Five Best San Diego Beaches You Must Visit!

Have you ever been to San Diego? With over 70 miles of coastline, San Diego has some of the most enchanting beaches in the world! Do you love the beach as much as I do?

Today, I would like to give you my shortlist of the five best San Diego beaches you must visit if you are ever down here!

I have written extensively about each area, so click on the appropriate link. I have also included a short video for each site to help you get a ‘real’ feel for each beach. Please have a look!

Top 5 Best San Diego Beaches

San Diego County Map Google Map

I would first like to state that I am covering the entire San Diego County (where the 70 miles of coast refer.) I will be listing exciting things to do at each location.

Ready? Let’s go!

Trestles- San Onofre State Beach

Trestle Beach San Dunes Best San Diego Beaches

3929 S El Camino Real, San Clemente

Video of Trestles

Trestles Beach, referred to as Trestles,  is located on the northern border of San Onofre State Beach and is accessible in three different ways; all are quite a hike but so worth it.

Many people come from far and wide to surf this world-renowned surf break.

—>Exploring Trestles Beach Trail<—

Why do I love this beach? Why did I include this beach as one of the best San Diego beaches?

—>Getting to Know San Onofre State Beach<—

Well, I have never come here on the weekend at least during the week, and the rustic charm has something to do with it. Also, it is never really crowded, which is a plus.

Things to do

  • the trek to get here can be considered ‘hiking.’
  • by going via the Trestles Beach Trail, there are copious amounts of wild, overgrown vegetation (I love old plants!)
  • San Mateo Creek/ Lagoon is located adjacent to the Beach Trail and ends right near the shoreline- it is an excellent place to birdwatch
  • watch surfers
  • explore the dunes
  • walk north towards San Clemente
  • south of Trestles is Churches which is another famous surf break, as well as The Point, Old Man’s, and Dogpatch found further south
  • there is also a walking trail next to the train tracks to check out
San Mateo Lagoon Best San Diego Beaches
San Mateo Creek
Surfing Trestles 4 San Onofre State Beach
Surfing Trestles

South Ponto Beach

South Ponto Panoramic Best San Diego Beaches

Carlsbad Blvd, Encinitas

Video of South Ponto Beach

 South Ponto Beach, 31 miles north of downtown San Diego, is located in southern Carlsbad.

Here is another rustic beach in an undeveloped area that lies adjacent to the Batiquitos Lagoon.

Beach Evening Primrose Carlsbad San Diego
Beach Evening Primrose

I have written extensively about this beach, adding it to my Five Hidden Gems in San Diego; click on the link provided for more information.

North View South Ponto Best San Diego Beaches
South Ponto Beach Overlook

Things to do

  • a huge paid parking lot-free on-street parking
  • swimming, sunbathing, boogie boarding, surfing, volleyball (bring your net)
  • explore the outside of the fenced-in dunes
  • long beach walks
  • watch surfing
  • head up top via the bluff stairway to check out the views-great place to sit and wait for whales
  • go across the street and visit the Batiquitos Lagoon

Torrey Pines State Beach

Torrey Pines State Beach Panoramic Best San Diego Beaches

Torrey Preserve, CA 92037

Video of Torrey Pines

Here is one of my favorite places to visit, Torrey Pines State Beach. On top of the bluff is the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve which has miles of trails to explore.

Los Penasquitos Lagoon Torrey Pines State Beach
A view of North Torrey Pines State Beach

Things to do-

  • two large paid parking lots plus free on-the-street parking
  • swimming, sunbathing, walking, beachcombing
  • snorkeling, boogie boarding, surfing
  • long beach walks-north towards Del Mar, south towards Black’s Beach
  • visit the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve up on top of the bluffs to explore miles of trails as well as see the rarest pine tree, the Torrey Pine
  • explore the Los Penasquitos Lagoon Trail (found at the south perimeter of the lagoon)
  • birdwatching
  • tide pools exposed when the tide is very low
Los Penasquitos Inlet Torrey Pines State Beach
Los Penasquitos Lagoon Inlet
Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve Panoramic Photo
Here is a view from up above at the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach City Beach 2 Best San Diego Beaches

San Diego, CA 92107

Video of Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach was my stomping grounds back when I was in college. The first time I came here, I was in love. The vast sandy beach reminded me of the beach I would always go to growing up in Los Angeles.

