Updated March 26, 2023 by San Diego Beaches and Adventures
Swami's Point in Encinitas, CA at Low Tide
(Compare to beach photo taken at high tide below)
What Causes San Diego Tides? Many things influence the timing, range and interval of tides in San Diego Cal. The biggest factors are the gravitational force from the sun and moon. Other factors include the depth of the water, shape of the coastline, ocean-floor topography, barometric pressure, winds and weather. Our tides are on a 24 hour 50 minute cycle (corresponding to the lunar day), which means the high and low tides appear 50 minutes later each day. Most days will have two high tides and two low tides, but the magnitude of the tidal range between the high and low varies considerably.
For more information, see NOAA Tide Information at oceanservice.noaa.gov
Be sure to take the actual weather conditions into account when making tide-critical decisions. When storm surges or extreme weather conditions are approaching, be safe and sure by checking the San Diego Weather Forecast to see how it may influence San Diego tides. As a general rule, prolonged onshore winds or a low barometric pressure results in a higher sea level than predicted. Offshore winds or a high barometric pressure generally results in a lower sea level than expected.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Admiintration, or NOAA, is responsible for predicting the tides. They publish predicted tide tables for San Diego, which are used to generate these graphical tide charts.
Swami's Point in Encinitas, California at High Tide
(Compare to beach image taken at low tide above)
Tidepool explorers look for minus tides, which are low tides that are below average, to find good times to explore tidepools.
Surfers use the tides as one criteria is selecting the best surfing spot for that day.
Beach visitors to smaller, local beaches may find these narrower beaches disappear at some high tide levels, only to reappear as the tide falls.
Fishermen use their knowledge of the tides to improve their catch of fish, as fish or bait may concentrate in certain areas based upon the tidal conditions.
Many people have been caught by surprise because they didn't understand the importance of the tides.
Don't walk up to a secluded beach at low tide, and be unable to return because it is now high tide.
Don't climb on some interesting rocks along the shore, and now be overwhelmed by large waves from the rising tide.
Don't take a boat into an area at high tide, and now be stranded at low tide.
So for your safety, always check the predicted San Diego tide schedule and the weather.
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North San Diego County Beaches
Some beaches are best explored at low tide. Check out the tides and find maps and directions to the popular beaches below.
These are the top beaches in San Diego, listed from north to south:
Blacks Beach (Nude beach)
Blacks Beach (Surfer beach)
La Jolla Seals at Children's Pool
These are the top beaches in San Diego’s North County, listed from north to south: