Beach Safety Information
Following a few important rules will
insure a safe and happy day at one of San Diego County’s world-class
beaches. The rules listed below come from the San Diego Lifeguard
Service and apply to San Diego city beaches; be aware that regulations
may differ at beaches outside of the San Diego city limits. Please
note that each local beach has its own set of rules and regulations
that cover issues such as alcohol, pets, off-limit areas (because
of pollution or other reasons), and other restrictions. Visit the
lifeguard headquarters at each beach or ask a lifeguard if you have
This information is provided as a service
to visitors of the Enlightened Explorer’s San Diego Attractions
website. The user assumes full responsibility for his or her own
safety at any beach included in this website.
Beach Safety Guidelines
near a lifeguard.
children closely, even when lifeguards are present.
rely on flotation devices, such as rafts; you may lose them in the
you get caught in a rip current, swim sideways until free —
don’t swim against the current’s pull.
and swimming don’t mix.
your head, neck, and spine — don’t dive into unfamiliar
waters. Remember, feet first, first time.
you’re in trouble, call or wave for help.
glass containers at the beach — broken glass and bare feet
beach fires except in designated areas. Fire residue and superheated
sand can severely burn bare feet. Use a barbeque that is elevated
off the sand.
clear of coastal bluffs; they can collapse and injure you.
turn your back to the ocean — you may be swept off coastal
bluffs or tide pool areas and into the water by waves that can come
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Partial List of Laws for City of San Diego
Beach, Park, & Water Areas
This is not an exhaustive list and all laws
are subject to change without notice. If you have any questions,
check posted signs or ask a lifeguard. You may refer to boating
regulations if you need more information on laws that pertain to
boating on Mission Bay and the Pacific Ocean.
Glass Containers. Glass
containers are prohibited if used to carry liquid for drinking purposes.
Beach Fires. Fires are permitted
only in fire containers provided by the City or in personal barbeques
elevated off the ground. Coals must be removed or deposited in hot
Dogs. Dogs are permitted
on beaches and in adjacent parks only from 6 p.m. – 9 a.m.
and must be leashed at all times. Dogs are prohibited at other hours
of the day, except at Dog Beach (adjacent to Ocean Beach) and Fiesta
Island (in Mission Bay), where dogs are permitted 24 hours a day
unleashed. At all locations, you must clean up after your pet.
Alcohol. Adults may consume
alcohol on many San Diego Beaches from noon to 8 p.m., as long as
it is not in a glass container. Alcohol is prohibited at all times
in parking lots adjacent to beaches and beach parks. In most of
Mission Bay Park, alcohol consumption is permitted in both the grassy
park areas and on beaches from noon to 8 p.m. At a few San Diego
beach areas, alcohol consumption is prohibited at all times. These
areas include La Jolla Shores beach and adjacent Kellogg Park, Marine
Street Beach, the Clam in La Jolla, and Santa Clara Point in Mission
Bay Park. See individual beach information pages for specifics.
Water Use Areas. Water areas
off the major beaches are divided into swimming and surfing zones
to separate these users. A black and yellow checker flag will normally
be posted between zones. Check signs or ask a lifeguard for the
proper zone for your activity.
Unsafe Behavior. Regardless
of the area, it is unlawful to use any water recreational device
(surfboard, boat, etc.) in a manner that endangers others.
Overnight Camping. Overnight
camping and sleeping are prohibited.
Boardwalk Speed Regulations.
On the Mission Beach / Pacific Beach boardwalk, the maximum speed
limit is 8 mph (13 kph).
Cliff Jumping. Jumping from
cliffs or other heights higher than 5 feet into the Pacific Ocean
Lifeguard Directions. It
is a misdemeanor to fail to follow the lawful order of a lifeguard
or to provide false information to a lifeguard.
Injuring a Lifeguard. Any
person who intentionally injures a lifeguard in the State of California
may be convicted of felony battery.
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Special Information About Rip Currents
A rip current is a seaward-moving current
that circulates water back to sea after it is pushed ashore by waves.
Each wave accumulates water on shore, creating seaward pressure.
This pressure is released in an area with the least amount of resistance,
which is usually the deepest point along the ocean floor. Rip currents
also occur in areas where the strength of the waves is weakened
by objects such as rock jetties, piers, natural reefs, and even
large groups of bathers. Rip currents often look like muddy rivers
flowing away from shore. They are sometimes mistakenly called “rip
tides” or “undertows.” These are misnomers. Rip
currents are not directly associated with tides and they do not
pull people under. Try to avoid swimming where rip currents are
present; but if you become caught in one, swim parallel to the shore
until the pull stops, and then swim back to shore. If you are unable
to return to the beach, tread water and wave for lifeguard assistance.
Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and
jetties. Rip currents often occur alongside fixed objects in the
water. Be aware of ocean conditions.
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