Best 10 Beautiful Beaches In San Diego, California

beautiful beaches in san diego

Stunning San Diego is synonymous with sunshine and spectacular surf. With its sculpted sandstone cliffs and swaying palm trees, this vibrant Californian city dazzles with its magnificent natural beauty, but the brilliant sandy beaches are some of the best features of San Diego. From soft expanses perfect for sunbathing to bays rippling with powerful waves, there is an ideal stretch of shore for every type of beach-goer. Watch birds swoop against a backdrop of the Los Coronados Islands from Imperial Beach or soar into the sky on the wooden rollercoaster at Mission Beach. Surf white-capped crests at Pacific Beach then stroll along the sparkling sands of renowned Coronado Beach. Whether you choose to kayak among sea coves, ride horses or bicycles along coastal trails, or simply lounge on soft sand dunes, don’t forget to pack your sunscreen! Read the list below for a roundup of the most beautiful beaches in San Diego, California.

1. Flat Rock Beach

Flatrock Point Torrey Pines State Beach La Jolla, CA
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Raquel Baranow used under CC BY-SA 3.0

A sandy stretch nestled under the curve of towering bluffs, Flat Rock Beach is a beautiful, remote shoreline located within Torrey Pines State Beach. Although it requires a bit of a walk to access this beach, visitors will be rewarded with pristine white sands and sweeping views of the sandstone cliffs. Enjoy a peaceful swim in the calm waves, or climb the sandstone outcropping that juts out from the water in low tide. Flat Rock Beach is also surrounded by wonderful walking paths like the loop hikes of the Beach Trail and the Broken Hill Trail, and you can get a map at the Visitor’s Center.

Flat Rock Beach

Address: DuTorrey Pines Park Rd, La Jolla, CA 92037

Website: Flat Rock Beach

2. Cardiff State Beach

Cardiff State Beach
Source: Photo by user Phil Price used under CC BY-SA 2.0

A fantastic beach for water sports, Cardiff State Beach is part of a gorgeous stretch of coastline known as Cardiff-by-the-Sea. This beach is popular among surfers for the terrific breakers, and it is also a great location to try stand-up paddleboarding! Under the water, jungles of kelp beds and glittering reefs create fascinating landscapes for snorkeling and scuba diving. You can also discover the fascinating ecosystems when they are revealed in tide pools when the tide is low. After a busy day in the water, explore the quirky coastal community around the beach and discover laid-back restaurants and vibrant nightlife spots, or set-up camp at nearby San Elijo.

Cardiff State Beach

Address: Highway 101, Cardiff by the Sea, CA 92007

Website: Cardiff State Beach

3. La Jolla Cove Beach

La Jolla Cove view
Source: Photo by user Dirk Hansen used under CC BY-SA 3.0

The breathtaking landscape of La Jolla has created one of the most beloved beaches in San Diego. La Jolla Cove Beach is nestled among picturesque sea caves and it is renowned for its picturesque beauty and tranquil surf. One of the best ways to explore the famous rock formations is via kayak, where you can paddle through the glittering coves and kelp beds and watch sea lions sun themselves on stony outcroppings. Swimming, diving, and snorkeling are also popular pursuits due to the calm waters. This beach has many convenient amenities nearby, including picnic tables, lovely walking trails along the coastline, free parking, and public bathrooms and showers.

La Jolla Cove Beach

Address: 1160 Coast Blvd, La Jolla, CA 92037

Website: La Jolla Cove Beach

4. Imperial Beach

Imperial Beach
Source: Photo by user Dstana used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Sitting just north of the Mexico border, Imperial Beach is the southern-most beach in California. From fishing to horseback riding, beach volleyball to bicycling, this beach is great for outdoor activities! The beach is also considered one of the best places to birdwatch as this area is home to approximately 370 species of birds. The nearby Living Coast Discovery Center and the outdoor Surfboard Museum are also worth visiting, and watching the sunset from the pier is a must.

Imperial Beach

Address: Elder Ave., Imperial Beach, CA 91932

Website: Imperial Beach

5. Ocean Beach, City Beach

Ocean Beach Pier
Source: Photo by user Brian Roberts used under CC BY 2.0

City Beach is the main stretch of shoreline within the quirky community of Ocean Beach. Spend your days on this long, sandy beach sunbathing, surfing, swimming, or strolling. Many great eateries, distilleries, taco shacks, and microbreweries line the nearby streets. There’s even a Farmer’s Market here on Wednesdays. The pier is one of the longest in Southern California and it is the perfect place to fish, enjoy sunset views or beach-comb in the sand and tide pools underneath it.

