Best Off-Leash Dog Beaches in San Diego!

This article I’m writing today, on the “Best Off-Leash Dog Beaches in San Diego,” is one I intended to write months ago after a trip to San Diego with my dog, Dylan ~ but he passed away about two weeks after the trip.  So needless to say, I didn’t want to write about anything for awhile, & particularly not about that last trip. 

But fast forward to now: just prior to quarantine, I got a puppy named Charlie, & I took her to San Diego about a week ago.  Life came full circle.  And my grief over losing Dylan (a soulmate dog if ever there was one) was transmuted into joy at the sight of my crazy new puppy doing head-spins of JOY when she landed on Ocean Beach Dog Beach.  She started running in every direction at once, trying to meet every dog & person she possibly could. 

Because she’s a LAB after all!!

Best Off-Leash Dog Beaches in San Diego, Girl Who Travels the World Meet: Charlie. This is what your pup will look like following a visit to dog beach!!

Map of San Diego “Dog Beaches”


Del Mar Dog Beach

Ocean Beach Dog Beach

Coronado Dog Beach

Fiesta Island Dog Beach

Best Off-Leash Dog Beaches in San Diego

1. Del Mar Dog Beach

We’re starting this list in northern San Diego & working our way down the coast, which makes our first stop: Del Mar Dog Beach.  At the very northern tip of Del Mar, almost on the border of Solana Beach, lies Del Mar Dog Beach ~ which is the smallest one on this list.  But it’s still big enough for your dog to get a good run in!  Everyone I’ve met here is super friendly, but my least favorite thing here is the parking situation: there are only about five parking spots, & you need to pay the meter (which is hard to see) here. 

I didn’t notice the meter on my first visit & got a $45 parking ticket for a 10-minute visit!  Not fun.  Make sure to pay for parking, or walk from one of the many dog-friendly hotels in Del Mar.

Best Off-Leash Dog Beaches in San Diego, Girl Who Travels the World, Del Mar Dog Beach

My dog Dylan walking up to a group of dogs on Del Mar Dog Beach earlier this year; it turned out to be the last trip of his life.

***My Top Dog-Friendly Hotel Picks by Del Mar Dog Beach: For north county, try upscale L’Auberge Del Mar, which welcomes two dogs of any size.

2. Fiesta Island Dog Beach (by Mission Bay)

In full transparency: this is the only dog beach on this list I haven’t visited.  I tried to take Charlie there a week ago, but due to COVID-19, all of Fiesta Island was shut down & roped off, soooo…next time!  Out of 800+ Google reviews, Fiesta Island Dog Beach has a near-perfect 4.8 stars.  There’s not just a beach here ~ but meadows with interconnecting trails, grass, dirt, hills, & a fenced dog park (parts of the beach aren’t fenced), which many people call “doggie heaven.”  A large parking lot & picnic tables make this a great place for a longer visit.

Best Off-Leash Dog Beaches in San Diego, Girl Who Travels the World, Fiesta Island

Fiesta Island Dog Beach in San Diego.

***My Top Dog-Friendly Hotel Pick by Fiesta Island: The Dana Resort on Mission Bay is a lovely hotel set on the water, with plenty of grass areas to take your dog out for relief, & a nice outdoor restaurant called the Firefly.

Best Off-Leash Dog Beaches in San Diego

3. Ocean Beach Dog Beach

This is my personal favorite dog beach in San Diego: Ocean Beach Dog Beach.  It’s absolutely MASSIVE, with beachfront near the pier that leads to a wash that runs parallel to the beach; during low-tide it creates a bunch of shallow tide pools.  Charlie had a FIELD DAY running through these pools!!  Another thing I love here: parking is super easy ~ the lot is HUGE & set directly next to dog beach, so there’s no need to walk your dog across any major intersections.  And everyone I’ve met here is pretty much like Ocean Beach itself: extremely friendly, laid-back, & outgoing.  People here LOVE dogs, & if you’re trying to socialize your pup: this is the spot to do it.

Best Off-Leash Dog Beaches in San Diego, Girl Who Travels the World, Ocean Beach Dog Beach 

My personal favorite dog beach in San Diego is Ocean Beach Dog Beach: parking is easy with a HUGE lot next to the beach, & the dog beach is also HUGE!! During low tide, dogs can run thru tide pools on the far side of the beach…

Best Off-Leash Dog Beaches in San Diego, Girl Who Travels the World, Ocean Beach Dog Beach 

Ocean Beach Dog Beach at sunset: surfers mingle with dog-owners as the sun fades.

***My Top Dog-Friendly Hotel Picks by Ocean Beach: The hotel mentioned above, The Dana on Mission Bay, is also about a 5-minute drive from Ocean Beach Dog Beach.

4. Coronado Dog Beach

Finally, we come to the furthest-south dog beach on Coronado Island, just a stone’s throw from the iconic Hotel Del Coronado.  Parking here is along Ocean Blvd, which parallels Coronado Dog Beach (& is also next to the Naval Station).  Next to Ocean Beach: this is one of the most heavily-trafficked dog beaches in the city!  My friend Kathleen lives two blocks away, & she says people drive from all over to come here.  With its lovely white sand & WIDE, wide beach ~ plus views of Hotel Del in the background: Coronado has the prettiest beach on this list, & is another good spot for socializing your pup.

Best Off-Leash Dog Beaches in San Diego, Girl Who Travels the World, Coronado Dog Beach

Like Ocean Beach, Coronado’s Dog Beach is BIG ~ & in this photo, you can see the iconic Hotel Del in the background.

***My Top Dog-Friendly Hotel Pick by Coronado Dog Beach: If you can afford it, check into Hotel del Coronado ~ where three of its restaurants are pet-friendly!  (Dogs up to 40LBS only.)  For cheaper options, try staying in the Gaslamp at pet-friendly joints like Kimpton’s Hotel Solamar.

Best Off-Leash Dog Beaches in San Diego

And that’s a wrap on San Diego’s dog beaches….enjoy their laid-back vibe & the open space for your dog to run, which in these crazy times seems more important (& necessary) than ever. 

This article is dedicated to the loving memory of my wonderful dog: Dylan.

xoxo Noelia & Charlie

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