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Carlsbad Beaches

3946 County Highway S21
Carlsbad, CA 92008

Region: North County Coastal

Carlsbad's beaches remain one of San Diego's best kept secrets, which is just fine with the locals. The north half of the Carlsbad coast is composed of a series of small beaches divided by sea walls. The cliffs here are relatively low and in most places the Coast Highway passes right next to the shore, offering an unobstructed view of the sea and open access to the beach. Well-designed walkways, attractive sea walls and a host of facilities make the beaches in Carlsbad as pleasing to the eye as they are accommodating to visitors.

Where to go

  • For some great surf, head to Tamarack (near its namesake street), Warm Water Jetty (by the large Electric Power Plant) and Terramar (near the lagoon). These are popular with local surfers.
  • The Agua Hedionda Lagoon north of Cannon Road is home to a YMCA water sports camp, a private waterskiing concession and an experimental fish farming program.
  • South Carlsbad State Beach is where you'll find happy campers. Children can ride their bikes around the campground and boogie board on the uncrowded beach below. Plan and reserve ahead, and it can be among the most rewarding memories of a visit to San Diego.
  • Between Cannon Road and Batiquitos Lagoon, the bluffs are tall and steep, offering few safe routes to the beach.
  • South Carlsbad State Beach (better known as Ponto) has more well-defined peaks for surfing than the faster-closing beachbreaks on the main stretch.


  • A mixed bag of small beach lots and standard roadside spots.

Bathrooms & Showers

  • Restrooms and shower facilities are available along Carlsbad State Beach.
  • Restrooms and shower facilities are also available at the South Carlsbad State Beach campgrounds. Showers here are token operated, so be sure to obtain them at the ranger station, the campfire center or upon check-in.


  • Lifeguard stations are spotted along Carlsbad’s coast, and are staffed regularly during peak spring and summer seasons.

Popular Activities

  • Jogging, strolling and dog-waling on leashes along the walkways of Carlsbad State Beach.
  • Surfing, paddle boarding, boogie boarding at Tamarack Beach
  • Fishing off of Ponto Jetty in South Carlsbad State Beach

Directions to Carlsbad Beaches

  • From freeway 5 take Cannon Road, Tamarack Avenue or Carlsbad Village Drive west to Pacific Coast Highway. Be careful and deliberate when pulling in or out since the traffic moves at a steady clip as you get down near the Power Plant.

What to Love

  • The quaint town of Carlsbad is an easy walk from the beach offering plenty of dining and shopping options.
  • Carlsbad lagoon is an easy place to learn how to kayak within a protected area.
  • The sea wall and paved path running along the beach are excellent for a day of bicycling.
  • The trails at Batiquitos Lagoon provide a great walk by one of the few remaining tidal wetlands on the Southern California coast.

What to Know

  • Beaches here are exposed, so there's not much in the way of grass or shade.
  • Wind picks up in the afternoons blowing presominantly onshore.
  • Reservations for the campground must be made well in advance.
  • At high tide the water can flood the beach all the way to the cliffs - be sure you don't get cut off from a route back.
  • Use only established stairways and marked trails to access the beach.

Browse the articles and listings below to discover more about one of San Diego's best kept secrets!

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