(From North to South)
Oceanside Beach - Oceanside Beach is known for its healthy supply of sand and small crowds. This makes a wonderful stop for lunch, a jog, and plenty of room to spread your towel. Buccaneer Beach on the South end is perfect to get away from it all.
Carlsbad - Despite all the bustle on the freeway in recent years, Carlsbad's beaches remain one of San Diego's best kept secrets, which is just fine with the locals. The north half of the Carlsbad coast is composed of a series of small beaches divided by sea walls. The cliffs here are relatively low and in most places the Coast Highway passes right next to the shore, offering an unobstructed view of the sea and open access to the beach.
Leucadia - Primarily frequented by surfers, Leucadia is isolated, rocky, and often littered with sea debris and kelp. It is a vertical cliff from the road and you must use one of three stairways to get down. The three popular surf spots Grandview, Beacon's and Stone Steps are well worth it even if the beach itself is not.
Encinitas is one of North County's favorite beach communities.
Encinitas is perfect for those looking for a less tourist-oriented destination. The community is mainly residential and has a wonderful variety of restaurants, shops, and galleries. Swami’s, a local’s beach located at the south end of Encinitas, offers stunning views of the ocean and sandstone cliffs — perfect for photographers.
Leucadia State Beach is south of Carlsbad, used to be an agricultural area where farmers grew tomatoes, flowers and ornamental plants. Today, some farming still exists, but really, Leucadia is an interesting contrast of casual hippies, luxury beach homes perched above the beach and a strip of businesses, surf shops, taco eateries and restaurants along South Coast Highway 101. Leucadia, has excellent surfing, swimming and fishing,
Moonlight State Beach is a half mile from the downtown community of Encinitas offers all the fine beach perks that make for a nice day on the beautiful Pacific Ocean, including picnic areas with tables, lifeguards, restrooms, fire rings, volleyball courts and public parking. And of course Moonlight State Beach has some fine surfing. Moonlight State Beach is a family/locals kind of beach that is flat, sandy and perfect for a beach picnic and a day of sunning. The athletically inclined will find some serious volleyball happening at the three beach courts.
Cardiff by the Sea. - Families, surfers, kayakers and body boarders congregate at Cardiff on summer weekends. Cardiff lies north and west of the San Elijo Lagoon (a naturally occurring inland waterway fed by the ocean) and consists of Cardiff State Beach to the south and San Elijo State Beach on the north. Those looking for low-key beaches for swimming, surfing and sunbathing will enjoy the casual attitude found at Cardiff
Solana - Unlike other spots in North County where the wide, straight beaches are uninterrupted for miles, the coastline in Solana Beach is more convoluted and the cliffs encroach right to the water's edge in places, making them impassible especially at high tide. Fortunately, staircases descend the cliffs at practically every street corner, so every part of the beach is accessible vertically, if not horizontally.
Del Mar - Lying just north of Torrey Pines State Beach, Del Mar's beach is perfect for families, tourists and surfers who enjoy its wide expanse of sand. Swimming, walking, surfing, body boarding, and even grunion hunting are just some of the activities you can enjoy at this beach.
Del Mar also has two seaside parks, Seagrove and Powerhouse (play ground), both great for picnicking, providing stunning ocean views.
Blacks Beach (previously Torrey Pines) is a two mile long, sandy strip situated at the base of majestic cliffs up to 300 feet high. There is a glider port atop the cliff overlooking the beach where hang gliders, Para gliders and remote controlled gliders can often be seen soaring. The safest access is from adjacent beaches to the north and south, but this access may be obstructed by high tides or surf. Perfect for surfing.
La Jolla Shores (8200 Camino Del Oro) is a sandy beach approximately one mile long, adjacent to a residential area. In the summer, waves at this beach are usually the most gentle of all San Diego beaches, although rip currents may still be strong at times. For this reason, many novice scuba classes are held at La Jolla Shores. Reserved for swimming and surfing.
La Jolla Cove (1100 Coast Boulevard) is a very small beach, tucked between adjacent sandstone cliffs. Due to its extraordinary beauty, La Jolla Cove is one of the most photographed beaches in Southern California. The waters off this beach are reserved for swimming and diving only. This is an excellent beach for scuba diving when surf conditions are low.
The Children's Pool (850 Coast Boulevard), also known as the Casa, is a small beach partially protected by a seawall. The original intention was to create a fully protected swimming area, but sand has filled in much of the area inside the wall. This is a very picturesque beach with a panoramic view. Reserved for swimming, diving and scuba when surf conditions are low.
Windansea Beach - The rocky shore of Windansea Beach (6800 Neptune Place) is perhaps best known for its beautiful scenery and surf breaks created by underwater reefs. Sandstone rocks act as partitions along the beach offering a secluded atmosphere for sunbathing. Surfing can be excellent at Windansea, but the popular surf breaks are very concentrated and can become quite crowded. Novice surfers may wish to consider La Jolla Shores instead. This beach has separate water areas reserved by ordinance for swimming and surfing.
