There are so many amazing beaches in California it was tough to narrow it down to just 19. But we did it!
The best beaches in the Golden State are from north to south.
Whether you’re looking for a place to soak up the sun or take a dip in the ocean, these beaches have something for everyone.
So grab your sunscreen and beach bag and get ready for fun in the sun!
19 Best Beaches In California
1. Torrey Pines State Beach
Torrey Pines State Beach is surrounded by sea cliffs that reach up to 300-foot. It’s Torrey Pines’s lineup and opens up to reveal an awestruck view of the Pacific sea.
The beach has a large parking area just a few meters away from the long stretches of the beach.
It is very popular among those looking for places to enjoy sunbathing or spend quality time with their family.
Address: 12600 N. Torrey Pines Road, San Diego, CA 92037
Related: 8 Best Family-Friendly Beaches In Texas.
2. Black’s Beach
Going further from Torrey Pines State Beach, you’ll reach the famous Black’s Beach.
This beach area is possibly one of the most difficult to reach, but it doesn’t seem to take away the place’s allure. It remains one of the favorite spots of local surfers and bodyboarders.
This beach is also very popular for Southern California nudists and naturists as it is not that strict in prohibiting nudity.
Meanwhile, the strong waves on this beach come from an underwater submarine canyon named Scripps Canyon, that’s why the surf area is only advisable for those surfers with experience.
Surely, there are lifeguards in the area, but they are still strict in ensuring that ordinary beachgoers will not be caught up in the rip currents if they try to surf there.
Address: 2800 Torrey Pines Scenic Dr, San Diego, CA 92037-1004
3. Children’s Pool La Jolla
Walking downtown La Jolla, you’ll find the Children’s Pool just a short distance away. It is also just a few meters away from La Jolla Cove, a small cove surrounded by a breakwater made of the concrete wall.
The Children’s Pool La Jolla was created so that children could swim safely.
Address: 850 Coast Blvd La Jolla, CA 92037
4. La Jolla Cove
Because of its extraordinary beauty, La Jolla Cove is one of the most photographed beaches in Southern California.
With small surf in the summer months, the north-facing La Jolla Cove is ideal for swimmers, snorkelers, and scuba divers. Water visibility at the Cove can sometimes exceed 30 feet.
La Jolla Cove is a small deep water bay flanked by sea caves accessible to adventurers in kayaks and on foot, depending on the tides.
The beach is small, but its usually tame waters are popular with swimmers and snorkelers hoping to see local natives like the bright-orange Garibaldi fish and other marine life.
The Cove is easily accessible via maintained stairs and walkways, sitting just below a large grass park with bathrooms, showers, picnic tables, a paved pedestrian walkway, and several public gazebos.
Address: 1160 Coast Blvd La Jolla, CA 92037
5. La Jolla Tide Pools
La Jolla is a terrific place for tide pooling; it’s one of the best in San Diego!
Its myriad rocky cliffs and sandy beaches have created an endless supply of nooks and crannies for marine life viewing.
The optimal season for tide pooling is December to March when minus tides reveal wider beaches and the tide pools are uncovered.
Address: 303 Coast Blvd, La Jolla, CA 92037, United States
>> See 22 Best Beaches in Massachusetts.
6. La Jolla Shores Beach
La Jolla Shores is a mile-long crescent of prime sand beach favored by active beachgoers of all interests.
Anchored by the Scripps Institute of Oceanography pier, this is a busy swimming area popular among families and surfers.
Shielded by La Jolla Bay, it is also used as a launching ground for scuba diving and kayaking. At night it’s alive with the glow of beach fires.
Address: Beach 8200 Camino del Oro La Jolla, CA 92037
7. Windansea Beach
San Diego Windansea Beach is still a well-regarded surf location because its steep ocean-floor slopes create powerful waves.
Modern-day surfers flock to this beach to ride the same waves that the historic and famous surfers of the past once caught.
However, due to the strong shore break, swimming, diving, and snorkeling are not recommended in San Diego Windansea Beach.
Like many of La Jolla’s beaches, this one is just large enough to spread out for sunbathing. Winter storms can remove a lot of the sand here, so it’s quite different between summer and winter.
