Touring 10 Beaches-North County San Diego

Living in Southern California, I have photographed many of the beaches of  North County San Diego through the years. But I have not gotten even close to shooting every one of them!

So, it has been my mission this year to shoot every beach on the 70 miles of  San Diego coast.

 Let’s get going!

 Beaches of North County San Diego

On Jan 11, 2018, my daughter and I took a quick ride to North County San Diego to photograph a few of the beaches.

Before leaving, I mapped out the ten shores that we would be conquering.  Our primary objective was to start at Wisconsin Street Beach in Oceanside and finally ending at Grandview Beach in Encinitas.

All in all, we covered 11.4 miles of San Diego’s 70 miles of coastline.

If there is one thing that I have learned on the adventure, it is that all of these beaches listed below are best to visit on a mid to low tide day.


Wisconsin Street Beach

North County San Diego beaches

South Pacific Street and Wisconsin Ave

Amenities– Parking lot, restrooms, snack shop, public telephone

Beach– Least popular due to being so narrow, water up against rocks at high tide.

I was interested in checking this beach out after doing some research on the Oceanside Pier. It turns out that this was the original location of the pier in 1888.

Fun Fact- On a minus tide some of the pilings from the original pier can be seen sticking out of the water at this location

I had no idea that there was parking down below and that cars are allowed right next to the beach. There is a one-way southbound street- The Strand which runs parallel to the beach.

Wisconsin Street Beach entrance

North County San Diego

Wisconsin Street Beach North County San Diego

south view Wisconsin Street Beach

Oceanside Blvd Beach

North County San Diego Beaches

South Pacific Street and Oceanside Blvd.

Amenities-Ramp, lifeguard tower, showers, no restrooms

Beach– Narrow, most sand in the area but all wet sand at high tide

Oceanside Blvd Beach only allows swimming, body surfing and boogie boarding in front of the lifeguard tower. Surfing is permitted in the areas outside the posted checkered flags.

Fun Fact- There is a very large rock that sits in the surf line 300 yards south of the lifeguard stand and can be seen when the tide is low.

Oceanside Blvd Beach entrance

Oceanside Blvd Beach Lifeguard Tower

south view Oceanside Blvd Beach

Oceanside Blvd Beach waves

Oceanside Blvd Beach North County San Diego


Buccaneer Beach

North County San Diego Beaches

1500 South Pacific Street

Amenities-free parking lot, Buccaneer Cafe (8am-2pm),  walkway next to Loma Alta Creek, lifeguard tower

Buccaneer Park- Restrooms, showers, public phone, playground, picnic tables, gazebo, BBQ grills, basketball court

Beach– smallest in Oceanside, wet sand at high tide

Buccaneer Beach was one of my favorite finds today! This beach has a nice sized  FREE parking lot and the Buccaneer Cafe.  What a fabulous place to eat breakfast or lunch. It is not your typical snack shack. I mean check out this menu! We are going to have to come back here and eat!

Buccaneer Beach Parking Lot

Buccaneer Cafe North County San Diego

Front view Buccaneer Cafe

Oceanside Beaches Regulation Sign

Buccaneer Beach North County San Diego

Primarily in summer, only swimming, body surfing, and boogie boarding are allowed in front of the lifeguard stand. Surfing is still permitted here, but just outside of the posted checkered flags.South view Buccaneer Beach

Let’s walk a bit and check out what is under this bridge.

Loma Alta Creek North County San Diego

Loma Alta Creek runs off onto this beach into the Pacific Ocean.

Loma Alta Creek runoff Buccaneer Beach

view under bridge Buccaneer Beach


Cassidy Street Beach-South Oceanside Beach

North County San Diego Beaches

South Pacific Street and Cassidy St

Amenities– lifeguard, no restrooms, no showers, parking in a residential area

Beach-narrow stretches to St Malo Beach

Cassidy Street Beach is the most southern public beach in Oceanside and is also a favorite surfing beach.

