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San Diego, California — Beaches

San Diego Beaches
San Diego Beaches
San Diego Beaches
San Diego Beaches
  • Blacks Beach
  • La Jolla Cove
  • La Jolla Shores
  • Childrens Pool
  • Windansea Beach
  • North Pacific Beach
  • Pacific Beach
  • Mission Beach
  • Ocean Bay
  • Clothing optional Beaches

Blacks Beach

Black’s Beach is a two mile long, sandy strip situated at the base of majestic cliffs up to 300 feet high. It is formally known as Torrey Pines City Beach and Torrey Pines State Beach (Torrey Pines SB (ca.gov)) in that it is jointly owned by the City of San Diego and the State of California.

There is a glider port atop the cliff overlooking the beach where hang gliders, paragliders and remote-controlled gliders can often be seen soaring.

Access to Black’s Beach is very difficult due to the high cliffs and lack of improved stairways. The safest access is from adjacent beaches to the north and south, but this access may be obstructed by high tides or surf. The cliffs of Black’s Beach are unstable, and slides can occur without warning, so it is best to stay well away from them.

Although not officially sanctioned, some patrons of Black’s Beach practice nudism. See more at the end of this article.

More Information:

Water activity is essentially unregulated. Surfers and swimmers may mix, but all are required to employ due care in avoiding injury to each other.
Surfing:
This is an excellent beach for surfing, particularly at the southern end.
Scuba: Scuba diving is not recommended due to access problems and surf conditions.
Restrooms and Showers: There are no restrooms on Black’s Beach. Portable restrooms can be found at the top of the cliffs next to the Glider Port. Restrooms can also be found at La Jolla Shores, to the south, and at Torrey Pines State Beach, to the north.
Parking is available at the Glider Port above Black’s Beach, but the only access to the beach is via unimproved natural paths which can be hazardous. Take great care to avoid false trails. False trails may cause a person to become precariously stuck on side of the cliff or can result in serious injury or death if one falls.

Web: Black’s Beach in San Diego, Ca.

La Jolla Beaches

La Jolla Cove

La Jolla Cove (1100 Coast Boulevard) is a very small beach, tucked between adjacent sandstone cliffs. Due to its extraordinary beauty, La Jolla Cove is one of the most photographed beaches in Southern California. It is within a short walk of the commercial area of the community of La Jolla, but retains a character all it’s own.

The north facing La Jolla Cove has unusually coarse sand.
Grassy Scripps Park is immediately adjacent and an excellent area for picnicking. Water visibility at the Cove can sometimes exceed 30 feet, making it a popular location for scuba divers and snorklers.

La Jolla Cove lies within the San Diego La Jolla Underwater Park Ecological Reserve, which helps to ensure that marine life remains plentiful.
This is a look but don’t touch area and the possession of game is unlawful.

More information

This is an excellent beach for scuba diving when surf conditions are low. The waters off this beach are reserved for swimming and diving only.
A public restroom building with showers can be found in Scripps Park beside La Jolla Cove.

Parking:
There is no public parking lot for La Jolla Cove. On-street parking can be difficult to find, particularly in summer.
It is limited to three hours at a time on weekdays and unlimited on weekends, but check the signs for any restrictions.
Paid parking is available in downtown La Jolla at several locations and is a short walk from the beach.

Web: Guide to La Jolla Beaches – La Jolla Shores, La Jolla Cove and Beyond! (sandiego.org)

La Jolla Shores

La Jolla Shores (8200 Camino del Oro) is a sandy beach approximately one mile long, adjacent to a residential area.
In summer, waves at this beach are usually the most gentle of all San Diego beaches, although rip currents may still be strong at times.

For this reason, many novice scuba classes are held at La Jolla Shores. Kellogg Park, a grassy area, is located behind the main lifeguard station and is ideal for picnicking.
A wide cement boardwalk parallels a portion of the beach between the park and the sand.

