Five Relaxing San Diego Beaches to Visit while the Weather is Still Nice

Coronado Beach with the Hotel del Coronado in the background. Photo courtesy of Wesley Aring.

The sky seems to grow gloomier each day as winter steadily approaches. It is now the middle of fall, but the sun has not yet ceased to bless us with its generous warmth. The coast of San Diego offers residents and visitors alike numerous beaches where they can admire the atmosphere, enjoy the water and lie idly on the warm sand before winter arrives. The following is a showcase of what I would deem some of San Diego’s most iconic beaches.

1. Sunset Cliffs

Easy accessibility is oftentimes ideal. Such seems to be the case with Sunset Cliffs, which sits at the bottom of Point Loma Nazarene University’s campus. Depending on your residence hall, the beach can be a pleasant walk away from your doorstep. Although you could easily drive down the hill to the parking lot outside of Young Hall, you could also get some light exercise and simultaneously appreciate the breathtaking scenery. Regardless of your decision, the beach below Young Hall is quite accessible. Aside from the surfers in the water, it is relatively unpopulated, and finding a nice spot to rest is rarely a problem if the tide is low. Perhaps the most notable feature of the beach is its secludedness. Located on the peninsula of Point Loma and surrounded by magnificent cliffs that rise from the sand, this beach ought to catch the attention of those seeking an isolated place to relax in the sun.

2. Coronado Beach

Directly south of Point Loma is Coronado Island, one of the county’s most fascinating treasures. Once you cross the grand Coronado Bridge, you discover a beautiful, green island whose coastline consists of several clean parks and beaches. One beach in particular, Coronado Beach, stands out among the rest. Not only is it notably extensive and spacious, but it also lies in front of the famous and historical Hotel del Coronado, which has stood proudly since 1888. It truly is a remarkable sight to behold — reminiscent of royalty, hence the name (Coronado is Spanish for ‘crowned’). Due to the island’s attractive atmosphere, Coronado Beach is considerably busy and catches the attention of tourists, though this is certainly no reason to avoid it — if anything, it is evidence of its captivating beauty. Should you find yourself at this beach, consider walking along the shore in search of the plentiful sand dollars brought in by the tide.

3. Mission Beach

North of Point Loma is Mission Bay, a unique area that contains several islands and an abundance of parks and beaches. For those who enjoy lovely walks or bicycle rides along the coast, relaxing picnics on soft, green grass or spending the day by the water, Mission Bay is a wonderful place to visit. At the front of the bay is Mission Beach, whose width stretches from Pacific Beach to the mouth of the channel that separates it from Ocean Beach. Surrounded by neighborhoods, resorts and restaurants, the beach is not only great for lying on the sand and  swimming in the ocean, but it is also a neat place to explore on foot. Another benefit of this beach, of course, is that it is roughly 15 minutes away from PLNU. Mission beach provides various activities for those who are looking for something to do on any given day.

4. Cardiff State Beach

If you are driving further north, Cardiff State Beach is an excellent place to spend a sunny afternoon. This beach is arguably one of the most scenic locations in San Diego. From the shore, you can observe much of San Diego’s coastline as well as Orange County’s in the North. Depending on the time that you get there, you can explore the tide pools that appear when the tide recedes. One particular spot includes a series of rock formations that lead into the ocean; when the water reaches a certain level, they resemble little islands, and the best part is that you can walk across them. These tide pools are teeming with life, including crabs, fish, snails and sea anemones. Similar to Sunset Cliffs in Point Loma, tall sandstone cliffs sit behind the beach, complementing the enchanting coastal atmosphere. If you arrive there earlier in the day, you ought to consider grabbing some of San Diego’s finest donuts from VG’s, a renowned donut shop and bakery located only a few minutes away from the beach.

5. Oceanside Harbor

Even further north, Oceanside Harbor rests at the top of San Diego County. Like Mission Bay, Oceanside Harbor is a rich cultural center full of entertaining activities for all. Some of its most noteworthy features are an enormous beach, a large marina, spacious parking lots and numerous restaurants. On the beach are several picnic tables, fire pits and volleyball courts, making it an ideal place for friends to gather. It is also a fantastic place for a leisurely stroll, as the rocky jetties that extend into the ocean provide plenty of ground to cover. The marina, though primarily a place for boats to dock, is also popular for paddleboarding and fishing. If you travel directly south of Oceanside Harbor, you can visit the Oceanside Pier, a historical part of the city. After spending many hours in the sun, you might even wish to conclude your day with a delicious meal from one of Oceanside Harbor’s various restaurants (and perhaps some refreshing ice cream as well).

Written By: Luke Spencer