Are you looking for the closest beach to Tucson? If so, you’ve come to the right place!
As frequent travelers and beachgoers who have been to Tucson several times, we are here to tell you that an incredible escape is just waiting for you.
With less than three or so hours of driving between Tucson and some of the best lakeside beaches in Arizona, you can be soaking up the sun and enjoying that cool breeze in no time.
Or if the salty ocean air is more what you were hoping for, there are several spots that you can reach in less than a day.
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Closest Beach To Tucson: Oceanfront Options
When we think of beaches, we picture the ocean. So we are starting our list with a few oceanfront options. They will be further than the lakeside beaches, as you will see later, but well worth it if you want salty air and seagulls.
1. Playa Hermosa
🚙 4 Hours | Puerto Penasco, Mexico (aka Rocky Point, Mexico)
Imagine a serene beach getaway with warm sands, crystal-clear waters, and a laid-back atmosphere.
As you step onto Playa Hermosa’s sandy shore, you’ll be greeted by the gentle lapping of waves and the scent of salty sea air.
The beach’s calm and shallow waters make it an ideal spot for swimming, snorkeling, or simply floating in the warm embrace of the Sea of Cortez.
And with plenty of space to spread out as this beach is massive, you’ll have no trouble finding the perfect spot to relax and soak up the sun.
When you’re ready for a break from the white sandy beach, meander through the resort city of Puerto Penasco’s vibrant streets. You’ll find many colorful shops, restaurants, and bars.
Sample the local cuisine, from fresh seafood dishes to mouthwatering street tacos. And don’t forget to try a refreshing margarita or an ice-cold cerveza.
📎 Note: For Playa Hermosa and our next suggestion, Playa Mirador, you will be traveling to Mexico. We recommend you always consider whether it is safe before crossing the border.
👉 Seems like you love being outside in the sunshine! How about taking a fun bike tour around Tucson to see the sights and eat some tacos?
2. Playa Mirador
🚙 4 Hours | Puerto Penasco, Mexico (aka Rocky Point, Mexico)
Nestled along the stunning Sea of Cortez, Playa Mirador offers a unique beach experience combining picturesque natural beauty and a lively local atmosphere.
As you wander along the shoreline of Playa Mirador, you’ll notice its distinctive landscape. It is characterized by intriguing rock formations, white sandy beaches, and tide pools full of life.
The beach’s shallow waters and gentle waves make it an excellent spot for families, swimmers, and even snorkelers eager to explore the vibrant underwater world.
When it is low tide, you’ll have the opportunity to venture out among the rocks and discover a wealth of fascinating sea creatures in the tide pools, from colorful starfish to playful hermit crabs.
You’ll find a bustling scene of shops, bars, and restaurants just steps from the beach. Make sure to indulge in delicious Mexican cuisine and immerse yourself in the vibrant sounds of live music and laughter.
📎 Tip: Playa Mirador turns into Playa Del Este, so you can wander along the beachfront for miles.
👉 We recommend a few hotels in Tucson below, but if you want to splurge for one with a private jacuzzi tub, we have some hotel choices just for you!
3. Coronado Beach
🚙 6 Hrs 5 Min | Coronado, California
This stunning beach is a must-visit destination for beach lovers and sun-seekers alike.
From basking in the warm California sun to leisurely strolls along the shoreline, there’s something for everyone here.
The beach is also popular among surfers, thanks to its consistent waves and friendly atmosphere.
Walking along the shore, you’ll likely come across the occasional sandcastle masterpiece, a testament to the creative beachgoers who frequent this spot.
And if you’re lucky, you might even spot a pod of dolphins frolicking in the distant waves.
👉 Wondering whether Tucson is worth it to visit? Especially without a beach just next door? We have all the details to help you make a decision.
4. Newport Beach
🚙 7 Hrs 15 Min | Newport Beach, California
Newport Beach boasts an idyllic combination of coastal charm and urban sophistication, with a vibrant community that welcomes visitors with open arms.
The beach is a glorious stretch of golden sand, perfect for sunbathing, beach volleyball, and building sandcastles with the little ones.
