Oceanside Harbor: There is a popular surfing area just north of the San Luis Rey river outlet, boats to watch while you walk around the harbor, all while enjoying the breeze and cooler temperatures. Places to barbecue around the water at picnic tables near the docks. Several restaurants are in walking or driving distance, such as Jolly Roger, Lighthouse Oyster Bar and Grill, Joe’s Crab Shack, Harbor Fish & Chips, and more.
The Strand / Oceanside City Beach: Enjoy walking the boardwalk and/or the pier, listen to music, watch the skateboarders too. Families and couples and friends all visit this area day and night. Ice cream for the kids, music (sometimes live concerts) for adults, and the sunset / night market is held on Thursday nights 5-9pm year round as well.
Buccaneer Beach: Public beach access just a couple of miles south of the pier with lifeguards and good waves to practice surfing on. Surfers and swimmers are separated into designated areas. Generally we see families gathering here for holidays and birthdays. The community park across the street has a large grassy area, playground, basketball courts, barbecue grills, restrooms, snack bar, etc. Easy access: park on the street and walk to the park or the beach.
Agua Hedionda Lagoon: at the I-5 Freeway and Cannon Road. Water sports: kayaking, stand up paddle boards, si-du’s, waterskiing, etc. Picnic benches and beach area on the lagoon where you rent equipment. Some public beaches to rest/enjoy along the lagoon’s shore further east from the freeway. Dog beach you can walk to as well (park and walk).
South Carlsbad State Beach: Carlsbad Blvd just north of Cannon Road: campgrounds overlooking the beach with bathrooms (link) and generally not-so-crowded beaches great for swimming, boogie-boarding, and surfing. If you are interested in camping, you need advance reservations! They sell out fast! BBQ at the campgrounds. There are restrooms and showers.
Ponto Beach: South of Poinsettia Bl and the Coast Highway (101): surfer’s favorite in North County