Many of San Diego’s beaches are well-known and frequently visited, and others live more in the shadows. This simply means they have not garnered the same attention as, say, popular Pacific Beach. For those who live to seek out the off-beat and unusual, Silver Strand State Beach offers an atypical beach experience. Known to locals simply as The Strand, it is a narrow, seven-mile-long stretch of land called a tombolo that connects Coronado Island with Imperial Beach. Silver Strand State Beach has 2.5 miles of oceanfront beach on one side, and one-half mile of beach on the San Diego Bay. It is a recreational site where people can camp out for a night or two exploring all it has to offer.
The draw to Silver Strand is simple, it is off the beaten path making it the perfect beach for those who want to avoid large crowds and enjoy a bit of peace and solitude. The entrance to the park where the beach is located is off Highway 75, which also serves to separate the bay and ocean sides. The two sides of Silver Strand State Beach offer completely different experiences, ensuring that all water enthusiasts find what they are looking for when visiting. On the ocean side you’ll find 2.5 miles of Pacific coastline blanketed in silver shells where people can enjoy surfing, jet skiing, body boarding, and swimming. You will also see people playing beach volleyball, barbequing, camping, and fishing, among other things.
The bay side of Silver Strand is a pedestrian-only area where the water is calm and tends to be a little warmer than the ocean making it perfect for sailing and swimming. There are several places for guests to enjoy a cookout with barbecue pits, picnic tables, and fire rings. The bay side is perfect for those looking for a peaceful day of enjoying the sunshine and cool water while connecting with friends and family. Just south of the developed area on the ocean side you’ll find an additional 1.5 miles of ocean coastline within the park; search this natural preserve for moon snail and cockle shells. You may even get lucky and find a sand dollar. It’s a great place to take a stroll and enjoy the ocean breezes.
Note: The beaches located to the north and south of Silver Strand State Beach are military property and not open to the public.
Near to the Beach
There isn’t much around the Silver Strand State Beach since it’s a tombolo between the island and mainland, but with so many amenities within the park, there is really no need to leave the area. Both Coronado Island and Imperial Beach are just a short drive away in opposite directions. There is one restaurant close to the park if you want a break from cooking your own food. The Mistral is an upscale restaurant offering delicious French cuisine while enjoying a spectacular view of San Diego Bay. Since the park doubles as a campsite, most visitors stay there in their RVs; consequently, there is only one hotel on The Strand. If you would like overnight accommodations, but aren’t into camping, the Loews Coronado Bay Resort is a great alternative.
The park has several bike and hiking trails, and several nature and wildlife viewing sites. The Coronado Surfing Academy provides surfing lessons year-round. During the summer months you can visit the Silver Strand Beach Café, which is open between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends. The café offers sandwiches, barbecue, and a variety of ice cream delights; you can also rent boogie boards and buy beach amenities like sunscreen, ice, and firewood. Guests can sign up for several guided tours, such as a kayak tour, as well as join in on various nature walks. This park and its beaches are wheelchair accessible and offer many programs that allow guests to learn all about the area both in the water and on land.
Silver Strand Beach Essentials
Silver Strand State Beach is open year-round, seven days a week beginning every morning a 7 a.m., but closing times vary; check with the park when you plan your visit. There are four parking lots that can accommodate 1,000 vehicles, and 130 first-come, first-served campsites. It is important to note that budget cuts have taken a toll on The Strand. All restrooms on the bay side are closed with the exception of the one in the Aquatic Center. On the ocean side, half of the restrooms are closed during the weekdays. Reductions also apply to lifeguards. There are several areas that clearly state “No Lifeguards on Duty;” the park asks that you only swim in areas where lifeguards are present. Park concessions are fully staffed.
Tip: If you choose to visit this beach, it’s best to leave your dog behind as they are not allowed on the beach, in the tunnels leading to the bay, or on the bay side of the area. Dogs are only allowed in the day-use section of the park and the parking lots of the camping area, and they must remain on a leash no longer than six feet at all times.
Silver Strand Beach – It’s a Wrap
Silver Strand State Beach is more than just a few beaches; it is an entire outdoor experience with a wide array of water and land activities. It is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream where guests can enjoy a slower and more relaxed way of life. Beyond the many tours, trails, water sports, and water activities there are also several programs and small events. The Explore and Restore SSSB walking tour is a favorite where you can learn about plants, animals, and mud flats in the area; it ends with a beach clean-up to help preserve the park. During the spring and summer months, you can check out the lineup of campfire stories where you’ll learn about and celebrate the natural inhabitants of the beach like the California Grunion and the Western Snowy Plover. For something a little different, put Silver Strand Beach on your next San Diego itinerary.