Fido’s Favorite San Diego Beaches

With warm temperatures in full-swing, there’s no better way to sieze summer in San Diego with Fido than with a dip in the ocean!

A natural water pup, my dog Jack goes nuts over any aquatic opportunity he can soak his fur into.. wether it be the ocean, a lake, lagoon, or pool, Jack is always bound to make a B-LINE for any body of water he sees with hopes he’ll manage to get his entire body submerge underwater. Have you ever seen a dog wading around inside a coin-fountain at the mall? Yep, no joke- ANY. BODY. OF. WATER. A talented swimmer and salt water junkie, Jacks relationship with the ocean is extremely unique because at only a year old he was diagnosed with a ligament disorder which causes early bone marrow deterioration in puppies.  Canine knee specialists said with the support of necessary surgeries, he would be lucky to ever have capability to run again, and that swimming surely was out of the picture.  Well two-bilateral knee surgeries later, and over a hundered hours of physical therapy, today Jack is not only the Micheal Phelps of swimming dogs, but he’s also an incredibly gifted runne- the boy runs faster than dog at the beach. It is without a doubt, swimming played a integeral role in the rehabilitation and strengthening of his joints. For a dog who at a time was believed by doctors to never be capable of running again, it makes me extremely happy to see the strong athlete is today.

There are many essential health benefits for dogs that comes from hydrotherapy, specifically, arthritis prevention. Lucky for us, San Diego has dozens of top notch beaches (and other unique dog friendly aquatic establishments) along the coast suited for dogs of all sizes and swim levels.  Here’s our favorite San Diego swim spots for Fido! 

1) The Carlsbad Corporate Pool in Carlsbad: OFF LEASH, open all year round. The address is the parking lot of 1905 ASTON AVE, CARLSBAD, CA , located off Palomar Airport Road. Enter the parking lot, park and walk down the driveway which leads to the pool, enjoy!

First on our hit list is a local favorite called “The Corporate Carlsbad Pool”. The pool got its nickname because it appears to be a manmade waterfall where employees who worked within the corporate business district of Carlsbad could go for a picnic lunch or a nice relaxing walk outside. Today this park has turned into something out of Seurat’s famous painting “Sunday Afternoon in the Park”. This park offers trails, areas to relax in the sun or under a shady tree and hosts a huge salt water fountain which has become the ideal pool for dogs. The owners who funded the park are claimed to be the corporate businesses surrounding the perimeter of the park. Signs posted at the park’s entrance state: 1) Dog must be on leash 2) No Swimming 3) No Fishing.

That being said, while Jack and I are not always ones to bend the rules, I do enjoy letting Jack off leash to  swim in this pool. We can’t say others are not doing it either! In fact, many employees who work for the corporate offices around the park are also bending the rules and letting their company canines run freely too!


No matter when you visit the pool, you will always see dogs running leashless, dogs swimming in the pool, and someone fishing for trout within the salty waterfall pool. Many people come here for picnics with their dogs as this park hosts more than 5,000 square feet of grass that runs nearly the entire perimeter of the pool. Shady trees are planted throughout the park, along with cement benches hosting wonderful views of the captivating waterfalls.

One very important thing to note when visiting this pool: As the weather gets warmer be extremely careful for rattlesnakes. A few have been reported lying along the cement driveway that leads to the parking lot of the pool. See my previous post, “San Diego Rattlesnake Season Back in Effect!” for more information on what to do if you and Fido encounter a rattlesnake.

Other than the rattlers, this park makes the perfect sand free destination for swimming because it is literally a pool for dogs. I have been bringing Jack to this pool for almost 2 years now and the general consensus appears to be if you follow the dog owner guidelines (bring a friendly dog, clean up after your dog, keep the park clean, don’t ruin it for everyone) THEN you more than welcome off leash. Check out this awesome dog pool this summer!

2) Georges Beach in Cardiff: ON LEASH All year round

Second on our hit list is Cardiff by the Sea beach, commonly known as George’s. This one and a half mile stretch of shoreline was recently pumped with new sand from the beautiful Pacific’s floor. This on – the – leash beach makes for an easy drive to the north county coast where parallel parking is easily available along the Pacific Coast Highway 101. This beach is great for a swim or walk on the 2.5 mile stretch of powder sand.


