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The coastline north of San Diego has some of the best sandy beaches in California. This area on the Pacific Ocean and just inland of the coast is known as North County by locals. The locals are passionate about their beaches and their independence from the big city to the south.

The main communities north of San Diego include Carlsbad, Del Mar, Encinitas, Escondido, Oceanside, Rancho Santa Fe, San Marcos, Solana Beach, and Vista (links provided for the cities with beaches). The waterfront communities have been discovered and see their fair share of tourists who book hotels, resorts, and vacation rentals for weeks at a time. This area has a Utopian feel to it with endless sunny days, a varied shoreline that offers something for everyone, and more attractions than one could do in a lifetime.

North County is known for its surfing culture. Oceanside is the home of the California Surf Museum and a reliable break on both sides of the Oceanside Pier. Other beaches in North County like Swami’s, Grandview, and Seaside Beach are local surfing destinations.

Finding the best beaches really depends on what you are looking for. Large sandy beaches with ample sand and lifeguards for safety are abundant, but so are tide pool beaches, and even hidden beaches. Here are the best beaches in North County that top our list.