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San Diego Beaches

Here are some beaches that we visited in our time in San Diego. There are many beautiful beaches and parks, usually within a short drive of any accommodations.

San Diego beaches

Belmont park
It is not a beach you will find on any of the maps, as it is actually considered Mission Beach. Belmont park is actually an amusment park with rides for kids and tennagers (and some adults). There is a historic roller coaster that is wood and a bit scary, since you are not only concerned about the turns and how fast it is going, but if it is going to fly apart and the strange noises heard as the wood is stressed... The beach is not bad, but when we were there the waves were fairly large due to a tropical storm off shore and there was seaweed and kelp kicked up in the surf, but it is a pretty good way to combine a couple of activities. There are restrooms and showers at the beach and also the rides and restauraunts or food vendors are within walking distance.

Blacks Beach
Blacks beach is just south of Torrey Pines State Beach. It is about two miles long and has high cliffs rising up behind it. As a result the only good way we found to get there is to park at Torrey Pines State Beach and walk south. The cliffs are also not very stable and we saw debris coming down on a few occassions, so don't set up anywhere near the cliffs. Also, be prepared for some nudity as many of the beach goers select this beach for tolerance of a clothing optional policy. This is also an excellent beach for surfing (especially the southern end). There are no restrooms or showers, the nearest being at La Jolla Shores (south) or Torrey Pines State Beach (north).

Children's Pool
The Children's Pool is located at 850 Coast Boulevard (some maps and locals may refer to is as the Casa). The original intention was to create a fully protected swimming area protected by a seawall, but sand has since filled in much of the area and it is now mostly used by marine life. Seals and sea lions are present on or near the beach and a reserve called Seal Rock is just offshore. The Children's Pool, is within a short walk of the business section of La Jolla and parks can be found a short distance to the north and south. Lifeguards are staffed and a public restroom with showers is located beneath the lifeguard station.

La Jolla Cove
La Jolla Cove is a pretty small small beach between cliffs. 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. 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. Lifeguards are staffed generally 9:00 a.m. to dusk and a public restroom building with showers can be found in Scripps Park beside La Jolla Cove.

La Jolla Shores
La Jolla Shores is a sandy beach about one mile long. Waves at this beach were the smallest of San Diego beaches. Kellogg Park is located behind the main lifeguard station and is a nice area for picnicking. At the north end of this beach lies the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Scripps Pier. A lifeguard station is near the main parking lot at Calle Frescota and is staffed from 9:00 a.m. to dusk. A public restroom and showers are located 100 yards north and south of the lifeguard station.

Mission Bay
Mission Bay Park contains 19 miles of sandy beaches in several separate parks (see image). Mission Bay was previously a marsh that was dredged in 1944 to create an aquatic park. You need to check at each beach for lifegaurd protection as it usually varies and is usually with the tourist season. Most beaches have restroom and shower facilities available.

Mission Beach
Mission Beach and The Strand extend about two miles from the Mission Bay channel (south) to Pacific Beach (north). This is the most popular of San Diego beachs and can be quite crowded. A cement walkway runs along the entire length of the beach. Retail and restaurants are close to the Mission Beach lifeguard station at Ventura Street (see Belmont Park above).

North Pacific Beach
North Pacific Beach is defined as the area between the town of Pacific Beach to the south end of La Jolla. There are steep cliffs (looked close to 100 feet high in spots) which made it very scenic, but pretty difficult to get to. The north end is a great place for surfing and sailboarding, and has some public showers, restrooms, and parking. At the far south end there is also an area with facilities but nothing in between.

Ocean Beach
As you might expect, this beach is in the town of Ocean Beach (just south of the Mission Bay entrance). At the north end there is a nice volleyball area and also an area where dogs are allowed off leash. Standard practices (including cleanup) are still enforced with owners and their dogs. At the south end of the beach is a pier that you can fish off of (although it was really crowded when we were there) and a restaurant. There were also many other retail and restaurants on the south end. Public restrooms and showers are located adjacent to the main lifeguard station at Abbott Street (the lifegaurd station is manned from 9AM to sundown) and adjacent to the parking lot on the north end of the beach. There are a lot of parking spaces close to this beach area due to it's proximity to retail establishments.

Pacific Beach
Pacific Beach extends from Crystal Pier to Mission Beach. Also known as The Strand, this beach may be pretty crowded at peak times. There is a paved boardwalk on the edge of the beach which is nice, but it is quite narrow at points, so stay alert for bikes and rollerbladers! Towards the north end of Pacific Beach there are various retail and restaurants within walking distance. Public restrooms and showers are located at the main lifegaurd station near Grand Avenue. There are is almost no parking along this beach, and you are limited to on street parking, which can be a pain when there are a lot of people.

South Mission Beach
South Mission Beach runs from Mission beach to the Bay Channel. It is a very wide beach and thus has a lot of facilities for beach volleyball, basketball, and even a baseball like game. Lifegaurds stations near avalon court are staffed daily, but others only during the summer. Restrooms and showers are located near the public parking area at the south end of the beach. There is a pretty big public parking area, but since this is a pretty popular beach, we found that it filled up pretty quickly, so come early.

Torrey Pines State Beach
This beach was a surprise to me. Sandstone cliffs up against the end of the beach must be 250-300 feet tall. There are also a lot of trails around the area which were a lot of fun for some hiking. Once getting there, the beach was beautiful and relatively uncrowded compared to the more easily accessible beaches in San Diego. We parked at the top (there is a fee) and took the trail down to take in the view. You can also park along 101 and then walk south to the beach, but that can be a little scary (and I am not sure if it is legal...). If you have an interest in plant and wildlife, the visitor's center (near the parking area at the top of the cliffs) has some interesting exhibits. We didn't see any lifegaurds posted.

Windansea Beach
Basically, Windansea Beach is not for swimming, it is for surfing or sunbathing, especially with so many great beaches around San Diego! Some reefs offshore create surf breaks and at sections hard breaking surf is right up against the shore so you must exercise caution when entering and exiting the water. There are Lifegaurds posted, but the schedule seems to vary with the seasons, so you might need to check. There are no public restrooms or showers anywhere close. There are only about 20 public parking spaces at this beach, which is located at 6800 Neptune Place. 2005. All Rights Reserved.