Spanning nearly four miles of beautiful Pacific coastline, Oceanside, CA, offers a varied selection of beaches, each with its own unique charm.
To help you find the best beach to fit your vibe, I’ve created this list of the best beaches in Oceanside. Organized from north to south, each beach includes an overview, things to note, and directions and parking information.
Whether you’re looking for incredible surf or a sandy stretch for family fun, Oceanside, CA, has the perfect beach for you.
Oceanside Harbor Beach
Why Go: Widest and sandiest of the Oceanside, CA beaches with premier surf.
Oceanside Harbor Beach is a long, wide, sandy beach situated in front of Oceanside Harbor and bordered by two rock jetties. The marina is located behind the beach, with open ocean access at the beach’s northernmost end.
This beach is one of the best beaches in Oceanside for active people and families. It includes volleyball courts and a kids’ play area. Kiteboarding, windsurfing, surfing, sunbathing, and fishing are popular activities at this beach. It has lifeguards, covered picnic tables, barbecues, fire pits, restrooms, and showers.
Noteworthy: Situated adjacent to Oceanside Harbor Village, there are several nearby amenities, including a variety of shops, eateries, and hotels like Marina Inn Hotel.
Stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking are harbor favorites. You can rent kayaks and other water equipment here, plus book sailing or deep-sea fishing trips.
The beach has some of the best surf, making it a big draw for surfers and other watersport enthusiasts. You’ll often see surf competitions here during summer.
Parking and how to get here: Take Harbor Drive exit off I-5, which will bring you right to the harbor entrance. There are numerous parking lots at the harbor. Some are free, some free with time restrictions, and the rest paid. Even paid lots may have time restrictions. Watch the signs carefully when choosing a lot.
Breakwater Way Beach
Why Go: Quieter, family-friendly beach also popular with surfers and volleyball players.
Breakwater Way Beach is located north of Oceanside Pier and south of the San Luis Rey River mouth. One of the best beaches in Oceanside for families, it’s a large stretch of sand lined with palm trees.
There are lifeguards, restrooms, showers, barbecue grills, and picnic tables, making it a one-stop beach for all your family’s needs. Sunbathing, surfing, and volleyball are the main draws of Breakwater Way beach.
However, in the summer months, surfing is closed in front of Lifeguard Tower 8, so surfers must walk along the jetty to get into the water.
Noteworthy: One of the least populated beaches, the river jetty is where the San Luis Rey River and the Pacific Ocean meet. A sandbar often forms here, creating an epic surf break. For safety, avoid swimming, wading, or playing in the water where the river meets the ocean.
Parking and how to get here: Take the Coast Highway exit west off I-5, turn left on Coast Highway and go two blocks to Surfrider Way, turn right and go to North Pacific Street, turn right and go three blocks to Breakwater Way. There is a pay lot at the corner of Breakwater Way and North Pacific Street. Metered parking is also available along North Pacific Street.
Pier View North Beach
Why Go: A quiet, local favorite; sunbathing, swimming, and surfing.
Pier View North Beach is situated on the north side of Oceanside Pier with a wider, longer, and sandier stretch of beach. This is the perfect beach to relax with friends and family while enjoying activities like sunbathing, surfing, swimming, fishing, and volleyball.
There are two lifeguard towers at this beach. During the summer, a particular area of this beach, marked by flags, is closed to surfing but open to all other water activities.
Noteworthy: The Oceanside Beach Community Center is just north of Pier View North Beach. It’s close to things to do in Oceanside, like the Oceanside Pier and the downtown area.
Parking and how to get here: Take the Mission Avenue exit off I-5 and go west to North Pacific Street. There is one small pay parking lot near this beach, but it fills up fast during the summer. Additional pay parking lots are on the corner of North Myers Street and Mission Avenue and east of North Pacific Street on Surfrider Way. There is also metered parking along North Pacific Street.
Why go: Historic heart of the Oceanside beach community; backdrop for surfing competitions; live concerts and events at outdoor pier amphitheater; pier fishing.
You might be wondering how Oceanside Pier made the list of best oceanside beaches. It’s a pier, after all.
The answer is simple. It’s an iconic fixture that separates Pier View North from Pier View South beaches. It’s a historical landmark originally built in 1888 and one of the longest wooden piers (spanning 1,942 feet) on the California coast.
