15 BEST Beaches in San Diego [April 2021]

San Diego is California’s second-largest city. It enjoys year-round sunshine and decent weather for going to the beach. Its coastline of over 70 miles is blessed with dramatic coastal bluffs, white and black sand beaches, and surf breaks that attract every type of surfer.

San Diego has a wealth of diversity when it comes to beaches. Some have gentle waves that are perfect for swimming, others offer plenty of water sport activities, and of course, there are epic breaks for surfers to enjoy too!

To Find out more about which beach will suit you best, here is a list of the 15 best beaches in San Diego.

Best Places to Stay in San Diego

Looking for somewhere to stay while exploring some of the best San Diego beaches? Here are some of our favorite accommodation options that this city has to offer.

#1 – Super 8 by Wyndham San Diego Hotel Circle

Best Budget Hotel in San Diego

Super 8 by Wyndham San Diego Hotel Circle

Super 8 by Wyndham San Diego Hotel Circle

Super 8 provides simple accommodation at an affordable price. The rooms are clean and comfortable, and free breakfasts are provided for all guests. WiFi is free and laundry facilities are available. The hotel is a short 15-minute drive away from several nice beaches in San Diego.

#2 – Old Town Inn

Best Mid-Range Hotel in San Diego

Old Town Inn

Old Town Inn

The Old Town Inn is just a short walk or trolly-ride away from San Diego’s historic Old Town. The rooms are spacious and come with TVs and DVD players. There is also a pool for guests to use if the weather isn’t conducive for a beach day at Ocean Beach.

#3 – Staypineapple at Hotel Z

Best Luxury Hotel in San Diego

Staypineapple at Hotel Z

Staypineapple at Hotel Z

This luxurious hotel is a great choice for those looking for stylish accommodation near downtown San Diego. The rooms are modern and elegant, with areas for relaxing after a long day on the beach. The hotel is just a short drive away from Coronado Beach, one of the most popular beaches in San Diego.

#1 –  Ocean Beach, City Beach

A classic San Diego beach experience

Ocean Beach, City Beach

Ocean Beach, City Beach (Photo credit – californiabeaches.com)

  • A pretty beach with a pet-friendly zone and pier for fishing
  • 1 mile long

Ocean Beach is a large sandy beach located south of the San Diego River mouth. At its northern tip, there is a pet-friendly section that’s perfect for dog-owners to enjoy a day on the beach with their favorite four-legged friends.

The beach stretches down to the famous Ocean Beach Pier. The pier offers great views of the San Diego coastline and is a good spot to go fishing, no license is needed.

Ocean Beach is a beautiful beach where swimming, surfing and sunbathing are popular. There can be strong rip currents so stay within the lifeguard flags when swimming.

Ready to book? Here are our favorite areas to stay in San Diego!

#2 – La Jolla Cove

One of the most unique beaches in San Diego

La Jolla Cove

La Jolla Cove (Photo credit – californiabeaches.com)

  • A pretty beach that is great for snorkeling, surrounded by steep cliffs
  • One of the smaller beaches in San Diego

La Jolla Cove is a small, picturesque beach nestled between sandstone cliffs. The cove falls within the La Jolla Underwater Park Ecological Reserve and is located at the northern end of Ellen Browning Scripps Park, in La Jolla Village.

The beach is sheltered from the swell by a rocky outcrop, making it a pleasant beach for swimming. The turquoise water is teeming with sea life and is a favorite snorkeling and scuba diving spot for underwater enthusiasts!

The cove is very popular so it’s best to arrive early. Grab a mask and snorkel and admire the plentiful Garibaldi fish!

Let’s make this simple. These are the best hotels in San Diego!

#3 – Flat Rock Beach

An unspoiled beach in San Diego

Flat Rock Beach

Flat Rock Beach (Photo credit – fineartamerica.com)

  • A rugged and raw San Diego beach that is great for picnics
  • 1 mile long

Flat Rock Beach provides raw and unspoiled coastal scenery for those adventurous enough to visit. The beach is located in Torrey Pines State Reserve and is accessed by a hike over rugged terrain.

You can take the Beach Trail or the Broken Hill Trail.

The beach gets its name from the large, flat rock that overlooks the ocean. It is usually quiet, a great spot for a picnic lunch and is well worth the effort to get there! The coastline is absolutely breathtaking, with dramatic bluffs providing the backdrop to the white sand beach.

Haven’t found what you’re looking for? Try our hotel guide for San Diego!

