San Diego is particularly famous for three things: sand, sun, and especially the surf. With 70 mi of scenic coastline, beach bums and water babies can have their pick of beach experiences. Whether you want to paddle out into the surf, build sandcastles, or catch some rays, this city is perfect. So, whether you want to spend your time in the water or on dry land, San Diego offers all. As far as oceanfront lodging goes, there is every kind of beachfront hotel in San Diego on the beach for all kinds of travelers. Hence, you’ll find everything ranging from exquisite luxury to boutique boltholes on the water. In fact, some hotels and resorts even offer beachside service, setting up umbrellas, chairs, and beach towels for you. All you really need is a sturdy pair of flip-flops, good sunscreen, and fabulous swimwear to enjoy San Diego’s legendary beach culture.
Since one of the top things to do in San Diego is spending time by the beach, a beachside vacay in the city requires equally fabulous beachside accommodations. These 11 best oceanfront and beachfront hotels in San Diego by the beach allow you pristine views, ocean sounds, and easy access to a beautiful beach any time you want.
Table of contents
- Scripps Inn
- Tower23 Hotel
- L’Auberge Del Mar Resort and Spa
- Pier South Resort
- Hotel del Coronado
- Surfer Beach Hotel
- Pacific Terrace Hotel
- The Inn at Sunset Cliffs
- Hotel Ocean Park Inn
- Paradise Point Resort & Spa
- Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa
- Recommended Beach Bars/Restaurants in San Diego
- Recommended Things To Do in San Diego
- Best Beach Areas in San Diego
Scripps Inn is the best beachfront hotel in San Diego that’s a bed and breakfast. This intimate and charming property sits on a picturesque strip of sand at Whale Watch Point in La Jolla. So, if you were to step out on the lush landscaped gardens on the property, you’re likelier to see both sea lions and whales!
Choose from just 14 gorgeous rooms, all of which are decked out with ocean-inspired decor. Cream and soothing Pacific-blue hues dominate every room, as do mod-cons such as coffeemakers and TVs, and even a private lanai or a balcony. What’s more, some even offer stunning views of the water, such as the deluxe king room and the ocean vista suite. These two rooms even have a fireplace and a kitchenette, allowing you to cook meals and stay warm when the weather turns cold. Begin your day with a complimentary continental breakfast, after which you can borrow the free beach toys and the boogie board rentals. There’s no pool, but the beach is right out front.
The oceanfront Tower23 Hotel is not just one of the best ocean beach hotels in San Diego, but it’s also one of San Diego’s best in-room jacuzzi hotels. This hotel is also a prime spot for partying, people-watching, and beach nightlife. In fact, this uber-chic hotel has a bit of a party vibe, too, and boasts amazing amenities, such as Sunday champagne beach brunches and yoga classes on the beach. A wooden walkway leads down from the pool complex to the sandy beach, where you can lounge the entire day. Back at the hotel, swim in the pool and relax on the loungers, or head to the rejuvenating spa for a wonderful massage or a body treatment.
When the hunger pangs come calling, the unique onsite restaurant is perfect for all kinds of meals. Its piece de resistance is a 70-feet-high wave wall, where the setting sun is reflected every evening. When it comes to the rooms and suites, most have private patios and complete views of the ocean and the tower deck. You’ll also find cutting-edge mod-cons and chromotherapy baths in almost all the rooms.
L’Auberge Del Mar Resort and Spa
The L’Auberge Del Mar Resort and Spa is the best beachfront hotel in San Diego. If you’re craving a five-star luxury experience right on the beach, this resort has you covered. This ocean-inspired wellness luxury hotel has not only a palatial pool but also private walking paths that lead directly to the beach. Spending a day by the beach or the pool with sweeping views of the Pacific is one of the best ways to spend a day at the resort. What’s more, you’ll also find tennis courts, but the real gem is the onsite spa, where you can book yourselves a seaweed facial. Wind up the day with a handcrafted cocktail at the restaurant, followed by an intimate dinner.
Of course, if you look at the digs, you might never want to leave the resort. For instance, all 121 rooms and suites have chic design flourishes and sleek mod-cons such as plush beds, private patios, and marble bathrooms with huge bathtubs. For the best views, choose the coastal rooms or the Pacific suite, both of which have full frontal views of the ocean.
Pier South Resort
The oceanfront Pier South Resort is one of the best ocean beach hotels in San Diego for lovebirds. This Imperial Beach coastal enclave is just a short walk away from the pristine beach, across a wooden walkway from its landscaped gardens. So, you could spend an entire day at the beach soaking up the Californian sun. If you’ve had your fill of the ocean, there’s a beachfront pool at the hotel, complete with chaise lounges and a huge hot tub. This opulent, eco-friendly resort also has a well-furnished gym and a full-scale spa. It’s the best place to indulge in an ocean-inspired massage or treatment. When you get hungry, the onsite seafood restaurant also has excellent happy hour and great views.