Address: Neptune Place and Nautilus Street La Jolla, CA 92037
8. Tourmaline Beach
Tourmaline Beach is at a San Diego area surfers’ mecca called Tourmaline Surfing Park. This beach sits on the border of the Pacific Beach and La Jolla districts of San Diego.
The park is located where Tourmaline Street meets the ocean. There isn’t much grass at the park.
It’s just a large parking lot right on the beach. If you want to swim, go elsewhere because it’s not allowed in most areas at Tourmaline.
But if you want to surf or sunbathe and watch surfers, kiteboarders, and windsurfers, this is a great place to visit any time of year.
South of Tourmaline is the Crystal Pier at Pacific Beach. Walking north on Tourmaline eventually leads to a rocky beach and tide pools at the Linda Way Beach Access.
Address: La Jolla Blvd and Tourmaline St La Jolla, CA 92109
9. Pacific Beach Pier
Pacific Beach is located between Pacific Beach Drive and the Crystal Pier in the Pacific Beach District of San Diego, CA. North of the pier is North Pacific Beach, and south of Pacific Beach Drive is Mission Beach.
This popular bike path is lined with shops and restaurants at Pacific Beach. Crystal Pier is a public fishing pier during the day and has a great vantage point to look at the city, the beach, and the surfers below.
On the pier are Cape Cod-style cottages called the Crystal Pier Hotel that can be rented if you plan.
Pacific Beach is a very popular beach, and since street parking is your best option, it may require a long walk unless you get an early start on the day.
Address: Mission Blvd and Grand Ave San Diego, CA 92109
10. Mission Beach
Mission Beach is a long wide sandy beach in the Mission Beach area of San Diego. The beaches here are continuous, but Mission Beach is typically considered the beach south of Pacific Beach Drive.
The Ocean Front Walk pathway runs north and south from here for biking, skating, running, and walking.
Heading north leads to Pacific Beach, and heading south leads to the end of the Mission Beach Peninsula at South Mission Beach, a popular spot for beach volleyball.
The Mission Beach area is crazy with activity daily, and wide sandy beaches are not the only draw.
Address: Mission Blvd & Ventura Place San Diego, CA 92109
11. South Mission Beach, San Diego
South Mission Beach is at the extreme south end of the Mission Beach Peninsula at the Mission Bay Channel Entrance.
There is a grass park with picnic tables, restrooms, and a basketball court. On the sand next to the park are many beach volleyball courts.
The beach at this location is wide, so you won’t have trouble finding a spot to spread out. A huge lifeguard building watches guard over this end of Mission Beach.
Address: 2500 N Jetty Road, San Diego, CA 92109
12. Oceanside Harbor Beach
Beautiful Harbor Beach is Oceanside’s largest beach. It offers everything from surfing to volleyball. The Oceanside Harbor, adjacent to Harbor Beach, has many amenities, including the Marina Inn Hotel and various shops.
In the harbor, you can sail, spend the day on a deep-sea fishing boat, whale watch, rent kayaks or visit the marina.
Fishing is an option from the jetties. Harbor Beach has three lifeguard towers: Towers 12, 14, and 16.
Tower 12 is located at the south end of Harbor Beach, which is nearest the south jetty. Tower 14 is situated in the middle of the beach.
And Tower 16, at the north end of Harbor Beach, is nearest the north jetty. Harbor Beach is a beautiful venue that has something to offer everyone.
Address: 928 North Coast Hwy Oceanside, CA 92054
13. Silver Strand State Beach
Silver Strand State Beach features extensive beaches on both the Pacific Ocean and San Diego Bay. The bay side of the park offers views of San Diego Bay.
Three pedestrian tunnels lead from the parking lots under the highway to the bay side of the park. The water in the bay area is usually warmer and calmer, perfect for swimming and sailing.
Ramadas, tables, barbecue pits, and fire rings are available in the area. One and a half miles of ocean and natural preserves are south of the developed area.
Strolling along the beach, visitors may see moon snail shells, cockle shells, and an occasional sand dollar in the sand.
Address: 5000 CA-75, Coronado, CA 92118, United States
14. Coronado Beach & Dog Park
Coronado’s Dog Beach offers leash-free romps year-round. It is set directly across from Sunset Park on Ocean Boulevard, bordering Coronado’s North Island U.S. Naval Station.
