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Black’s Beach

Some of the best waves in San Diego, but not for the faint of heart

Photo By Aaron Chang

Black's Beach Basics

With arguably some of San Diego’s best waves, Black’s Beach can be found in the vicinity of the University of California San Diego campus, at the southern end of Torrey Pines State Beach and north of La Jolla Shores. Stately eight-figure mansions and state-of-the-art medical research labs now line the bluffs where pastures and the Black family horse farm once lay. Hence the name, Black's Beach.

Black’s is famous among surfers for big winter swells, however it is better known to the rest of the world as San Diego's nude beach. Although nudism is unlawful in San Diego, it has persisted at Black’s for decades with the only real deterrent being the hike to get there. The nudists (or 'nakes' as surfers call them) tend to hang out north of the Glider Port Trail, while surfers head south to the main peaks. For the most part, surfers and nakes are the only people motivated enough to make the hike to Black’s, so if these aren't your motives, you might want to think about heading to La Jolla Shores instead.

Where to Go

Black’s Beach can be difficult to access due to its location beneath the Torrey Pines bluffs. There are four access routes to Black’s Beach:

  • Torrey Pines Glider Port Trail:
    The most popular route to Black’s Beach begins at the Torrey Pines Glider Port. The city of San Diego posted a “Do Not Use” sign there, as the Torrey Pines cliffs are unstable, so proceed at your own risk. Visitors are advised to stay on the designated trail since many people have gotten stuck or even fallen to their deaths on the cliffs.
  • Torrey Pines State Park:
    Well-maintained and clearly marked trails run from the top of the mesa to the beach.
  • Torrey Pines State Beach:
    If the tide is low, a 2-mile walk south from the parking lot at the base of Torrey Pines State Reserve will get you to Black’s Beach. The route is blocked at high tides.
  • La Jolla Shores:
    If the tide is low, a 3-mile walk north from La Jolla Shores beach, past Scripps Pier, will get you to Black’s Beach. The route is blocked at high tides.

Parking

  • Torrey Pines State Beach offers day use parking from 8 am until sunset daily. Fees are paid at the South Beach kiosk where there is a small parking lot, as well as the parking lots at the top of the mesa within the park. Free parking is available along the southbound shoulder of Hwy 101. If accessing the beach via the Glider Port Trail, there is a large dirt parking lot with free parking.

Bathrooms and Showers

  • To the north, bathroom and shower facilities are found at the north end of Torrey Pines State Beach, near the Penasquitos Lagoon and at the parking lot at the top of the mesa at the State Park. There are additional facilities at the park entrance and headquarters. To the south, restrooms and shower facilities are available at La Jolla Shores Beach.

Lifeguards

  • There is no permanent lifeguard supervision anywhere below the bluffs at Torrey Pines. Lifeguards and park rangers sporadically patrol the beaches, but it is a swim-at-your-own-risk zone and a zone that can be risky indeed, especially with its notoriously powerful surf and strong currents.

Popular Activities

  • Surfing, sunbathing and swimming. You might also encounter a beach volleyball game being played in the buff.

Directions to Black’s Beach

  • From the 5 FWY exit Carmel Valley Road west to Torrey Pines Road south (aka Pacific Coast Highway).

Black’s Beach

What to Love

  • Big winter swells!

What to Know

  • The sea cliffs from Torrey Pines State Park southward to Black's rise precipitously from the beach to heights of 300 feet and have been the site of countless accidents and rescues.
  • The Beach Trail in the State Park, and the Glider Port Trail are the ONLY maintained routes (even these are difficult and dangerous); DO NOT attempt to follow any unmarked trails or pioneer new ones.
  • Beachgoers are warned to avoid setting up beach sites too close to the cliffs as landslides can occur, with tragic results.

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