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Here is a list of our favorite beaches in and around the city of San Diego. This list includes Coronado and La Jolla, but not the North County area (Del Mar to Oceanside). There are so many great beaches in this majestic city that it’s hard to create a best beaches list.

The editors of California Beaches have personally visited every San Diego beach and put a lot of hard thought into this. Luckily the beaches near San Diego have just about every beach-related activity covered. Here are the beaches listed by their best category. See our “Best Overall Beach” at the bottom of this list!

Best Tide Pools

Cabrillo National Monument
See all the San Diego Tide Pools

Best People Watching

Mission Beach

Best Surfing

Tourmaline Surf Park
See all the San Diego Surf Spots

Best Family-Friendly Beaches

Mission Bay Park

Best for Beach Walking

Silver Stand State Beach

Best Walking Path

La Jolla Coast Walk

Best Beach for Hiking

Flat Rock at Torrey Pines State Beach

Best Beach to Rappel Into

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park

Best Pier

Ocean Beach Pier
See all the San Diego Piers

Best Spot for Kayaking & SUP

La Jolla Caves (put in at La Jolla Shores)

Best Sunbathing

La Jolla Shores Beach

Best Volleyball Beach

South Mission Beach

Best Beach for Sunset Photos

Hospital Beach

Best Lighthouse

Cabrillo National Monument

Best Dog-Friendly Beach

Coronado Dog Run Beach
See all the San Diego Dog Beaches

Best Lodging on the Beach

Crystal Pier Cottages at Pacific Beach

Best Wildlife Watching

Children’s Pool Beach

Best Camping

Campland on the Bay
See all the San Diego Camping

Best Clothing-Optional Beach

Black’s Beach

And the Best Overall San Diego Beach is…

Coronado Beach

Coronado Beach is our current best beach in San Diego. Why you ask? Well it’s just a short drive over the San Diego-Coronado Bridge from downtown and has all the qualities of a top Southern California beach. The location is usually protected by Point Loma so the waves here are mellow. Add to that the constant presence of lifeguards and you have a safe family-friendly spot. The beach and the surrounding hotels, shops, and restaurants are clean and inviting. There are places to walk behind the beach and and the facilities are well-maintained. And even though Coronado Beach is popular, the beach is huge so there is always room for visitors to spread out and enjoy it!

Beaches on this list

  • Coronado Beach

    Coronado Beach, aka Central Beach, starts at the famous Hotel del Coronado and continues north to Sunset Park. At the north end of the beach in front of Sunset Park […]

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  • Silver Strand State Beach

    Silver Strand State Beach gives day-use visitors and campers access to great beaches on both sides of the Coronado Island Peninsula. The ocean beach at Silver Strand State Beach offers […]

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  • Cabrillo National Monument

    There are only a few beach access points in Cabrillo National Monument near San Diego, but this park is loaded with things to see. Point Loma, the peninsula where the […]

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  • Mission Beach

    Mission Beach (the beach) is a long wide sandy beach in the Mission Beach area of San Diego. The beaches here are continuous, but Mission Beach is typically considered the […]

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  • Pacific Beach

    Pacific Beach (the beach) is located between Pacific Beach Drive and the Crystal Pier in the Pacific Beach District of San Diego, CA. North of the pier is North Pacific […]

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  • Ocean Beach City Beach

    Ocean Beach City Beach is the main beach in the San Diego neighborhood of Ocean Beach. This is a wide sandy beach that has formed at the south side of […]

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  • La Jolla Shores Beach

    La Jolla Shores Beach is a long, wide, and very popular beach in northern La Jolla. Compared to most of the La Jolla beaches which are tucked into gaps between […]

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  • Tourmaline Surfing Park Beach

    Tourmaline Beach is at a San Diego area surfers’ mecca called Tourmaline Surfing Park. This beach sits on the border of the Pacific Beach and La Jolla districts of San […]

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  • Flat Rock Beach at Torrey Pines

    Flat Rock Beach at Torrey Pines State Beach requires a long walk to get to, but it’s worth the effort. This is a sandy beach below steep bluffs in the […]

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  • Coronado Dog Run Beach

    Dog Run Beach is the North Beach of Coronado Beach in front of Sunset Park. Dogs can be off leash on this beach unlike all the other beaches along the […]

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  • Children’s Pool Beach

    Children’s Pool Beach, aka Casa Beach, is a small beach with a curved protective wall holding back the rough waves along the La Jolla shore. This wall was built in […]

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  • South Mission Beach

    South Mission Beach is at the extreme south end of the Mission Beach Peninsula at the Mission Bay Channel Entrance. There is a grass park there with picnic tables, restrooms, […]

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  • Sunset Cliffs Natural Park – Garbage Beach

    Sunset Cliffs Natural Park is a steep hillside park between Point Loma Nazarene University and the ocean. There are boot-beaten footpaths all over the hillside here to explore. The beach […]

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  • La Jolla Strand Beach

    La Jolla Strand Beach is located along Neptune Place between Palomar Avenue and Gravilla Street in La Jolla. There are several stairs along Neptune Place in this area so you […]

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  • Hospital Beach

    Hospital Beach, aka “Hospitals,” is located along Coast Boulevard in La Jolla. There is a narrow grass strip on the bluff above this point called Coast Boulevard Park. Hospital Point […]

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  • Black’s Beach

    Black’s Beach is a famous clothing-optional beach below a “gliderport” parking area on Torrey Pines Mesa. Blacks is a combo of Torrey Pines City Beach and Torrey Pines State Beach […]

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  • Campland on the Bay

    Campland on the Bay is a resort campground and marina on Mission Bay in San Diego. This RV and tent campground is on land that has been leased from the […]

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  • La Jolla Caves Beach

    La Jolla Caves Beach is a hidden rocky beach between La Jolla Cove and La Jolla Shores Beach. During low tides you can walk here from La Jolla Shores, but […]

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