San Diego has many beautiful beaches, each with its own character and crowd of locals. Here we outline some of the more popular beaches, although many grads may be able to tell you about lesser known beaches discovered during explorations of San Diego.

La Jolla Shores
img_69This is the closest beach to campus, and the one you will most probably frequent the most if you utilize campus housing and don’t want to go far. It is described as a “long, gently-sloping beach with beautiful views of La Jolla Cove.” Many UCSD students come here on the weekends, and is also popular for families and beginning surfers since the waves are a bit more mellow.

This is one of San Diego’s most popular beaches, so get here early on summer weekends. The lures are an incredible view of La Jolla peninsula, a wide sandy beach, a grassy park that’s adjacent to San Diego La Jolla Underwater Park Ecological Reserve, and the gentlest waves in San Diego. Several surf and scuba schools teach here, and kayak rentals are nearby. A concrete boardwalk parallels the beach, and a boat launch for small vessels lies 300 yards south of the lifeguard station at Avenida de Playa. Arrive early to get a parking spot in the lot at the foot of Calle Frescota. Amenities: lifeguards, parking (no fee), showers, toilets. Best for: surfing, swimming, walking.

Should you find yourself hungry or thirsty during a day of beaching it, the nearby Avenida de la Playa provides relief in the form of various stores and restaurants.

Pacific Beach
This beach community is notorious for being a party town, full of college students and beach bums. This is for the most part true, although there are also many nice aspects of Pacific Beach, and many grads over the years have chosen it as their place of residence.

As far as beach activities go, there are beach volleyball nets normally set up towards the south end of Pacific Beach, and many people bring horseshoes and other beach games to the more popular street endings, such as Pacific Beach Drive, Reed Ave, Diamond Street, and Law Street.

Pacific Beach has a “rich” nightlife in that it probably has the most bars per block out of neighborhoods in the area. Several of these are enormous combination bar / dance clubs which are experiences in themselves (Pacific Beach Bar & Grill, Moondoggie’s, Typhoon Saloon), while others are tiny yet enjoyable holes in the wall (Plum Crazy, Thruster’s, Bub’s, Silver Fox).

Mission Beach

Most of the action in Mission Beach centers around Belmont Park at the intersection of Mission Blvd. and West Mission Bay Drive where you can ride the historic Giant Dipper roller coaster, or rent a set of rollerblades to ride up and down the boardwalk. This is where all walks of life all go out for a walk, a ride, a roll, a stroll, a surf, a beer or a bite to eat – or simply to watch other people out doing their thing.

South Mission Beach offers a slower pace from the lively activity in the Belmont Park area. There are some great spots for fishing at the end of the road at South Mission Beach Park, where you can cast off the jetty and watch the boats pass in and out through the Harbor Channel. You’d never know it to look, but a half-mile off the coast are a series of shipwrecks, placed here to create an artificial reef and a diver’s haven for underwater exploration. Slightly east of the beach one can find a myriad of recreation areas, with plenty of grass for sports, covered areas for shade, and barbecue setups.

Del Mar
Slightly north of La Jolla lies the community of Del Mar (just drive north along the coast and you’ll run into it).

There are three main beaches in Del Mar, Ca., all large and with lots of sand. Here, you will find some of the finest beaches in San Diego county, great for families, dogs, surfers, swimmers and sun bathers. With the quaint and luxurious seaside village of Del Mar within walking distance, and the legendary Del Mar Race Track nearby, Del Mar beaches liven up with visitors and locals throughout the summer months.

Across from the race track, where the San Dieguito River meets the sea and (as they say in Del Mar) the turf meets the surf. Also known as Dog Beach, The River Mouth is a broad wedge of beach with lots of room for volleyball games and a gathering place for dogs.

The downtown area consists of mostly upscale shopping and restaurants with a bar or two scattered around. The beach scene is really quite nice, with the best spot to go being roughly 15th street.

There are many restaurants in the area and a park/recreation area overlooking the beach.

La Jolla Cove
La Jolla’s grandeur is nowhere more evident than along its coastline, where you’ll find some of the most breathtaking beaches in California. Dramatic cliffs, sandy expanses and secluded coves, La Jolla offers a range of beaches to please everyone—whether your interest is sunbathing, swimming, surfing… or seals!

La Jolla Cove is San Diego’s most desirable spot for swimming, snorkeling and diving. The water is calm and ecologically protected, providing a safe home for colorful garibaldi, yellowtail, rays and even leopard sharks. Because the water is protected, surfboards, boogie boards and other floatation devices are not permitted. The beach itself is small, but nearby Scripps Park offers a nice grassy expanse for spreading out. Parking is available in nearby paid lots, with a few street spots available for the lucky.

Black’s Beach
Beautiful and isolated, Black’s is located north of Scripps Pier, beneath the Torrey Pines Gliderport and close to UCSD. Access it by walking from Shores or descending the rough cliff path from above. The north portion of Black’s is clothing-optional, where nudists bask in the sun and play volleyball without bathing suits.

In general, dogs are not allowed on beaches during the day. Alcohol, smoking and beach fires are not permitted. No overnight camping. Please check each beach’s posted rules.