La Jolla Shores lies adjacent to the San Diego La Jolla Underwater Ecological Reserve. Fishing and removal of objects from this area is prohibited. At the north end of this beach lies the Scripps Institute of Oceanography and Scripps Pier.
The pier is not open to the public, but the Steven Birch Aquarium is within 1/2 mile of La Jolla Shores and is open daily.

La Jolla Shores has the only beachfront boat launch within City limits.
Small vessels can be launched directly into the surf at the foot of Avenida de la Playa, approximately 300 yards south of the lifeguard station.
This is an unimproved boat launch and vehicles are allowed to drive on the sand in a very limited area at five miles per hour or less. Four wheel drive is highly recommended.

More information

This beach has separate water areas reserved for swimming and surfing. Check with lifeguards for details.

Surfing:
Surfing is permitted in specified areas and waves tend to be relatively small.

Scuba:
The south end of the beach near the foot of Vallecitos is heavily used by scuba diving classes. There is a submarine canyon off the beach and the protection offered by the San Diego La Jolla Ecological Reserve ensures the presence of sea life.

Restrooms and Showers:
Public restroom and showers are located 100 yards north and south of the main lifeguard tower.

Parking:
A 350 space parking lot (8 disabled spaces) can be found at the foot of Calle Frescota next to the lifeguard tower. In summer, this lot fills to capacity by mid-day. Limited on street parking may be available.

Childrens Pool

The Children’s Pool (850 Coast Boulevard), also known as the Casa, is a small beach partially protected by a seawall. The original intention was to create a fully protected swimming area, but sand has filled in much of the area inside the wall. This is a very picturesque beach with a panoramic view. During much of the year, seals and sea lions are present on or near the beach and a reserve for these marine mammals, called Seal Rock, is just offshore.

The Children’s Pool, is within a short walk of the commercial area of the community of La Jolla. Grassy park areas can be found a short distance to the north and south. Several small beaches are nearby including Wipeout Beach to the south and Shell Beach to the north.

This is a popular beach for scuba divers because of the reefs just offshore. These same reefs can create very strong currents and other hazards, particularly in high surf conditions. Seals and sea lions are often found on or near the beach at the Children’s Pool during Fall, Winter, and Spring. They are wild animals you can watch, but may not disturb.

More information

The waters off this beach are reserved for swimming and diving only.

Scuba:
This is an excellent beach for scuba diving when surf conditions are low. Telephone the lifeguard beach information line (221-8884) before coming to the beach and always check with lifeguards before diving.

Restrooms and Showers:
A public restroom with showers is located beneath the lifeguard station. Public Transit: Call San Diego Transit at (619) 233-3004 for buses that serve this beach.

Parking:
There is very limited on-street parking at La Jolla Cove. Onstreet parking can be difficult to find, particularly in summer. It is limited to three hours at a time on weekdays and unlimited on weekends, but check the signs for any restrictions. Paid parking is available in downtown La Jolla at several locations and is a short walk.

Windansea Beach

Windansea Beach The rocky shore of Windansea Beach (6800 Neptune Place) is perhaps best known for its beautiful scenery and surf breaks created by underwater reefs. Sandstone rocks act as partitions along the beach offering a secluded atmosphere for sunbathing.

Much of the beach at Windansea experiences shorebreak, a condition on steep beaches which results in hard breaking surf right at the shoreline. Swimmers should enter and exit the water carefully to prevent spinal injuries.

More information:

This beach has separate water areas reserved by ordinance for swimming and surfing.

Surfing:
Surfing can be excellent at Windansea, but the popular surf breaks are very concentrated and can become quite crowded. Novice surfers may wish to consider La Jolla Shores instead.

Scuba: This is not a good beach for scuba diving, due primarily to the shorebreak.

Restrooms and Showers:
There are no public restrooms or showers at this beach or anywhere in the vicinity.

Parking:
The public parking lot has only 18 spaces. The only other parking is on street in a residential area

Web: Guide to La Jolla Beaches – La Jolla Shores, La Jolla Cove and Beyond! (sandiego.org)

North Pacific Beach

The beach area north of Crystal Pier extends approximately one mile from the north end of the community of Pacific Beach to the south end of the community of La Jolla. This beach is bordered by cliffs up to 75 feet in height. A sidewalk traverses the cliff-top along much of the south end of the beach. In this area, parking is very limited.