The water at Newport Beach is inviting and perfect for swimming or trying your hand at paddleboarding or surfing.
And if you’re a fan of marine life, you won’t miss the chance to explore the tide pools teeming with intriguing creatures.
When you’re ready to refuel after a day of fun in the sun, the area surrounding Newport Beach offers a diverse selection of eateries. They range from laid-back beach cafes to upscale restaurants.
And as the sun sets, there’s nothing quite like a leisurely stroll down the picturesque Newport Pier to cap off your day.
👉 If you are visiting Tucson, you must head to Saguaro National Park. We provide the ultimate guide to whether you should pick the East or West District to visit.
5. Huntington City Beach
🚙 7 Hrs 25 Min | Huntington Beach, California
Huntington City Beach is famous for its consistent swells and draws surfers worldwide, eager to catch the perfect wave.
But even if you’re not a surfer, there’s plenty to enjoy on this expansive stretch of sandy shoreline.
From soaking up the sun and people-watching to playing a friendly game of beach volleyball or exploring the iconic Huntington Beach Pier, there’s no shortage of activities to keep you entertained.
While you’re there, don’t forget to check out the International Surfing Museum. You can delve into the rich history of surfing culture and learn about the sport’s legendary figures.
And if you happen to visit in the summer, you might catch the annual US Open of Surfing, a prestigious surfing competition that attracts the world’s top athletes.
While this may not be the closest beach to Tucson in terms of the ocean, it is a must for those wanting to try their hand at surfing.
6. Santa Monica State Beach
🚙 7 Hrs 40 Min | Santa Monica, California
Step into the quintessential California beach experience at Santa Monica State Beach, a stunning stretch of coastline that perfectly captures the essence of the Golden State.
Santa Monica State Beach offers a vast expanse of pristine sand, ideal for sunbathing, beachcombing, or engaging in a friendly game of frisbee.
And if you’re in the mood for a refreshing swim, the cool waters of the Pacific Ocean beckon you to dive right in.
A visit to Santa Monica State Beach wouldn’t be complete without a stroll down the famous Santa Monica Pier.
Home to the historic Pacific Park amusement park, the pier offers an array of attractions for visitors of all ages. This includes a charming carousel, an exhilarating roller coaster, and the iconic Ferris wheel, which offers breathtaking views of the coastline.
As you explore the area, you’ll also find a wide selection of shops, restaurants, and cafes. They are perfect for grabbing a bite to eat or picking up a souvenir to remember your visit.
If you really want to lean into the whole beach vibe with the fun pier, this is the closest beach to Tucson that will provide it.
Beaches Near Tucson Az: Lakefront Options
Now that we have discussed the beaches you can visit on the coast, let’s talk about the ones on the lake. Since Arizona is landlocked, you will find that many of these lakes are great options for enjoying a beach without the long drive to get there.
7. Beach At Tanque Verde Falls
🚙 45 Min | Coronado National Forest Near Tucson
Tanque Verde Falls is a secluded natural wonder tucked away in the Coronado National Forest near Tucson, Arizona.
This hidden gem offers an unforgettable experience for nature lovers and adventure seekers who want a unique, off-the-beaten-path destination.
To reach Tanque Verde Falls, you must embark on a moderately challenging hike through the beautiful desert landscape, traversing rocky terrain and crossing the Tanque Verde Creek.
The trail, approximately 2 miles round trip, rewards hikers with spectacular views of the falls, which cascade gracefully into a series of sparkling pools below.
The beach area surrounding the falls provides a serene spot to relax and soak up the sun while listening to the soothing sounds of the rushing water.
For those who love swimming, the pools at the base of the falls offer a refreshing and invigorating experience. This is particularly true during the hotter months of the year.
While this is by far the closest beach to Tucson, it is also probably the least likely to be considered a “beach.” So keep that in mind during a visit.
📎 Tip: Exercise caution while visiting Tanque Verde Falls, as the terrain can be challenging and slippery, particularly after rainfall.
