Beach Questions
Live: ted on Jul 23 2014, 7:08 pm PDT   Air/Ocean: 70.0/69   Wind: Northwest 11   Surf: 1-2 SW   Smooth Ocean Surface   Sky: Clear 10 miles   Coastal Camera
Recreation > Beach > Questions > Beach Questions
Show Index
What hours are the beaches and pier open?

San Clemente beaches and pier are open from 4:00 a.m. until 12:00 midnight.

Where is it safe for my family and I to swim?

The safest area to swim at this beach or any other beach, is near a manned lifeguard tower. Please contact the lifeguard on duty to find out about particular hazards and to find the safest place to swim that day (this changes daily).

What is a rip current or rip tide and how do I avoid them?

Rip currents are the cause of over 90% of our swimmer rescues each year (we average over 1,200 rescues per year). These are normally small channels of water flowing seaward, which will pull swimmers away from the shore to an area just past the surf zone. Normally, you can see these from the beach by looking for brownish water extending out through the surf zone. They are often slightly “choppy” in appearance (rougher looking). Please ask a lifeguard to identify the rip currents where you plan to swim.

To exit a rip current, simply swim parallel to the beach (with the side current) until you are out of the current. Then, return to the beach. Do not panic! If you cannot escape from the rip, just relax, tread water, and waive for assistance. The worst thing that will happen, is the rip current will pull you past the surf, where it will disperse.

What safety tips do you offer for swimming in San Clemente?

1. Swim Near A Lifeguard: USLA statistics over a ten year period show that the chance of drowning at a beach without lifeguard protection is almost five times as great as drowning at a beach with lifeguards. USLA has calculated the chance that a person will drown while attending a beach protected by USLA affiliated lifeguards at 1 in 18 million (.0000055%).

2. Learn To Swim: Learning to swim is the best defense against drowning. Teach children to swim at an early age. Children who are not taught when they are very young tend to avoid swim instruction as they age, probably due to embarrassment. Swimming instruction is a crucial step to protecting children from injury or death.

3. Never Swim Alone: Many drownings involve single swimmers. When you swim with a buddy, if one of you has a problem, the other may be able to help, including signaling for assistance from others. At least have someone onshore watching you.

4. Don't Fight the Current: USLA has found that some 80% of rescues by USLA affiliated lifeguards at ocean beaches are caused by rip currents. These currents are formed by surf and gravity, because once surf pushes water up the slope of the beach, gravity pulls it back. This can create concentrated rivers of water moving offshore. Some people mistakenly call this an undertow, but there is no undercurrent, just an offshore current. If you are caught in a rip current, don't fight it by trying to swim directly to shore. Instead, swim parallel to shore until you feel the current relax, then swim to shore. Most rip currents are narrow and a short swim parallel to shore will bring you to safety.

5. Swim Sober: Alcohol is a major factor in drowning. Alcohol can reduce body temperature and impair swimming ability. Perhaps more importantly, both alcohol and drugs impair good judgment, which may cause people to take risks they would not otherwise take.

6. Leash Your Board: Surfboards and body boards should be used only with a leash. Leashes are usually attached to the board and the ankle or wrist. They are available in most shops where surfboards and body boards are sold or rented. With a leash, the user will not become separated from the floatation device. One additional consideration is a breakaway leash. A few drownings have been attributed to leashes becoming entangled in underwater obstructions. A breakaway leash avoids this problem.

7. Don't Float Where You Can't Swim: Non-swimmers often use floatation devices, like inflatable rafts, to go offshore. If they fall off, they can quickly drown. No one should use a floatation device unless they are able to swim. Use of a leash is not enough because a non-swimmer may panic and be unable to swim back to the floatation device, even with a leash. The only exception is a person wearing a Coast Guard approved life jacket.

