I have an important announcement, and I need your help! You see, the California Air Resource Board (CARB) has proposed a new and virtually unattainable metric for all harbor craft boat engines. The new rules make it especially tasking to the small family-run sportfishing/whale watching boat owners. How bad is it? Well, so bad that if passed, most will go out of business! So I need your help! Would you please sign the form below, so we can help save California sportfishing?
Welcome to San Diego Beach Secrets! Today I would like to concentrate on the best San Diego family beaches. San Diego’s 70 miles of coastline has many different types of beaches. The variety is endless, some of which you can only reach four times a year. But what does constitute a great family beach? My first pick would be calm waters, followed by soft sand, maybe a playground? But most definitely a restroom and showers. So, today I will be highlighting where, when, and how each beach is ideal for a spectacular family day at the beach.
—>Beaches of San Diego County<—
Best North County San Diego Beaches for Families
Oh, how I love North County San Diego Beaches! These beaches (sans Oceanside) have huge and gorgeous sandstone bluffs accentuating the already beautiful Pacific Ocean.
Down below, I have three wonderful family beaches to share with you!
Oceanside Harbor Beach- Family Fun in Oceanside
Oceanside Harbor beach is excellent for families because there are many amenities. What I think is the main draw is the extensive sandy beach.
On June 15, 2021, one of my best friends and I took her two dogs to Fiesta Island at Mission Bay Park. Though I have been visiting Fiesta Island for over 30 years, today was the first time I entered the infamous leash-free dog park; this place is magical! Ironically, the next day, the California Coastal Commission formally decided that Fiesta Island Dog Park would stay the same way it had been for years- rustic and undeveloped. I had no idea this was up for a vote.
A bit more commentary on this subject later.
So as I said before, I have been coming here for years, but in 2018, I did a photoshoot of the island. I was surprised at how special it is over here. Would you care to see what I saw?
Let’s also take a closer look at all of the things you can do and enjoy over at Fiesta Island. As a bonus, I will be including phone numbers and links to relevant websites about this area!
A Few Mission Bay and Fiesta Island Facts
Phone Number– (619) 235-1169
Hours– 4:00 am to 10:00 pm
Click on the map below for a better idea.
#– Fiesta Island Dog Park is open 24 hours, seven days a week, but the island is closed to cars after 10:00 pm. You may enter, but you must park off the island and walk.
On the morning of April 29th, I woke up on a mission. A mission to take in some glorious sights and breathe in some crisp and clean ocean air. I wasn’t sure where to start this adventure, so I let my instincts guide me. While driving to the coast, several ideas pop in and out of my head. So today, I decided to take a closer look at the Carlsbad Sea Wall Trail, which is extremely popular in North Carlsbad.
Below is an outline of the Beaches of Carlsbad. On this particular day, I visited all the beaches except South Ponto.
Carlsbad State Beach
- Robert Frazee State Beach
- Tamarack State Beach
- Warm Water Jetty Beach
South Carlsbad State Beach
- Terramar State Beach
- North Ponto State Beach
- South Carlsbad State Beach
- South Ponto
Exploring the Carlsbad State Beach
Today, I thought I would start over at Robert Frazee Beach, where Carlsbad State Beach’s northern boundary begins. A small parking lot is located off Oak Ave and Ocean St, but I found a parking spot right off Pine Street in the residential area.
San Diego, known as “America’s Finest City,” boasts over 70 miles of coastline to explore! Are you a piscator? Or, in other words, do you like saltwater fishing? Do you prefer to fish from piers or jetties? From shore or out in the ocean? San Diego’s peak fishing season begins in April and until November. Would you like to learn more about saltwater fishing in San Diego?
A Piscator Page, You Say?
I thought it would be good to have a specific page on my website with all of the San Diego saltwater fishing information in one place. A piscator page!
So down below, I have compiled complete lists of all San Diego saltwater fishing piers, saltwater sportfishing (half-day/full-day) party and charter boats, boat launch ramps, lobster fishing spots, the 2022 grunion run schedule, a few fish lists, as well as several prominent shore fishing locations.
As a bonus, I have included all harbor and bay cruises offered out of Oceanside Harbor, Mission Bay, and San Diego Bay for those who have no desire to fish but still yearn to be on the water.
To experience San Diego to the fullest, you must get on the ocean, breathe in all the negative ions, and let the salt water spray on your face. Believe me; you will thank me later. Also, don’t forget to pack a sweatshirt, as it can get chilly out on the water.
It is that time of year again! The grunion is here! If you recall, in 2020, Californians could not witness the grunion of March and April, as we were not allowed anywhere near the water. Well, this year is different, and I, for one, am heading down this month to check them out in person. Below, I present the 2021 grunion and the updated 2022 grunion run schedule for Southern California.
Important- New Grunion Fishing Regulation 2022 Update!
