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Visiting San Diego | Beaches
As a San Diego newcomer, your first instinct will likely be to go to the beach, pull off your shoes and let the ocean wash over your toes. But before you go, be aware that San Diego's 70 miles of beaches are like a family of diverse people; each has its own distinct personality. Some are havens for surfers and divers; others are remote getaways; and many are perfect for most any activity.
To check out beach conditions, call 619.221.8824. The following is a brief look at San Diego's many and varied beaches.
All Beaches: (619) 221-8899, www.ci.san-diego.ca.us/directories/leisure.shtml
Interstate 5 to Palm Ave. west; continue to Ocean Lane. Known as "IB," this wide, sandy beach is popular with area residents, and it is great for swimming, surfing and land activities. The pier area is the site of the U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition, which occurs every year in July.
Silver Strand State Beach
Interstate 5 to the San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge; continue to Orange Ave.; turn left and continue past the Hotel del Coronado (road becomes Calif. Hwy. 75) to the Coronado Cays. This scenic beach is named for the small silver shells found along its shore, and the calm, shallow waters are ideal for swimming. This beach is one of the area's most popular tourist destinations each year.
Coronado Municipal Beach
Interstate 5 to the San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge; follow the signs to Ocean Blvd. One of the county's widest beach, this is a great beach for swimming, boogie boarding and sunset walks along the shore.
Shelter Island Dr. southwest of Rosecrans St. Shelter Island features a small beach area with calm waters, a grassy area for picnics, paved walkways and spectacular views of downtown.
Interstate 8 west to Sunset Cliffs Blvd. Access is via steep cliffside trails; there are steps in some areas. Strong waves make this a favorite with surfers, fishermen and divers. Swimming is discouraged, but there are beautiful sunset views.
Interstate 8 to Sunset Cliffs Blvd.; right on West Point Loma Blvd. Coined "OB" by locals, this family-oriented beach has swimming, surfing, boogie boarding,volleyball and Frisbee areas, and restrooms. Lifeguards are on duty, and there is even an area north of the jetty where dogs are allowed to run free.
Interstate 5 to Grand Ave. west; left on Mission Blvd. to the roller coaster.
Mission Beach is ideal for swimming, surfing and land activities. The boardwalk is shared by walkers, joggers, skaters and cyclists.
Mission Bay Park
There are several entrances, including Mission Bay Dr., Ingraham St., West Mission Bay Dr. and Mission Blvd.
An excellent beach for families, Mission Bay Park features a playground, grassy areas, a well-maintained trail system, calm waters and a visitors center. Sailing, waterskiing and windsurfing are popular here.
Interstate 5 to Garnet Ave.; west to Mission Blvd. Known locally as "PB," this is a perfect spot for swimming and surfing, and fishing right off the Crystal Pier.
Tourmaline Surf Park
Tourmaline St. in La Jolla.
This small, scenic beach is a favorite with surfers and divers. Swimming, however, is not allowed.
Located at the foot of Bird Rock Ave. in La Jolla. Named for the large white rock just offshore where birds gather, this beach is ideal for diving and surfing.
Interstate 5 to La Jolla Village Dr. westbound; left on Torrey Pines Rd.; right at Pearl St.; left on La Jolla Blvd. to Nautilus Rd. A powerful shore break at this beach means it is not recommended for swimming, but Windansea is very popular with surfers.
Coast Blvd. in La Jolla, south of La Jolla Cove. A breakwater keeps the waters here gentle, creating a perfect beach for children. The waters also are a haven for divers because of the many offshore reefs. Watch for seals, sea lions and other marine wildlife lazing on Seal Rock, which is just south of the beach.
La Jolla Cove
Coast Blvd. in La Jolla. This small, beautiful beach is tucked between towering sandstone cliffs. Tidepools and caves, with waters excellent for swimming and diving. The grassy area in nearby Ellen Browning Scripps Park is perfect for picnics.