8. Beach At Patagonia Lake State Park
🚙 1 Hrs 20 Min | Nogales, Arizona
Tucked away in the rolling hills of southern Arizona lies an unexpected oasis: Patagonia Lake State Park.
This picturesque lakeside destination offers a refreshing alternative to the ocean, with a host of recreational activities perfect for a fun-filled day trip or a weekend getaway.
As you arrive at Patagonia Lake State Park, you’ll be greeted by the shimmering blue waters of the 260-acre Patagonia Lake, surrounded by verdant greenery and desert flora.
The beach area is perfect for laying out a towel and soaking up the sun. Meanwhile, the gentle lapping of the lake’s waters creates a soothing soundtrack for relaxation.
When you’re ready for action, the park offers various activities to suit all interests.
Take a refreshing swim in the designated swimming area. Or rent a kayak or canoe to explore the lake’s hidden coves and inlets.
9. Beach At Roper Lake State Park
🚙 2 Hrs | Safford, Arizona
Imagine a peaceful haven amid the rugged beauty of the Arizona desert, where sparkling waters and lush greenery provide the perfect backdrop for a day of fun and relaxation.
Enter Roper Lake State Park, a 32-acre park surrounded by towering cottonwood trees and majestic mountain views.
The park’s beach offers a welcoming spot to enjoy the sun, build sandcastles, or take a refreshing dip in the lake’s inviting waters.
Or, if you’d rather stay out of the water, you can find several hiking trails to immerse yourself in nature. You might even catch glimpses of local wildlife like rabbits, quail, and roadrunners.
And if you’re looking to unwind after a day of outdoor adventure, treat yourself to a soothing soak in the park’s natural hot springs. They are said to have therapeutic properties.
10. Beach At Lake Pleasant Regional Park
🚙 2 Hrs 20 Min | Morristown, Arizona
A sprawling regional park surrounds the beautiful Lake Pleasant. This large reservoir serves as a refreshing oasis for outdoor enthusiasts and beach lovers.
You’ll be in awe at the stunning sight of the glistening lake, surrounded by rugged desert landscapes and rolling hills.
There are a couple of different beach areas at this large lake. So wander around to find the one that best suits you.
For those who crave adventure, Lake Pleasant is a haven for water-based activities. The lake’s calm waters are ideal for swimming, while its large size provides ample room for boating, kayaking, and paddleboarding. You can even join a cruise if you want to.
Keep your eyes peeled for the wild donkeys that roam the area.
11. Centennial Beach At West Wetlands Park
🚙 3 Hrs 30 Min | Yuma, Arizona
Experience the charm and tranquility of Centennial Beach, a family-friendly riverside haven.
Upon arriving at West Wetlands Park, you’ll be greeted by the lush greenery and the gentle flow of the Colorado River.
Centennial Beach, with its sandy shores and shady trees, provides a welcoming spot for families to unwind, play, or share a packed lunch. All while taking in the serene views of the river and its surroundings.
Take the opportunity to swim into California from Arizona. Once you get about 1/3 of the way into the river, you will have crossed to another state.
Or try your hand at canoeing or kayaking down the river, exploring the river’s calm waters and diverse ecosystems.
This may not be the absolute closest beach to Tucson, but because of the unique ability to visit two states with one swim in the river, this one is near the top of our personal list.
12. Beach At Cattail Cove State Park
🚙 4 Hrs 35 Min | Lake Havasu City, Arizona
Escape the everyday grind and discover a scenic sanctuary at Cattail Cove State Park, nestled along the shores of Lake Havasu in Arizona.
Cattail Cove State Park has no shortage of recreational activities to suit everyone who visits.
Take to the waters with a kayak or paddleboard, or explore the lake by boat, venturing in and out of coves to see what you find.
If you enjoy fishing, you will appreciate the opportunity to fish for bass and catfish in the lake’s abundant waters.
The park’s beach area provides an inviting spot to relax and soak up the sun while the clear waters beckon you to take a refreshing dip.