Near the Junior Seau Oceanside Pier Plaza Amphitheater, you’re close to the live performances and events that are regularly scheduled there.
Noteworthy: A major draw is, of course, pier fishing which does not require you to have a fishing license. With its expansive length, there is ample space for everyone. There is a bait shop with rental equipment on the pier.
If you don’t fish, it’s always fun watching the surfers and marine life play in the water. Grab a coffee or an ice cream and hit the pier to enjoy a leisurely stroll and incredible views. A 1950s diner at the end of the pier has closed but will be replaced. Adjacent to the old diner, a tiny, new seafood-inspired concept opens in Spring 2023.
Parking and how to get here: Take the Mission Avenue exit off I-5 and go west to North Pacific Street. You’ll see the pier to your right. There are several parking options surrounding the pier on both sides. They include free parking lots, metered parking along streets, and free time-restricted spots and lots.
For your convenience, the City of Oceanside Parking Map provides a complete overview of the parking options near the pier. Note the Oceanside Transit Center offers free parking lots three blocks away.
Pier View South Beach
Why Go: Best beach in the heart of the action; access to the most amenities and activities.
The most popular beach in Oceanside, Pier View South Beach is located south of the historic Oceanside Pier in downtown Oceanside.
A wide and sandy stretch, the beach has lifeguards, barbecues, picnic tables, and firepits. Swimming, surfing, bodyboarding, bodysurfing, sunbathing, and fishing are the most common beach activities.
This beach also hosts surfing contests during the summer, and the nearby Junior Seau Oceanside Pier Amphitheater hosts various cultural and musical events throughout the year. You’ll find food and equipment rental vendors here too.
Noteworthy: The house from the movie Top Gun is directly across the street from Pier View South. Now a retro pie shop, The High Pie houses memorabilia from the movie. Pier View South Beach blends seamlessly into Tyson Street Beach and Park, also an Oceanside favorite. Guests of The Seabird Resort and Mission Pacific Hotel also walk across the street to this beach.
Parking and how to get here: Take the Mission Avenue exit off I-5 and go west to North Pacific Street. There are two pay parking lots situated north and south of the pier.
If these lots are full, there is another pay parking lot on Myers Street and Mission Avenue, just one block east of South Pacific Street. Metered parking can also be found on South Pacific Street. The Oceanside Transit Center offers free parking three blocks away.
Tyson Street Beach and Park
Why Go: People watching; being in the center of the action; a grassy park with playground.
Tyson Street Beach and Park is one of the most popular Oceanside beaches south of Oceanside Pier. The park and beach are situated on either side of The Strand, where cars crawl by for a look at beachgoers and the ocean beyond.
Tyson Street Park, directly behind the beach, has a children’s playground and bathrooms on a large grassy area. During summer, there’s a friendly mix of young adults and families blanketing the grassy area and the sandy beach in front of it. The park is a popular place to picnic.
Noteworthy: Dramatic stairs lead from South Pacific Street to Tyson Street Park below, with a pedestrian crossing to the beach.
The Aqua Café is a classic beach shack-style café tucked in the back of the park with a menu of tasty, nutritious, and organic eats – dine in, or take out. The café also has local music on Sunday afternoons.
Parking and how to get here: Take the Mission Avenue exit off I-5 and go west toward the ocean, turn left on South Pacific Street. The park and beach are about one-half mile up on your right.
Parking on South Pacific Street is metered, and there’s a paid lot at Mission Avenue and Meyers Street. About three blocks behind Tyson Park is the Oceanside Transit Center parking lot with free parking and a charging station. There are three handicapped parking spaces in Tyson Park, accessed off First Street and S. The Strand.
Wisconsin Street Beach
Why Go: A paid parking lot right across from the beach; an access point to the Pier and Pier beaches; summertime low-tide jog or walk.
Wisconsin Street Beach is oddly named, as its location is at the corner of South Pacific Street and Wisconsin Avenue, not street.
Over the years, the beach has gotten increasingly narrow due to erosion. Now, even at low tide, the beach is little more than a narrow strip of wet, hard-packed sand.
Large boulders line the beach shoreside and separate it from The Strand and beachfront homes behind it. It’s a “back door” to the more popular beaches on either side of Oceanside Pier.
It’s also a gathering spot at sunset when individuals and couples line the boulders to watch the sun’s spectacular descent into the Pacific Ocean. The beach is open to all activities and is lifeguard-protected (Tower 7). No dogs.
