The Top 9 San Francisco Beaches to Visit
Updated: May 28
A Few FAQs before we begin the list
A. Are there warm beaches in San Francisco?
It's not Florida! There are a few beaches in San Francisco that have warmer water. However, they can be difficult to find or get to. The average temperature in San Francisco is about 60 degrees Fahrenheit, but the water temperature in the ocean around San Francisco is usually between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Just a short ferry ride across the bay is the warm, white sands of Quarry Beach on the east side of Angel Island.
B. How many beaches are there in San Francisco?
There are more than a half dozen beaches in San Francisco. Alamo Square, Baker Beach, China Beach, Crissy Field, Fort Funston, Golden Gate Park (Stow Lake), Lands End, and Ocean Beach all offer great views of the Golden Gate Bridge and aren't usually too hot.
C. What is the most popular beach in San Francisco?
The most popular beach in San Francisco is Ocean Beach. This beach has a rip current, undertow, and large waves. It's important to remember that Ocean Beach has dangerous conditions and should not be used for swimming.
D. Are there swimming beaches in San Francisco?
Yes, there are swimming beaches in San Francisco. Aquatic Park Cove and Seacliff State Beach are both safe for swimming. Rodeo Beach has strong currents and may not be ideal for swimming; however, it is packed with activities for the adventurous. Stinson beach is a great place to swim at, or enjoy picnicking and fishing; it also has lifeguards on duty and gentle waves.
E. Is it safe to go to the Beach in San Francisco?
The Beach in San Francisco is dangerous due to large surf, cold water temperatures, backwash and pounding shore break. California State Parks provides accurate and up-to-date information to ensure safety at the beach. Check with lifeguards before going to a beach in San Francisco Bay. Aquatic Park Cove is a safe place to swim. Baker Beach is also a safe place to swim, but be cautious of large waves and rip currents
Here is the list, in NO particular order!
1. Baker Beach
Baker Beach is located in the Presidio of San Francisco, which is a national park. The beach is situated on the Pacific Ocean and provides stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge. What's unique about this beach is that it's one of only a few places in San Francisco where you can see the bridge from such close proximity.
The view from Baker Beach is beautiful and breathtaking, but it's not just the sight that makes this spot special. The northern part of the beach is clothing-optional, so if you're looking for a little bit more excitement during your visit to Baker Beach, that's an option too!
Baker Beach guarantees a relaxing escape from the busy city life of San Francisco. If you're looking for some peace and quiet away from all the tourists, head to Baker Beach - you won't regret it!
2. Half Moon Bay State Beach
Half Moon Bay State Beach is a beautiful place to visit if you're looking for some breathtaking views and plenty of activities to keep you busy. It's also one of the most accessible state beaches, located just 10 miles away from Half Moon Bay.
The park has a 181-acre area with a 4-mile strip of protected beachfront. There are also plenty of picnic areas, fishing spots, and hiking trails to explore. If you're looking for something more adventurous, you can check out the shipwreck at Pigeon Point Lighthouse or go whale watching in the bay.
The best part is that there's plenty to do even if you're not a fan of swimming or sunbathing. The beach provides access to horseback riding, windsurfing, kayaking, and more. So make sure to bring your sunscreen and prepare for a day full of fun!
3. China Beach
If you're looking for a beautiful beach with an amazing view, China Beach is definitely worth checking out. This beach is located in San Francisco's Aquatic Park Cove, and it offers stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge. In addition to its natural beauty, China Beach is also perfect for families - it has a variety of different beaches to choose from. And if you're lucky, you might get to see the sunset while you're there!
4. Dunes Beach, Half Moon Bay
Dunes Beach is a beautiful spot in Half Moon Bay. The hike to get there is short but steep, and most of the people who come here are locals, so you'll have a good chance of enjoying your time there without too many visitors.
The beaches of Half Moon Bay are a must-see, and Dunes Beach is one of the best. There are plenty of activities to keep you busy in the area, from hiking and biking to swimming and fishing. And if you're looking for some peace and quiet, this is definitely the place for you.
The parking lot at Poplar Beach is right next to the cliff, which makes it perfect for watching the waves crash against the rocks below. It's also a great place to watch the sunset and hang out with your pet or horse.
