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Discover San Diego: Top Beach Destinations

San Diego's reputation for having some of California's finest beaches is no secret, each one offering a unique experience. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful spot to unwind or a lively beach full of friends and activities, San Diego has it all. Get ready to find your next favorite coastal destination.



DID YOU KNOW? San Diego is considered one of the birthplaces of California's surfing culture. In the early 1900s, legendary surfer Duke Kahanamoku and George Freeth introduced the sport to the area. It has been a community favorite ever since (A Brief History of Surf and Skate in San Diego).


1. La Jolla Cove


Best For: Underwater Enthusiasts


La Jolla Cove is famous for its views, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant marine life, making it an ideal spot for snorkeling and scuba diving. The protected waters of the marine reserve ensure a prosperous underwater ecosystem. On the shore, you can enjoy stunning views of the coastline and cliffs, and possibly spot some seals and sea lions on the rocks. The area around the cove is great for scenic walking trails.


2. Coronado Beach

Best For: Family Fun and Luxury


Coronado Beach is known for its golden sands and the Victorian-style Hotel del Coronado. This wide, flat beach is perfect for families, as the gentle waves make for safe play and swimming. The historic Hotel del Coronado adds a touch of luxury and charm to the peninsula. The northern section of Coronado Beach is a designated dog-friendly area. The Coronado Ferry Landing offers scenic rides across San Diego Bay.


3. Pacific Beach

Best For: Vibrant Nightlife and Surfing


Pacific Beach, or "PB" as the locals call it, is a lively beach community that attracts a younger crowd. During the day, the beach is packed with surfers and sunbathers, and by night, the boardwalk and streets come alive with bars, restaurants, and clubs. The area is favored by college students and young crowds.


4. Torrey Pines State Beach


Best For: Nature Lovers and Hiking


Torrey Pines State Beach offers a perfect blend of beach fun and nature exploration. Located below the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, this beach provides stunning cliffs and unique geological features. Hiking trails at the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve lead you to panoramic views of the ocean and offer a chance to see diverse wildlife, including the rare Torrey Pine tree.


5. Mission Beach


Best For: Beach Boardwalk Experience


Mission Beach is known for its popular boardwalk that stretches for two miles. Belmont Park, an old-school amusement park with a wooden roller coaster, arcade games, rides, and sweet treats, awaits visitors. The main walkway is a great spot for biking, rollerblading, walking, and running. The beach itself is wide and sandy, perfect for volleyball and sunbathing. Mission Bay, located just across the street from Mission Beach, offers various water sports such as kayaking, paddle boarding, sailing, and jet skiing.


6. Del Mar Beach


Best For: Horseback Riding and Fine Dining


Del Mar Beach offers a more relaxed and upscale beach experience. Known for its nearby horse racing track, the beach also allows horseback riding in certain areas. The waves here are gentle, making it a great spot for swimming and paddle boarding. With somewhat fewer crowds, it’s perfect for a peaceful beach day, fine dining, cozy eateries, and boutique shopping.


7. Ocean Beach


Best For: Laid-Back Vibes and Dog-Friendly Fun


Ocean Beach, or "OB," is known for its quirky atmosphere and dog-friendly policies. The OB Dog Beach at the northern end allows dogs to run off-leash. The pier, one of the longest on the West Coast, is a great spot for fishing and watching surfers. The neighborhood surrounding Ocean Beach is filled with shops, cafes, and a Wednesday night farmers market.


8. Sunset Cliffs


Best For: Walks and Photography


Known for its breathtaking sunsets and ocean views, Sunset Cliffs is truly unmatched. This stunning beach is ideal for a romantic evening, cliffside picnics, and even the occasional proposal. Whether you're planning a special moment or simply want to observe the natural beauty, Sunset Cliffs offers an unforgettable experience.


Seeking out more hidden gems? Let Beaches App guide you to your next beach destination. (www.beaches.app/get).



“A Brief History of Surf and Skate in San Diego.” The Official Travel Resource for the San Diego Region, www.sandiego.org/articles/skating/a-brief-history-of-surf-and-skate-in-san-diego.aspx. Accessed 17 June 2024.


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