Ocean Activities for Families in San Diego

With less than 40 rainy days and average temperatures in the 70’s, San Diego is a dream location for outdoor fun. People enjoy hiking, cycling, and golf, but it’s the Pacific Ocean that brings many residents and tourists outside. You could spend a week exploring the beaches and waters, and you still would not run out of things to do.  Whether you are visiting or need San Diego family staycation ideas, you cannot go wrong by planning any of these ocean activities for a perfect day in the sun.

Tide Pooling

Along some of the beaches are hidden worlds that are only exposed during low tides. These tide pools are made for exploring, and children of all ages can participate. Just find a good beach, such as one of these spots to look for coastal creatures:

  • Swami’s State Beach
  • Cardiff State Beach
  • Birch Aquarium at Scripp’s Park
  • Sunset Cliffs
  • Dike Rock

Tide pooling is best in the cooler months, when the tides are extra-low, but any time of year, you can search for crabs, anemones, mussels, and maybe a tiny octopus, if you are lucky.


Kayaks are a wonderful activity for people of any skill level, and you can rent equipment on-site to make the most of your time. Check out the seven sea caves of La Jolla with a nature guide or play in the waters of Mission Bay to experience this water sport.

Whale Watching

If you prefer staying above the waves, a whale-watching boat tour may be more your speed. The best San Diego whale watching season for blue whales is the summer, while late winter and spring is prime gray whale watching time. Luckily, other whales, including fins, minkes, and humpbacks, do not care much about the calendar and can be seen throughout the year.


Surfers come from all over to catch waves along the beaches of San Diego. You can sign up for lessons at a local surfing school and rent equipment to use from one of the local surf shops. Here are the best beginner beaches if you are new to surfing:

  • Oceanside
  • Mission Beach
  • Pacific Beach
  • Tourmaline Beach
  • La Jolla Shores

If you have experience on the board, try one of these intermediate or advanced spots:

  • Windansea
  • Black’s Beach
  • Sunset Cliffs


According to Field and Stream Magazine, San Diego is the second-best fishing city in the country. With plenty of small lakes and the Pacific Ocean to choose from, you have no shortage of fishing holes to explore. If you have stuck to shore for more of your fishing trips, why not try something new? Charter one of the private boat tours San Diego to angle for bigger fish and enjoy boating on open waters at the same time.

This is just a taste of what ocean activities await you in San Diego. Other popular water sports include snorkeling, scuba diving, stand-up paddleboarding, boogie boarding, and swimming. San Diego also has several water parks that are a blast. Be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen and a hat to protect you from UV rays, so you won’t have to cut your time short in the water.