With 17 miles of coastline and 4,600 acres around Mission Bay Park, San Diego offers a wide variety of beaches and amenities. San Diego Lifeguards patrol the beaches from nine permanent lifeguard stations (Ocean Beach, South Mission Beach, Mission Beach, North Pacific Beach, Pacific Beach, Children’s Pool, La Jolla Cove, La Jolla Shores, Black’s Beach) and dozens of seasonal stations during the summer.
We have maps and bus routes to all beaches at Lucky D’s Reception. Public transport in San Diego is a breeze. Jump on the bus and you will be at the beach in no time.
Family friendly and also popular with 20-somethings, Mission Beach is San Diego’s lively take on the classic boardwalk beach town.
Pacific Beach’s namesake stretches for miles from the Mission Bay jetty to the cliffs of La Jolla. The boardwalk, officially called Ocean Front Walk/Ocean Boulevard, is a pedestrian walkway that runs approximately 3.2 miles along the beach from the end of Law St. in the north down into Mission Beach, ending at the mouth of Mission Bay in the south. There are numerous local shops, bars, hotels, and restaurants along the boardwalk, and it is generally crowded with pedestrians, cyclists, rollerbladers, and shoppers. Adjacent to the boardwalk is the Crystal Pier, a public pier and hotel at the west end of Garnet Avenue.
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!
San Diego is home to more than 90 golf courses in every conceivable setting – from oceanfront to desert to mountains. Golf in San Diego is a year-round pursuit with more playable days than anywhere else in the United States. Hailed by Golf Digest as “one of the top 50 golf destinations in the world”, past host to the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, and home to the annual Farmers Insurance Invitational (formerly known as the Buick Invitational), San Diego is a favorite destination for golf-lovers.
San Diego’s varied terrain offers a perfect fit for every type of cyclist. Whether you’re an avid mountain bicyclist, a road bike warrior, or a breezy beach cruiser, there are plenty of paths, trails and roads in San Diego to explore on two wheels.
East County San Diego
About an hour’s drive east of Downtown, Laguna Mountain sits at 6,000 feet above the sea on the edge of the Cleveland National Forest. Mountain bike through the Jeffrey Pineson one of several trails based on level of difficulty. Head even further east to Borrego Spring and the Anza Borrego Desert State Park. Here you’ll find the popular Indian Head – De Anza loop, a 14 mile paved ride that will lead you past the magnificent metal sculptures of Ricardo Breceda – larger than life creatures jetting out of the desert sand. Or, for the more extreme rider, try the 100 mile loop through the badlands or the Montezuma Grade where you’ll climb 4 thousand vertical feet in just ten miles.
Located just minutes from Downtown San Diego, Mission Trails Regional Park offers numerous mountain biking trails, beautiful scenery, and a family friendly visitor center.
Pacific Coast Highway
Pacific Coast Highway, or PCH, stretches up the San Diego coastline and passes through some of the area’s most beautiful beach towns like Del Mar, Leucadia and Encinitas. Cyclists can begin their journey at any location north of the Mexican border, but the most popular rides start in La Jolla or Del Mar, as cyclists travel as far north as Oceanside before turning around and heading south again. The route combines miles of flat surface along with challenging hills like the Torrey Pines grade, all with picturesque ocean views.
Mission Bay and Beaches
The 27 miles of winding, paved bike paths that circle Mission Bay are car-free and provide a great experience for family bike rides and sightseeing. Cyclists can pick a range of distances along the bay, or branch off on side trips to explore the communities of Pacific Beach, La Jolla and Ocean Beach. View details of a 12 mile Mission Bay Bike Route or the laid back Ocean Beach Bike Path.