Noteworthy: There are restrooms/showers and picnic tables on one side of the Wisconsin Street parking lot. Even though beach traffic along The Strand is one-way coming toward you, rest assured you can turn into the parking lot from Wisconsin Avenue. Stairs lead to South Pacific Street.
Parking and how to get here: Take I-5 to Oceanside Boulevard, exit west toward the beaches, turn right on South Pacific Street to Wisconsin Avenue, turn left, and go down the block-long hill.
A parking lot is on the right with a U-shaped drive-through. The beach is across the street. Paid lot. Street parking is metered or time-restricted north of Wisconsin along South Pacific Street. Parking is free along South Pacific Street south of Wisconsin but may also be time-restricted. Check the signs.
Oceanside Boulevard Beach
Why Go: An easy entry point for a low-tide beach walk; a quiet place to perch atop a big boulder at sunset
This small beach at the end of Oceanside Boulevard is slightly bigger than Buccaneer Beach, the smallest of the Oceanside beaches. You’ll find a sandy area about 200 feet wide that is lifeguard protected during summer (Tower 9). It’s a great starting point for a stroll along the Pacific Ocean.
Like many smaller Oceanside beaches, high tides often leave the beach with hardpacked, damp sand. But you’ll still find a few sun worshipers getting their tans on here.
Noteworthy: Oceanside Boulevard Beach is a serene place to sit atop the boulders that line the shoreline for a West Coast sunset. Don’t be surprised to see some boulders already occupied with cairns – stacks of stones. This beach is reserved for swimming, wading, and bodyboarding only. There are no bathrooms at this beach, but there’s an outdoor shower to rinse sandy feet. No dogs allowed.
Parking and how to get here: Take Oceanside Boulevard from I-5 to South Pacific Street and park there or along other nearby streets. No parking fees.
Why Go: A tiny, family-friendly beach with everything you need close by.
Nestled between oceanfront homes and condos on either side, Buccaneer Beach is the smallest of the lifeguard-protected Oceanside, CA, beaches (Tower 11).
The family-friendly beach has it all — convenient lot parking, a grassy park with a children’s playground, a small café, and public bathrooms, all located directly across South Pacific Street. There’s even a marked pedestrian crossing between the amenities and the beach.
Noteworthy: Buccaneer Park, across South Pacific Street from the beach, has a children’s playground, a large grassy area, basketball courts, charcoal grills, picnic tables, bathrooms, and showers.
You’ll find Buccaneer Café here as well, where you can get breakfast, lunch, or snacks daily from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Next to the park is a footpath running along Loma Alta Creek for a fun nature walk or birdwatching opportunity.
Dogs are not allowed on this beach. Surfing is available on either side of the beach area but not in front of the beach, where it’s only swimming, wading, and body boarding.
Parking and how to get here: To get here, take I-5 north to Vista Way exit, go west toward the beach to Coast Highway (101), turn right and go to Cassidy Street, where you’ll go left to South Pacific Street, turn right, and go a half mile. The beach is on the left, parking is on the right behind Buccaneer Café. No parking fees.
Cassidy Street Beach
Why Go: A local favorite for a moment of Zen; access point for an energizing beach walk.
You’ll want to watch the tide tables for this beach, as it’s completely absorbed at high tide. The beach is long and narrow and lined with large boulders shoreside to create an erosion barrier for coastal homes.
This doesn’t leave room for much more than a low-tide beach walk. But again, time it carefully.
Although lifeguard tower 15 is located on the beach here, there’s seldom a lifeguard present. There are no bathrooms here, either. For these reasons, there may be better beaches for families with kids.
Noteworthy: At the end of Cassidy Street, you’ll see a solid wooden staircase that takes you down to the beach. Don’t be surprised to find someone meditating on a bench at the top of the stairs or to see a private wedding ceremony on the beach below. Sometimes people will take their lunch break up top, enjoying the sounds of waves crashing on rocks.
Parking and how to get here: Cassidy Street Beach is the southernmost public access beach in Oceanside. To get here, take I-5 north to Vista Way exit, go west toward the beach to Coast Highway (101), turn right and go to Cassidy Street, where you’ll turn left and go straight to the dead end.
There’s limited parking on the Cassidy Street dead-end. More parking is available along South Pacific Street. No parking fees.
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