13. Beach At Elephant Butte Lake State Park
🚙 4 Hrs 40 Min | Elephant Butte, New Mexico
Embark on a journey to Elephant Butte Lake State Park, an expansive desert playground in southern New Mexico.
You can’t help but be captivated by the impressive sight of the sprawling reservoir. It spans over 36,000 acres when full after all!
The park’s beach provides the ideal spot for sunbathing or simply taking in the breathtaking views of the desert and distant mountain ranges. Dive into the cool, refreshing waters when you get too hot.
The area also features a network of hiking trails for those who prefer to stay on dry land.
Watch for wildlife such as quail, roadrunners, and even the occasional desert bighorn sheep as you traverse these paths.
14. Beach At Lake Havasu State Park
🚙 4 Hrs 55 Min | Lake Havasu City, Arizona
Prepare to be swept away by the breathtaking beauty and endless recreational opportunities at Lake Havasu State Park Beach.
Located along the picturesque Colorado River in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, this popular destination boasts a unique blend of desert landscapes and sparkling waters. This makes it an irresistible draw for those wanting a day to play.
The vast expanse of crystal-clear waters stretching out before you will captivate your senses. And the park’s beach is perfect for some downtime.
And when you are done relaxing and want to get active, try your hand at jet skis, water skiing, a boat ride, and so much more.
Make sure to enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding mountains and the famous London Bridge during your visit.
This is definitely the closest beach to Tucson with ties to London, England. The London Bridge you see here used to span the River Thames in England until 1968.
15. Willow Beach At Lake Mohave
🚙 5 Hrs 40 Min | Willow Beach, Arizona
This charming beach destination is perfect for a relaxing day trip or an extended vacation filled with outdoor activities and stunning natural beauty.
The serene atmosphere of Willow Beach along the banks of Lake Mohave will captivate you from the start.
And the beach invites you to lay out a towel and bask in the warm Arizona sun. Just don’t listen to the river’s gentle flow too long, or you will be sleeping like a baby.
If you want to explore the river, rent a boat and venture up or downstream to discover hidden coves, sandy beaches, and the awe-inspiring Black Canyon.
The surrounding area also offers ample hiking and wildlife viewing opportunities.
Trek along the nearby trails, such as the Arizona Hot Spring Trail or the White Rock Canyon Trail, and watch for coyotes and a diverse array of birdlife.
16. Boulder Beach At Lake Mead Recreation Area
🚙 5 Hrs 55 Min | Boulder City, Nevada
Immerse yourself in the vast beauty of Boulder Beach, located within the stunning Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Nevada.
Upon arriving at Lake Mead National Recreation Area, you’ll be greeted by Lake Mead’s massive, expansive waters. These are set against a backdrop of magnificent desert and rugged mountains.
While the beach is a perfect spot for swimming and sunbathing, it is called boulder beach for a reason. This is not a sand beach but a rocky beach. So wear appropriate footwear.
Beyond the beach, Lake Mead National Recreation Area boasts over 1.5 million acres of land to explore and the perfect waters for water sports.
So plan to spend ample time on a visit to fit in some hiking and boating along with your beach day.
17. Cottonwood Cove At Lake Mohave
🚙 6 Hrs 10 Min | Cottonwood Cove, Nevada
This tranquil desert retreat offers an idyllic setting for water enthusiasts, nature lovers, and those seeking a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
As you approach Cottonwood Cove, notice the unbelievable contrast between the desert, mountains, and waters of Lake Mohave.
The beach provides a welcoming spot to relax and read a book. All the while taking in the breathtaking views of the local scenery.
As with so many of the other spots on our list, this one also offers tons of options when it comes to recreational activities. Kayaking, paddleboarding, swimming, and fishing are all at your fingertips while you spend time here at the lake.
The surrounding area offers plenty of outdoor activities for you to explore as well.
Hiking trails, such as the Grapevine Canyon Trail, allow you to immerse yourself in the region’s natural landscapes. Don’t forget to look for the fascinating petroglyphs left by ancient inhabitants.
