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San Diego Beaches, Endless Fun
With over seventy miles of beaches, San Diego County boasts some of the finest beaches in the world. Stretching from Border Field State Park in San Ysidro to Harbor Beach in Oceanside our beaches offer something for everyone. Whether it’s just kicking back and catching some rays, or enjoying water activities, we’ve got it all.
Let’s begin with the beaches in North County. Oceanside’s largest beach, Harbor Beach offers everything from volleyball to surfing. In the harbor, you can sail, spend the day on a deep-sea fishing boat, whale watch, rent kayaks or visit the marina, which has great restaurants and shops. Amenities include BBQ grills, picnic tables, snack bar, gazebos, fire rings, volleyball courts (you must provide your own net), restrooms, showers, and telephones. Free parking and pay parking lots are available in the lots east of the Harbor. Oceanside’s most popular beach is Pier View South. There are many covered picnic tables, benches, and barbecues available, as well as some fire rings on the sand. Restrooms and showers are provided. During the summer, the Oceanside Amphitheater hosts a variety of musical productions.
A little south along coast highway you’ll find the City of Carlsbad. Right at the end of Carlsbad Village Drive lies Carlsbad State Beach or Tamarack Beach. Parking is kind of tight right along the beach area so you need to get there early or risk lugging your gear. It’s close enough to town where you can climb the stairs up the bluff and find a couple of restaurants nearby. There are no restroom facilities here. Further south is South Carlsbad State Beach which offers camping on the cliffs overlooking the ocean. This is a state-run facility and tends to book up fairly early so book your reservations ASAP. 800-444-7275.
Encinitas has two excellent beaches that stand out from their other beautiful beaches, Swami’s Beach and Moonlight Beach. Swami’s is named after Swami Paramhansa Yogananda, of the Self-Realization Fellowship which overlooks this surfing paradise. Swami’s is one of the best surfing spots there is, experienced surfing only is suggested. The parking lot is pretty small and fills up early. It’s best at sunset for the views and to catch the late afternoon surf show. The “moonlight” in Moonlight Beach comes from the locals who use to have moonlight picnics on the beach in the early 1900s. This wide beach offers swimming, surfing, and fishing and has excellent amenities. Picnic facilities, restrooms, concessions (summer only), and fire rings. There is also tennis and volleyball with plenty of available parking. Both of these beaches can be reached from I-5 off Encinitas boulevard.
The Del Mar City Beach is a favorite for locals of the area. This large sandy beach is ideal for some football or Frisbee tossing. Restrooms and showers are located at both lifeguard stations on 17th and 25th streets. There is a pretty good surf break between these stations so you’ll find plenty of surfing going on here. If you go a little further south it’s easier for swimming. There is pay parking in the village, good luck finding street parking in the summer.
Black’s Beach is a wide, sandy beach that stretches 2 miles from Del Mar past Los Peñasquitos Lagoon to the base of sandstone cliffs at Torrey Pines Mesa. Towering red-hued bluffs make strolling on the beach popular at low tide. A picnic area and parking lot are near the entrance on North Torrey Pines Road. Further south you’ll see hang gliders, and paragliders soaring overhead. Although public nudity is prohibited, well….uh, it happens.
La Jolla Shores (8200 Camino del Oro) is a sandy beach approximately one mile long, adjacent to a residential area. This is one of the best family beaches in San Diego because the surf is so calm, although there can be strong currents Just to the north end of this beach lies the Scripps Institute of Oceanography and Scripps Pier. The pier is not open to the public, but the Steven Birch Aquarium is within 1/2 mile of La Jolla Shores and is open daily. La Jolla Shores is the only beachfront place to launch a boat in San Diego. Small vessels can be launched directly into the surf at the foot of Avenida de la Playa, approximately 300 yards south of the lifeguard station. This is an unimproved boat launch and vehicles are allowed to drive on the sand in a very limited area at five miles per hour or less. Four-wheel drive vehicles are recommended. There are public restrooms located at both ends of the beach.
In the heart of La Jolla is Children’s Pool Beach, also known as Casa Beach. It is not a pool, but has long been called “Children’s Pool.”A concrete sea wall built in 1931 protects the beach from crashing waves, making it a favorite spot for divers, swimmers, and families with children. Before the “wave wall” was built, there was a shallow water area between a large rock and a mainland bluff called “Seal Rock Point.” The sea wall was built on top of several rocks, across the channel. It is topped by a paved walkway protected by railings. Local philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps paid for the sea wall project in order to create a place where children could play and swim that would be protected from waves coming onshore and the beaches adjacent to this area.
At the south end of La Jolla is Windansea Beach. Known for its beautiful scenery and surf shack, it has excellent surf conditions, but again, is really for the experienced surfer.
Lots of flat sandstone rocks lie about and are good spots for sunbathing. Swimming is kind of tough because of the rocks, and shore break. There are no public restrooms anywhere near this area. Lifeguards are on duty throughout the summer. The public parking lot has only 18 spaces. The only other parking is on the streets in a residential area.
PB or Pacific Beach is located further south along coast highway. You can also exit I-5 at Garnett and head west. Located at the end of Garnett is the Crystal Pier, which has small cottages for rent. Pacific Beach runs about 2 miles south and has a beachfront boardwalk (concrete) that runs its length. There are numerous shops and restaurants located along the boardwalk. Public restrooms are located at the foot of Grand Avenue at the lifeguard station.
The next beach south is MB or Mission Beach. Home to some of the best volleyball playing in the country, there are numerous courts all along the beach. OTL or “over-the-line” is a popular game similar to baseball that is played further south near the Mission Bay channel There are public restrooms available at San Diego Place and the boardwalk.
Across the inlet is OB or Ocean Beach. Starting at the north end of the beach near the jetty is dog beach where owners can bring their pets for a run on the beach. You are responsible for any cleanup if necessary. The Ocean Beach Pier is located on the south end of the beach and is ideal for fishing or people gazing. There is a bait shop and restaurant on the pier.
On Coronado Island, Coronado Central Beach runs the length of Ocean Boulevard and is known for its sparkling sand caused by the mineral mica. Lifeguards are on duty in season and public restrooms are available. Walk a little further south along the beach and you’re standing in front of the world-famous Hotel Del Coronado.
Silver Strand State Beach features extensive beaches on both the Pacific Ocean and San Diego Bay. Combined with the area’s mild climate, the beaches make Silver Strand one of the area’s finest recreation destinations. Camping, swimming, surfing, boating, water-skiing, volleyball, and picnicking are popular activities. Anglers can fish for perch, corbina, grunion, and yellow-fin croaker.
Park facilities include four large parking lots, which can accommodate up to 1,000 vehicles. Restroom and cold showers are available on each side of the park. Beach restrooms are for Day-Use visitors. Per Coastal Commission regulations, campers must be in fully self-contained vehicles. Fire rings for cookouts are available on the beach during summer. It is always a good idea to call ahead regarding operating hours, fees, and conditions, which can change.
This article certainly doesn’t contain all of the beautiful beaches located in San Diego County but hopefully, it will give you a start with the variety of beaches we have to offer. Remember! Please do your best to keep our beaches clean.