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10 Best Beaches in San Diego To Spend The Day Relaxing and Exploring

Grab a surfboard, paddleboard, or just your swimsuit and head to the beach! Several outstanding beaches call San Diego home. Whether you prefer sunbathing, sand sledding, playing volleyball, or combing the sand for fun artifacts, you’ll find plenty to do on the sand. Here’s a look at 10 of the best beaches in San Diego.

10 Best Beaches in San Diego

Whether you prefer sunbathing, swimming or playing volleyball, you’ll find plenty to do on the sand at these 10 best beaches in San Diego.

Coronado Beach

Cross the bridge or take a boat ride across the bay, Coronado Beach is a must-visit beach. With the Pacific Ocean opening its arms to you, with the Hotel del Coronado on one end and the island’s impressive homes on another, you’ll have a blast spending the day on the beach.

While surfing is an option at Coronado Beach, the waves are typically gentle, which are excellent for beginners. You’ll find sandy volleyball matches and other games ongoing, as well as plenty of swimming. Building sand castles is a popular activity at Coronado Beach, and you’ll find elaborate creations located around the beach. With tide pools, sand dunes, and plenty of large rocks around the beach, you’ll have fun exploring the area.

credit: Coronado Beach by J. Mast

Del Mar Beach

With two miles of gorgeous views, Del Mar Beach is both family- and dog-friendly. Dog lovers enjoy the North Beach, while the central beach area is the best for swimming and other activities. Enjoy beach activities, such as sand volleyball or sunbathing. Of course, you can always do a little snorkeling or paddleboarding. However, if you prefer checking out geographical attractions, the southern end of the beach is home to scenic bluffs.

credit: Del Mar Beach, CA by kla4067

Moonlight State Beach

Considered a hidden treasure, Moonlight State Beach in Encinitas offers a fun day at the beach. From volleyball and tennis courts to sunbathing, you can spend a relaxing visit at Moonlight State Beach without worrying about large crowds bothering you. The beach is an excellent spot for swimming and maybe a little snorkeling. The beach has some great spots for a little ocean fishing from the shoreline.

credit: San Diego County by sergei.gussev

Imperial Beach

The main draw to Imperial Beach is the pier. Walk out over the Pacific Ocean and take in the beautiful scenery, including the water and the San Diego skyline. It’s also a fun place for people watching, as you’ll view people fishing from the pier or just enjoying the day.

But, since you’re here for a day on the beach, plan to do a little swimming or sunbathing. Kids of all ages will have fun building sand castles. With probably the warmest water and some of the best waves in California, San Diego offers some of the best surfing spots. Catch your own waves, or enjoy watching the surfers take on the large waves. The area around the beach also includes an art tour and dining.

credit: Imperial Beach Pier by Photos By Clark

Mission Beach

While Mission Beach attracts a lot of young people with clubs and restaurants aimed at the party age, there’s still plenty to do for families. Mission Beach is a great location for swimming, boogie boarding, scuba diving, and surfing. Plant an umbrella and spend the day relaxing while the kids build sand castles or play games. With a two-mile long boardwalk, Mission Beach offers attractions beyond the beach, including a century-old roller coaster.

credit: Mission Beach, San Diego, California by Ken Lund

Ocean Beach

While Ocean Beach is home to a few beaches, the most popular is Newport Avenue Beach. Popular with surfers, Newport Avenue Beach features a surfers-only area, so you’ll likely see surfers congregating there. Meanwhile, there’s plenty to do on the beach.

Besides swimming and snorkeling, beach goers enjoy playing in the sand and sunbathing. While the beach does have grassy areas if you need a break from the sand, you’re in luck. Ocean Beach is also home to a pier, which juts out over the Pacific Ocean.

credit: Ocean Beach, San Diego, CA by Photos By Clark

Pacific Beach

While a popular park in the San Diego area (really, what beach isn’t?), Pacific Beach not only offers fun in the sun, but it’s a great spot for people watching. On the beach, you may catch people windsurfing on land, as well as actual surfers in the water.

Children enjoy playing in the sand, as much as they do swimming in the Pacific Ocean. Pacific Beach is an excellent location for a little sunbathing. While Crystal Pier is privately owned, it is open to the public certain times of the day.

credit: Crystal Pier, Pacific Beach, San Diego, CA by Photos By Clark

Torrey Pines State Beach

As one of the most beautiful spots in San Diego, Torrey Pines State Beach is popular with photographers, who enjoy memorializing the cliffs and rugged terrain of the state reserve above the beach. It is also a great place for hiking in San Diego.

Torrey Pines Beach is an outstanding location for surfers, bodysurfers, and swimming. Children enjoy playing and exploring the nearby lagoon. And, of course, sunbathers love the beach. The beach invites wonderful sunset views.

credit: Baby Sea Lion, Torrey Pines State Beach by jeeheon

Windandsea Beach

While Windandsea Beach is an outstanding place for surfers due to its huge waves, its rocky terrain and heavy waves discourage swimming. Though, experienced swimmers can enjoy the water. The beach is a nice area for sunbathers.

Windandsea, named for a hotel that was once located in the area, is popular with photographers because of the scenery. The beach is also one of the best areas in San Diego to watch the sunset.

credit: 10 Second exposure: After Dark; Windandsea Beach by Photos By Clark

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park

Known as the best spot to watch the sun set in San Diego, Sunset Cliffs Natural Park is also home to a nice beach. With a rocky shoreline, the beach is best accessed during low tide. While you can sunbathe, you’ll want to be cautious when approaching the water. The beach is popular with families, who enjoy checking out the tide pools and sea caves. Sunset Cliffs Natural Park is a great spot for photographers.

credit: Sunset Cliffs Natural Park by j00bar

While most beach goers visit for a day of relaxation, San Diego invites you to do more than just pitch an umbrella and sip a cool drink. The beaches offer a full day of fun playing, swimming, surfing, and even exploring.

Happy Field Tripping!