18. Moreno Beach At Lake Perris State Recreation Area
🚙 6 Hrs 30 Min | Perris, California
Experience the best of Southern California at Moreno Beach, situated within the picturesque Lake Perris State Recreation Area.
The lake has a delightful blend of outdoor activities, relaxation, and stunning beauty, making it an ideal spot for a fun-filled day trip.
The glistening waters of Lake Perris will capture your imagination, framed by rolling hills and lush vegetation.
While Moreno Beach invites you to unwind, sunbathe, or have a good laugh with friends and family while soaking in the lakeside views.
The lake’s calm waters are perfect for swimming, and the network of scenic hikes in the area will immerse you in diverse landscapes.
19. Cleghorn beach At Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area
🚙 7 Hrs 15 Min | Hesperia, California
Cleghorn Beach at Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area is a beautiful and popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts looking for a refreshing retreat from the desert heat.
The beach is one of the most popular spots at Silverwood Lake. It offers a spacious location with plenty of room to relax, play, and melt under the sun.
You can rest assured that your kids will be safe during the summer, as lifeguards are on duty.
The clear and cool waters of the lake are perfect for swimming and paddling, and visitors can rent kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards to explore the lake.
In addition to the beach, the local area has several hiking paths, including a segment of the Pacific Crest Trail. If you feel up to a hike, pick up part of the trail to take in some magnificent views of the lake and surrounding mountains.
20. Lea Lake Beach At Bottomless Lakes State Park
🚙 7 Hrs 40 Min | Bottomless Lakes, New Mexico
Venture into the enchanting world of Bottomless Lakes State Park, located in southeastern New Mexico.
Renowned for its unique geological formations and serene atmosphere, this captivating destination offers an unforgettable retreat. It is perfect for nature lovers seeking a one-of-a-kind experience.
As you enter Bottomless Lakes State Park, you’ll be awestruck by the series of deep, blue-green sinkholes that dot the landscape.
The largest of these, Lea Lake, boasts a beach that invites you to relax and let go of the work week while you soak in your vitamin D.
The lake’s crystal-clear waters create a refreshing oasis for swimming, with the surrounding cliffs providing a dramatic backdrop.
But, of course, the mystique of Bottomless Lakes State Park extends beyond its tranquil beach area.
The park’s hiking trails, such as the Bluff Trail and the Wetlands Trail, allow you to explore the striking gypsum cliffs, diverse plant life, and thriving wetlands that make this destination so appealing.
And if you get an inkling to look for aliens, you are only about 15 miles from the town of Roswell.
This might be the closest beach to Tucson where you have a chance of encountering little green men who will be eternally grateful to you for saving their lives (Toy Story anyone??).
21. Sandy Cove Beach In Sand Hollow State Park
🚙 8 Hrs 10 Min | Hurricane, Utah
Discover the beauty of Sandy Cove Beach, nestled within the vibrant Sand Hollow State Park in Utah.
Upon entering the park, you will first notice the striking contrast between the brilliant red sandstone cliffs and the dazzling blue waters of Sand Hollow Reservoir.
With its fine red sand and tranquil shoreline, Sandy Cove Beach invites you to unwind, pull out a good book, and release your stress. And the view isn’t bad either.
The reservoir’s calm waters are perfect for swimming and paddleboarding. And the trails provide the perfect place for off-roading or equestrian riding.
As you traverse some of the landscape in the park, be on the lookout for local wildlife like desert tortoises and various bird species.
Rundown Of The Closest Beach To Tucson Az
Now that you have seen all your options for the closest beach in Tucson, let’s do a quick recap.
Recap Of The Closest Beaches To Tucson
- Tanque Verde Falls
- Patagonia Lake State Park
- Roper Lake State Park
- Lake Pleasant Regional Park
- Centennial Beach at West Wetlands Park
- Cattail Cove State Park
- Lake Havasu State Park
- Willow Beach at Lake Mohave
- Coronado Beach
- Newport Beach
- Huntington City Beach
- Santa Monica State Beach
- Moreno Beach at Lake Perris State Recreation Area
- Cleghorn Beach at Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area
- Boulder Beach at Lake Mead Recreation Area
- Cotton Cove at Lake Mohave
- New Mexico
- Elephant Butte Lake State Park
- Lea Lake at Bottomless Lakes State Park
- Sandy Cove Beach at Sand Hollow State Park
- Playa Hermosa
- Playa Mirador
Map For Beaches Near Tucson
Visual learners always find maps helpful. This custom map shows all the options for the closest beach to Tucson.
