Best Places for Photos Along the San Diego Coast

Top 10 Places in San Diego for Photography and Picture Taking
Find the best spots to take photos along the San Diego coastline!

photo: Cabrillo National Monument Point Loma San Diego

Photography has become an extremely popular past time for many Americans and visitors coming to San Diego California.

The cost of digital camera pricing has gone way down in past years and many people now have become amateur photographers and enjoy taking pictures. (and the low cost of developing them.)

San Diego is filled with beautiful beaches and great places to bring a camera and take pictures. There are tons of palm trees, green grass, blue sky’s and gorgous coastline .

If you are an amatuer photographer and enjoy going out and taking pictures by the beach and coastline, you will want to know where some of the best spots are for this summer.

The photographers from SoCal Beaches Magazine, pick the top 10 places to bring your camera and visit along the San Diego coastline for 2008 below.

Here are the top picks for great pictures by the beaches in San Diego.

1. Cabrillo National Monument Point Loma
The most scenic place for photos in San Diego and Southern California is Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma.
This area encompasses amazing views of downtown San Diego, San Diego Bay in addition to some of the best coastal scenery and tidal pools in the area. Cabrillo offers a wide range of hiking trails and historic landmarks (like the first San Diego lighthouse) that makes it a one of a kind location. It is also one of the only coastal areas that does not have private development and has a multitude of shots that can be taken from scenic shots of downtown to historic buildings and tidal pools at low tide. Check the tidal schedules for best times to visit.

2. The Ocean Beach Pier
The Ocean Beach Pier is another great spot to take pictures. If you have a camera with a short zoom (3-1 is most common) then being close to birds and surfers will give you some great opportunities to get close. The Ocean Beach Pier has a great surf break right next to the pier and it is a common home to resting pelicans who also dive for fish right off the sides of the pier.

3. Encinitas Meditation Gardens
The Encinitas Meditation Gardens offer a wide variety of subjects to shoot including unique plants and shrubbery and also coy ponds and scenic coastal views 150 feet about the ocean. When you visit the meditation gardens make sure you walk next door to Swami’s Surf Park and catch some of the best local surfers at one of the most popular surf breaks in the area. Encinitas also has some great surf spots and coastal cliffs that make for great photos.

4. Mission Beach / Mission Bay
Mission Beach and Mission Bay have the most beautiful beaches and parks in the world. Enjoy a host of places and subjects to shoot including beautiful parks and palm trees in Belmont Park or aerial shots from the top of the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster. Other great spots and popular subjects include shots at The Wave House on a 10 foot man made wave machine and along the boardwalk areas.

5. The Childrens Pool, La Jolla
This spot draws an estimated 80,000 visitors per month who come to walk along the beautiful coastal cliffs and beach that surround this area. Well known for having harbor seals and also some of the most scenic walking trails in San Diego. Make sure you walk over to La Jolla Cove and Shell Beach right next door when you are done visiting the seals.

6. Sunny Jim Cave at The Sea Shell Shop in La Jolla
For $4.00 adults can take a walk 120 steps down to La Jolla Cove from the old Shell Shop right above La Jolla Cove. The cave was dug out and the because of a unique opening at the mouth was named “Sunny Jim Cave” after a World War 1 cartoon character. This place is loaded with history and great shots from the bottom and along some of the stairs going up and down. right out front is “Bird Rock” and also a great place to take pictures of Pelicans.

7. Mornings and Sunsets on The Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach
This spot is great for photos in the morning and also in the evening at sunset. In the mornings you can see and photograph schools of dolphins if you are lucky. At night The Crystal Pier is one of the best places to watch a beautiful sunset. Built in 1925 and located in the center of Pacific Beach, it is also a great place for breakfast, lunch or dinner when you are done taking photos.

8. The Imperial Beach Sand Castle Contest – and Imperial Beach
This is a one day opportunity to catch some of the best sand castle sculptors in the world. With the sandcastles being done by noon there is only 4 hours to take photos before the tides restore the beach to being flat. This is the largest event for amateur photographers in Southern California and the largest sandcastle competition in the country. Imperial Beach on any given day is also a beautiful area which has had millions of dollars in improvements over the past 10 years.
This is our secret little spot for photo shoots and we consider it one of the best spots in Southern California!

9. Coronado
Coronado is another great place to bring your camera. You have the Coronado Ferry docks on one side of the island with great shots of downtown San Diego in additon to having the Hotel Del Coronado with its grand architecture and views and also the Silver Strand State Beach, rated one of the top 10 beaches in the USA with miles of beach and coatline, on the other side. Both spots are worthy of getting some great shots.

10. See San Diego Beaches by Helicopter
One of the best and funnest way to see San Diego’s coastal views and take photos is by helicopter. Many helicopter companies are willing to swimg around both sides of a beach if you decide to split the cost and rent a ride with a friend or two. Make sure you check out Mission Beach and Mission Bay and try to book a helicopter at least 72 hours in advance. Weekends and special events like the Mission Bay Thunderboat Races are also popular times to rent a helicopter so make sure you book as far in advance as possible.

11. One bonus spot: Rosarito Beach Mexico
If you are looking for another great place for photos check out Rosarito Mexico. You have Calafia and one of the oldest Missions on the west coast in addition to Fox Studios. Great shots can also be taken horseback riding and of some of the very unique architecture and people.Rosarito also has some great tidal pools to the very north and south if you walk the beaches during low tide.

These are 10 great places for amateur photographers to visit this summer and the best part is that most of these places are free or cost very little to visit.

Enjoy these spots and add some great and memorable to your photo collections or film projects!

Belmont Park Mission Beach

For more great spots to take photos and for upcoming area events visit

For hotels and lodging at San Diego beaches visit:
or call 1-800-679-7707 and speak to a reservation expert.

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