San Diego's Best Sun-Kissed Beaches for Locals and Tourists

It's hard to miss the beach when in San Diego. It's visible when driving around town, from the al fresco terraces of many restaurants, and as a backdrop for number of attractions. Tip: Use the ocean as a directional point of reference (west) during your travels. We locals do it all the time.

The beach is the must-do activity when visiting San Diego in any season, because the sun shines almost year-round. Which beach you choose depends on what you'd like to do after stepping on to the sun-kissed sand.

Want to learn how to surf or kayak the La Jolla caves? Head to La Jolla Shores Beach, but arrange a lesson or tour in advance. Don't forget the kids as they'll love the seaside playground there almost as much as frolicking in the sand.

Falling asleep to the rumble of waves is also a possibility (with camping gear) at Silver Strand State Beach in Coronado. Though it's off the main drag, conveniences such as equipment rentals, ample parking and a snack bar keep guests happy.

Naturalists may prefer heading south to Imperial Beach, located near a nature preserve that is home to over 370 birds. It's also home to a popular sand castle building competition in July. Though swimming isn't recommended near the Mexican border, around the IB pier is a go.

Just don't forget to bring a camera. The photos will make your friends mighty jealous.

Chula Vista


Located south of downtown San Diego and stretching all the way to the Mexican border, Imperial Beach's main claim to fame is the annual US Open Sand Castle Building Contest held each July. During the rest of the year, it's a great beach for...  Read More

Pacific Beach


Pacific Beach is a community unto itself, with a personality that makes San Diego look staid. The beach is awesome, of course, with year-round lifeguards and separate sections for surfing and swimming. Pacific Beach spans from Crystal Pier to...  Read More

Torrey Pines State Beach and Park


There are two sections here. Along the bluffs overlooking the sea there are eight miles of trails through the unique landscape (the twisted Torrey pine tree is found in only two places on earth: in this park and on an island almost 200 miles to...  Read More



Silver Strand State Beach is made up of beaches lining both the Pacific Ocean and San Diego Bay. The beaches are connected by pedestrian tunnels under the busy street. Popular activities include camping, swimming, surfing, boating, water-skiing,...  Read More



An excellent way to spend down-time in San Diego is to head to this beach, where you can enjoy quaint shops and cafes along Ocean Front Walk, which spans the area between Mission and Pacific Beaches. Shaved ice (not crushed ice) that's sold here...  Read More



Tourmaline Surf Park is somewhat of a hidden gem located in North Pacific Beach. It's a surfing beach (including kite surfing and sailboarding) but also family-friendly just a tad bit south. There are less tourists probably because there aren't...  Read More



Del Mar City Beach is a favorite of families, with the north part dog-friendly and surfable waves mixed in throughout. The north part of the beach runs from about 15th street to what is known as the Rivermouth (past gorgeous beachfront homes),...  Read More



There is so much to do here that it's hard to begin. Two hotels, the La Jolla Shores Hotel and the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club, offer guests amazing access and beach amenities. It's one of the best beaches to learn surfing, scuba and...  Read More

Moonlight State Beach


This beach earns its name because residents in the early 1900s used to picnic under the stars here. Today, Moonlight State Beach is a popular beach choice with North County San Diego locals and visitors. A picnic area, restrooms, volleyball...  Read More



Widely considered one of the top ten beaches in the U.S., the seaward side of Coronado Island is exceptionally clean, with wide stretches of sand. The northern end, "North Beach," is dog-friendly and popular for surfing in the summer. The main...  Read More


Meet Katie Dillon

Katie Dillon originally moved to the seaside community of La Jolla to attend UC San Diego. When the opportunity presented itself, she and her husband set off for a 7 year stint overseas as...  More About Katie