San Diego Bay
The Bayshore Bikeway is a 25-mile ride along San Diego Bay. The majority of the ride runs along bike lanes or separated bike path. Riders can start at the Embarcadero in downtown San Diego and head south to National City and Chula Vista. Loop around San Diego Bay into Imperial Beach, and then catch the Silver Strand into Coronado. Once in Coronado, riders have the option of turning around and following the trail back, or hop on the Coronado Ferry to cross over San Diego Bay back into Downtown San Diego. Map out your adventure on the iconic Bayshore Bikeway or ride from the Gaslamp Quarter to the historic NTC at Liberty Station via the San Diego Bay Bike Route.
Silver Strand in Coronado
The Silver Strand on the peninsula of Coronado offers an easy 10-mile ride between Coronado and Imperial Beach along a portion of the Bayshore Bikeway. The path on the strand parallels the beach and San Diego Bay, which is often referred to as the most beautiful and cyclist-friendly bike route in Southern California.
Point Loma Cabrillo Monument
The hills surrounding Cabrillo National Monument on Point Loma offer intermediate and advanced riders a vigorous coastal path. After powering up the hill, you can gain insight into early San Diego history at the Cabrillo Monument as well as enjoy breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean to the west and San Diego Bay, Downtown San Diego and Coronado to the east. Try the Cabrillo Ride from Mission Bay Visitor Center for the whole experience.
Thanks to its mild, sunny climate and a wide array of landscapes and natural features, San Diego County contains diversity so spectacular that it takes even local residents by surprise. Hiking is one of the best ways to get close to nearly all of it. Blessed with over 2,100 plant species, over 500 species of birds, and hundreds of species of reptiles and mammals, San Diego County’s 4,261 square miles are the most biologically diverse in California, if not the United States. In few other places can you watch the sun rise from a palm grove in the desert, build a snowman in a pine-shaded meadow at noon, and watch the sun set into the Pacific Ocean.
On San Diego’s coastline, you’ll find miles of sparkling beaches overlooked by hikable sandstone bluffs containing the rare Torrey pine. Head inland just a few miles, and you can climb rugged peaks to attain panoramic views of landmarks over 100 miles away. A trip to the mountains will let you wander tranquil, stream-lined meadows under the shade of oaks and pines. You can discover hidden palm oases and contemplate silence and space in the vast expanses of Anza-Borrego Desert. This hiker’s paradise truly has something for everyone.
San Diego has routes appropriate to hikers of all ages, skill levels, and ambition, as well as routes that are perfect for dog lovers and families. You can also experience some of the county’s famous natural events, including the wildflower bloom in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, the arrival of migratory birds traveling the Pacific Flyway, the best times to experience fall color in the county, and peak spring times when every living thing is vibrant with fresh growth and kaleidoscopic color.
Anyone can enjoy kayaking from their very first outing, with challenges ranging from two-hour coastal tours to epic multi-day expeditions. Couples and families with small children will particularly like the tandem models that can accommodate two or more paddlers. On any given day, hundreds of visitors and locals paddle these brightly-colored vessels all around San Diego’s coves and coastlines. For those who want to learn the ropes from a pro, the Mission Bay Aquatic Center offers courses for beginning and advanced paddlers.
While you can kayak virtually any place along the San Diego coast, La Jolla Shores beach is among the most popular. Protected from the brunt of the summer swells, it’s an ideal launching point to explore kelp beds, sea caves and sea lion colonies.
Everyday California offers kayak tours of the La Jolla Ecological Reserve, giving you an opportunity to explore one of Southern California’s richest and most diverse marine ecosystems.
Original La Jolla Kayak tour – kayak around the beautiful sea cliffs and explore the seven sea caves of La Jolla, lead by an experienced EC guide. (90 minutes)
Kayak/Snorkeling tour – kayak through the reserve lead by a senior guide to find the ideal spot for snorkeling, then drop anchor and get up-close-and-personal with marine wildlife including sea lions, sea turtles and leopard sharks. (2 hours)
They offer private group tours as well, and a whale watching kayak tour during the winter months (from the beginning of December through the beginning of March). In addition, Everyday California offers a 20% discount for all Lucky D’s guests!