You’ll love the accommodations at the Pier South Resort, which are as lovely as they’re laid-back. If you’re in the mood to splurge – and we recommend that you do – book an oceanfront king suite to enjoy the gorgeous views of the Pacific views right outside your window. There are even private balconies, and if you were to jump off them, you’d land right on the sand! With in-room amenities such as bathrobes, free Wi-Fi, flatscreen TVs, and coffeemakers, it’s hard not to love staying here.
Hotel del Coronado
Families will love the Hotel del Coronado, the best family-friendly beachfront hotel in San Diego. This hotel brims with charm and history and has many family-friendly amenities and activities. The “Del,” as hotels call it, can be instantly recognized by its glamorous Victorian-style facade and the iconic red-tiled roofs. So, why do families love coming here? Firstly, the sandy strip behind the hotel is one of the best family-friendly beaches in the country. The paved walkway leads through the lush gardens right down to the beach, making access very easy.
Back at the hotel, the heated main pool with private cabanas, chaise lounges, and the pool bar are perfect for adults. Meanwhile, the many pool toys keep kids busy as they splash around. If parents want to visit the spa, the DelVenture activity center has supervised weekend and evening adventures for kids aged 4-12 years old. Besides a gym, the hotel has many waterfront restaurants for the entire family to dine on delicious food.
Choose from 679 recently remodeled rooms, suites, cottages, villas, and bungalows, all of which have swanky mod-cons. The best ones are the beachfront rooms, suites, and cottages, all of which have patios overlooking the ocean. In fact, the cottages open up right onto the sand.
Surfer Beach Hotel
The oceanfront Surfer Beach Hotel is one of the best budget ocean beach hotels in San Diego. If staying on the beach is a priority, but you’re on a budget, then this hotel costs half of what other hotels in the area do. Since it’s right on the boardwalk, stepping off the hotel’s property means stepping directly into the sands. What’s more, the comfy and casual hotel has tons of amenities, such as the heated outdoor pool, the fire pit, and the outdoor terrace. You’ll also find onsite parking, laundry services, and even a bar. And even though there’s no restaurant on the property, many amazing restaurants are within walking distance. Coming to the rooms and suites, they’re simple yet cushy and immaculate. If you want to splurge, there are many oceanfront suites with private balconies.
Pacific Terrace Hotel
The Pacific Terrace Hotel is the best beachfront hotel in San Diego. Tucked at the northern end of the city’s shimmering Pacific coast, this serene blufftop hotel is still within walking distance of San Diego’s best attractions. Mellow vibes and expansive views rule the roost at this laid-back, beach-centric lodging. Rooms and suites are spacious and gorgeously decked out with beachy wall hangings, plush fabrics, and gleaming wood furniture. Moreover, they all have luxe bathrooms, sleek mod-cons, and even private patios or balconies fronting the ocean.
The rest of the hotel is equally impressive, especially the sandy beach, which is right out front across the boardwalk. You can rent boogie boards and beach chairs to spend a wonderful day at the beach. Back at the hotel, swim in the glass-walled pool or bike along the Pacific Beach boardwalk. In fact, the pool is one of the best hotel pools in San Diego. Moreover, there are even discount coupons for drinks and spa treatments, which you can use to indulge in a blissful seaside massage.
The Inn at Sunset Cliffs
The oceanfront Inn at Sunset Cliffs is one of the best ocean beach hotels in San Diego. The charming and recently renovated two-story inn was originally built in the 1950s. Rooms and suites draw inspiration from the Greek island of Santorini, complete with sky blue and sandy hues, leather-and-wood furniture, and hardwood floors. Moreover, the suites are a major upgrade, as some have ocean views from either the living room or the bedroom.
In terms of amenities, the hotel has a lovely pool area with paper lanterns, string lights, fragrant roses, landscaped gardens, and even chaise lounges. The showstopper is the terrace, where you can simply lounge with a cocktail in hand, looking out to the ocean. Step off the property directly onto the beach, where spending time is one of the best things to do here. And even though there’s no food served at the hotel, many restaurants and bars are within a stone’s throw.
