I have a special fondness for Windansea Beach. When I moved to San Diego in 1991 I lived in a house on Kolmar St, one block away. Windansea beach is one of the classic San Diego Beach scenes. It is noted for some of the most expert surfing in Southern California.
Location: Corner of Neptune Pl and Bonair St, La Jolla
Beach Type: Rocky and Scenic
Access: Short staircase
Parking: Free street parking
Facilities: None (sometimes a port-o-potty)
Good For: Tide Pools, Surfing, Sunbathing, People watching
Not Good For: Families looking for a traditional beach day, swimming
Windansea Beach is known for its palm hut first built in 1946 (and rebuilt several times since). In the 1960s, Windansea Beach featured in the Thomas Wolfe book The Pump House Gang. The Pump House Gang was about the surfers that hang out at the beach. For a good article on its history go here.
Surfing is a huge attraction at Windansea Beach. However, this is an area for experts only. Locals are known to pick fights with outsiders they feel don’t belong. For a good novel on that issue see Don Winslow’s The Gentlemen’s Hour (he doesn’t specifically name the beach but it is definitely in this area).
Most visitors to Windansea Beach go for the sunbathing and people watching. The crowd here is the typical stereotype of the good-looking California. Many girls come to check out the surfers. Many non-surfing guys come to check out the girls.
The beach here is very rocky and rough. Any swimming beyond simple wading is not advised. Lifeguards are at this area, but mainly for the surfers. When I lived here I was amazed at how every day the beach had a different look as the tide would shift the sand around.
Overall if you want to see the Southern California surf scene, this is one of best spots. There are no facilities, but there are plenty of near by restaurants and stores. This is not an isolated area. It can also be fun to walk around the neighborhood to see the houses. This is some of the most high-end real estate in the country.