Ponto Perfection

Relax at hidden South Ponto Beach in Carlsbad

It’s no secret that San Diego County is a treasure trove of sandy shores, with locals and tourists crowding the coast year-round. So when you find a hidden, less-visited stretch of sand, it feels special. And the first time you visit South Ponto Beach in Carlsbad, you feel like you’ve struck gold. So on your next beach day, relax at South Ponto and explore the nearby 0.7-mile Batiquitos Lagoon North Bluff Trail for a scenic seaside stint.

While there is parking at the south end of the beach ($15 lot), opt for the free street parking along Carlsbad Boulevard or at the small free lot at the road’s intersection with Avenida Encinas. From there, take the paved path that descends to the sand. You’ll immediately notice why the beach is special—it’s a rare, incredibly wide and spacious stretch of sand in an undeveloped area. Small sand dunes give a little seclusion from the coast highway, and beautiful Batiquitos Lagoon lies beyond. A large rocky hill, often with a scattering of resident seagulls, provides beachgoers with an interesting vista of the Pacific.

As you walk south along the soft sand, you’ll notice a unique feature of the beach: the large rocky Batiquitos Lagoon jetty that juts out where the lagoon waters enter the ocean. Walking along the rocky structure is a must—you get great views of the lagoon to the east, the smaller stretch of beach to the south and plenty of surfers catching waves at this special spot. After exploring, walk back, grab a spot on the sand (there’s plenty of space!) and enjoy your beach day.

BONUS BATIQUITOS: If you want to move your legs a little more, head north to Avenida Encinas and cross the street heading east. Crossing over the coast highway and the train tracks, find a trailhead on your right after just 0.2 mile.

This is the Batiquitos Lagoon North Bluff Trail. Take the stairs down to the dirt path that heads toward the rugged bluffs. You’ll soon have breathtaking views of the lagoon and beyond, as the trail turns east and flanks the lagoon.

There are interpretive signs as well as plenty of benches to stop at and take it all in. Turn back at the trail’s end. If you seek even more hiking, consider a short drive to the Batiquitos Lagoon Nature Center for more trails along the water.

To get to the north parking lot for South Ponto Beach, take the I-5 to the Poinsettia Lane exit and exit west. After 0.4 mile, turn left onto Carlsbad Blvd./Coast Hwy. After 0.7 mile, find the small paved lot on your right at the intersection with Avenida Encinas.

Story and photos by Matt Pawlik, @mattitudehikes

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