At the north end of the beach is Tourmaline Surfing Park which includes a public parking lot and limited facilities. This area is heavily used by surfers and sailboarders year round.

More information

This beach has separate water areas reserved for swimming and surfing. Check with lifeguards for details.

Surfing:
Surfing is permitted at this beach.

Scuba:
This beach is not recommended for scuba due to lack of undersea life, heavy water activity, and surf.

Restrooms and Showers
Public restrooms and showers are located at the foot of Diamond Street and Law Street on the south end and at Tourmaline Surfing Park on the north end.

Parking:
A 175 space parking lot with 3 disabled spaces can be found at the foot of Tourmaline Street. In summer, this lot fills to capacity by mid-day. All other parking is limited to on-street parking in residential areas.

Pacific Beach

The beach area south of Crystal Pier is known as Pacific Beach. This beach continues south for over two miles, becoming Mission Beach and then South Mission Beach, eventually ending at the channel entrance to Mission Bay. This long beach, known as The Strand, lies directly adjacent to the residential and commercial areas of the Pacific Beach and Mission Beach communities. It is the most popular beach in the City of San Diego and draws large crowds in summer. North Pacific Beach continues to the north, but is visually separated by Crystal Pier, a publicly accessible fishing pier.

A somewhat narrow cement boardwalk parallels the entire beach. Walking, biking, bicycling, and related activities are permitted on the boardwalk, but speed is regulated and must be kept to eight miles per hour or less. Cycles with more than two wheels are not permitted except for use by the disabled. At all times, people must use caution and courtesy in using the boardwalk.

Various shops, restaurants, and beach rental outfits can be found bordering the north end of Pacific Beach, north of Pacific Beach drive. The southern end is predominately residential, with commercial areas a block or so from the beach on Mission Boulevard.

More information

This beach has separate water areas reserved for swimming and surfing. Check with lifeguards for details.

Surfing:
Surfing is permitted at this beach.

Scuba:
This beach is not recommended for scuba due to lack of undersea life, heavy water activity, and surf.

Restrooms and Showers
Public restrooms and showers are located at the foot of Grand Avenue at the lifeguard station and in the median of Pacific Beach Drive between the boardwalk and Mission Boulevard. There are no public restrooms between Pacific Beach Drive and Mission Beach.

Parking:
Parking is essentially limited to on-street parking on with a few designated spaces in the median at the foot of Grand Avenue and along adjacent Ocean Boulevard.

Web: Guide to Pacific Beach Beaches | Official San Diego, Ca. Travel Resource

Mission Bay Beach

Mission Beach is the center of a continuous stretch of beach known as The Strand, which extends over two miles, beginning at the Mission Bay channel entrance and ending at the north end of Pacific Beach. The Strand is the most popular beach area in the City of San Diego and draws large crowds in summer.

A somewhat narrow cement boardwalk parallel’s the entire beach. Walking, biking, bicycling, and related activities are permitted on the boardwalk, but speed is regulated and must be kept to eight miles per hour or less. Cycles with more than two wheels are not permitted except for use by the disabled. At all times, people must use caution and courtesy in using the boardwalk.

Various shops, restaurants, and beach rental outfits surround the Mission Beach lifeguard station, at the foot of Ventura Street beside a landmark roller coaster. The north end of Mission Beach is bordered by residential properties, but there are some stores available on Mission Boulevard, a block or so from the beach.

South Mission Beach
South Mission Beach is bordered on the south by the Mission Bay Channel. It has, perhaps, the widest beach in the City. Recently, it has become known as a popular place to engage in sports such as beach volleyball and basketball following an extensive refurbishing of the courts. A popular game similar to baseball called “Over-The-Line” is allowed in a portion of this area.

More Information

This beach has separate water areas reserved for swimming and surfing. Check with lifeguards for details.