#4 – Coronado Beach

One of the best swimming beaches in San Diego

Coronado Beach

Coronado Beach (Photo credit – blog.sandiego.org)

  • Perfect for swimming, sunbathing and people-watching
  • 5 miles long

Coronado Beach is one of the jewels in San Diego’s crown. The beach stretches from the famous Hotel del Coronado to Sunset Park and is flanked by grass-covered dunes.

Coronado Beach has pristine white sand that actually sparkles due to the flakes of mica. This makes it one of San Diego’s most popular beaches and was even featured in the movie Some Like It Hot starring Marilyn Monroe!

The waves are gentle and the water is very inviting. On a sunny day, you’ll find plenty of people enjoying the beach, but don’t worry there is always space for more.

Need to move your legs? Take a walking tour in San Diego!

#5 – Mission Beach

A great beach for the whole family

Mission Beach

Mission Beach (Photo credit – californiabeaches.com)

  • A wide sandy beach popular for its boardwalk and amusement park
  • 2 miles long

Mission Beach is arguably the busiest beach in San Diego due to its location. The thin stretch of land wedged between Mission Bay and the ocean is a hub for waterfront activities and entertainment.

The popular amusement park, Belmont Park, is right next to the beach so many locals and tourists can enjoy thrilling roller coaster rides followed by a dip in the ocean. Visitors can also enjoy running or roller-blading next to the beach on the popular Ocean Front Walk.

Planning a trip? See our list of the best things to see in San Diego!

#6 – Imperial Beach

The best beach in San Diego for surfing

Imperial Beach

Imperial Beach (Photo credit – sandiegorealestatehunter.com)

  • Attracts surfers from all over the world and is also popular for birdwatching
  • 4 miles long

Imperial Beach is California’s southernmost beach, right on the border of Tijuana, Mexico. The beach is famous for the annual U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition held in summer, but it has other great features too that attracts visitors to its shores.

The water is safe for swimming and there are epic waves for surfing. The beach is home to a pier which is very popular for fishing and provides fantastic views of nearby islands.

Last but not least, there is the famous outdoor Surfboard Museum honoring influential surfboard shapers.

#7 – Silver Strand State Beach

A great public beach to spend the weekend

Silver Strand State Beach

Silver Strand State Beach (Photo credit – californiabeaches.com)

  • A long, pretty beach that is popular for camping and watersports
  • 7 miles long

Silver Strand State Beach is a long stretch of sandy beach located on a thin peninsula of Coronado. The whole area is very conducive to watersports and activities on the beach including boating, water skiing, kayaking, swimming, surfing and beach volleyball.

There are several parks in the area including dog parks and ones with camping and barbecuing facilities. Campers will enjoy amazing ocean and city views with all the amenities they need for a great time at the beach!

In summer, the beach does tend to get very hot so it’s advisable to wear sunscreen and sandals.

Prepare for your trip! We think knowing the history of San Diego is as important as packing the right dinner shirt!

#8 – Mission Bay Beach

One of the best beaches in San Diego for watersports

Mission Bay Beach

Mission Bay Beach (Photo credit – californiabeaches.com)

  • The largest water park in the world
  • Every water-based activity can be done here

Mission Bay is a vast beachfront park with miles of sandy shores, a myriad of waterways, inlets and small islands covered in lush vegetation. In fact, it’s the largest waterpark of its kind in the world!

On any given weekend, Mission Bay is a hive of activity with water users taking advantage of the excellent water conditions and families enjoying time outside in the sun. There are loads of activities on offer and rentals of all sorts of water gear.

The perfect place to relax and have a swim is at Playa Pacifica, while extreme sports can be enjoyed at Mission Bay Aquatic Center.

Have some time in San Diego? These are our favorite day trips from San Diego!

#9 – Del Mar Beach

A beach that is fun for all

Del Mar Beach

Del Mar Beach (Photo credit – destination360.com)

  • Ideal for families
  • 2 miles long

Del Mar Beach is a fantastic two-mile beach with something for everyone, making it one of the best San Diego beaches to visit for families! In the north is a dog-friendly section and to the south are miles of dirt paths, perfect for walkers and joggers.

The southern part of the beach is backed by steep coastal bluffs so is harder to access and more secluded. North of Powerhouse Park & Beach the sand is soft and the sea is excellent for swimming!

The surf isn’t bad here either, and there are loads of cafes around to grab a snack or drink.

#10 – Black’s Beach

California’s first gay nude beach

Black’s Beach

Black’s Beach (Photo credit – flickr.com)

  • One of the best surf breaks in San Diego and a beach that is gay-friendly and clothing-optional
  • 2 miles long

Black’s Beach is a clothing-optional LGBTQ-friendly beach popular for sunbathing and skillful surfers. This secluded beach has a rugged backdrop of steep cliffs and the tall trees of Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.