If you are using your phone right now, you can click the box in the top right corner, and the map will open directly into google maps. From there, you can pull up directions and head straight there! How easy is that?!
Where To Stay In Tucson
If you are staying overnight in Tucson before making your way to the beach, here are a few suggestions.
Luxury 💵 💵 💵 – JW Marriott Tuscon Starr Pass Resort
- Spectacular mountain and desert views, with three 9-hole golf courses
- Spacious and comfortable rooms with private balconies, luxury bedding, and marble bathrooms
- World-class amenities include several restaurants and bars, a spa, a fitness center, and multiple swimming pools
Mid-Range 💵 💵 – DoubleTree By Hilton Tucson Downtown Convention
- Convenient downtown location, within walking distance of numerous restaurants, bars, and attractions
- Spacious and modern rooms with comfortable beds
- On-site amenities include a restaurant, bar, fitness center, and rooftop pool with breathtaking city views
Budget 💵 – Graduate Tucson
- Quirky and fun decor inspired by Tucson’s history and culture
- Comfortable and stylish rooms with colorful accents and modern amenities
- Convenient location near the University of Arizona, with easy access to downtown Tucson and local attractions
If you plan to head to the closest beach to Tucson, renting a car and hitting the open road is undoubtedly the best option.
While some beaches are within a few hours’ drive, others are farther away and can take a day to reach.
With a rental car, you’ll have the freedom and flexibility to explore at your own pace and stop at scenic viewpoints along the way.
Discover Cars is an excellent option for finding your rental car, with a range of vehicles and affordable rates to fit any budget. They also have all the biggest names in rental cars, like Hertz and Dollar.
FAQS For Beaches Near Tucson Az
Let’s discuss some common questions.
How Far Is Tucson From A Beach
Tucson is surrounded by several lakes, with the closest being Patagonia Lake State Park and Roper Lake State Park, both of which are within a 2-hour drive. As these are state parks, these beaches will be lakefront, not oceanfront beaches.
How Far Is Tucson Az To The Ocean
Tucson, Az, is approximately 215 miles from the closest ocean beach located in Puerto Penasco, Mexico. Once in Rocky Point, you will have several beach options to choose from. If you feel uncomfortable leaving the USA, California has the closest ocean beach, about 410 miles away.
What Is The Closest California Beach To Tucson
The closest California beach to Tucson is Coronado Beach, located in San Diego, California, approximately 410 miles away. Other famous California beaches, such as Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, and Santa Monica State Beach, are also within driving distance but are slightly further away than Coronado Beach.
Where Can You Go Swimming In Tucson
There are several places to go swimming in Tucson, the most common site being a public pool. Additionally, several natural swimming areas, such as Tanque Verde Falls, feature refreshing swimming holes that you can enjoy.
How Far Is Tucson From The Mexican Border
Tucson, Az, is approximately 70 miles from the Mexican border. The closest entry point is the Nogales Port of Entry, roughly an hour’s drive south of Tucson. Other border crossings within a reasonable driving distance from Tucson include the Lukeville Port of Entry, which provides access to Puerto Peñasco, a popular beach destination in Mexico.
To Finish – Closest Beach To Tucson
After exploring the options for the closest beach to Tucson, it’s clear that there are plenty of incredible destinations to choose from.
Whether you’re looking for a quick day trip or an extended beach vacation, the beaches near Tucson offer something for everyone.
From the picturesque ocean beaches of California and Mexico to the serene lakes and waterways of Arizona and Nevada, these destinations will delight beach lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike.
So pack your sunscreen, grab your swimsuit, and embark on an unforgettable adventure to discover the nearest beach to Tucson today!