Hotel Ocean Park Inn
The Hotel Ocean Park Inn is the most laidback beachfront/oceanfront hotel in San Diego. It sits right on the boardwalk, with the beach right across. So, you can simply walk down to the boardwalk and the beach and enjoy activities such as biking, cycling, swimming, or even lounging on the beach whenever you want. All rooms and suites at this oceanfront hotel have mod-cons such as coffeemakers, fridges, flatscreen TVs, and free WiFi. What’s more, the best of them have oceanfront views, with balconies facing the boardwalk and the ocean. Despite being a budget hotel, the inn has a year-round hot tub and an outdoor pool where you can relax.
Paradise Point Resort & Spa
If you don’t mind a bay beach, then the oceanfront Paradise Point Resort & Spa is perfect. It’s one of the best bayfront ocean beach hotels in San Diego. The 462-room bungalow-style secluded tropical resort’s origins go back to 1962, with the beach encircling it. In fact, when you step out of the resort grounds, you step right onto the beach. Back at the hotel, you have five swimming pools to choose from to swim in and lounge at. Besides that, you’ll also find sports courts, a fitness center, tranquil lagoons, and lush tropical gardens. So, whether you want to get some exercise done or want to lounge around, the resort has you covered. Choose from a host of rooms and suites, which either have garden views or partial or complete bayside views. Nevertheless, they all have mod-cons, marble bathrooms, hardwood floors, and spacious patios with gorgeous views.
Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa
The Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa is the absolute best beachfront hotel in San Diego. This tropical-themed, Polynesian-inspired resort has a relaxed and informal vibe, complete with a huge lobby faux waterfall feature, exotic birds, koi ponds, tiki torches, and lush vegetation. The large landscaped pool with the hot tub is a great place to enjoy a swim and hang out, as is the beach right out front of the property. After a lazy swim and lounge, head to the spa, which has treatments inspired by Asian and South Pacific healing traditions. When you’re hungry, the onsite restaurant with an outdoor terrace and fantastic water views serves delicious seafood. There’s also a cafe and a bar for coffee and handcrafted cocktails.
Choose from a wide range of rooms, suites, and studios, all spotlessly clean and spacious. The digs in the tower are swanky and have water views. But, it’s the bayfront rooms that take the cake, as they have direct access to the beach. The color palette of creams and calming blues, deep-soaking tubs, modern and sleek bathrooms, and polished wooden furniture make them all the better.
Recommended Beach Bars/Restaurants in San Diego
- Bali Hai Restaurant: This iconic Shelter Island restaurant is known equally for its bay views as well as its strong and amazing mai tai cocktails. The Polynesian vibe extends to the menu as well, which includes wok-fried bass, crispy ahi tuna, and coconut shrimp.
- George’s at the Cove: Imagine feasting your eyes on three levels of amazing views of the Pacific Ocean; that’s what you’ll get at George’s at the Cove. This popular La Jolla mainstay specializes in New American cuisine and offers delicious craft cocktails.
Recommended Things To Do in San Diego
- Pacific Coast Grill: Diners get a fabulous vantage point of sea life and surfers at Cardiff State Beach from this restaurant, which also has an upstairs dining patio with even more spectacular views. Must-try dishes are scrumptious filet mignon sliders stuffed with crispy onion strings, shrimp chowder, and smoky lobster.
- Valle Restaurant: This oceanside restaurant offers favorites such as betabel nixtamal (coal-roasted beet), tartara (wagyu with fresh uni), and a decadent chocolate de metate (ganache) topped with a gold leaf.
Best Beach Areas in San Diego
San Diego’s coastal communities and beaches define the city and are a reflection of the city’s laidback and loving attitude and lifestyle. We begin with the low-key Imperial Beach, the country’s most southwesterly town and almost extends to the US-Mexico international border. Secondly, there’s Coronado Beach, which was voted the “Top Beach in the United States” by Dr. “Beach” Stephen Leatherman’s annual 2012 survey. It has a wholesome smalltown vibe and is a veritable Mayberry with pricey oceanfront mansions, manicured lawns, and quiet streets. Nothing exemplifies the neighborhood and community ethos of San Diego’s beach communities better than the funky beach town of Ocean Beach.
Next, there’s Mission Beach, which is all about the boardwalk and the beach and radiates the quintessential SoCal beach lifestyle. Think noise, crowds, beach bums, beach babes, sand, sun, and the surf. If you take Mission Beach and throw in the main drag with 10x more bars, restaurants and shops, and a pier, you have the sandy Pacific Beach. The self-contained residential community is an extension of Mission Beach, culminating at the iconic Crystal Pier. La Jolla is a place where just about everyone wants to live. Not only does it have an old, ritzy village, but it also has a fabulous cove and a pristine downtown. Del Mar is just like La Jolla, while Solana Beach and Cardiff-by-the-Sea are smaller but equally amazing communities.