What makes a good beach? The answer comes down to who you are asking. We all have our likes and dislikes, but you might find your preferences align with ours. So we based our list of the best San Diego beaches based on: crowding, family-friendliness, safety, sand, overall cleanliness and pollution.

So what makes a good beach for us? Find out below! Here’s our list of the best San Diego beaches!

Crowded beaches are not ideal for multiple reasons. They can be loud and make it difficult to lay down your towel. Always consider safety when travelling with kids. All of our picks are patrolled by San Diego lifeguards to keep you and your children safe. Always supervise your children around water to prevent drowning.

All of the beaches are clean and sandy as opposed to littered and pebbly. We also made sure each beach is close to restaurants, parking and washrooms. Check the conditions and water quality with a local lifeguard or ranger before going to the beach!

1. South Imperial Beach

Imperial Beach is often packed by the pier. However, walking or driving down to the south end of San Diego will bring you somewhere more quiet and secluded. Head down in the morning or early afternoon to get a good spot. It’s small, but it is an awesome and more affordable beach town.

Lifeguards patrol the shoreline from 7:00 AM to dusk, 365 days a year. There are eight lifeguard beach towers, two emergency vehicles and a staffed pier observation tower in the summer. This keeps the 2.5 million visitors safe.

Learn about the water quality and conditions on the Imperial Beach website before heading there.

2. Silver Strand State Beach

South Imperial Beach still gets crowded on super hot days. So Silver Strand State Beach is an awesome alternative. Connecting Coronado and Imperial Beach, this 2.5-mile bridge between eh two beaches is quiet. Bring your picnic basket, swim around, kayak, play sports, surf or take a nap. Do whatever your heart desires!

3. Black’s Beach

If you are heading to Black’s Beach, be ready for a hike! However, the view of the San Diego coast and the beach at the end is worth it. You also have the option of walking down the coast from Torrey Pines Natural Reserve. This beach is secluded and is clothing-optional. So come down and be au-naturale. We don’t judge!

4. Swami’s Beach

If you love late-night swims, Swami’s beach might be for you! It’s open from 4 a.m. to 2 a.m. While lifeguard towers are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from late June to early September. The park is a good spot to watch surfers or have a picnic in the shade. There are tide pools north of the stairway at low-tide too. Discovering another one of nature’s natural wonders is a bonus!

Which San Diego beaches do you love? Know of any hidden gems? Let us know in the comments below or @ us on Twitter or Instagram!