Things to do-

  • swim, boogie boarding, surf, sunbathe
  • visit the Ocean Beach Pier
  • take a walk north over to Dog Beach
  • stroll through the dunes and visit The San Diego River Mouth Living Museum, which is behind the Dog Beach
  • walk the San Diego River Trail (found next to Dog Beach)
  • downtown Ocean Beach is very close by and has many bars, cute restaurants, unique shops, antique stores
  • visit tide pools next to the pier when the tide is very low
  • Sunset Cliffs Linear Park is only 2 miles south of here
Ocean Beach Pier South Best San Diego Beaches
Ocean Beach Pier with the tide pools on the south side
behind Ocean Beach dog beach panoramic San Diego
Dunes behind Dog Beach
Living Museum Ocean Beach Best San Diego Beaches
One of the trails at the San Diego River Mouth Living Museum

Coronado Beach

Coronado Beach Best San Diego Beaches

Coronado, CA 92118

Video of Coronado Island

Coronado Island is a spectacular spot to visit just across the bay from downtown San Diego!

Over at Coronado Beach, wide white sandy beaches sparkle in the sunlight.

Things to do

  • swim, sunbathe, boogie board
  • walk the coast north to Coronado Dog Beach and Naval Air Station North Island – south towards Gator Beach at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado (where the Navy Seals train)
  • explore the expansive dunes,
  • walk over to the Hotel Del Coronado, go inside and explore,
  • lay on the beach, and watch the helicopters and airplanes landing at North Island (enjoyable at night!)
Coronado Shores Beach Best San Diego Beaches
Coronado Shores Beach looking south toward Gator Beach
Hotel del Coronado Panoramic Coronado Island
Hotel Del Coronado est. 1888

 Best San Diego Beaches- So Diverse

Thank you for making it this far! My mantra is, the more sand, the better! From my top picks of the best beaches in San Diego, can you see that I enjoy rustic and undeveloped beaches the most?

—>The Beaches of San Diego County<—

If I had to pick my favorite, it would have to be Trestles. But in all honesty, it is extremely secluded, and you must not also forget the one-mile hike to get there. So please keep this in mind.

My most convenient and easily accessible pick, including free parking to boot, would be Ocean Beach.

Which beach would you like to visit? Do you appreciate rural, untouched beaches as I do? Are you fascinated with coastal plants like I am?

Please feel free to leave any comments or questions down below!



6 Replies to “Five Best San Diego Beaches You Must Visit!”

  1. It all looks amazing, and its strange not all the beaches look the same even though they are in the same place.

    I’m glad to hear about the beaches of San Diego because personally when I hear “San Diego” the last thing I think is beaches…the first thing I think is city.

    Great write up.

    1. Thank you for commenting Amanda! San Diego has 70 miles of coast, and I would say that about 30 percent is wide sandy beaches while the other 70 percent consists of steep cliffs and bluffs. This is the very reason why I love San Diego’s coastline so much.

  2. South Ponto Beach has to be the best beach in San Diego.
    It sort of reminds me of my home town Durban beaches.

    lol I got caught of watching the videos especially South Ponto Beach video.

    In a year I am planning to visit USA so I think San Diego will be the best places to visit. They have great beaches here.

    1. South Ponto Beach is gorgeous, especially during the week when there are no crowds. Thank you for visiting, and I am so happy that you might visit San Diego! You will not regret it, as the beaches here are so amazing.

  3. I’ve never been to San Diego but after seeing these beautiful beaches I may just have to book a trip!
    I didn’t know San Diego had so many beaches, when I think of San Diego I think big city so this information was very useful!

    1. I am glad to help Keenan! When I think of San Diego, I think of the beach, but that is because I am a beach girl. San Diego has some incredible beaches, that is for sure. If you are making your way here anytime soon, make sure to check out my post- List of San Diego County Beaches, as I have linked all of them to google maps. Thank you for the comment!

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