8 beaches near San Diego: Where to go for sun, sand, and surf
Traveling in the San Diego area can be a ton of fun. There are so many things to do and see in this part of California that you won't be bored during your trip. You might want to add some of these San Diego beaches to your travel plans during your stay. There is nothing like the sun and sand and a relaxing afternoon near the ocean to make for the perfect vacation.
Whether you are planning to go to San Diego Beaches, La Jolla Shores, or San Diego Bay, you will need to get your bags securely stored. We can be your beach day storage spot so that your bags will be safe and secure while you have fun in the sun.
Because the San Diego coastline is so picturesque, it can be hard to decide which beaches are worth your time. Read on for our favorite spots to work on your tan and take a dip.
If you have decided to visit Sea World, then Mission Beach should also be on your list of San Diego highlights. This is a two-mile-long peninsula that is one of the most famous of the San Diego beaches. Walk along the white sand on the ocean side, and the interior bay area is just as nice. If you love resorts, you can usually pay a day fee to visit some of the lovely Mission Beach hotels near the water.
Mission Beach travel distance from San Diego
Mission Beach is 15 minutes by car from downtown San Diego and about ten minutes from SeaWorld, depending on traffic.
Head to Belmont Park for a day of classic amusement park fun. You will want to put this San Diego beach attraction at the top of your list of things to do if you have kids with you. You can easily have hours of fun here.
SeaWorld is so close that this might be on your list of Mission Beach activities as well. Once you finish up with your show and your fun at the park, you can rent loungers and an umbrella and settle in to listen to the ocean at this lovely San Diego beach. You will also be close to lots of shopping and dining options in this area if you want to spend a full day in this part of San Diego.
Located to the north of Point Loma, this lovely surfing beach is one of the prettiest beaches in San Diego. Ocean Beach is beloved by locals, and it is associated with a fun bohemian vibe that is not always present in other parts of the city. Ocean Beach is easily accessed on foot via the stairs by Bermuda Avenue. There is a dog beach here as well and lots of things to do in the area of the town that is nearby.
Ocean Beach travel distance from San Diego
Ocean Beach is about 15 minutes from downtown San Diego.
The dog beach area is always a hit, and you can bring your favorite furry friend to this part of the Ocean Beach area any day of the week. There is also a walking and bike path area that runs along the beach if you don't feel like getting in the sand or going for a swim.
Cool off under a rented umbrella and get comfortable in a lounger if you want. This is also one of the best beaches in San Diego to learn to surf. There are various San Diego beach companies that offer surfing lessons here.
You will also be close to Voltaire Street if you want to take advantage of the local shopping before heading down to dip your toes in the water and read a book in the sun. This is one of the best beaches in San Diego for many reasons, and you won't regret heading here for your beach day.
Another beach that is ideal for surfing and tanning, Pacific Beach is a favorite for San Diego locals. You can head here for many fun experiences, and there are lots of great places to dine out and enjoy shopping in the nearby town. This is one of the smaller San Diego beaches, but that doesn't mean that you won't have fun when you visit. The Pacific Beach area offers the same vibe as La Jolla Shores and some of the more famous beaches in San Diego without the crowded conditions.
Pacific Beach travel distance from San Diego
Pacific Beach is about a 15-minute drive from San Diego's downtown.
This is one of the best San Diego beaches for being social. There are a lot of young people on the beach here which means that you can usually join a game at the beach volleyball courts or find someone to hang out with.
Kate Sessions Park is close by, and many people head up to the grassy knoll here to see the ocean more clearly and enjoy the view of the city below. You can also walk or bike in this area if you wish.
There is also a famous boardwalk here that is about six miles long. The Pacific Beach Pier is a popular location for people of all ages, and it makes this space special when compared to some of the other locations like Pacific Beach that do not offer this perk.
La Jolla Shores
Perhaps one of the best-known and most-loved beaches in San Diego, this lovely one-mile stretch of sand is located in the famous little town of La Jolla. La Jolla Shores is a great place to sunbathe, swim, and scuba dive. This is one of the best beaches in San Diego for those who love to adventure and try new things. La Jolla Shores is also close to lots of resorts and other amenities, just like Pacific Beach and Mission Beach.
La Jolla Shores travel distance from San Diego
This famous San Diego beach is about 20 minutes from downtown San Diego.