Many families frequent this beach because of the peace and quiet. The waves are great for surfing but they are not for beginners. The swell is powerful so this isn’t the best beach for swimming.

To access Black’s Beach, park at Torrey Pines Gliderport and walk along the Ho Chi Minh Trail down to the sands.

#11 – La Jolla Shores

One of the more famous beaches in San Diego

La Jolla Shores

La Jolla Shores (Photo credit – change.org)

  • A good destination for beginner surfers
  • 1 mile long

La Jolla Shores Beach is a popular San Diego beach that attracts large numbers of locals and tourists. This wide, sandy beach is easily accessed by car, has great waves for surfing and is accompanied by a grassy park with rows of swaying palm trees.

This beach has all the attributes to be one of San Diego’s best beaches – soft sand, good waves and loads of facilities. La Jolla Shores is located in front of Kellogg Park, a popular spot for yoga and picnics.

Nearby, there are caves that can be explored by kayak, while the sandy-bottom of the sea is a great place for learning to scuba dive!

Like good weather? These are the best times to visit San Diego!

#12 – Solana Beach

A relaxed beach atmosphere

Solana Beach

Solana Beach (Photo credit – sdluxegroup.com)

  • Has waves for all kinds of surfers and skill levels
  • 7 miles long

Solana Beach is a small seaside town located in San Diego’s North County. This stretch of coastline has no less than five hotspots to look out for. From north to south there is Seaside State Beach, Tide Beach, Fletcher Cove, Seascape and Del Mar Shores.

Fletcher Cove, Seascape and Seaside are great surfing spots, with the latter breaking over an outer reef. Tide beach has a long stretch of beautiful white sand, while Del Mar Shores is a local favorite.

All these beaches are equipped with showers and toilet facilities and lifeguards are present all summer long.

#13 – Tourmaline

This one is for surfers


Tourmaline (Photo credit – californiabeaches.com)

  • A beach with fantastic waves for surfing
  • 1 mile long

Tourmaline Surf Park Beach has a name that gives up the main attraction… surfing! Located in North Pacific Beach, Tourmaline is surrounded by a dramatic 75-foot wall of sandstone cliffs, giving it one of the most amazing beach settings in San Diego!

You won’t find too many other tourists around here, which makes it a great beach to escape the crowds. There is a parking lot nearby, with showers and toilets.

The beach is split into two sections – one saved for swimming and the other reserved for surfers, sailboarders and kite surfers. Tourmaline is a great beach to visit for its scenery and waves.

#14 – Moonlight State Beach

A relaxing beach with ample amenities

Moonlight State Beach

Moonlight State Beach (Photo credit – californiabeaches.com)

  • Great for the whole family with lots of activities available
  • 1 mile long

Moonlight Beach is one of the premier beaches in San Diego’s North County. It is a huge attraction for families enjoying a day out in the sun, as it ticks all the boxes when it comes to beach amenities.

Moonlight caters to people wanting to spend long hours at the beach. There’s a snack bar on site to stay refreshed and fire pits to keep you warm in the late afternoon. The waves are gentle and safe for young children, and there are well-groomed areas demarcated for volleyball and football.

#15 – Windansea Beach

One of the most beautiful beaches in San Diego

Windansea Beach

Windansea Beach (Photo credit – californiabeaches.com)

  • Is a playground for experienced surfers
  • ½ mile long

Windansea Beach is a fantastic surf spot in La Jolla with beautiful scenery. The beach was made famous when a few locals formed the Windansea Surf Club in order to enter a surfing contest in Malibu in the 1960’s.

Windansea is not much of a swimming beach, as the shore is pretty rocky and the currents are strong. The waves are perfect for skilled surfers, however, and has been attracting keen surfers since the early 1940s.

This beach is great for relaxing and as one of San Diego’s more scenic beaches, it is perfect for a stroll around sunset!


Now that you know what each beach has to offer, all that is left is to decide which ones suit your needs best. Then book your vacation to sunny San Diego. As you can see, San Diego’s beaches cater to a wide range of beach-lovers.

We think they’re all great, but don’t just take our word for it, get out there and visit them all for yourself. As always, be sun smart and take plenty of liquids to stay hydrated while enjoying San Diego’s beaches! Thanks for reading, we certainly enjoyed compiling this list for you.

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About the Author Nicola Smart

Gin lover. Coffee addict. Nicola has traveled the world for 7 years and is a staff writer for Hotel Jules. Born in London, Nicola first got the taste of travel studying abroad in Barcelona. Since then she's been hooked - traveling the world non-stop. Passionate about green travel and vegan lifestyle, Nicola spends more of her free time staring at maps wondering where she will head to next!