Ocean Beach City Beach

Address: 1946 Abbott St, San Diego, CA 92107

Website: Ocean Beach City Beach

6. Coronado Beach

Coronado Beach
Source: Pixabay

With its sparkling, golden sand and picturesque backdrop of stately homes, Coronado Beach is one of the most renowned beaches of Southern California. This expansive beach is perfect for sunbathing, and the calm surf makes this shoreline a great place for family-friendly fun. Try exciting activities like boogie- or paddle-boarding, or explore the gleaming tide pools for a glimpse of starfish and sea anemones. Admire magnificent panoramas as you stroll along the shore, and take in the views of the beautiful Hotel del Coronado, a 130-year-old National Historic Landmark. In the evening, sink your toes in the sand next to one of the many fire pits and roast s’mores.

Coronado Beach

Address: 919 Ocean Blvd., Coronado, Ca. 92118

Website: Coronado Beach

7. Windansea Beach

Windansea Beach - 2
Source: Photo by user RightCowLeftCoast used under CC BY-SA 4.0

The picturesque Windansea Beach is a small beach located in La Jolla. Powerful breakers make this area a perfect place for a day of surfing, and this beach is often the site of surfing competitions. While swimming, diving, and snorkeling are not recommended due to the surging surf, there is still plenty to do back on land. This sandy beach is also great for sunbathing, and rich tide pools are revealed when the tide is low.

Windansea Beach

Address: Neptune Place and Nautilus Street, La Jolla, CA 92037

Website: Windansea Beach

8. Pacific Beach

Pacific Beach, San Diego
Source: Photo by user Krithika Saravanan used under CC BY-SA 4.0

A vibrant beach surrounded by exciting eateries and nightlife options, Pacific Beach is a popular destination for young adults. Sunbathers stretch along the warm sands and there’s always a beach volleyball game going, while surfers skim the waves at nearby Tourmaline Surfing Park. With a valid California fishing license, you can drop a line off of Crystal Pier, or you can rent a bicycle and ride it along the bustling boardwalk.

Pacific Beach

Address: Mission Blvd and Grand Ave, San Diego, CA 92109

Website: Pacific Beach

9. Solana Beach

Solana Beach bluffs
Source: Photo by user Timeforkindergarten used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Under the soaring bluffs that sweep out to the ocean, a wooden staircase winds down to the secluded sands of Solana Beach. This picturesque area is filled with teeming tide pools and quiet coves, and the tranquil surf is fantastic for swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving. Families can play and picnic at Fletcher Cove Beach, and surfers can ride the crashing waves that break over the reef at Seaside. The area around Solana Beach is also popular for shopping, and there are many boutiques, eateries, art galleries, and live music venues to discover.

Solana Beach

Address: 302 Solana Vista Drive, Solana Beach, CA 92075

Website: Solana Beach

10. Mission Beach

Mission Beach-San Diego-California
Source: Photo by user Vlastula used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

The massive, sandy stretches of Mission Beach are a beautiful place to enjoy some family-friendly fun against the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean. Paddle out from the breathtaking coastline and try surfing, stand-up paddleboarding, or diving at Wreck Alley, or stay on the sand and play a game of beach volleyball. Nearby, Belmont Park brims with exciting amusement park rides like the historic Big Dipper rollercoaster, as well as an arcade, a putt-putt golf course, a laser tag arena, and a zip line. Another fun option is to ride a bicycle along the boardwalk and explore the amazing variety of shops, restaurants, and breweries.

Mission Beach

Address: Mission Blvd & Ventura Place, San Diego, CA 92109

Website: Mission Beach

Sun, sand, and surf in San Diego

Beautiful scenery surrounds you in San Diego, and the city’s beaches are some of the best in the nation. From kayaking to kite surfing, beach-combing to bicycling, there is so much to see, do, and try in this area! Whether you’re more of a sunbather or a surfer, there are plenty of beautiful beaches to explore along Southern California’s coastline. Plan your trip, pack your sunscreen, and check out these 10 beautiful beaches in San Diego, California!

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Hannah is a freelance writer, list making aficionado, and world traveler currently based in Germany. She is an avid explorer, and believes in creating new experiences to put on her bucket list to...Read more

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