San Clemente City Beach is a beach central to the city of San Clemente and the location of the distinctive San Clemente Pier. Like most beaches in Orange County, San Clemente City Beach offers excellent surfing in the right conditions, a prime fishing spot, and a welcome, if busy, seaside respite for day trippers. For surfers, the beach provides easy access to T-Street a quarter-mile away, though be advised that surfing season is closed during the summer. T-Street’s main peak breaks over a reef, producing a great right. For more grounded visitors, the San Clemente Beach Trail is a great option for a short 2.6-mile walk. It connects the entire San Clemente shoreline from North Beach To Calafia Beach, with the option to continue along the sandy shore around San Mateo Point to Onofre Beach and Trestles.
The San Clemente Pier is the most unique feature of San Clemente City Beach. The original 1,200-foot pier was built in 1928, but heavy storms in 1939 and 1983 severely damaged it. It was rebuilt in 1985 and now extends an additional 96 feet into Capistrano Bight. Since the pier is further away from the more popular surf spots, the waters here are better for lures than other beaches near San Clemente. By day, the pier attracts fishers, whose casts may haul bonito, bat ray, large sheepshead, and in one notorious occasion in 2015, an 8-foot great white shark. Whales or porpoises may also be spotted here during the appropriate seasons. At sunset, the pier becomes a striking centerpiece for photographers. By night, stars light the sky over the Pacific to the west, and from the end of the San Clemente Pier, the city of San Clemente lights up the east, its descending slopes and beach creating a topography that is casually referred to as the “Pier Bowl."