North Pacific Beach - The beach area north of Crystal Pier extends approximately one mile from the north end of the community of Pacific Beach to the south end of the community of La Jolla. This beach is bordered by cliffs up to 75 feet in height. A sidewalk traverses the cliff-top along much of the south end of the beach. In this area, parking is very limited. There are separate areas for swimming and surfing, not recommended for scuba.
Pacific Beach - The beach area south of Crystal Pier is known as Pacific Beach. This beach continues south for over two miles, becoming Mission Beach and then South Mission Beach, eventually ending at the channel entrance to Mission Bay. This long beach, known as The Strand, lies directly adjacent to the residential and commercial areas of the Pacific Beach and Mission Beach communities. It is the most popular beach in the City of San Diego and draws large crowds in summer. This beach has separate water areas reserved for swimming and surfing. No Scuba.
Mission Bay - consists of 4,235.6 acres, approximately 46% land and 54% water. There are 27 miles of shoreline, 19 of which are sandy beaches.
- Bonita Cove 1000 West Mission Bay Drive at Mariners Way (signalized intersection)
- Leisure Lagoon 1900 East Mission Bay Drive
- De Anza Cove
3000 East Mission Bay Drive
Additional Mission Bay beaches are usually guarded daily during summer
- Sail Bay 4000 Fanuel Street
- Crown Point 3700 Crown Point Drive
- Ventura Cove 1000 West Mission Bay Drive at Gleason Road (signalized intersection)
- Tecolote Shores 1600 East Mission Bay Drive
- Enchanted Cove Located on Fiesta Island 1/3 mile from the entrance to the island
Mission Beach - is the center of a continuous stretch of beach known as The Strand, which extends over two miles, beginning at the Mission Bay channel entrance and ending at the north end of Pacific Beach. The Strand is the most popular beach area in the City of San Diego and draws large crowds in summer. A somewhat narrow cement boardwalk parallel's the entire beach. Walking, biking, bicycling, and related activities are permitted on the boardwalk, but speed is regulated and must be kept to eight miles per hour or less. Cycles with more than two wheels are not permitted except for use by the disabled. Various shops, restaurants, and beach rental outfits surround the Mission Beach lifeguard station, at the foot of Ventura Street beside a landmark roller coaster. The north end of Mission Beach is bordered by residential properties, but there are some stores available on Mission Boulevard, a block or so from the beach.
South Mission Beach is bordered on the south by the Mission Bay Channel. It has, perhaps, the widest beach in the City. Recently, it has become known as a popular place to engage in sports such as beach volleyball and basketball following an extensive refurbishing of the courts. A popular game similar to baseball called "Over-The-Line" is allowed in a portion of this area.
Ocean Beach - (1950 Abbott Street) is located in the community of Ocean Beach, just south of the Mission Bay channel entrance. This is a wide beach approximately one mile long. A volleyball area can be found near the north end of the beach. The Ocean Beach Municipal Pier is located at the south end of the beach and is available to the public for walking and fishing. There is a restaurant and bait shop on the pier. Numerous restaurants, surf shops, and other commercial establishments are available near the south end of the beach. One unique feature of Ocean Beach is Dog Beach, a sandy area at the north end. This is a dog run area where dogs are permitted without a leash at all hours of the day.
Point Loma - At the end of a long day on the beach, drive out to Sunset Cliffs to watch the sun slip over the horizon. The sandstone bluffs blaze with color, and the waves sparkle like gold. If you're game for a little adventure, come early, drive out to the old Cabrillo Lighthouse and hike out to the tide pools by the point. There are in fact no real beaches on Point Loma and the swimming opportunities are poor and downright dangerous, but it's the only place in San Diego (aside from La Jolla), where you can see waves crashing on the cliffs, precarious pinnacles rising from the water, and rocky reefs full of marine life.
Coronado Municipal Beach runs along Ocean Boulevard from Avenida Lunar in the south to Naval Air Station North Island Gate 5 to the north. Park free on Ocean Boulevard, but plan to arrive before 11:00 on summer weekends to beat the crowds. Also, Silver Strand State Beach can be reached by traveling south on I-5 from San Diego and exiting at Palm Ave/Highway 75. Go west on Palm Ave. and follow signs to Highway 75 and Silver Strand State Beach.
Silver Strand State Beach can be reached by traveling south on I-5 from San Diego and although it is a little further off the beaten path, offering more solitude for those who wish to get away from the beach crowds, families and campers enjoy this beach. Coronado has tons of recreational activities including camping, surfing, swimming, body boarding, jet skiing, sailing, water skiing, as well as fishing and beach volleyball. Also, bicyclists, joggers, walkers and skaters have 10 miles of bike path at their disposal
Imperial Beach - Swim, surf, sunbath, jog, fish or spend the day building a sandcastle at Imperial Beach. Imperial Beach, the most south westerly community in the United States, is a beautiful, sandy beach, the kind of beach you visit for some much needed relaxation away from the crowds. Quiet, solitary and still a bit of a hippie community, Imperial Beach is 20 miles south of downtown San Diego and a few miles short of the Mexican border. At Imperial Beach you will find some of the best sand in the nation, which is why it is home to the yearly U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition. Imperial Beach is also popular for surf-fishing.