Coronado is a cyclist’s paradise. Whether on a tandem, four-wheel surrey, or an electric bike tour with a sunny soundtrack wafting from the speakers, you can safely cruise the island’s broad streets.
The Old Town Trolley Tours offer hop-on, hop-off tours for those who like a little history with their sightseeing.
Or why not take to the water on a kayak, paddleboard, or yacht to see the island from a new, shimmering perspective?
Address: Coronado Beach & Dog Park, Ocean Boulevard, Coronado, CA, USA
15. North Ponto Beach
North Ponto Beach is the northern day-use beach access point at South Carlsbad State Beach.
The North Ponto parking lot is located on the southbound lanes of Carlsbad Boulevard at the north end of South Carlsbad Campground.
The water quality at this location next to the Encinas Creek outflow has tested “excellent” year-round despite the Carlsbad wastewater facility nearby.
The beach here is narrow, unlike the wide beach at South Ponto at the other end of the campground.
Address: Carlsbad Blvd and Island Way Carlsbad, CA 92011
16. Grandview Surf Beach
Grandview Beach is the north beach access point at Leucadia State Beach, a California state park run by the city of Encinitas.
A long wooden stairway takes you to the beach from the parking lot at the north end of Neptune Avenue near Grandview Street.
Surfers hike up and down with their boards to enjoy the surf as they do at Beacon’s Beach.
Address: 1700 Neptune Avenue Encinitas, CA 92024
17. Breakers Beach
Breakers Beach is the private military beach in front of the North Island Navy Lodge on Coronado Island. It is only accessible to military personnel and their families.
The entrance to Naval Air Station North Island is at the north end of Ocean Boulevard at Sunset Park. Coronado Dog Beach is a public beach just outside the navy base entrance.
The lodge gets high praise from its members, and they have excellent facilities near the beach.
If you have access to this base, you won’t want to miss this wide sandy uncrowded beach.
Coronado Beach is an award-winning beach nearby with public facilities, restaurants, and accommodations.
Address: 1401 Rogers Road Coronado, CA 92118
18. Terra Mar Point
Terramar Beach is the narrow beach in front of the Carlsbad, California, community of Terramar.
Technically, this beach is part of South Carlsbad State Beach, but no signs indicate such.
Terramar Beach is quite narrow and is often completely covered in waves, but that doesn’t bother the surfers who have discovered this great spot.
This is an excellent tide-pooling spot nicknamed the Carlsbad Tide Pools at low tide.
Address: Carlsbad Blvd and Cerezo Dr. Carlsbad, CA 92008
19. Junior Seau Pier Amphitheatre
Formerly known as Oceanside Pier Plaza Amphitheatre, with an eternal ocean view and cool sea breezes.
It offers a stunning beachside setting for all outdoor events, including live music shows, beach parties, benefits, contests, and celebrations.
Sunsets are spectacular at this venue, and its Pacific Ocean backdrop makes events held here even more special.
Address: 301 The Strand N, Oceanside, CA 92054
Frequently Ask Questions [FAQs]
What is the best time of year to visit San Diego beaches?
The best times to visit San Diego are March through May and September through November.
You can find some great deals on travel rates during the low seasons compared to the peak summer season.
However, because of the warm weather, which averages about 60 to 70 degrees year-round, there’s never really a terrible time to visit.
What are the top beaches in San Diego?
There are a lot of beaches in San Diego for families and off-leash dogs. You may check the list provided in this article of check these other beaches too:
1. Blacks Beach
2. Cardiff By The Sea
3. Carlsbad Beaches
4. Coronado Beach
5. La Jolla
6. La Jolla Reefs
7. Mission Bay
8. Mission Beach
9. Ocean Beach
11. Pacific Beach
12. Torrey Pines
Where can I surf on San Diego beaches?
San Diego has the warmest water and several of the best surfing breaks on the California Coast.
From the pier in Imperial Beach to Oceanside, diverse breaks can be surfed year-round.
San Diego has some of the finest surf spots and two piers where curious folks can get close to the lineup and watch (Ocean Beach and Pacific Beach).
How much money should I take to San Diego beaches?
You should spend around $156 per day on your vacation in San Diego, which is the average daily price based on the expenses of other visitors.
Many travelers have spent, on average, $33 on meals for one day and $18 on local transportation. Also, the average hotel price in San Diego for a couple is $180.