5. Muir Beach
Muir Beach is a quiet, secluded cove and beach that has plenty of scenic spots to explore. It's accessed over a 450-foot-long pedestrian bridge from the parking lot to the beach, the Coastal Trail, and Kaashi Way. The beach is named after Lagoon Creek, which used to be where the parking lot is now.
The views of sunsets are breathtaking but you must be careful swimming as there's no lifeguard on duty and the water can get cold quickly. You should also note that it gets windy in this area, making kayaking or boating on the ocean dangerous without a boat captain or experienced sailor to lead you in safe waters.
6. Ocean Beach
Ocean Beach is one of the most popular beaches in San Francisco. It's a wide beach that stretches for two miles, and it has 16 fire rings where you can build fires. OB is also the widest beach in SF, so it's perfect for a game of frisbee or football.
There are a few spots that consistently have good waves, but Ocean Beach takes home the prize for quality spots in San Francisco. If you want to see some cool shipwrecks, go to Ocean Beach when the tide is very low. It's only a couple of ships that wreck on the beach every few years, but they're definitely worth checking out!
OB is dangerous, with a strong shore break and rip currents. Make sure you heed all warnings before swimming or playing in the water. There are stairs that are perfect for letting your dog play off-leash from Lincoln Street to Sloat Boulevard.
7. Black Sands Beach
If you're looking for a beautiful and unique beach to visit in the Bay Area, Black Sands Beach is definitely worth your time. This mile-long beach features stunning views and black sand that makes for great pictures any time of day. You can also hike or picnic on this beach, which is a fun experience if you're in Sausalito.
Keep in mind that Black Sands Beach is a clothing-optional beach, so if that's not your thing then you may want to skip it. The western end of the beach is more secluded and feels like another world altogether.
Picnicking is a popular option in Sausalito, and with good reason – the view from this spot includes Point Bonita Lighthouse and Lands End on the city shoreline. The lighthouse was built in 1855 to help navigation in the Golden Gate Straits but it reopened after being closed for two years (only Sundays and Mondays).
If wine touring is more your thing, don't worry – there are plenty of top California wine regions to explore! Cruises from San Francisco and Celebrity Cruises offer luxury travel options for visitors looking to enjoy everything this amazing state has to offer.
8. Seacliff State Beach
If you're looking for a California beach to visit, look no further than Seacliff State Beach. This state beach is located in Aptos and has been around since 1931. It's a popular spot for visitors, thanks to its beautiful location on Monterey Bay.
In addition to swimming and sunbathing, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy at Seacliff State Beach. You can go fishing from the pier or take a walk on the nature trail. If you're feeling adventurous, you can even explore the ruins of Sutro Baths!
Seacliff State Beach is also home to some interesting history. The SS Palo Alto sits at the end of the fishing pier and is one of only four concrete ships remaining in the world. Plus, if you're feeling brave, you can check out the northern end of the beach where it's clothing-optional!
9. Mile Rock Beach
Mile Rock Beach is a small beach located on the Pacific coast of San Francisco. The beach is about 20 minutes from the Lands End Lookout, and when the tide comes in, the beach narrows significantly - so keep an eye on the tide! The beach is a mile from the Golden Gate Bridge and it's a lovely spot to visit. On "Mile Rock," just offshore, is the remaining base of a lighthouse built in 1906 after a major wreck.
Having a photo shoot on the beach
When you're looking for a great place to have a professional photo shoot, the beach is always a good option. The ocean provides a beautiful backdrop, and there's plenty of room to find a spot that's perfect for your images. However, it can be tricky to get the perfect shots when you're dealing with sand, wind, and saltwater. Here are a few tips to make sure your shoot goes smoothly:
1. Make sure you pick the right location on the beach. Look for an area that has good lighting and isn't too crowded.
2. Prepare for wind and sand by bringing along some extra props or clothes to protect your equipment and wardrobe.
3. Stay hydrated! The sun can be strong on the beach, so make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
4. Take care of your skin by using sunscreen and wearing sunglasses and hats if needed..
5. Have fun! The beach is a beautiful setting for photos, so enjoy yourself while you're shooting."