From Torrey Pines to San Onofre, this is a comprehensive list of every single beach in North County San Diego, with short descriptions.
Mission Bay and Coronado both have great beaches. But they are not the only beaches in San Diego County. There are tons of great beaches in North County San Diego. And they are only a short drive from inland communities such as Rancho Bernardo, Poway, 4S Ranch/Del Sur, Rancho Penasquitos, and Escondido.
Torrey Pines State Beach
- Address: 12600 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037
- Phone Number: (858) 755-2063
- Website: https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=658
Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is one of 14 state parks in California to have “reserve” status. The 1,500 acre stretch of land has been preserved much the same way as it appeared before the arrival of the Spanish explorers. To unique and fragile ecosystem includes the Torrey Pine, which is found nowhere else on Earth. As such there are strict rules, including no food or drink, no dogs, no smoking, and no drones.1
Del Mar Beach
- Address: 1700 Coast Boulevard, Del Mar, CA 92014
- Phone Number: (858) 755-1556
- Website: https://www.delmar.ca.us/203/Beaches-Parks
Located on a pristine stretch of coast between two state preserves, Del Mar is one of the most affluent neighborhoods in San Diego County. To the north is the San Dieguito Lagoon State Marine Conservation Area, and to the south is Torrey Pines State Reserve. Both are open to the public. Del Mar was a vacation retreat for Hollywood movie stars during the Golden Age of Cinema. They came for the beach and horse racing.2
Powerhouse Park & Beach
Powerhouse Park and Beach is a family friendly beach with a park and community center. The Powerhouse Community Center is available to rent for private events such as weddings. It is located in the old powerhouse that the park is named after. The property was converted to a park by the City of Del Mar in the mid-nineties.3
North Beach / Dog Beach
The area between the North Bluff Preserve and 29th Street is referred to as Dog Beach by the locals. This is because off-leash dogs are allowed to frolic and play in the ocean waves there. As of 2020, new regulations state that off-leash dogs will be permitted between 25th and 29th Street from dawn until 8 am.4
- Address: 111 South Sierra Ave, Solana Beach, CA 92075
- Phone Number: (858) 720-2400
- Website: https://visitsolanabeach.com/
Solana Beach is a city and a beach. The seashore begins at North Seascape Surf Park and ends at Tide Park Beach. There are a lot of cliffs in this area and the shore gets very narrow at high tide. The majority of the coastline is occupied by beach houses that sit atop the cliffs. There are a few public parks for beach goers. Or walk down Highway 101 and patronize local businesses located in the picturesque shopping district.
Seascape Surf Park
This surf spot is in the southernmost part of Solana Beach. There is free street parking and a public lot. But finding a place to park may be difficult on weekends and holidays. The narrow beach lays underneath high bluffs and is flooded at high tide. As you can tell from the name is is a good place for water sports.5
Fletcher Cove Park
Fletcher Cove is the main beach park in Solana Beach. It has excellent public facilities including a playground. The park is located at the former site of a WWII gunnery installation, also known as the Pillbox. The beach is located walking distance from the Solana Beach Train Station, accessible by Amtrak and Coaster.
Tide Park Beach
Tide Park Beach is named after the “table top” reef and the tide pools located near the northern border. The entrance is located at the corner of Solana Vista and Pacific, at 302 Solana Vista Drive, Solana Beach, CA 92075. There is free street parking. The city website says it is an excellent place for snorkeling and swimming.
Cardiff State Beach
- Address: 2050 South Coast Highway 101, Cardiff, CA 92007
- Phone Number: (760) 753-5091
- Website: https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=656
Cardiff State Beach is a protected beach that is part of the State Park system. It is a sandy beach with a gentle slope, between the Pacific Ocean to the west and the San Elijo Lagoon State Marine Conservation Area to the east. The San Elijo Lagoon is one of the biggest wetlands in San Diego County. It is against the law to take any marine life from the lagoon when you visit.6 Cardiff the beach community is considered a part of Encinitas.7
San Elijo State Beach
The north part of Cardiff State Beach is the San Elijo State Beach Campground. The beach is open from dawn until sunset. There are limited camping spots available that can be reserved ahead of time. There are spaces for RV/trailer/motorhomes that are 35 feet long and shorter. Dogs are permitted if they are on a leash.8
Moonlight State Beach
- Address: 400 B Street, Encinitas, CA 92024
- Phone Number: (760) 633-2740
- Website: https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=659
Located in the heart of Encinitas, Moonlight State Beach gets it’s name from the midnight picnics people had there in the early 20th century. Today the wide sandy beach has public restrooms and showers, volleyball courts, beach rentals, and a snack bar.9 It is only a short walk from the Encinitas Train Station. And it is close to the local bars and restaurants of downtown Encinitas. Unfortunately no dogs are allowed on these beaches.
