Beaches in San Diego

San Diego has one of the most perfect climates in the United States and it’s almost always beach weather so any visitor or resident of San Diego will want to know everything about the local beaches in San Diego.

Blacks Beach

Blacks Beach is also known as Torrey Pines City Beach and Torrey Pines State Beach and is actually jointly controlled by the city and the state, so the nickname Blacks Beach is more commonly used. This two mile strip of sandy beach is flanked on one side by the ocean and on the other a high cliff rises up to meet the sand. This makes it perfect for hang gliders, paragliders and remote controlled gliders. But the cliffs make it rather difficult to get to the beach, the safest way to get down is to walk down from one of the adjacent beaches. Sometimes there are lifeguards on the beach but not at all times, which is probably why the beach sometimes is used as a nude beach, although not officially allowed. Basically this is typically a sparsely populated beach and doesn’t have the amenities of some others but if you want to get away from the crowds this might be just the place.

Children’s Pool

Children’s Pool is also called Casa by the locals. This small beach is protected by a seawall and was designed to be a protected haven for children to play in the water. But the protected area is now basically full of sand and the beach can often be littered with seals and sea lions, although cute they can be dangerous. But for visitors who want some incredible photos and to see these magnificent critters Children’s Pool is prime beachfront property. The waters are perfect for scuba diving and snorkeling as long as the surf conditions are low, if the surf is up there is a possibility for rip tides. Because the beach was designed for children it is staffed by lifeguards during most of the day and daily throughout the year.

La Jolla Cove

La Jolla Cove is a very small beach but one of the most popular with tourists because of its incredible beauty with sandstone cliffs and an undulating shoreline that just begs to have its picture taken. La Jolla Cove is just minutes, by foot, from the commercial area. La Jolla Cove lies within the San Diego La Jolla Underwater Park Ecological Reserve which means touching and possessing any of the wildlife from this region is illegal, so it’s perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving. Check with the lifeguard station to determine hours of operation and any daily warnings.

La Jolla Shores

La Jolla Shores is next to a residential area so a lot of locals use the beach often. The beach itself is only about one mile long but it’s pretty ideal for families because the waves are typically very gentle. It is also the only beachfront boat launch within San Diego city limits. Nearby Kellogg Park is a great place for a picnic and the Steven Birch Aquarium is only a half mile away. There is a permanent lifeguard station but the lifeguards have set hours and are not available 24 hours a day. For many reasons this is a great beach for families looking to spend a day playing in the sand and splashing in the ocean.

Mission Bay Beaches

Mission Bay Park has about 27 miles of shoreline and 19 of those are sandy beaches. Mission Bay underwent an overhaul in 1944 and is now a popular park for water sports, land activities, picnics, animal spotting and family fun activities. There are lifeguards but they tend to be posted at the most popular beaches in Mission Bay Park and only during the high seasons and weekends. But this shouldn’t be much of a problem as there are no dangerous currents or surf, the largest problem for inexperienced swimmers is the huge drop off.

Mission Beach

Mission Beach is part of the The Strand and runs, with other beaches, for two miles with the ocean on one side and a boardwalk along the other. This is one of the most popular beaches in San Diego and there’s good reason with its beautiful sands, great access to the water, a popular boardwalk, many shops and restaurants, and a roller coaster. Lifeguards are staffed daily throughout the year and additional ones are brought in during the high season.

North Pacific Beach

North Pacific Beach is about a mile long and reaches from La Jolla to Crystal Pier. On one side is the ocean, on the other are the cliffs which reach up to 75 feet above sea level. A popular sidewalk stretches across the top of the cliffs and offers some great views of the beach and the ocean. This beach is very popular and features a section on the north end that is used almost exclusively by surfers and sailboarders. Further south on the beach is a separate area for swimmers. The beach has lifeguards most of the daylight hours.

Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach is another wide beach which is popular for volleyball enthusiasts. The pier on the south end of the beach is open to the public and features a fairly popular restaurant for beachgoers. Many fisherman use this pier and a license isn’t required if you fish off the pier. The north end of the beach is mainly residential while the south end caters to the masses with a number of restaurants and shops. The highlight of Ocean Beach, for some, is the Dog Beach on the north end. The beach is staffed with lifeguards during the daylight hours.

Pacific Beach

Pacific Beach is located south of Crystal Pier and stretches for about two miles running into a couple other beaches and ending up at Mission Bay. This long line of beaches is known as The Strand and is flanked by the ocean and residential and commercial areas. One of the most popular beaches in San Diego, the beach is staffed during all daylight hours with additional lifeguards added for the summer season. The boardwalk along the beach is very popular and lined by traditional beach retail outlets and restaurants.

South Mission Beach

South Mission Beach has a very wide beach which makes it very popular for beach sports. There are designated areas for surfing and board sports but because of this activity and the surf the beach is not good for scuba divers. The boardwalk draws quite a crowd and makes this beach handicapped accessible. Lifeguards are posted during the daylight hours.

Windansea Beach

Windansea Beach is not really ideal for swimming or sunbathing with its rocky shores and wicked surf breaks over the underwater reefs. The best part about Windansea is that it’s pretty secluded and does offer more privacy than some other beaches in the area. It’s also quite beautiful for those looking for a photo opportunity. There are lifeguards at the beach during some weekends but not throughout the year.
Creative Commons License photo credit: Lee Sie