What is a Grunion, and How Do They Run?
The grunion (Leuresthes tenuis) are small silvery fish between 5 to 7 inches long that live about 3 to 4 years. Each year, the grunion comes onto Southern California’s beaches between March and September to spawn during the Full and New Moons.
The female grunion catches a wave, digs a hole, and waits for males to touch her. Once touched, she will release her eggs, and the males cast their milt (sperm) on her body, which then flows down onto the eggs.
The process happens rather quickly, and up to eight males may fertilize each female. Interestingly, the female grunion may be out of the water for over five minutes! Once the male is done, he will catch a wave back into the ocean.
Each grunion run lasts four consecutive days when the tide is at its highest and longest. The eggs are buried in the sand for two weeks until the next high tide arrives. When the larvae become agitated by the waves, they hatch and are taken back into the ocean by the tide.
April and May are peak spawning months, so only observation is allowed.
Boy, was I excited to finally go to the beach on May 24, 2020? Is anyone else happy to get out of their houses, too? I was so pleased to go to San Onofre State Beach twice a week. Because of the lockdown in California, I could not witness the beginning of wildflower season. So my main objective on this first day back to the beach was to see as many plants as possible! The first time we headed to Trestles, and the following Friday, I explored the southern section, just under San Onofre Campground at Bluffs Beach (or Trails Beach). Below, I would love to share with you what I saw- all the plants at the beach I encountered.
Previous to this beach adventure, I had just finished a post on Southern California Native Plants. This post has documented all the plants and wildflowers I encountered in the scrub and Southern Oak Woodland behind my neighborhood during Quarantine 2020. After hours and hours of research, I sure learned a tremendous amount!
Plant Names Given by San Diego Native Inhabitants
I have recently been fascinated with Native American uses of the native plants in the area (Ethnobotany), so I thought I would continue with the same format I followed for my previous native plant post.
The Kumeyaay people were the first known original inhabitants of San Diego. Kumeyaay translates to ‘those who face the water from a cliff.” (Click on the link to hear the correct way to pronounce Kumeyaay)
San Diego, otherwise known as “America’s Finest City,” has one of the most beautiful coastlines, if I may dare say, in the world. According to the San Diego Tourism Authority, over 35 million people visited San Diego in 2018 and 36.5 million in 2019. I am afraid to see the numbers for 2020, but I digress. One of my favorite things to do on this website is introduce you all to the many, many San Diego hidden gems. I will be the first to admit that I am biased as I have been exploring the San Diego coastline for over thirty-five years. So today, I would like to share with you a few more, in fact, five more San Diego Hidden Gems, so you too can experience San Diego as a native.
When I say San Diego, I refer to the entire 70 miles of the San Diego coast. From San Onofre State Beach down to the US/Mexico border, the coast of San Diego has something for everyone!
Let us now take a look, shall we?
#Click on any photo in the gallery to view a larger image
Old Man’s Beach at San Onofre State Beach
I wasn’t sure if I would share this little gem because this has been my little secret for years, but here we go. Old Man’s Beach is one of my favorite places at San Onofre State Beach, and locals refer to this beach as San O and San Onofre Surfing Beach.
Wow! Do I have some exciting information for you all? Many of you may have somewhat of an idea of my complete, somewhat obsessive love of King Tides. For all others, a King Tide is when you have the highest and lowest tides of the year (click on the link for more in-depth information.) Most attention is given to the high tide, as people enjoy seeing how far the ocean will reach on land.
I love going to the beach during the lowest tides, so I can examine what is usually covered by the ocean and have rare access to beaches that are typically not accessible. And let me tell you, today is one of those days.
Yes! My girls and I explored two caves at the La Jolla Underwater Park!
Now I must say right up front that getting to these caves is no easy feat, and you have to have tremendous balance as there is at least a quarter-mile of rocks to walk over until you reach the semi-sandy beach over at Caves Beach.
Would you like to see what we saw?
Boy, what a year! Ironically, did you know that the last time my husband and I were at the beach before this nightmare of a year was on a King Tide? We experienced the extreme low tide on January 12 at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, which was sublime. If I had known that I wouldn’t be back at the coast until May 26, I would have taken more videos! Anyway, I digress. Let’s make the best of what is left of this unprecedented year, shall we? Below are my top recommendations on the best San Diego beaches to visit and experience the highest and lowest tides left of the year, otherwise known as the last King Tides of 2020.
(Updated dates for 2021 and 2022 are down below!)
The Last Lowest Tides of the Year!
So how low and high are we talking about? There are two high and two low tides per 24 hours on the West Coast of the United States.
What is the tide?
Tides are long-period waves that cross the planet, pulled back and forth from gravitational pulls due to the earth’s interaction with the moon, sun, and other heavenly bodies.
