffs provide a dramatic backdrop to this stunning beach. It is the most photographed beach in San Diego, and is a favorite spot for snorkeling and scuba-diving.
La Jolla Shores – Frequently ranked among the best beaches in the country, this crescent-shaped beach is family-friendly with soft sand, calm waters, a grassy picnic area, and a children’s playground.
Windansea Beach – This beach is an iconic surf spot for expert surfers. It is a small, narrow beach with powerful surf and shore breaks. The rocky landscape makes the beach popular with photographers too.
Ocean Beach – If you want to know what classic hippie beach culture is all about, this is your beach. The beach is divided in two by a jetty, with Dog Beach on one side and the main beach on the other.
Coronado Central Beach – This is one of the widest beaches in the San Diego, and its the only white sand beach. On the Pacific side of Coronado Island, its powdery sand and gentle surf make it a tranquil choice.
Silver Strand Beach – The Strand is an off-the-beaten-path beach adjacent to a park with overnight camping. It’s a tombolo between Coronado Island and Imperial Beach with Pacific and bayside beaches.
Del Mar Beaches – Though the Del Mar beach is part of a continuous beach from La Jolla Shores to Oceanside Harbor, it has three sections; beneath the bluffs, the main beach, and The River Mouth.
Solana Beach Beaches – The main beaches here are Fletcher Cove, Tidal Beach Park, and SeaScape Surf. Fletcher Cove is the primary swimming beach with easy access; the others are what their names imply.
Imperial Beach – At this southernmost beach of San Diego, you can go to the south end of the beach and chat with Tijuana locals on the other side of the border. It’s also one of the best surfing beaches.