An Overview of Central San Diego Beaches
Beaches are a lot like people. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some have zero personality, while others completely captivate your attention. San Diego beaches are as eclectic as its people.
Do you prefer the sound of Navy jets or barking sea lions? A bonfire or beach volleyball? A shot of wheat grass or tequila with a lime chaser? Birkenstocks or Jimmy Choos? Whatever your preference, central San Diego has a beach for you.
La Jolla Beaches
Graced with a cove that rivals the Mediterranean, La Jolla will ignite all of your senses. (Yes, even smell.) Rent a kayak at La Jolla Sea Cave Kayaks and paddle up close to sea lions or descend the stairs to explore the tide pools and possibly spot an octopus. Plop down on a faded couch at the The Living Room Café and savor a latté. Descend 145 steps to the inside of Sunny Jim’s Cave. Bask in the sun while meditating to the sounds of sea birds and crashing waves on the lawn of Scripps Park or tucked away on a tiny beach carved into the rocky coastline. Eat or happy for an hour at a plethora of eateries and bars. (I suggest sipping on cocktails at George’s at the Cove while gazing at one spectacular view.) If you dare to shop, prepare to hand over your wallet to one of many pricey boutiques or galleries. Surfing, snorkeling, shopping, scuba diving, sipping and savoring, or just sunbathing…La Jolla is simply stunning.
Pacific Beach & Mission Beach
The Pacific Beach Boardwalk is the iconic Southern California beach and prime people watching territory. You’ll cover more ground if you cruise on rented inline skates from PB Surf Shop. Catch a real wave or one created solely for your pleasure at The Wavehouse in Mission Beach. Don’t miss the best ride of all—on the historic Giant Dipper roller coaster in Belmont Park, which has been generating screams since 1925. Cross the street to Mission Bay for some calmer waters that are ideal for SUP boarding, boating, and jet skiing. Back on the Pacific side, beach volleyball and bonfire pits provide for plenty of opportunity for frugal pleasures. The eclectic shops lining Mission Boulevard and Garnet Avenue cater to the tighter budgets of the local (mostly college aged) populace. If you’re here on a Tuesday, make it a taco one. If you can’t find a bar or pub in which to hang and taste test San Diego’s best craft brews, I’m worried about you.
If you prefer the company of hippies, Ocean Beach (or “OB” as donned by locals) is where you’ll want to chill. Smoke shops, tie dye digs, antique stores, new age boutiques, and tattoo shops line the streets of this funky beach community once known as the Haight-Ashbury of San Diego. OB has been one of the city’s better surf spots since the 1960‘s, and is home to a few iconic surfers. Take a walk on the longest concrete pier on the West coast and spend some time exploring the nearby tide pools. If you’re hungry, grab a slice of Italian pie from Surf Rider Pizza Café, a hot Italian meatball sandwich from Poma’s Italian Deli, or a burger from Hodad’s. A Cuban dessert and a café con leche from Azucar is a must. If you own a dog, cut ‘em loose at the leash-free beach at the northern end of town. At the end of the day, take a walk to Sunset Cliffs and sit down and watch the sun show.
If you have your 2.5 kids in the back of your mini van or a hankering for the military, drive over the bridge to the “island.” Coronado’s expansive beach—ranked as the #1 beach in the nation by Dr. Beach—has just the right sized waves for the little ones. Navy jets will ensure you don’t fall asleep on the job. You won’t find a rambunctious boardwalk or tattoo shop here—just patriotic barber shops, the historical Hotel del Coronado, and an interesting mix of mostly non-corporate boutiques and eateries. The flat terrain is conducive to an effortless ride on a rented beach cruiser from Little Sam’s Island & Beach. If you’re a fitness fanatic, the four-mile bike path down the Silver Strand will gift you the challenge you crave. Go back to school at the Coronado Surfing Academy on the Pacific side or SUP Coronado on the bay. While visiting Ferry Landing, gorge on corn fritters smeared with honey butter and tender barbecued ribs at Lil Piggy’s BBQ or, if a burger is more to your liking, head back into town and sink your teeth into one of the county’s best at the kid-friendly Danny’s Palm Bar & Grill. For dessert, treat yourself to a gourmet cupcake from Coronado Cupcakery or a gelato comparable to Italy’s own at Nado Gelato. As sunset approaches, hoof or pedal it over to the Sun Deck at the Hotel Del Coronado, find a front row seat, and sip on a cocktail as the sun melts into the Pacifi
So, which one of these central San Diego beaches speaks to YOU?