Where to See the Best San Diego Sunsets
There’s no better way to end a day in San Diego than watching the sun melt into the Pacific. No matter how many times we take in this incredible blessing from Mother Nature, it brings a sense of amazement, inspiration, contentment, and renewal. San Diego Sunsets are simply spectacular!
“At sunset, nature is painting for us…day after day…pictures of infinite beauty”John Ruskin
With more than 70 miles of coastline, San Diego provides both locals and guests alike many places and opportunities to witness the sun settling on the horizon, painting the sky ablaze in a palate of magnificent colors.
We’re rounding up our favorite places on the land, the sea, and the air where you can catch your next glimpse of the glorious setting sun. And did you know that the most beautiful San Diego sunsets occur during our fall and winter months?
SAN DIEGO SUNSETS FROM THE LAND
Just south of Ocean Beach, Sunset Cliffs is named for its craggy and sheer bluffs overlooking the Pacific. Sunsets here are postcard-worthy and it’s one of our favorite places to watch the sun descend into the surf. It’s a popular location however, so, we recommend getting there early to snag a parking spot.
A Pacific Beach landmark, Crystal Pier was originally built in the 1920s and the wooden structure is renowned for its white picturesque cottages overlooking the Pacific. Surfers can be seen routinely riding the break next to the pier, and sunsets here are nothing short of spectacular.
Nature has certainly blessed this rugged, rocky La Jolla landscape with some gorgeous unobstructed views of Pacific sunsets. This beach gifts visitors with epic photo opportunities as well as some powerful surf breaks created by its underwater reefs. But once again, plan to get there early, as this is an extremely popular sunset destination. One visit here, and you’ll know why. Also, check out these amazing La Jolla Airbnbs nearby, if you want to spend the night. Read our full guide on things to do in La Jolla, where to stay, and where to eat.
La Jolla Cove
We have witnessed some awe-inspiring sunsets overlooking La Jolla Cove. It’s no wonder as this is one of the most photographed beaches in Southern California. The inlet, surrounded by picturesque sandstone cliffs and ledges sports impressive swells accompanying picture-perfect sunset views so breathtaking, you’ll be in awe.
Coronado Beach at Hotel Del Coronado
Vast expanses of glittery beach here give sunset lovers lots of personal space. It’s an ideal spot for sharing a cocktail or glass of wine with your special someone, family, and friends. Grab a drink at the Hotel del Coronado’s Beach & Taco Shack and dig your toes in the sand. Or if sand isn’t your thing, the Babcock & Story Bar is a perfect spot to enjoy a coastal sunset.
While the sun here actually sets behind Point Loma during the winter months, it still sets the skies above Coronado and Point Loma on fire with dazzling beauty.
We love absolutely love this North County beach town, and sunsets from its almost 2,000-foot historic pier are astonishing. The 125-year-old structure with its high pilings is one of the longest on the West Coast. You’ll see fishermen casting their lines hoping to land a big one, while surfers catch a wave on some of North County’s best surf. It’s simply magical.
An 823-foot-tall promontory at the southernmost end of La Jolla, Mount Soledad offers endless views of the azure waters of the Pacific. Home to the Mount Soledad National Veteran’s Memorial, it’s also a perfect place to capture a sunset. Because of the towering vantage point, the sun appears to take its good old time melting into the horizon. But dress warm and bring a blanket, as it can get a bit windy and chilly up here.
The tallest summit in San Diego with an elevation of 900 feet, Cowles Mountain in East County is a three-mile fairly steep hike to the top. It’s worth the climb, as the view here is spectacular, and you can even see Mexico on a clear day. But factor in your planning to see the sunset on the way back down, as you don’t want to get stuck up here in the dark.
San Diego Skyline from Coronado
From Coronado Ferry Landing, you have the perfect sunset view of the San Diego skyline over the bay. The reflections in the water make this spot even more magical. If you are in the mood for a small bite and a drink, take advantage of Happy Hour at Peohe’s as you watch your San Diego sunsets.
SAN DIEGO SUNSETS FROM THE SEA
Seeing San Diego from the water gives us a whole new perspective on our lovely city. And while day sails or harbor cruises offer some of the best glimpses of our picturesque landscape and iconic landmarks in the light of day, there’s something special about being on the water at sunset.
