Beach and Water Regulations

San Diego beach regulations are designed to ensure a safe and enjoyable time for all who visit. The following is a partial list of laws that pertain to City of San Diego beach, park, and water areas. This is not an exhaustive list and all laws are subject to change without notice. If you have any questions, check posted signs or ask a lifeguard. You may refer to boating regulations if you need more information on laws that pertain to boating on Mission Bay and the Pacific Ocean.

  • Glass Containers — Glass containers are prohibited if used to carry liquid for drinking purposes. 

  • Alcohol — Drinking alcoholic beverages is not allowed on city beaches. Municipal Code Section (PDF: 391K) 

  • Beach Fires — Fires are permitted only in fire containers provided by the City or in personal barbeques elevated off the ground. Coals must be removed or deposited in hot coal containers. 

  • Smoking — Smoking is prohibited on San Diego beaches and parks. 

  • Dogs — Dogs are permitted on beaches and in adjacent parks only from 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 a.m. and must be leashed at all times. Dogs are prohibited at other hours of the day, except at Dog Beach (adjacent to Ocean Beach) and Fiesta Island (in Mission Bay), where dogs are permitted 24 hours a day unleashed. At all locations you must clean up after your pet. 

  • Water Use Areas — Water areas off the major beaches are divided into swimming and surfing zones to separate these users. A black and yellow checker flag will normally be posted between zones. Check signs or ask a lifeguard for the proper zone for your activity. 

  • Unsafe Behavior — Regardless of the area of use, it is unlawful to use any water recreational device (surfboard, boat, etc.) in a manner which endangers others. 

  • Overnight Camping — Overnight camping and sleeping are prohibited. 

  • Boardwalk Speed Regulations — On the Mission Beach/Pacific Beach boardwalk, the maximum speed limit is 8 mph (13 kph). 

  • Cliff Jumping — Jumping from cliffs or other heights higher than five feet into the Pacific Ocean is prohibited. 

  • Lifeguard Directions — It is a misdemeanor to fail to follow the lawful order of a lifeguard or to provide false information to a lifeguard. 

  • Injuring a Lifeguard — Any person who intentionally injures a lifeguard in the State of California may be convicted of felony battery.