Imperial Beach

San Diego County

Imperial Beach


Elder Ave. & Seacoast Dr.
Imperial Beach, CA
(619) 423-0704


Parking: Residential streets and some public lots
Hours: 7 AM to sunset

Main Attractions

  • 3½ miles of white sand beach
  • Surfing and swimming
  • Pier
  • Picnicking
  • National Wildlife Refuge

Facilities and Features

  • Parking, restrooms, showers
  • Picnic area
  • Lifeguards - 7 AM to dusk
  • Bike path to Coronado
  • Dunes Park & Portwood Pier Plaza
  • Volleyball courts, playgrounds


  • Parking, restrooms
  • Picnic area
  • Motorized beach wheelchairs available - (619) 433-8223
  • Pier (wood planking surface)


  • Severe rip currents
  • Rogue waves
  • Stingrays
  • Water pollution

Regulations (partial list)

  1. No alcohol or glass containers on the beach.
  2. No surfing or swimming near the pier
  3. Dogs on leash allowed south of Imperial Beach Blvd. and north of Palm Ave.
  4. Dogs, skates, bicycles, and skateboards are not allowed on the pier.
  5. No bonfires allowed on the beach outside city provided fire rings.

Water Quality

San Diego County Beach Water Quality


Imperial Beach Surf Cam
Imperial Pier Webcam

Map of Imperial Beach, San Diego County, CA

Imperial Beach

Imperial Beach is the southern-most beach in California, stretching 3½ miles north from the Mexican border. At the heart of the beach are the Imperial Beach Pier and Portwood Pier Plaza. The beach has a long history as one of the best surfing spots in California.

Sandcastle Competition

For 32 summers sandcastle builders converged on Imperial Beach for the U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition until the event was cancelled after 2011. Reasons cited for the decision included increasing costs and not enough volunteers.

In recent years, Imperial Beach's Sun & Sea Festival has provided a venue for sand sculptors. The family-oriented event is a rebirth of an early Imperial Beach festival which includes both children's and masters' sand sculpture competitions.

Tijuana Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve and Wildlife Refuge

The Tijuana Slough Refuge is a 1,072-acre wetland around the mouth of the Tijuana River, a part of the 2,800-acre Research Reserve. Within the slough are areas of open water, tidal salt marsh, beach dune, riparian, vernal pool, and sage scrub habitats.

Over 370 species of birds have been sighted in the area. Visitors to the slough enjoy native plant gardens, guided tours, interactive exhibits and a visitor center. The visitor center is at 301 Capian Way. Trail maps are available there. The visitor center is open from 10 AM to 5 PM, Wednesday through Sunday.

The Spirit of Imperial Beach

The Spirit of Imperial Beach statue, California

The 18-foot tall statue called The Spirit of Imperial Beach honors the surfing and sandcastle history at Imperial Beach. At the foot of the statue are two children building sandcastles.

The bronze sculpture was designed by artist A. Wasil. It is located at the west end of Palm Avenue.

Nearby Restaurants and Shops

  • Cowabunga, 10 Evergreen Avenue - ice cream shop at the foot of the pier
  • Pretzels & Much More, 10 Evergreen Avenue
  • IB Forum Sports Bar & Grill, 1079 Seacoast Drive
  • SEA 180, 800 Seacoast Drive
  • Seacoast Grill, 710 Seacoast Drive
  • Babycakes, 875 Seacoast Drive - coffee house and bake shop

Babycakes, Imperial Beach, California


Imperial Beach Pier

The wooden Imperial Beach Pier is especially popular with anglers. Restrooms are located half-way out the pier. At the end of the 1,500-foot pier is the Tin Fish Restaurant with a wrap-around view of the ocean. Read more about the pier on our BEACH ACTIVITIES page. The pier is open from 5 AM to 10 PM.

Portwood Pier Plaza

A colorful sculpture known as Surfhenge serves as the gateway to Portwood Pier Plaza. Located at the foot of the Imperial Beach Pier, the plaza includes restrooms, a dozen picnic tables, a tot lot, off-street parking, an entertainment stage, and a grass area. The park is open from 5 AM to 10 PM.

entrance to Imperial Beach pier, known as Surfhenge, San Diego County, California

The Imperial Beach Certified Farmers' Market is located adjacent to Pier Plaza at the foot of the pier. They are open on Fridays from noon to 7:30 PM (6 PM in the winter).

Dunes Park

Dunes Park is adjacent to the beach, several blocks north of the pier. The park features 10 picnic tables, restrooms, showers, water fountains, a play structure, a grass area, a basketball hoop, and off-street parking. The park is open from 7 AM to 10 PM.

Surf and Dive Shops

  • Salt Water Magic, 226 Palm Avenue
  • Surf Hut, 710 Seacoast Drive
  • TNT Surf Shop, 206 Palm Avenue
  • Natural Selection Surfboards, 123 Elkwood Avenue
  • I.B. Divers, 641 9th Street

Ocean Safety

California State Parks and Recreation cautions that "large surf, cold water temperatures, backwash, sudden drop-offs, pounding shorebreak, and dangerous rip currents can turn what seem like safe activities such as playing near the surf line, wading, or climbing on rock outcroppings, deadly." Learn more about ocean safety at CA State Parks: Ocean Safety

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