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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.

Beaches on this map

  • Del Mar City Beach

    The Main Beach of Del Mar City Beach starts at Powerhouse Park and goes north all the way to the lagoon entrance at the San Dieguito River. On the other […]

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  • Cardiff State Beach – Seaside Beach

    Seaside Beach is a sandy beach in Cardiff State Beach at the border between Solana Beach and the Cardiff-by-the-Sea area of Encinitas, CA. Cardiff State Beach is the long sandy strip along […]

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  • Cardiff State Beach – North Beach

    North Beach at Cardiff State Beach is located at the entrance to San Elijo Lagoon in the Encinitas community of Cardiff-by-the-Sea. This is a day-use facility, but across the lagoon […]

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  • Swami’s Beach

    Swami’s Surf Beach is a famous surfing mecca at the south end of Encinitas, CA. The park at Swami’s Beach is a great vantage point for watching surfers and has […]

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  • Moonlight State Beach

    Moonlight State Beach is a California state park that is operated by the city of Encinitas. This is the main central beach of Encinitas. It has a grass park with […]

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  • Stone Steps Beach

    Stone Steps Beach is a locals beach in Encinitas that is a little off-the-beaten-track. The city has signed it as “Stonesteps Beach Access” (spelled as one word), but most people […]

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  • South Ponto Beach

    South Ponto Beach is a day-use area at the south end of South Carlsbad State Beach at the city border of Encinitas and Carlsbad. This prime location and the size […]

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  • North Ponto Beach

    North Ponto Beach is the northern day-use beach access point at South Carlsbad State Beach. The North Ponto parking lot is located on the southbound lanes of Carlsbad Boulevard at […]

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  • Terramar Beach

    Terramar Beach is the narrow beach in front of the Carlsbad California community of Terramar. Technically this beach is part of South Carlsbad State Beach, but there are no signs […]

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  • Tamarack State Beach

    Tamarack Surf Beach, as this part of Carlsbad State Beach is known, is located where Tamarack Avenue crosses Carlsbad Boulevard. At this intersection is the entrance to a large parking […]

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  • Robert Frazee State Beach

    Robert C. Frazee State Beach is one of several great beaches within Carlsbad State Beach. There is ramp access to Frazee Beach from the intersection of Pine Avenue and Carlsbad […]

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  • Buccaneer Beach

    The beach at Buccaneer Park is a small family-friendly beach along the southern part of Oceanside, CA. Buccaneer Beach is basically a gap between the homes and condos that exist […]

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  • Oceanside Pier View South Beach

    Pier View South Beach is the most popular beach in Oceanside, CA. Like the name suggests, it’s the beach just south of Oceanside Pier, and yes the beach on the […]

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  • Oceanside Pier View North Beach

    Pier View North Beach in Oceanside is a popular sand beach just north of the Oceanside Municipal Fishing Pier. The beach on this side of the pier is a little […]

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  • Oceanside Harbor Beach

    Oceanside Harbor Beach is a wide sandy beach in front of Oceanside’s harbor. The beach is boxed in by two rock jetties at both ends which seems to hold in […]

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