Swimming near San Diego: All the Best Spots

Written by Nilani Thiyagarajah
Published: March 31, 2023
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If you’ve ever been to San Diego, California, you know how warm the weather can get. Swimming can be a great way to cool off in this area. There are many great spots to swim in San Diego.

Whether you are looking for a natural body of water or a man-made place to swim, it’s possible to find both in San Diego. You can choose from rivers, beaches, pools, and water parks. Keep reading to learn more about the best spots for swimming near San Diego!

Best Time to Swim in San Diego

Sunset Cliffs near San Diego - Swimming Holes Near San Diego

Sunset Cliffs at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park near San Diego.

©Jon Bilous/Shutterstock.com

The weather in San Diego is very warm, particularly compared to some of the US states with temperate climates. Even the winter months are relatively mild. However, winter is not the ideal time for swimming in San Diego.

The best time to swim in San Diego is during the late summer and early autumn. August, September, and October are ideal months to go swimming. There may be warm days in the late winter and spring (February through April), but this time of the year is unpredictable.

Swimming Locations in San Diego

Not only is the San Diego climate suitable for swimming, but there are many locations from which you can choose. Because this city is on the West Coast, many beaches border the Pacific Ocean. There are also many lakes and rivers that are suitable for swimming.

In addition to all of the natural swimming areas, there are plenty of pools and water parks if you prefer man-made structures with chlorinated water.

Swimming Holes

Three Sisters Falls

Three Sisters Falls is a spectacular destination located in the Cleveland National Forest in an isolated canyon.

©Jimmy W/Shutterstock.com

There are many swimming holes in San Diego where you can cool off on a hot day. Three Sisters Falls is one example. The Cuyamaca Foothills were shaped into a sequence of waterfalls by Boulder Creek. This creek has multiple pools, and there is a rope that allows you to safely and easily descend the waterfall.

Cedar Creek Falls, also known as the Devil’s Punchbowl, is a deep swimming hole in a particularly hot valley, about 10° hotter than the surroundings at any given time.

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, north of San Diego, is known as “The Arch.” This is a 20-foot ridge looming above a great swimming hole.

There’s also Cottonwood Creek in the Laguna Mountains, a great swimming hole for the late winter and early spring. The waterfalls actually dry up during the summer because it’s too hot. The Point Loma Tide Pools are very popular during times of low tide.


The majority of lakes in San Diego do not allow swimming. However, there are a couple of exceptions. Los Rasalies Lake is about 45 minutes from the city. This hidden gem is serene and quiet. Since it is located at the end of a hiking trail, swimming can be a very refreshing reward. Blue herons, mallard ducks, and geese also swim in this lake.

Dixon Lake is another great option. You can go fishing and camping in addition to swimming. The lake is frequently stocked with trout and catfish. You may see box turtles on the hiking trails or in the


There are few rivers for swimming in San Diego. San Luis Rey River is located at the base of Palomar Mountain in La Jolla Indian Campground. Not only can you enjoy swimming, but also 10,000 acres of serene wilderness. You can either swim or simply rent an inner tube and float.

Some have spoken of swimming in the San Diego River, but the water quality is typically very poor due to pollution. However, there is a dog park on the banks of the river. There are also many chances to observe wildlife, mostly birds. Cranes and ducks are abundant here. Anyone who is interested in fishing can catch fish here as well, with the proper licensing.


La Jolla cove beach, San Diego, California.

La Jolla Cove is a safe and popular swimming destination.


Beaches are the most well-known swimming options in San Diego. There are many from which you can choose. La Jolla Cove is safe and popular due to an extension of rocks that protects the area from large waves coming from the ocean.

Coronado Central Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in the city. It has white sand, calm waters, and a boardwalk. This beach is very family-friendly.

Del Mar City Beach is a very popular option. It’s about 30 minutes north of downtown. Novice swimmers might find the water too rough for them, but it’s great for more experienced individuals. It also has a dog beach. Mission Beach is absolutely iconic, with a boardwalk and an amusement park (Belmont Park) near the ocean.

Warm Water Jetty Beach is a great option for people who want to swim in warmer water. The Carlsbad Power Plant adds warm water to this location.


Mom and son have fun at the water park.

Wave Water Park, a great swimming location, is located in the city of Vista.

©Elizaveta Galitckaia/Shutterstock.com

There are many great swimming pools for anyone who is leery of swimming in natural waters. UC San Diego has great pools where you can beat the heat. Typically, they require memberships, but it’s usually cheaper than a traditional gym.

The Hiatus Pool and Lounge is another great spot to cool off. Located in Hotel La Jolla, these allow you to enjoy cocktails in the lounge and listen to live music while you swim. Another great hotel for swimming is Pearl Hotel. This one is unique in that it has a saltwater pool.

The Pool House in The Pendry San Diego Hotel has one of the very best pools in the city. There is a great rooftop lounge with amazing views of the city, as well as a bar and cabanas. It’s free for hotel guests, as well as others who are willing to spend at least $100 on food.

Another great option is Harrah’s Rincon Casino. This location has multiple renovated pools, a lazy river, a pool bar, and hot tubs.

Water Parks

If you want a more exciting swimming experience, there are also many water parks in San Diego. Mission Bay Park is the largest man-made park in the United States. It contains 27 miles of shoreline and beautiful golden beaches. There are playgrounds, picnic areas, and bike paths. People can go kayaking, water skiing, paddle boarding, and more.

The LEGOLAND Water Park will combine your love of Legos and water. There are fixtures where you can swim built entirely out of Legos and giant Legos that allow you to build your own raft.

Wave Water Park is located in the city of Vista. There are fun water slides, a simulated wave machine, and a lazy river for tubing. There are play structures for kids and plenty of pools for everyone else.

Sesame Place San Diego is the newest theme park in the city. This is a Sesame Street theme park that is very family-friendly. It allows you to enjoy all of your favorite Sesame Street characters while cooling off in the water!

The photo featured at the top of this post is © kan_khampanya/Shutterstock.com

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