Waves at this part of the coast usually range between 2-4 feet on average, which makes it perfect for a good swim session. You will find George’s beach located across the street from Las Olas Mexican Food Restaurant in Cardiff by the Sea, CA.

3) Del Mar Dog Beach in Del Mar: OFF LEASH all year ( Except for JUNE- AUGUST )

3rd on our list is a beach Jack and I frequent on a daily basis, Del Mar Dog Beach. Dogs are allowed off leash here except for during the busy summer months of June, July and August. The beach is divided into two parts 1) The north side of the bridge and 2) The south side of the bridge.

North Side: The north side of the bridge is where most people go to mingle with other dogs and their owners. Along with the wide open sandy beach to run, this side of the beach features tidepools and rocky reefs to explore with the pup. If you park north of the bridge you must pay for parking. Expect to get a ticket if you don’t pay. There is a meter machine available to purchase parking.

South Side: This is a better spot to take your pup if he enjoys swimming. The south side of the bridge offers free parking. You may park along either side of the road in the residential district that runs the Coast Hwy 101 south of the beach. This side is considered the mellow part of the beach. Dogs and owners looking to spend more intimate time together often migrate here.


What is fun about the south side of the beach is the multiple swim features it offers dogs. Separating the north and south sections of the beach is where the mouth of the lagoon meets the ocean. The current flowing in and out of the lagoon offers a stimulating swim for pups. You  can access the lagoon from the west side of the bridge. This side of the beach also has waves and the calm waters of the lagoon for swimming and playing.


4) Fiesta Island in Mission Bay: OFF THE LEASH ALL YEAR ROUND

Fiesta Island (better known as “Dog Island”) has been a part of Jack and my weekly routine, especially on the weekends! Fiesta Island is a large area of land centrally located in Mission Bay where dogs are allowed to roam freely throughout the entire island all year long. No matter when you visit, you will always find dozens of happy-go-lucky dogs running around the island and  swimming in the bay along the entire perimeter of the island. If you are looking for a good place to hike and swim all at the same time, and roam off the leash, Fiesta Island is the perfect visit for you and your pup!


Directions: From I-5, take the Sea World Drive exit and head southwest, then make a right onto East Mission Bay Drive, then left to Fiesta Island. There is parking throughout the island. For more information on Fiesta Island visit Fiesta Island | Park & Recreation

5) Ocean Beach Dog Beach “The Original San Diego Dog Beach”. OFF Leash ALL year. 

Last but certainly not least is the original “Dog Beach”. Respectfully known as the first leash free beach in the United States, Ocean Beach Dog Beach takes pride as a country staple located in our backyard, sunny San Diego! What makes this beach so special is how the local community has been dedicated to the upmost respect for dogs and the dog community. Just before you step onto the mile long stretch of powder sand you will find commemorative plaques and tiles showcasing the compassion the Ocean Beach Dog Community has for our loving canines.  You will also see a very creative bulletin board where people can post fliers to industry events or missing dog updates. A huge paw print was painted on the board walk symbolizing the welcoming of dogs to this very public beach. Located at the end of Volaire St. on the northernmost end of Ocean Beach this dog sanctuary is one to never be forgotten.


Bonus Feature: If you want to take your dog for a swim but prefer to avoid the beach sand or dirt from the park, for $35 per half hour, North County’s Total Dog Canine Swim and Fitness Pool lets you bring your dog for a swim inside their eighty square foot pool. You can even join your pup inside the pool if you like! Visits are by appointment only. Mention that you were referred by Barking Beast and get an exclusive discount on your dog’s swim. Visit The Total Dog Canine Swim & Fitness online or call (760) 721-1DOG (1364) for more information.



  1. Tania,

    Please caution against RIP TIDES when discussing ocean swim, especially the wash areas of a lagoon to the sea! RIP TIDES can sweep away strong human swimmers in a second and our beloved pets wouldn’t stand a chance against the current!

    Thank you,

  2. […] 1) The beach: the majority of San Diego dog beaches have recently gone “off the leash” so that is all the more reason dog beach is the perfect place to keep Fido cool during the hot San Diego temperatures.  Bring plenty of water along on the activity.  San Diego is home to a handful of amazing dog beaches your pup will enjoy.  Take a look at a list of our favorite dog beaches here […]

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