The private, St Malo Beach a quarter mile south from here. Cassidy Street Beach is the access point that you must use if you are interested in checking out this area as there is no other public access south of this location.

Cassidy Street Beach Entrance North County San Diego

Cassidy Street Beach Stairs North County San Diego

Cassidy Street Beach north

south view Cassidy Street Beach

Cassidy Street Beach Staircase


Buena Vista Lagoon Visitor Center

Nature Center Sign Buena Vista Audubon Society

North County San Diego Beaches

2202 South Coast Highway

The night before our beach adventure, I had been doing some research on the Buena Vista Lagoon Visitor Center,  which is the home of the Buena Vista Audubon Nature Center.

When we drove past the entrance, I immediately made a U-turn and proceeded to the parking lot.

Buena Vista Audubon Nature Center Sign

Buena Vista Audubon Nature Center Parking Lot

Buena Vista Lagoon Trailhead

Heron Statue Outside Center

Buena Vista Lagoon is a 200-acre freshwater lagoon located in both Oceanside and Carlsbad.
Buena Vista Lagoon North County San Diego

Nature Center Bird Display

looking down Bird Display Nature Center

Microscope Buena Vista Audubon Center

Fun Fact- The Buena Vista Audobon Society holds regular bird walks around San Diego County.


Carlsbad City Beach

North County San Diego Beaches

Ocean St and Grand Ave

Amenities-no lifeguards, no restrooms, parking in a residential neighborhood

Beach– sizeable sandy beach, short walk north to enter the Buena Vista Lagoon

Carlsbad City Beach is part of Carlsbad State Beach, No surfing is allowed at the beach between May and November.  There are several staircases found along Ocean Street to access this beach.

Carlsbad City Beach Entrance

Carlsbad City Beach North County San Diego

north view Carlsbad City Beach

south view Carlsbad City Beach


Robert Frazee State Beach

North County San Diego Beaches

3150 Ocean Street

Amenities– a ramp ( on Pine St), lifeguards, restrooms, showers, grass park, benches, volleyball courts

Beach– wide and sandy, one of the less crowded beaches

Robert Frazee State Beach is a great beach to run along or to walk on. There are many rocks on the beach so please consider that before setting out.

Robert Frazee State Beach parking lot

steps going down Robert Frazee State Beach

north view Robert Frazee State Beach

Wild Radish Robert Frazee State Beach

Robert Frazee State Beach Volleyball Court


Terramar Beach

North County San Diego Beaches

Carlsbad Blvd and Cerezo Drive

Amenities– no restrooms, no lifeguards

Beach– narrow, hidden, wet sand at high tide, excellent surfing spot

On a shallow tide, Terramar beach is an exceptional spot to check out the tide pools.

Fun Fact- Not so fun, but in 2009 and woman was attacked by a 5-6 foot juvenile Great White Shark. Miraculously, there was no blood and she only got bruises!

Terramar Beach North County San Diego

Terramar Beach Bluff Entrance

Terramar Beach Stairs

North View Terramar Beach

south view bluffs North County San Diego

Terramar Beach Stairs North County San Diego

Terramar Beach North County San Diego


Carlsbad State Beach- North Ponto

North County San Diego Beaches

Carlsbad Blvd and Island Way

Amenities– Lifeguard, restroom, parking

Beach-Narrow compared to South Ponto Beach, steep incline to get down to the beach, famous surfing destination

A pay parking lot is located next to the southbound lanes on Carlsbad Blvd north of the South Carlsbad Campground.

North Ponto Beach is another prime beach to visit (on low tide) if you like to get away from the crowds.

South Carlsbad State Beach North Ponto Sign

North Ponto Beach Rules Sign Fence

North Ponto Beach view chain linked fence

North Ponto Surfer Bluff

Surfer Top Bluff North Ponto Beach

Bluff Erosion North Ponto Beach

North View North Ponto Beach Bluffs Ocean

bench on bluffs sandy beach below ocean
Another outstanding place to sit and watch for dolphins and whales!