La Jolla Shores
Interstate 5 to La Jolla Village Dr. west; turns into North Torrey Pines Rd. to La Jolla Shores Dr.;turn right on Vallecitos to Camino del Oro. A popular beach with swimmers and surfers, La Jolla Shores also is a great venue for scuba diving, picnics and volleyball. The beach also features the only beachfront boat launch within the San Diego city limits.
La Jolla Farms Rd. at Blackgold Rd. in La Jolla. A secluded beach known for its former "clothing optional" status, Black's Beach is excellent for surfing. Access is via a challenging path from the Torrey Pines Glider Port, or via an easier two-mile walk south from Torrey Pines State Reserve.
Torrey Pines State Beach
Interstate 5 to Carmel Valley Rd. west.
This narrow stretch of beach is a favorite with swimmers and surfers. There are hiking trails nearby at Torrey Pines States Reserve; take the steps north of Flat Rock. At low tide, you can walk along the shore (about six miles) all the way down to La Jolla Shores.
Del Mar City Beach
Interstate 5 to Del Mar Heights Rd. west; right on Camino del Mar; left on 15th St. This wide beach perfect for swimming, surfing and sand activities is popular year-round, but is especially crowded during the summer fair and horse-racing seasons.
Interstate 5 to Lomas Santa Fe Dr. west in Solana Beach; continue to Sierra Ave.
Wide, sandy beaches and excellent ocean waters provide ample opportunity for surfing,surf-fishing, swimming, body boarding, snorkeling, jogging and Frisbee. During the Del Mar racing season, you can often catch trainers walking race horses along the shore here in the mornings.
Interstate 5 to Lomas Santa Fe Dr. west. Surfing is good at the north end of this beach; shallow water further south is perfect for swimming. Volleyball courts are available, too.
Tide Beach City Park
Interstate 5 to Lomas Santa Fe Dr. west in Solana Beach; continue to U.S. Hwy. 101 and head north about a mile. Local surfers frequent Tide Beach Park because of the Table Top reef that creates excellent surf breaks. This beautiful beach has plenty of tidepools to explore and the fishing, swimming and diving are excellent as well.
Cardiff State Beach
Interstate 5 to Birmingham Dr. west; continue to San Elijo Ave.; turn left and head south for about a mile. The reef here forms a tidepool filled with sea anemones and other marine life. Experienced surfers like this area for its strong surf, while snorkelers and scuba divers enjoy the beauty and mystery of the reefs.
San Elijo State Beach
Interstate 5 to Birmingham Dr. west; continue to San Elijo Ave. San Elijo is mainly for fishing and surfing; there are some good swimming areas. The nearby reef is a favorite with divers and there also is a major campground.
Interstate 5 to Encinitas Blvd. west; left on First St. to Sea Cliff Roadside Park; beach access is via a wooden stairway. It is very popular with surfers, especially in the winter.
Moonlight State Beach
Interstate 5 to Encinitas Blvd. west.
A family-oriented beach perfect for swimming, surfing and fishing; tennis and volleyball courts are available nearby.
Leucadia State Beach
Interstate 5 to Leucadia Blvd. west; park on Neptune Ave. Known by locals as "Beacon's Beach," this small beach nearby Seaside Gardens County Park is a favorite with surfers. Leucadia also is great for swimming, diving and fishing.
Carlsbad State Beach
Interstate 5 to Tamarack Ave. west; continue to Carlsbad Blvd. A popular beach with good swimming and surfing. The boardwalk here is perfect for walking, bicycling and skating. Many athletic competitions are held here throughout the year.
Oceanside City Beach
Interstate 5 to Mission Ave. west; continue to Hill St., then head north to Third St. Ramps from The Strand lead to this popular surfing, swimming and fishing beach. Major surf competitions are held here, and the wide sandy area is great for volleyball and Frisbee. At the north end is Oceanside's landmark wooden pier.
Interstate 5 to Harbor Dr. west, continue to Harbor Dr. S. in Oceanside. Sunbathers love this beach for its soft white sand, shaded picnic area and boat launch. The waters are ideal for swimming, surfing and fishing.