Aug. 30 is National Beach Day but let’s be real — in San Diego, every day is a beach day.
With 17 miles of city-proper coastline and even 70 miles of superb shorelines spanning our county, local life is just plain beachy. We’re stoked to explore our sandy hot spots — it’s a true abundance of riches.
Nestled between South Mission Beach and Pacific Beach, this 1-mile strand is one of the most popular local spots — and home of the historic seaside landmark, Belmont Park. No trip is complete without a bike ride or stroll along Ocean Front Boardwalk, and if we get to wave at Slomo, our day is officially made.
The quirky cousin of San Diego’s shorelines, OB is known for its volleyball scene, rock jetties, 24-hour Dog Beach, and Ocean Beach Pier. The community has also made a name for itself with beloved annual events like the OB Street Fair & Chili Cook-Off and OB Oktoberfest. Oh, and don’t sleep on the OB Farmers Market on Wednesdays.
La Jolla Shores
Named one of San Diego’s best beaches by SDtoday readers, this 1-mile sandy stretch is known for its gentle waves, great scuba diving (that Underwater Park, though), sea caves, and tidepools. We love a sunset sesh here — always with a walk down to Scripps Pier.
This picturesque beach starts at the famous Hotel del Coronado — so make shore to get those iconic red turrets in your pics. If you’re lucky, you may spot an elaborate creation made by The Sandcastle Man. The shoreline runs north to Sunset Park and across the way is Coronado Dog Beach, a year-round, leash-free spot for Spot bordering Naval Air Station North Island.
Torrey Pines State Beach
We like to pack flip-flops and hiking boots for this one. The beach stretches 4.5 miles from Del Mar to Torrey Pines Mesa and is great for surfing, swimming, and fishing. The red-hued bluffs take the spotlight during low tide and the beach connects by trail to Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve — one of our favorite places for hiking.
Moonlight State Beach
An Encinitas staple, this stunning shoreline features volleyball and tennis courts, plus equipment rentals for watersports and a full-blown gourmet concessions stand just steps from the ocean. Did you know? According to the California Department of Parks and Recreation, the “moonlight” part of this beach’s name is a nod to when locals used the area for midnight picnics in the early 1900s.
Breakwater Way Beach
Oceanside is home to 3 miles of coastline perfect for surfing, fishing, and whale watching. An awesome spot to relax in this North County beach town is Breakwater Way Beach, to the right of Oceanside Pier. The family-friendly beach is great for activities + building sandcastles — and don’t even get us started on the sunsets.
Known for its epic breaks created by reefs, you’ll always spot a sea of surfers at this stunning spot in La Jolla. Of course, a visit isn’t complete without a stop by the historic Windansea Surf Shack — aka Historic Landmark 358 — an ode to local surf culture.
Del Mar Beach
Great for swimming, surfing, jogging, walking, or relaxing, the 2+ miles of beach in Del Mar include two coastal parks — Powerhouse and Seagrove, located above the 15th Street surf break. North Beach, aka Dog Beach, is a perfect spot for Fido.
This 2-mile stretch of beach is located at the base of 300-ft cliffs and visitors will often spot hang gliders enjoying the views from the sky. Due to the terrain, the safest way to access Black’s is from adjacent beaches to the north and south.
This sandy strand sits on a sand spit that forms the outer edge of San Diego Bay between Coronado and Imperial Beach. Locals love it for swimming, boating, surfing, water-skiing, fishing, volleyball, and camping. Check water quality levels before visiting, as the water is intermittently closed to the public
Cardiff State Beach
This gently sloping beach with warm water is a favorite among swimmers, surfers, beachcombers, and leashed dogs. Did you know? Cardiff State Beach recently underwent a sand nourishment project designed to help with erosion control and add recreation space to the shoreline.
Leucadia State Beach
This small, rocky beach in Encinitas is best known to locals as “Beacon’s” and features stellar surfing, swimming, fishing, and spots for picnics. Access it via a trail that’s nestled at the foot of Leucadia Boulevard.
The southernmost beach town in California, IB features a 4-mile stretch of beach, plus the Imperial Beach Pier offering fishing and gorgeous views of the Los Coronados Islands.
South Carlsbad State Beach
This North County gem is great for surfing, skin diving, fishing, and picnicking. It also features an ocean view campground on the bluffs that’s popular year-round — especially in the summer. Make those reservations early.
Oceanside’s largest beach boasts picnic tables, fire pits, and volleyball courts — and is just a short walk to the shops and eateries that make Oceanside Harbor a must-visit destination in the North County.
San Elijo State Beach
In addition to great surf and a reef that’s popular with snorkelers and divers, this beach in Cardiff offers tent and RV camping — though those reservations go fast. Campers can reserve their sites up to six months in advance.
Psst: We know these aren’t all of San Diego County’s amazing beaches — that just means we’ll get to bring you another wave of more soon, there’s just so much sand to cover, you know? Drop us a note with beach suggestions.