Carlsbad State Beach- South Ponto

South Ponto Beach Bluffs North County San Diego

North County San Diego Beaches

Coast Highway 101 and La Costa Ave

Amenities– lifeguards, restrooms, showers, paid parking lot, outside free parking

Beach– wide and sandy, dunes and ice plants

South Ponto beach is on a sand spit that shelters the Batisquitous Lagoon from the Pacific Ocean. I was pleasantly surprised at how big this undeveloped beach is.

Fun Fact- During the winter months, South Ponto beach is a notorious spot to find polished stones on the shore.

South Ponto Beach Entrance

South Ponto Beach rules sign

South Ponto wide sandy beach

South Ponto Beach Parking Lot

The paid parking lot has an eight dollar fee. There is the option of parking for free next to the southbound lanes of Carlsbad Blvd, but they do fill up fast.

Beach Wrack Sign South Ponto Beach

Bluff Overlook Sign

South Ponto Beach Stairs North County San Diego

Batiquitos Lagoon Lagoon North County

South Ponto Bluffs North County San Diego

 What stood out to me was the Bluff Overlook. What a spectacular place to sit and watch for any whales or dolphins to pass by the shore!

South View South Ponto Beach

Before leaving, we wanted to observe the massive compass at the base of the bluff stairs.

South Ponto Beach North County San Diego

North Compass Arm Gray Whales
North- Gray Whales
South compass arm The Bluffs
South-The Bluffs
East compass arm The Lagoon
East- The Lagoon
West Compass arm The Pacific Ocean
West- The Pacific Ocean

Grandview Beach-Encinitas

North County San Diego Beaches

1700 Neptune Ave, Encinitas

Amenities– no restroom, parking lot in the residential area, wooden staircase

Beach– narrow during high tide, excellent beginning surfing beach

Grandview Beach is a beautiful little secret spot in Encinitas, CA.

Grandview Beach entrance sign

Grandview Beach parking lot
Grandview Beach parking lot.

Grandview Beach staircase North County San Diego

North View Grandview Beach

South view Grandview Beach

Grandview Beach North County San Diego

Grandview Beach North County San Diego

Thank you so much for joining us today!

Which beach are you most interested in visiting? I have a few

First I would start the day by visiting the Buccaneer Cafe at Buccaneer Beach. Afterward, I would continue to Terramar Beach’s tide pools on a low tide and finally, end the day sitting on top of the South Ponto Bluffs looking out onto the water for pods of dolphins or migrating Gray Whales. Well, that is my perfect day, how about yours? 

I hope that one day you can come and visit these beaches in person!

Please feel free to leave any comments or questions!

Until next time!


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North County San Diego

I have always had a deep-seated passion for the Ocean Environment which ultimately led me to receive a degree in Marine Biology. Living in the San Diego area for over 30 years, I have extensively explored the 70 miles of San Diego’s coastline, and I am here to share! Please use my website to your advantage and have a look around at all the wonders that the beaches of San Diego can offer you!

20 Replies to “Touring 10 Beaches-North County San Diego”

  1. Hi Colleen, Thank you for this wonderful, well put together guide to San Diego beaches and the beautiful photos and videos. Now I know important info like whether there will be lifeguards, availability of restrooms, parking, etc. Also, I need to be aware of the tides.

    If I was in the San Diego area, I think I would like to go to Buccaneer beach. The food at the Buccaneer cafe looks awesome. I’d also like to go someplace to see dolphins and whales. That would be a real thrill.

    What is the best time of year to go to the beach?

    1. Hi Joe! Every day is the best day to go to the beach! The summer months are my favorite, but if you want to experience the wonders of the tide pools, then winter has the lowest tides during the day. Doesn’t the menu look good at the Buccaneer Cafe? Thanks again for visiting! One more thing, being at the beach about 3 to 4 hours before sunset you will have a really good chance at seeing a pod of dolphins right near the surf break.

