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San Diego’s coastline is lined with some of the best places on the West Coast to watch the sun set over the water. Each location offers a unique viewpoint of the San Diego sunset as it lights up the sky and glistens across the ocean.
Whether you’re heading to the beach after dinner, enjoying a sunset stroll, or showing your family the water color sky, this list of the best sunset spots in San Diego will not disappoint.
Find out which spot is closest to your resort or dinner reservation by using the map below. Or keep on reading to see which location offers just the right vibe you’re looking for.
1. Crystal Pier (Pacific Beach)
Fully immerse yourself in the sunset experience and book a room at the Crystal Pier Hotel in Pacific Beach. Step outside your Cape Cod style cottage and onto your private patio for ocean front views like you’ve never seen!
PRO Tip: Reservations can only be made via phone or in person, and they fill up quickly. Plan your trip and call them today to sleep over the ocean.
If you don’t stay here, walking below the pier is another great place to capture the sunset. Take a sunset walk and snap a family pic under the pier as the sun rays shine between the beams .
2. Windansea Beach (La Jolla)
Watch the waves crash against the rocks at Windansea Beach as you soak up the best sunsets over the Pacific Ocean.
Windansea Beach is not a good place for a sunset swim because of all the rock formations, but it is a popular surfing spot. Watch surfers catch wave after wave as you wait for the sun to dip below the horizon. It’s so incredible seeing them surf in the sunny glow at dusk.
The sand on this La Jolla beach is rather shallow, so the sidewalk behind the beach is pretty close to the water. Take a sunset walk along the path to get the full view of the cliffs, surfers, and vibrant sunset colors.
3. Downtown San Diego
Some of the best sunset views can be found beyond the beach in Downtown San Diego, where several rooftop bars offer stunning views over the bay. Enjoy drinks and appetizers on an open air patio, while you watch the sun reflect off the downtown skyline surrounding you.
Notice the transformation as the sun goes down and the city lights turn on. From the glow of the sun to the sparkle of urban lights, you’ll have an evening light show to enjoy.
PRO Tip: If you’re not a fan of heights, head toward the embarcadero for pretty sunset views at sea level.
4. Coronado Island
Drive over the bay on the Coronado bridge to discover one of the finest hotels on the West Coast – Hotel Del Coronado. Book an ocean view room to watch the sunset from your private balcony overlooking Coronado Beach below. Or watch the sky turn orange as you dine at one of their ocean view restaurants.
You don’t have to be a hotel guest to enjoy sunsets at The Del. The resort is walking distance from several shops and restaurants on Orange Ave.So grab dinner at The Henry, and walk over to the beach in front of Hotel Del Coronado to enjoy the stunning colors alongside locals and resort guests.
Read more: Top Things to do on Coronado Island
5. San Diego Bay
One of the most beautiful places to watch the sunset is floating out on the water. Rent a boat or go on a Small-Group San Diego Sunset Sailing Excursion on the San Dieog Bay during sunset.
The water glistens all around you, the sun’s rays reflect off the downtown skyline, and pastel colors fill the sky over Coronado Island. You’ll have 360 degrees of stunning views as the ocean breeze blows through your golden hair.
Both locals and tourists alike enjoy cruising on the San Diego Bay. And doing it at sunset simply takes it to the next level.
6. La Jolla Cove
Famous for its seal viewing and tide pools during the day, La Jolla Cove is a beautiful place to watch the sun set in the evening.
With paths for walking, benches for sitting, and rocky cliffs for reclining, there is plenty of room for everyone to have a great view.
If the sun sets during low tide, you’ll be fortunate to witness the dramatic backdrop of pastel pinks and oranges behind the palm tree studded cliffs and smooth sandy beach. Moments like that generate the most stunning photos that showcase the natural beauty of La Jolla.
7. Sunset Cliffs Natural Park (Ocean Beach)
If you are looking for nothing short of spectacular sunsets, then head straight to one of THE BEST sunset spots in all of San Diego – Sunset Cliffs! (I mean…it’s right there in the name!)
A long stretch of cliffs line the Ocean Beach coastline, and at dusk they are covered with blankets, snacks, and friends. These high cliffs tower over crashing waves below and allow you to gaze out into the seemingly never-ending ocean.
It’s truly an incredible place to experience sunset!
PRO Tip: Since it’s a popular spot, expect crowds (especially on weekends). You’ll hit some traffic on Sunset Cliffs Boulevard, so plan your time accordingly.
8. Mount Soledad (La Jolla)
Inland from the beautiful coast, La Jolla has a hidden gem sunset view. Mount Soledad rises up above La Jolla with stunning views all over the San Diego area.
This is the perfect spot for your family to drive up to just before dusk. Make sure you grab some blankets and chairs to sit on.
Take in the San Diego views during golden hour. Then shift your gaze to the water, and watch the sun set over the Pacific Ocean. (All of this beauty…without any sand in your car!)
9. Mission Bay
Just barely inland from Mission Beach, you’ll find Mission Bay with winding inlets and bays all around. People fill the beaches and line the waters’ edge to see the vibrant painting created by the sun during golden hour.
You won’t see the sun dip beneath the horizon over the water, but the colors fill up the sky and produce a beautiful backdrop to palm trees and sailboats.
See how the sunset colors transform your resort pool or bayside harbor each night. So gorgeous!
Read more: 35 Things to do in Mission Beach, San Diego
10. Torrey Pines
In the northern part of San Diego, Torrey Pines offers a few sunset viewpoints that will knock your socks off.
Watch hangliders float through the watercolor sky at the Torrey Pines Gliderport. Better yet…go hangliding at sunset yourself to witness the view from the air!
Sit beside a lifeguard tower on Torrey Pines State Beach and watch the sun dip below the horizon beyond the pebble beach in front of you.
Hike up the cliffs of Torrey Pines State Reserve to see breathtaking sunsets on top of massive cliffs.
11. Ocean Beach Pier
Originally, the Ocean Beach Pier was meant to be used for fishing. Several people still use it for that purpose today, but it has become a great spot for more than just fishing.
Down beneath the pier you’ll find the Ocean Beach Tidepools, where kids and adults will love searching for sea creatures.
Who wouldn’t want to find starfish and sea cucumbers in the glow of the setting sun?!
Since this pier is one of the longest piers on the West Coast, there is plenty of space to watch the sunset. Plus, you’ve got lots of pier to walk along if you prefer a sunset walk without sand between your toes.
Whether on the concrete pier, on the beach, or on the rocky tide pools, there’s a perfect spot to enjoy the beautiful sunset with your family.
12. Cabrillo National Monument (Point Loma)
On the southern tip of the Point Loma Peninsula, you’ll reach Cabrillo National Monument. It commemorates the first time an explorer set foot on the West Coast.
From this spot, you’ll be able to see miles of San Diego coastline, including Coronado Island. If it’s a clear day you might even be able to see the islands or coast in Mexico.
PRO Tip: While the park normally closes at 5pm every day, during the summer it’s open until sunset on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Take advantage of these extended hours to learn a little history and then shift your eyes to the beautiful surroundings for sunset views.
Watch the sun sink below the horizon or see how it sparkles across the bay and glistens on the downtown skyline.
As you can see, the best sunset spots in San Diego are scattered up and down the coast with even a couple spots inland.
Pick which location sounds the easiest or most exciting for your family. Grab a picnic dinner to go and a blanket to sit on. Then sit back, relax, and soak up a colorful sunset together.
It’s the perfect end to any San Diego day…always Worth Every Trip!