La Jolla Kayak
La Jolla Kayak offers a variety of oceanic and dry land activities, including a sunset kayak tour, a kayak/snorkeling combination tour, bike/kayak tour, and more! Head over to their website to figure out which expedition will best suit your needs.
Summer and fall are prime time for kayaking in San Diego. The conditions are generally calm and the air and water temperatures are warm enough to wear simply a bathing suit or light wetsuit top. Launch ramps and beaches within San Diego’s protected bays are the surest bet for easy launching and landing any time of year. Any local kayak service or the lifeguards can advise you about when and where it’s safe to go paddling at coastal beaches.
One of the first things that comes to mind with Southern California is surfing. When the surf is up, you can be sure to find a steady stream of grommets and pros alike slipping into wetsuits to shred some barrels and ride the gnarly tubes of the Pacific Ocean. When they’re not in the water or on the beach they’re in their cars, boards strapped to the roof and heading for such fabled breaks as Bird Rock, Oceanside Pier, or the legendary Windansea (featured in the Tom Wolfe bestseller, The Pump House Gang).
The California Surf Museum in Oceanside celebrates San Diego county’s deeply ingrained surfing tradition, where you can see historic boards and exhibits honouring legends who have carved the waves over the last 50 years. Throughout the county, especially in beach towns like Leucadia and Encinitas, you’ll find plenty of board shops, including Hansen Surfboards (open since 1961), where you can stop by to get tips on local lessons. Even if you never plan to get in the waves, you can still buy a pair of board shorts and power up with breakfast at such classic surf hangouts as Pipes Cafe in Cardiff-by-the-Sea and Beach Break Cafe in Oceanside.
Surfing Lessons / Rentals
Eager to give it a try yourself? Everyday California in La Jolla offers surfboards and paddle boards for rent, and all Lucky D’s guests get a 20% discount!
Our staff recommends Surfari in Mission Beach. Their lessons are traditionally 90 minutes long, and they offer private, semi-private, and group surfing lessons. Private lessons (1 instructor: 1 student) are $85, semi-private (1:2) are $65, and group lessons (1:5) are $55.
Next Level Surf School
Highly rated on Yelp and other websites, Next Level Surf School in Ocean Beach offers the longest surfing lessons time-wise and also the best bang for your buck. For a more personalized learning experience that won’t break the bank, we recommend checking them out. Lessons are two hours long, with both private and group options—private lessons (1:1) are $75, while group lessons (2-5 students) are $65 per student.
San Diego Surf School
Located in Pacific Beach, San Diego Surf School offers private surfing lessons as well as bundle packages. 1 hour private lessons (1:1) are $75, though with 4 or more people the price drops to $55 a person; private 90 minute lessons (1:1) are $95, though with 4 or more people drops to $70 a person. If you think you’ll need a little more time to learn the ways of the waves, they offer a special of four 90-minute lessons for the price of three ($285). Group surfing lessons are an hour and a half in length, at $55 a head.
Ocean Beach Surf School
Ocean Beach Surf School guarantees that you’ll be able to surf your own wave by the end of your session, or the lesson’s on them! Their lessons are 90 minutes long, with private, semi-private and group class offerings. Private lessons are $89, semi-private lessons (class of 2-3 people) are $69, and group lessons of 4-5 people are $59.
Not quite ready to tackle the waves of the Pacific? Check out WaveHouse in Mission Beach.
A 7 acre beachfront entertainment complex with an artificial wave pool, WaveHouse embodies the quintessential SoCal vibe—sunshine, surfing, and beautiful oceanside views in an entertaining and chilled out atmosphere. Located in the heart of Mission Beach, it’s renowned for its premium people watching; eyeball surfers tackling waves in the ocean with a cold beverage in hand, and with a quick turn of the head check out others squaring off with simulated barrels in the wave pool. WaveHouse epitomizes the surfer lifestyle, and is a must-see for out-of-towners, providing a low-key, relaxed environment with plentiful opportunities for fun in the sun.
Been through one of these beginner surf programs (or another) and loved it? Let us know!