Surfing:
Surfing is permitted at this beach.

Scuba:
This beach is not recommended for scuba due to lack of undersea life, heavy water activity, and surf.

Restrooms and Showers
Public restrooms and showers are located at the foot of Ventura Street at the lifeguard station and at the south side of Belmont Park, and at the commercial mall adjacent to the Mission Beach lifeguard station.

Parking:
Extensive free public parking is available on the north and south side of Belmont Park, and at the foot of West Mission Bay Drive. There is additional parking in two lots across the street adjacent to Bonita Cove. These lots fill very quickly on busy summer days and traffic can be heavy at times.

Web: Guide to Mission Beach & Nearby Beaches | Official San Diego, Ca. Travel Resource

Ocean Bay

Ocean Beach (1950 Abbott Street) is located in the community of Ocean Beach, just south of the Mission Bay channel entrance. This is a wide beach approximately one mile long. A volleyball area can be found near the north end of the beach.

The Ocean Beach Municipal Pier is located at the south end of the beach and is available to the public for walking and fishing. There is a restaurant and bait shop on the pier. Fishing from the pier does not require a fishing license, but catch regulations are enforced.

Numerous restaurants, surf shops, and other commercial establishments are available near the south end of the beach. The north end of the beach is primarily bordered by residential properties. One unique feature of Ocean Beach is Dog Beach, a sandy area at the north end.

This is a dog run area where dogs are permitted without a leash at all hours of the day. Dog owners are responsible for control and clean-up of their dogs. Standard dog laws apply on other portions of Ocean Beach and are strictly enforced.

More information

This beach has separate water areas reserved for swimming and surfing. Check with lifeguards for details.

Surfing:
Surfing is permitted at this beach.

Scuba:
This beach is not recommended for scuba due to lack of undersea life, heavy water activity, and surf.

Restrooms and Showers
Public restrooms with showers are located adjacent to the main lifeguard station at 1950 Abbott Street and adjacent to the parking lot on the north end of the beach at the west end of Brighton Avenue.

Dogs are permitted on the north end of the beach (Dog Beach) at all hours without a leash. Owners are responsible for control and clean-up of their pets.

Parking:
There are 298 public parking spaces (including three disabled spaces) in the public lot at the foot of Voltaire Street. This lot is adjacent to the north end of the beach and Dog Beach. There are 68 public parking spaces (including two disabled spaces) at the foot of Santa Monica Avenue adjacent to the main lifeguard station. There are 110 public parking spaces (including three disabled spaces) at the foot of Newport Avenue, adjacent to the Ocean Beach Pier.

Web: Guide to Ocean Beach | Official San Diego, Ca. Travel Resource

Clothing Optional Beaches around San Diego

San Onofre State Beach
Getting naked is tolerated, but when complains arise, officials will ask you to put your clothes on. It’s all about playing by the rules.

There is a small fee for the parking area, which fills up soon at the weekends. How to get there: Take from I-5 the Basilone Road southwest until reaching the State Park. Then walk on Trail 6 in southern direction until you find like-minded fellows.
This area compromies the southern section of the beach from the life guard tower to a fence where Camp Pendleton military base begins.

Keep a slight distance to the life guard and don’t cross the line to the military base.

Black’s Beach
Probably the most popular optional clothing beach of the area and the west coast.
The beach is situated just north of San Diego in La Jolla and south of Torrey Pines State Beach. Take care that you don’t mistake Black’s Beach (State) with the one of the city, where clothing optional is not permitted. A steep trail, beginning at Torrey Pines Scenic Rd, leads down to the beach.
This zone is mostly quite crowded, sometimes up to 10,000 persons have been counted.

How to get there:
From San Diego drive I-5 northwards and take exit Genessee Ave. westwards. When reaching North Torrey Pines Rd, turn left and the next possible road right.
This should be Torrey Pines Scenic Rd.. Drive until you reach the start point for the paragliders.

Other resources:

San Diego Tourism: Guide to San Diego Beaches

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