If you have ever wanted to learn to surf, this surf beach is an ideal choice. There are also many opportunities to enjoy scuba diving lessons at this San Diego beach location. Many people choose this location among all of the San Diego beaches to swim since there are lifeguards on duty many days of the week.
While places like Pacific Beach and Mission Beach will offer you more access to shopping and dining, this is one of the best beaches in San Diego to enjoy tanning, swimming, and making the most of your time in the sun and the sand. You are not allowed to have alcohol or glass bottles on this beach, so make sure that you don't plan to bring these items with you for your San Diego beach day.
North Pacific Beach
Located near Mission Drive, this lovely spot is one of the best beaches in San Diego for peace and quiet. Best of all, you can enjoy reading and napping in the sun but then head away from the ocean for a cozy meal at a lovely boutique restaurant or go shopping at local clothiers. North Pacific Beach is just far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the city to be peaceful without being a big hike away from the city. This is a favored spot among the beaches in San Diego for sunbathers due to this lovely sense of peace and quiet.
Similar to Coronado Beach, this beach is perfect for a peaceful day in the sun listening to the waves rolling in.
North Pacific Beach travel distance from San Diego
This beach is 15 minutes from downtown San Diego.
This beach is between Crystal Pier and Tourmaline Surf Park. You can head here to get a surfing lesson or to walk along the Crystal Pier and take some pictures. You can also rent an umbrella and a chair and just take in the beauty of this quiet beach. This is a family-friendly beach, and you will often see kids and adults hanging out in the water here.
While not as trendy and fun for young people as La Jolla Shores beach, this is a great place for a quiet day with your kids or even a good book.
La Jolla Cove
This special beach location is part of the San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park Ecological Reserve. This is a curved, sandy beach area that is located near tide pools which are ideal for scuba diving and snorkeling. This is one of the most special of San Diego's beaches for many reasons, and if you love tide pools and a more ecological view of the beach, then this is the place for you.
La Jolla Cove travel distance from San Diego
La Jolla Cove is about 10 minutes from downtown San Diego.
This is among the best beaches in San Diego for snorkeling and scuba, so be sure that you put this location on your list if you love these activities. La Jolla Cove is part of an effort to preserve various native populations of coral, fish, and other marine life. You can also sunbathe here but do be aware that sea lions call this cove home, and they might want to carve out their own sunbathing spots near you. You will need to give the wildlife and plants the space that they deserve while you have fun on the golden sands of this cove area.
South Mission Beach
This very quiet beach area can be perfect if you want to avoid crowds and you don't mind being unable to walk to things like restaurants.
South Mission Beach travel distance from San Diego
It takes bout 15 minutes to get to South Mission Beach.
This quiet, sandy beach area is perfect for reading a book, sunbathing, and getting away from it all. There are no tide pools and no other perks to this side of the beach, but you will enjoy a quiet day without the hustle and bustle of some of the more popular beaches in San Diego.
Torrey Pines State Beach
This beach does have an entry fee, but Torrey Pines State Beach is a great place to see the majesty of the ocean at work. There are no ocean beach pier locations here to enjoy, no carnival rides, and no loungers on offer, but the cliffs and the ocean are beautiful and inspiring. Torrey Pines State Beach is a lovely preserve that offers a sandy beach to walk on and some great hiking trails that overlook the ocean.
Torrey Pines State Beach travel distance from San Diego
This beach is about a half hour from San Diego.
You are not far from Del Mar City Beach here, so you could combine a trip to this location with a visit to Torrey Pines. This is not a sunbathing beach, but that doesn't mean that you won't be inspired by and enjoy the sandy beach walk here that is framed by magnificent cliffs. You can actually drop by this location on your way to Del Mar City Beach and have a best-of-both-worlds kind of day.
If you have a long time to enjoy San Diego beaches or San Diego itself, you might want to check out our guide to the best weekend trips from San Diego. For those who are traveling to San Diego on a strict budget, these beaches are great for saving money. All you have to pay for are your snacks and transportation in most cases. There are so many lovely places to enjoy in and around San Diego that you will not be starved for ways to make a splash and create memories while you are in California.
From dog beach locations to places where you can party, dine, and shop after a swim, there is so much to love about the San Diego coastline and San Diego beaches.