Several companies offer harbor sunset sails, but here are a few we’ve experienced and can highly recommend.
Flagship Cruises have been serving and entertaining San Diegans and guests since 1915. With stunning vistas of the city skyline, U.S. Navy fleet, Coronado island, the Coronado bridge, and so many other sites, the two-hour sunset cruise is a perfect way to also take in the sunset.
On a recent harbor trip, as the sun set over the horizon, it put on a spectacular display. Vibrant colors danced across cloud layers above evoking oohs and aahs from the guests aboard. It was absolutely one of the best sunsets we’d ever seen.
Sailing in San Diego is pretty popular. Marinas dot the coastline like sailboat farms. No wonder why. It is simply the perfect place to go sailing. If you are a beginner, you can practice in the bay, if you are advanced, there is plenty of open water to explore, and the weather is always near perfect. Even if you don’t know how to sail, you don’t have an excuse not to be out on the water. There are plenty of tours that will take you on an epic sunset sail.
- Classic Sunset Sail in San Diego
- Small-Group San Diego Sunset Sailing Excursion
- San Diego Sunset Cruise from Mission Bay
- Luxury Sunset Sail Experience on San Diego Bay – Small Group
Sunset Paddle Boarding
Standup Paddle Boarding is a fun way to get active AND enjoy a beautiful view. If you add in a spectacular sunset, you will have an experience that is absolutely unforgettable. San Diego has some prime spots for paddleboarding, whether you are a newbie or experienced SUPer. If you want a bit more guidance, check out this sunset paddleboarding tour.
Time it right and you could be seeing a colorful sunset sky from the water for just $5, and that’s quite a deal. A one-way ferry ride from San Diego’s Broadway Pier or Convention Center to Coronado Ferry Landing or vice-versa offers a scenic boat ride across the bay with amazing views.
The ferry trip from San Diego to Coronado on the oldest working ferry in the U.S. takes about 15 minutes to cruise across to the “other side.” That’s plenty of time to get those perfect photos of a radiantly-hued sky at dusk.
The newest of San Diego catamaran adventures is Triton Charters – the ideal choice for those wanting a smaller-boat experience, though this amazing yacht can handle up to 105 passengers.
Triton offers a 2 ½-hour sunset cruise with top-notch service, private tables, ample seating, and beautiful panoramic views of our beautiful city. Private and small-group charters are also available. Read our full Triton Charter sunset sail review here>>
SAN DIEGO SUNSETS FROM THE AIR
Hot Air Ballooning
If you’ve never been in a hot-air balloon, it’s an epic experience you’ll never forget – especially at sunset. It packs a definite WOW factor squared, and nothing can beat the 360-degree birds-eye landscape views of our magnificent region, while in the safe hands of FAA-certified pilots.
Compass Balloons in Del Mar offers both 3.5-hour shared and private sunset rides that include a cheese and fruit plate, and champagne aloft. Lift-off takes place from Del Mar with sightings of the Torrey Pines golf course and State Natural Reserve, stunning sandstone cliffs, beaches, with views of the ocean and grand Rancho Santa Fe estates.
On a clear day, riders can catch distant glimpses of Mount Soledad to the south, Mount Palomar Observatory perched in the eastern county mountains, and the serene views of Lake Hodges, in addition to catching, of course, a spectacular sunset.
Torrey Pines Gliderport
For your inner daredevil, Torrey Pines Gliderport in La Jolla offers tandem paragliding and hang gliding with certified, world-class pilots taking off from the towering cliffs of Torrey Pines. These 25-minute soaring escapades provide magnificent views overlooking the Pacific, and the cliffs and beaches of both Torrey Pines and La Jolla. Though the last flight of the day during the winter typically lands at around 5:00 pm., by the time you get unbuckled and take off your flight gear, it’s time for sunset.
The great news for non-adventurous types is that visitors are welcome to come to the Gliderport to watch the flyers and acrobats at no charge. And it just so happens that the Gliderport, nestled 350-feet on the cliff edge overlooking Black’s Beach has some of the most stunning sunsets in all of San Diego.
So, enjoy your sunset views however you choose to experience them. And do let us know if you have other suggestions we need to hear about. Happy Sun-setting!
Most Romantic Places To Watch San Diego Sunsets – Pin for Later:
Last Updated on September 19, 2023 by Maria Haase