Swami’s Beach is named after Swami Paramahansa Yogananda, who founded the Meditation Gardens that overlook the ocean there in 1920. It is a popular destination for surfing and has been since the 1960’s. The break is not recommended for beginners during the fall and winter when the waves are very powerful.10
Affectionately referred to by locals as Beacon’s Beach, the real name is Leucadia State Beach. This is a small, rocky beach that is accessed by a long, steep, winding trail located at 948 Neptune Avenue, Encinitas, CA 92024. It is a good beach for swimming, surfing, fishing, picnicking, geocaching, and exploring tide pools.11
Grandview Surf Beach
This is a sandy beach located at the base of more cliffs. This is another beach known to locals for it’s surf break. The City of Encinitas recommends you stay 25 to 40 feet away from the cliffs when you visit.12 Last year a large portion of the rocks gave way injuring five people, and only two of them survived.13
Carlsbad State Beach
- Address: 7201 Carlsbad Boulevard, Carlsbad, CA 92008
- Phone Number: (760) 438-3143
- Website: https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=653
Carlsbad State Beach is a narrow strip of sand that sits at the foot of coastal bluffs. The beach here is managed by the California State Park Department, including the lifeguard service, restrooms, picnic areas, and parking lots. Dogs are not allowed on this beach at anytime.14 But humans and sea life can enjoy swimming, surfing, scuba diving, fishing, and beach combing. You may want to reserve a campsite at South Carlsbad Beach.
Ponto State Beach
Ponto State Beach is also known as the South Carlsbad State Beach. South Ponto State Beach is located directly west of the Baquitos Lagoon. It is one of the widest and most undeveloped beaches in the area. This is a good beach for families to enjoy swimming, surfing, and beach volleyball, but not smoking or glass bottles.15
Terramar Beach is a small beach in front of the Carlsbad Power Plant Smoke Stack. That smokestack is the Encina Power Station, which is a natural gas and oil power plant, not a nuclear one. The rocky beach is considered a local surf spot. But there are no lifeguard stations or public restrooms.16
Tamarack Beach is the boardwalk of Carlsbad, CA, including the 4-mile long Carlsbad Seawall and walking path. It is an excellent destination for jogging, bike riding, and rollerblading, as well as swimming, surfing, scuba diving, kayaking, windsurfing, fishing, beach combing, and watching the sunset.17
- Address: 101 The Strand North, Oceanside, CA 92054
- Phone Number: (760) 435-4500
- Website: https://www.ci.oceanside.ca.us/gov/pw/beach/beaches.asp
Oceanside, CA is the northernmost neighborhood in coastal San Diego. It doesn’t get anymore North County San Diego than that. Oceanside Beach offers three miles of shoreline, plus a variety of action and beach amenities.18 Every Thursday they have the Farmers Market and Faire, and Sunset Market, near Pier View Way and Coast Highway. Dogs are only allowed to walk on a leash at the Strand on Oceanside City Beach.
St. Malo Beach
This private beach on the southernmost tip of Oceanside belongs to the gated community of St. Malo. In the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s this exclusive neighborhood was a hot spot for Hollywood elite.19 These days you can rent one of the beach houses online — unless you are interested in buying one with Orvis Realty Group.
This sandy break is approximately 150 feet wide, and separates a line of of oceanfront homes from the water.20 It is Oceanside’s smallest beach.21 Across the street is Buccaneer Beach Park, where they have a restroom, lawn, cafe, a shaded gazebo, and the Loma Alta Creek. It is considered a good place for bird watching.
Oceanside Beach is the heart of the beachfront community, and the home of the Oceanside Pier. The pier is 1,942 feet long, one of the longest piers on the west coast. And Ruby’s Diner is on the end of it. The Strand is a concrete “boardwalk” that runs along the beach good for biking, and walking dogs on a leash only.
Harbor Beach is Oceanside’s largest beach, with a marina, snack bar, restrooms, 24 fire rings, barbecues, gazebos, and volleyball courts. You have to supply your own beach volleyball nets.22 Fishing is permitted off the jetties near Tower 10, Tower 12 and Tower 14. Both free and paid parking is available.23
San Onofre State Beach
- Address: Old Pacific Highway, San Clemente, CA 92672
- Phone Number: (949) 492-4872
- Website: https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=647
After Oceanside going north is Camp Pendleton. You should not go to Camp Pendleton, as Section 1382 of Title 18 forbids trespassing on military bases.24 But after that is San Onofre State Beach, where camping reservations are available. This beach is the site of the first contact between the Spanish and the Acjachemen Indians, and an ancient Indian burial ground. 25 It is technically part of San Diego County, which ends at San Mateo Point.
San Onofre Surf Beach
There are campgrounds located at the San Onofre Bluffs along the Gladiator Beach Trail. Then going north after that is San Onofre Surf Beach, and the San Onofre Surf Break. The three breaks spots are known locally as “The Point,” “Old Man’s,” and “Dogpatch.” There is a large flat rock reef in this area.
The last beach before Orange County, Trestle’s Beach is the site of the San Onofre – San Mateo Campground. This is considered a world class surfing break, and is one of the most popular beaches in southern California. It is also a protected riparian and wetland habitat full of rare and endangered species.
North County Beach Infographic
- Torrey Pines Docent Society: https://torreypine.org/.
- Del Mar Village: https://visitdelmarvillage.com/del-mar-history/.
- “The Powerhouse, a nostalgic landmark for Del Mar” by Linda McIntosh, San Diego Union Tribune, December 12, 2010: https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sdut-powerhouse-nostalgic-landmark-del-mar-2010dec12-story.html.
- Dog Friendly Beaches, City of Del Mar, California: https://www.delmar.ca.us/206/Dog-Friendly-Beaches.
- City of Solana Beach, Our Beaches: https://www.ci.solana-beach.ca.us/?SEC=7EAF816C-8241-41B6-B6E8-B3FC045CFE0C.
- California Department of Parks & Recreation, San Ejijo Lagoon SMCA (No-Take) and Swami’s SMCA: https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=27930.
- Cardiff 101 Main Street, History: https://www.cardiff101.com/history.
- California Department of Parks & Recreation, San Elijo State Beach: https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=662.
- California Department of Parks & Recreation, Moonlight State Beach: https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=659.
- “The Mystical Allure of Swami’s” by Mike Lee, San Diego Union Tribune, June 20, 2009: https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sdut-encinitas-beach-famed-communal-charm-smokin-waves-2009jun20-htmlstory.html.
- California Department of Parks & Recreation, Leucadia State Beach: https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=661.
- Update on City of Encinitas Bluff Collapse Near Grandview Beach, City News, City of Encinitas: https://encinitasca.gov/Home/City-News/ArticleID/154.
- “3 Killed, 2 Hurt in Leucadia Cliff Collapse: Sheriff’s Dept.” by NBC 7 Staff, NBC San Diego: https://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/cliff-collapse-in-encinitas/127479/.
- City of Carlsbad, Beaches: https://www.carlsbadca.gov/residents/fun/beaches/default.asp.
- Visit Carlsbad, Beaches, South Ponto Beach: https://visitcarlsbad.com/beaches/south-ponto-beach/.
- Visit Carlsbad, Beaches, Terramar Beach: https://visitcarlsbad.com/beaches/terramar-beach/.
- Visit Carlsbad, Beaches, Tamarack-State Beach: https://visitcarlsbad.com/beaches/tamarack-state-beach/.
- Visit Oceanside, Oceanside Beaches: https://visitoceanside.org/oceanside-beaches/.
- Your North County, Oceanside Neighborhood Guide, Saint Malo: https://yournorthcounty.com/oceanside-neighborhood-guide-saint-malo/.
- Oceanside Chamber of Commerce, Buccaneer Beach: https://www.oceansidechamber.com/buccaneer-beach.html.
- Visit Oceanside, Travel Tips, Buccaneer Beach: https://visitoceanside.org/travel-tips/buccaneer-beach/.
- Visit Oceanside, Travel Tips, Harbor Beach: https://visitoceanside.org/travel-tips/harbor-beach/.
- Oceanside Chamber of Commerce, Harbor Beach: https://www.oceansidechamber.com/harbor-beach.html.
- The United States Department of Justice Archives, PROTECTION OF GOVERNMENT PROPERTY — MILITARY BASES: https://www.justice.gov/archives/jm/criminal-resource-manual-1634-protection-government-property-military-bases.
- California Department of Parks & Recreation, San Onofre State Beach: https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=647.