Hey! Have you ever seen an earthquake fault line? No? Well, today is your lucky day! Referred to as the Cristianitos fault, you can walk right up to it over at San Onofre State Beach. Now I need to state this fact upfront so there will be no confusion. I am not a geologist; therefore, please be patient with me. If I make an incorrect claim, do not hesitate to correct me in the comments at the end of the post. I love to learn new things and will not be offended at all. Several references have helped me tremendously, but I have left them below. I encourage you to check them out!
Let’s take a trip to San Onofre State Beach (my favorite beach in San Diego) and investigate the Cristianitos fault line. As a bonus, I will highlight other unique geological features here at this fabulous State Beach.
One more thing. Did you know that the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) is less than 800 yards away from this earthquake fault line?
Wait, what?! A nuclear generating station? Next to a fault line?
SONGS is no longer active and has been decommissioning for several years now. But obviously, the question is, why build a nuclear power plant right next to an earthquake fault line? (Click on the above link for more detailed decommissioning information.)
#Click on any photo for a larger version
The Cristianitos Fault Line-Shake, Rattle, & Roll?
The California spiny lobster season is upon us! Historically, the season opens on Saturday at 6 am before the first Wednesday in October; this year, that falls on October 3 and closes on March 17. Though I have never fished for lobster before, I know where they hang out in San Diego.
Down below, I have provided information on the California spiny lobster fishing regulations, a map on where not to look for lobsters (Marine Protected Areas), how to fish for lobsters; as well as, and a few San Diego recreational lobster boat charters that are available only during this time of year. Also included is a brief overview of the California spiny lobster life-cycle and a few interesting facts that will help you better understand this elusive and revered West Coast invertebrate!
Let’s now take a look!
(Update for 2021- Recreational lobster fishing season opens at 6 am on October 2 and closes at midnight on March 16. Lobster cards are due back by April 30…more information down below)
West Coast vs. East Coast Lobsters
There are 40 different lobsters worldwide, with the California spiny lobster (Panulirus interruptus) being one of the biggest. Affectionately referred to as ‘bugs,’ the California spiny lobster ranges from south of Point Conception to Magdalena Bay on the west coast of Baja California, Mexico.
The other day I was thinking about the Beach Boys and how they put several San Diego beaches on the map. Did you know that five of the fifteen beaches are found in San Diego? I thought it would be enjoyable to take a closer look at the lyrics of Surfin USA.
First of all, most websites that provide the song lyrics misspell two top-rated surfing beaches, so I am here to be the official spell-checker for you.
- Trestles-not Trestle
- San Onofre- not San Ahofree
- Swami’s- not Swamies
Ok, that was satisfying!
Also, for fun, I will be picking a prime photo for each San Diego location to help you can capture a feel of the beaches the Beach Boys were singing about
Today I would like to share with you all one of my most awe-inspiring places to go to in San Diego County. Every time I am here, I never want to leave. Wherever you look, there is something incredible to see. Even the sounds here are sweet! If you enjoy taking photos, San Onofre State Beach is THE place you must visit! The views here are extraordinary! Situated on top of towering sandstone cliffs, San Onofre Bluffs Campground has some of the best coastal hiking trails to experience in North County, San Diego.
There are seven 1/4 mile hiking trails that lead you down to the beach, as well as countless numbers of ravines, gullies, arroyos, and barrancas. I think you will love it here, especially if you appreciate a wild and undeveloped beach, which is my favorite type of beach!
On this particular day, my daughter and I started over at Trail Six (see map below) and set up a tent to relax.
My goal on this day was to explore vast amounts of uncharted territory by exploring a few narrow sandstone gullies and a wider barranca south of Trail Six.
Would you care to see what I experienced?
Below, I have provided a campground map to understand the terrain and location better.
*Of particular note- in case you notice the pink hue in some of the photos, this is because of all of the fires that were (some still are) burning while I was here.
Southern California has been experiencing a terrible heatwave for the past week, so I decided to go to the coast for much-needed relief from the heat! My girls and I decided to head over to Oceanside Harbor Beach. While heading to the restroom, I looked at the Oceanside Harbor boat launch. Below, I will showcase some of the highlights of San Diego’s North County-only Ocean boat launch ramp.
First, I have a complete informational post that lists all of the San Diego Launch Ramps. (Click on the link for more information)
Oceanside Harbor Map
Oceanside Harbor is 38 miles north of Downtown San Diego and 27 miles south of Orange County’s Dana Point Harbor Boat Launch Ramp. So the question is if you live in San Diego, is the Oceanside launch ramp worth the trip or not? If you live in North County, San Diego, then, of course, it is, yes?
But is it?
Below, I will showcase the west side of Oceanside Harbor, where the boat launch is situated. I love this ramp because everything is close to each other. But if you think about it, this feature could be a negative attribute if it is busy.
Here is a PDF file of the Harbor map. I encourage you to print it out, as it is a great reference to use the next time you are in the area!