8. Life Jackets = Boating Safety: Some 80% of fatalities associated with boating accidents are from drowning. Most involve people who never expected to end up in the water, but fell overboard or ended up in the water when the boat sank. Children are particularly susceptible to this problem and in many states, children are required to be in lifejackets whenever they are aboard boats.

9. Don't Dive Headfirst, Protect Your Neck: Serious, lifelong injuries, including paraplegia, occur every year due to diving headfirst into unknown water and striking the bottom. Bodysurfing can result in a serious neck injury when the swimmer's neck strikes the bottom. Check for depth and obstructions before diving, then go in feet first the first time; and use caution while bodysurfing, always extending a hand ahead of you.

10. At Home, You're the Lifeguard: Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in many states for children age one and two. A major reason for this is home pools, which can be death traps for toddlers. Many of these deaths occur in the few moments it takes a parent to answer a telephone or doorbell. NEVER leave a child alone anywhere near a pool. Make sure it is completely fenced, that the fence is locked, and that there is no access from the home to the pool. Don't let your child or a neighbor's child get into the pool when you're not there.

11. Consider having your children participate in a junior lifeguard program. : These programs are designed to teach beach and ocean safety to children. For more information on San Clemente’s program, please call (949) 361-8261.

12. Wear a waterproof sunscreen!

I've heard about wheelchairs that can go on the sand. Do you have any for public use?


There are two “beach wheelchairs" at Marine Safety Headquarters for public use (free of charge). Please call (949) 361-8219 to make reservations (highly recommended).

Are fires or barbeques allowed on the beach?

Fires are allowed in self contained barbeques (off of the sand) or fire pits only. Please dispose of hot coals in fire rings only, not in trash cans since this can start fires.

What is illegal on San Clemente Beaches?

Following is a summary of some of the main laws that apply to City Beaches. For a complete list of laws, please contact the City Clerk at (949) 361-8301. For specific questions, please contact the Marine Safety Division at (949) 361-8219.

1. The consumption of alcohol or possession of opened alcohol beverages is prohibited on San Clemente beaches.

2. Dogs are prohibited on San Clemente beaches.

3. Riding of bicycles is prohibited on the asphalt area extending north and south of the base of the pier at any time. Riding of bicycles is prohibited on those portions of the Beach Trail that overlay the beach service road from June 15 through Labor Day.

4. Littering is prohibited.

5. Any activity deemed dangerous to the public (typically on crowded days) can be prohibited at the lifeguard’s discretion.

6. Glass containers on the beach or pier are prohibited.

7. Overhead casting on the pier is prohibited.

8. Jumping or diving from the pier is prohibited.

9. Public nudity is prohibited.

10. Amplified sound is prohibited.

11. Motor vehicles on the beach or pier are prohibited.

12. Removal of sand from beach or digging holes greater than two feet is prohibited.

13. Smoking on the beach, beach trail or pier is prohibited.

What is Neighborhood Beach Watch?
For information about Neighborhood Beach Watch, please Click Here.

Beach Concessions
The following are privately contracted concessions serving beach patrons located at: North Beach, just south of the pier, on the pier (3 concessions), and T-Street. Please call for hours of operation.

Fisherman’s Bar & Restaurant – (949) 498-6390
Kahuna Burger – (949) 361-3811
San Clemente Pier Shack & Grill – (949) 498-2247
The Crab Pot Restaurant and Beach Eatery – (949) 498-6390
T-Street Surfer – (949) 492-2205

City of San Clemente
City Hall | 100 Avenida Presidio, San Clemente, CA 92672 | Phone (949) 361-8200  |  FAX (949) 361-8285
Community Development | 910 Calle Negocio, Suite 100, San Clemente, CA, 92673 | Phone (949) 361-6100  |  FAX (949) 361-8281
Contact Us!  |  Disclaimer  |  eMail City Hall  |  eMail Community Development  |  eMail Web Master  |  Hit Count  |  Website Map
Tag map to City Hall     Scan this tag with your smartphone to map to City Hall. for free mobile app.