One of the best and easiest ways to access San Diego’s beauty is through its beaches. San Diego beach activities are cheap, easy, and fun way to spend your vacation here, and this city happens to have some of the best beaches in the world. They’re bordered by great restaurants and cafes and full of wildlife, including San Diego’s famous resident, the seal.
Our Favorite Beaches
No two beaches are the same, so we love San Diego even more for having so many of them along its 17 miles of coastline. Some of our favorites include Coronado Central Beach, Swami Beach, Imperial Beach, and Ponto Beach.
Coronado, Imperial, and Ponto Beaches are great for volleyball, skim boarding, and beach combing because of their wide, flat beaches. Imperial Beach is also where the freshwater of the Tijuana River mixes with the salt water of the Pacific Ocean, so it’s place of fascinating ecological diversity. Ponto Beach is broken up into north and south halves. North Ponto is where a lot of surfers put in and is narrow, unlike South Ponto, which is one of the widest beaches in the county. Swami Beach is famous among pro surfers, so this is a great place to watch them ride the waves.
Things to Do at San Diego
There are so many things to do at San Diego beaches, from swimming to snorkeling to scuba diving. La Jolla Cove is an accessible place to do all three. You can even watch the tide pools for all kinds of wildlife, including acorn barnacles, periwinkle snails, limpets, mussels, lined shore crabs, and lobsters. Check out some of the local shops for snorkeling gear. La Jolla Water Sports rents masks for $5. You can also go on a snorkeling adventure with agencies such as Scuba San Diego and Bike and Kayak Tours.
It may be warm and sunny outside, but don’t underestimate how cold the water really is and how strong the current flows. As a general rule of thumb, the waters are usually warm enough to go without a full wetsuit from May through August. Thankfully, if you decide you need one, there are plenty of shops that will rent wetsuits for as little as $9. We also recommend wearing lots of sunscreen and bringing an extra set of clothing and something that offers a bit of shade when enjoying San Diego beach activities.
Also, be cautious of rip currents, which are deep strips of water that pull water back out to sea after its broken on a shore. To spot them, look for darker patches or strips of water. Sometimes rip currents circulate in a U-like shape or look like murky or sandy water. Watch the water before going in. If you are caught in a rip current, don’t panic. Swim parallel to the shore until you’re out of the rip current and swim diagonally toward the shore.
There are nine permanent lifeguard stations. You can find them at at Ocean Beach, South Mission Beach, Mission Beach, North Pacific Beach, Pacific Beach, Children’s Pool, La Jolla Cove, La Jolla Shores, and Black’s Beach.
Best Beachside Restaurants
What better way to end a day at the beach than by watching the sunset from the deck of one of San Diego’s amazing restaurants? There are too many of them to name, but we have a few favorites.
We love eating fish tacos, Baja stone crab cocktails, and oyster shooters from the rooftop of Hello Betty Fish House in Oceanside. In Imperial Beach, try happy hour (2:30-5 p.m. every day) at Sea180 Coastal Tavern. You’ll get 180-degree ocean views with your tuna tacos, crab cakes, and $5 cocktails. If you’re looking for something a bit more chill or with more of a party vibe, check out Draft for beautiful ocean and boardwalk views, twice daily happy hours, and lots and lots of sports shows.
You can do it all here in San Diego. With so much coastline and so much sun, we hope you’ll be spending every day outside when you visit us. Give our team of reservation specialists a call to book one of our vacation rentals and to learn more about things to do at San Diego!