4 Dog-Friendly Beaches in San Diego
San Diego has plenty of dog beaches where pooches and their pet parents can spend an hour or a day having fun in the sun. At least four of them are off-leash, which means you can frolic in the waves with your pooch. That’s a win-win in my book. (That happens to be my dog, Scout, frolicking in the waves in this photo.)
Before you head out, read 5 Things You Need for a Trip to the Beach with Your Dog to ensure that you and your dog have a safe and enjoyable time.
It’s every pet parent’s nightmare, but if your dog is somehow swept into the ocean, it’s very important not to go in after him. Dogs almost always manage to make it safely back to shore, but humans aren’t as fortunate. Click here for safety tips from the U.S. Coast Guard and other groups.
Dog Beach – West Point Loma Blvd., Ocean Beach (map)
Dog Beach, located in the seaside community of Ocean Beach, is the most popular dog beach on our list and for good reason. According to originaldogbeachsandiego.com, “On any given day, dogs run freely in the ocean, surfers surf the break and people and dogs co-exist peacefully. As such, the Dog Beach Committee honors its legacy as a melting pot for people and dogs, all sizes, shapes, colors, creeds and breeds.”
Dog Beach was officially adopted in 1972 by the Ocean Beach Town Council to protect it as a community asset. It is maintained by a group of volunteer beach and dog lovers called the Dog Beach Committee that works closely with the San Diego City Parks and Recreation department, city council offices, Ocean Beach community groups, and business partners. Dog Beach is open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Fun Fact: Ocean Beach was featured in Endless Summer II, a famous surf movie.
North Beach Dog Run – 100 Ocean Blvd., Coronado (map)
This 24-hour off-leash dog run is located at the northern end of the beach next to the U.S. Naval Station entrance. You must keep your dog on a leash until you reach the beach, but once you reach the shore, feel free to let your pooch go for a nice long run and some splashing in the waves.
Chester, a patron of the beach, commented on dogster.com, “I absolutely loved this beach when I was in the San Diego area. It’s not huge but very beautiful and clean. A poop bag dispenser can be found right next to the side of the road where you can easily park your car. Even though this place gets somewhat crowded on weekends, we’ve never had a problem as all the dogs were quite well-behaved. So my conclusion is: A great and beautiful beach where every pup can run around in their birthday suit.”
Del Mar Dog Beach – Camino del Mar, Del Mar (map)
Open from Labor Day to June 14, this dog park is located at Via De La Valle and Highway 101 near the mouth of the San Diego river, and is off-leash.
Tira W. wrote on yelp.com, “This is my pup’s favorite place in San Diego, and a great place to go for a walk at twilight. Most of the dog owners are very responsible, making for a great atmosphere to bring your dogs and kids. The big dogs play in the surf, while littler dogs like mine hang out in the tide pools exploring seaweed and fish. Be sure to check the tide charts as high tide does tend to limit your experience and walk. I’ve never had any trouble finding parking along the road, but it’s all paid parking so bring some money and watch your time. I’ve seen parking police handing out tickets in the evening.”
Del Mar Dog Beach is a favorite among residents and travelers alike. It boasts nearly five stars on Yelp!
Fiesta Island – Fire Island Rd, Mission Bay (map)
This mostly off-leash dog park is located in Mission Bay Park and is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Dogs are allowed in all areas except for the youth campground and Least Tern nesting sites.
“Most of this large sandy island in Mission Bay is designated leash-free for dogs. There are lots of sandy dunes to romp in, and the calm bay waters lets the more adventurous dogs take a quick dip,” states dogster.com. “There is a designated off leash location on the backside of the Island as Sea World will be on your left, fenced in front with signs. It is mostly private with endless shores for dogs to run. Bring water for your dogs. There are Porta-Potties located around the Island, which is 5.2 miles around.”
Kiba comments on dogster.com, “Fiesta Island is one of the biggest leash-free fenced places for dogs. There is tons to explore – large flat grassy area on top, surrounded by road and then the beach below. Sometimes there are even horses to sniff. There are trash cans and even poop bags available – the only thing is there are no human restrooms (port-o-pot outside the dog area), no benches or fountains. For dogs that love to run, explore or get dirty – it’s great!”
PHOTO: Sonya Simpkins