  2. Great Pictures of the beach in California. I love going to the beach during the day. The sand between your toes and the sound the ocean makes as you soak in the sun is the very definition of a vacation. Carlsbad State Beach- North Ponto looks amazing with the pictures you displayed and the fact it has a restroom, and a lifeguard is a must-see for me. Thank You For this information

    1. I am happy that you enjoyed it! Yes, a beach with a restroom is always on the top of my list too! North Ponto was gorgeous but I would be very wary walking down that hill with a surfboard. Thank you for visiting!

  3. Beautiful beaches. I’ve been thinking about visiting San Diego, so this list comes at a perfect time. My favorite would have to be Wisconsin Street Beach. Being close to all the essentials make it a no-brainer. Although, Robert Frazee State Beach seems like an awesome beach also. Thanks for all the information and videos!

    1. I am glad you liked the information, Brandon! You will not be disappointed. The beaches here are gorgeous, especially on a clear day. If I could give you one suggestion, it would be to visit La Jolla if you happen to come to San Diego. Oh, and do try to make it up to Oceanside, as the pier is so much fun. Thanks again for visiting!

  4. I reside in SoCal and been to San Diego a few times, but have always failed to visit the beach in the area 🙁
    I need to def give these beautiful places you mentioned here a visit next time! And I gotta mention the dolphin sightings – we have here a few in the Los Angeles beach cities (Redondo Beach, specifically) and its such a pleasure to watch every time they decide to entertain the viewers with their awesome twists + acrobatics! Your pics are gorgeous, btw!

    1. Thanks for visiting Kseniya! Yes, I love to watch the dolphins! I grew up going to Toes Beach in Playa del Rey and have always loved going to the Redondo Beach Pier…especially checking out the fish market. Say Hi to beach for me 🙂

  5. Last Summer, I was visiting a friend in Encinitas, so I was close to San Diego. This information would have helped me a lot while I was down there. I could have planned my trip better.

    As a Northern California native, I have always been jealous of Southern California beaches. They have warmer waters and gentler waves. Up north, you cannot go into the water without a wetsuit. It is just too cold.

    Thank you for sharing, and I hope you make it a great day!

    1. Hi Alex! Yes, we do have wonderful beaches here! To be honest, even though the water may be 70 degrees in the summer, I wouldn’t mind a wetsuit as well. Thank you so much for visiting the site!

  6. I love your pictures. They are so beautiful. I have always wanted to visit California. My husband and I are planning to visit California sometime this year. I have bookmarked your page for future reference. I enjoyed reading your article. Very helpful. Thank you so much for sharing.

    1. Thank you so much Hong! I am so glad that you found the information helpful. You and your husband will love it here. Please feel free to contact me if you have any more questions. Thanks again for visiting 🙂

  7. Free parking at Buccaneer beach? That’s pretty much unheard of in my neck of the woods! (Southwestern Ontario, Canada). I think that also beats the residential parking you mentioned above because I’ve tried that here, and the beaches are just tiny. But these look incredible.

    One of my main goals in life is to blog full time and be able to travel, and one of my first travel destinations in California, so I am going to make 1000 percent sure I come back to this site when I am finally on that plane.

    Palo Alto and San Fran are two places I want to start with. Thanks for a great article Colleen!

  8. Colleen, it’s impressive how some of the beaches you describe and whose pictures you show us are framed by walls of rocks. An outstanding scenario. I haven’t been to the States yet, let alone San Diego area. I guess, however, visiting this coastline must be a must for any tourist, given its variety and beauty.
    I shall tag your article for future reference. You never know, I might plan a trip across the oceans sooner than I may think myself 🙂

    1. Hi GiuliaB! Thank you for visiting! Yes, some of those beaches in Oceanside are very small, and I can only imagine what is like down there during a storm. As for the bluffs, they are my favorite. I tell my husband that it is the end of the continent which is 100’s of millions of years old! I hope you are able to visit San Diego one day. Thanks again for visiting this site.

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