Which San Diego Beach is Perfect For You?
It’s no secret that San Diego has some spectacular beaches. They’re one of the biggest draws around here, which is really saying something — especially given everything else we have to offer.
Still, beaches are like seashells: No two are exactly the same. Much like San Diego’s neighborhoods, our beaches each have a distinct character and personality. And depending on your lifestyle, some beaches may offer more of what you’re looking for than others.
That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide to finding the best beaches in San Diego to fit your scene. Where will YOU go?
All of San Diego’s beaches have a lot to offer families looking for a relaxing day by the water. But Mission Bay‘s beaches stand out when it comes to a family-friendly atmosphere. South Mission Bay Beach is located in an area mostly filled with vacation rentals, so the beach itself offers volleyball courts, restrooms, and many permanent lifeguard stations. North Mission Bay is located close to Belmont Park, a timeless boardwalk-style attraction with plenty of rides, games, an arcade, and a carnival atmosphere. You can also rent bikes or roller skates here!
Does your version of California dreamin’ skew closer to that classically groovy, West Coast vibe? Then you’ll want to head for Ocean Beach. Not only does this stretch of shoreline lend itself well to cozy gatherings (you’re welcome to bring your own firewood and create a toasty bonfire in one of the many firepits that dot the shore), but the eponymous surrounding community has long been a gathering point for hippies, hipsters, and everyone in between. Expect to see tie-dye, dreadlocks, bare feet, rock t-shirts, board shorts, and drum circles. So if that’s your jam, you know where to go. Don’t miss the farmers market!
For Sunset Fans
Let’s be clear — there’s no bad place to watch a sunset anywhere in San Diego. Spectacular evening sky displays are sort of a big deal around here. That said, Sunset Cliffs earned its name for a reason. This 68-acre city park located along the northwestern edge of the Point Loma neighborhood offers some of the most incredibly vibrant ballets between sun, sky, and water anywhere on the west coast. The majestic sandstone cliff faces here also offer explorers some scenic caves, tide pool areas, and other fantastic natural beauty. Bring a blanket and drink in the splendor.
For The Party Crowd
Looking for an upbeat good time? Then make your way to Pacific Beach. A young, energetic and fashionable crowd convenes on Pacific Beach’s shoreline in order to enjoy the yoga studios, cafés, boutiques, nightclubs, bars and niche restaurants along the boardwalk. Sunbathers, snorkelers and surfers gravitate here, as well. The city views are sweepingly panoramic from Pacific Beach, and the water is always inviting and warm.
SoCal surfing isn’t just an activity — it’s a way of life. Entire cottage industries, a distinct fashion style, and a fully fledged music genre have all sprung up around it, so you know San Diegans take their surfing pretty seriously. If you’re looking to ride some waves, you’re spoiled for choice in “America’s Finest City.” Beginning surfers would be best-served at Oceanside Beach, where the waves are gentle and so is the crowd. If your novice days are behind you, then you might feel bold enough to give the serious swells of La Jolla’s Black’s Beach a try. Either way, when the curls start calling, you’re in the right spot.
Oceanside: N Pacific St, Oceanside, CA 92054
For SCUBA Divers
San Diego is a renowned SCUBA hot spot for a reason. The waters just offshore are home to a fascinating diversity of plant and animal life, explorable caves, and even historic shipwrecks. But in terms of sheer variety, it’s hard to go wrong in La Jolla. This quintessential beachside hamlet just north of San Diego has an assortment of spots that have fascinated scuba divers for years. La Jolla Shores is the perfect launching point for exploring La Jolla Canyon, with its deep range of marine life, coral, and underwater canyons. And nearby La Jolla Cove offers divers unique rock formations, vast kelp forests, and even playful sea lion encounters.
There’s just something about soft sand and lapping waves that has a way of soothing the soul. If you’re on the hunt for the perfect low-traffic beach to relax and unwind, you’ll want to seek out Bermuda Beach. This quiet, residential stretch is located along a section of frontage that is tucked away below some residential buildings. Stairs here lead from the street level to the beach for easy access. When you go, bring a camera, a picnic, a yoga mat, or whatever helps you relax. Then dig your toes into the sand and let the waves carry your tension out to the sea.
San Diego’s beaches are among the world’s most spectacular. No matter what experience you’re hoping to find, her sand, surf, and sunsets will surely offer you a memory you’ll treasure forever.