Santa Monica Beach

Looking for the closest beach to Tucson? Here are 23 best spots!


Have you found yourself in Tucson needing to escape the heat, wondering where the heck the nearest beach is? Look no further because this post covers 23 of the closest beaches to Tucson, including oceanside, lakeside, riverside, and more!

23 Closest Beaches Near Tucson, Arizona: An Overview:

Before we dive into more details on all 23 fantastic beach spots that are close to Tucson, let’s go over the different locations we’ll be talking about!

Location of all of the closest beaches to Tucson AZ
  • Oceanside Beaches Closest to Tucson
  • Puerto Peñasco, Mexico (Rocky Point)
  • Coronado Beach, CA
  • Newport Beach, CA
  • Huntington Beach, CA
  • Venice Beach, CA
  • Santa Monica Beach, CA
  • Lakeside Beaches Closest to Tucson
  • Patagonia Lake State Park, AZ
  • Roper Lake State Park, AZ
  • Saguaro Lake (Sadie’s Lake), AZ
  • Canyon Lake, AZ
  • Lake Pleasant, AZ
  • Roosevelt Lake, AZ
  • Riggs Flat Lake, AZ
  • Cattail Cove State Park, AZ
  • Lake Mohave, AZ & NV
  • Beaches to Hike To Near Tucson
  • Seven Falls, AZ
  • Tanque Verde Falls
  • Hutches Pool
  • Riverside Beaches Close to Tucson
  • Pebble Beach Recreation Area, AZ
  • Water Wheel Falls, AZ
  • Centennial Beach at West Wetlands Park, AZ
  • Grasshopper Point, AZ
  • Slide Rock State Park, AZ

Oceanside Beaches Close to Tucson

Oftentimes, when we think of going to the beach, we think of visiting the ocean. If that’s the type of beach you’re looking for, here are 5 oceanside beach getaways that are close to Tucson.

Puerto Peñasco – 3 hours, 45 minutes

The closest oceanside beach to Tucson is Rocky Point, located in the city of Puerto Peñasco, Mexico. It takes a little less than four hours to arrive at this dainty resort city that’s seated in the Gulf of California. Perfect for a weekend getaway, Puerto Peñasco has plenty of ideal spots to soak up the sun on its picturesque beaches.

Puerto Peñasco is the closest oceanside beach to Tucson, Arizona

Coronado Beach – 6 hours, 11 minutes

If you don’t own a passport or are simply interested in staying in the US, Coronado Beach is the second closest beach on the ocean from Tucson. Located just offshore of San Diego, Coronado Beach is a little over a six-hour drive. This urban beach attracts tourists for many reasons, but the soft sand and outdoor recreation activities that are available make the long drive worth it.

Newport Beach – 7 hours, 20 minutes

Traveling further north of the Californian coast, Newport Beach is a little over a seven-hour drive from Tucson. This quaint harbor city offers plenty of beach activities for you and your loved ones. When you need a break from the beach, head to one of the two piers or the amusement park for some additional fun on your trip.

Huntington Beach – 7 hours, 30 minutes

If you’re looking for a beach ideal for surfing that’s close to Tucson, Huntington Beach is the place for you. Known for its long 10-mile beach, long pier, and perfect temperatures, this coastline is loved by many. Pick up surfing, take a stroll on the pier, or hang out on the beach during your trip.

Venice Beach – 7 hours, 45 minutes

If you’re in Tucson looking for a nearby beach on the ocean, I’m sure Venice Beach has come up at some point or another. Featuring California’s beautiful sandy beaches, Venice Beach is the spot for all the free spirits. This beach features a skatepark, outdoor gym, shops along the boardwalk, and colorful murals along the walkway.

Santa Monica Beach

Santa Monica State Beach – 8 hours

Taking a trip to Los Angeles but hoping to escape the city? Check out Santa Monica State Beach! It’s about an eight-hour drive from Tucson and has activities for everyone, including a walking path, a pier, local shops, picnic tables, and public basketball and volleyball courts along the two-mile beach.

Lakeside Beaches Close to Tucson

Sometimes, a day trip to the beach is exactly what the doctor ordered. The best part about taking a trip from Tucson to the lake is that you don’t have to drive obnoxious distances to get that much-needed beach experience. Here are nine lakeside beaches that are close to Tucson, Arizona.

Patagonia Lake State Park – 1 hour, 20 minutes

The closest lakeside beach to Tucson is Patagonia Lake State Park. It takes a little under an hour and a half to drive to this state park located near Patagonia, Arizona. Patagonia Lake has plenty to offer: a beach, picnic sites, boat rentals, hiking trails, and great fishing spots.

Check out our YouTube video on Patagonia Lake, here!

Roper Lake State Park – 2 hours

The second closest lakeside beach to Tucson is Roper Lake State Park near Safford, Arizona. This state park is amazing because not only does it have a beach for swimming, a boat ramp, campsites, and picnic areas, but it also has a hot spring! You’ll get plenty of time to relax on a beach or near the water at Roper Lake.

Saguaro Lake (Sadies Beach) – 2 hours, 15 minutes

Just over two hours away from Tucson, Sadie’s Beach on Saguaro Lake offers a waterfront with fantastic mountain views. This waterfront may be categorized more as a rocky beach than a sandy one, but nonetheless, it’s great for the views and cooling off after a long day in the sun. This excellent swimming spot can get crowded quickly, so that’s also something to keep in mind before you go!

Canyon Lake – 2 hours, 30 minutes

Canyon Lake is great for all sorts of outdoor activities, such as boating, water and jet skiing, fishing, hiking, and of course… swimming! This lake is great for everyone since there are a ton of outdoor activities readily accessible, but relaxing on the public beach is always an option, too. This lake is surrounded by a canyon, located fairly close to the old Western town of Tortilla Flat.

Lake Pleasant – 2 hours, 30 minutes

Drive two and a half hours from Tucson to Peoria to experience the massive outdoor recreation area of Lake Pleasant. One fantastic thing about this lake is that on top of the available shoreline activities, there are also primitive campsites along the shore! Make sure you check online for the water level status as it changes throughout the year.

Roosevelt Lake – 2 hours, 45 minutes

The drive from Tucson to Roosevelt Lake is full of scenic views, and those breathtaking views don’t stop when you arrive at the lake. Serving as the largest lake in Arizona, Roosevelt Lake is famous for its largemouth bass fishing, motorized boating, and miles of beach area that can be used for both swimming and camping.

Campsite at Roosevelt Lake

Riggs Flat Lake – 3 hours, 30 minutes

Looking for a cozy, quiet, and relaxing beach on a lake? Check out Riggs Flat Lake! Escape the desert and head to this 11-acre reservoir that’s surrounded by dense pine forests and meadows.

Cattail Cove State Park – 4 hours, 45 minutes

Of course, I had to mention Lake Havasu as one of the closest beaches to Tucson! Cattail Cove State Park has got it all… sandy beaches, deep blue waters, and plenty of water activities. Check out this massive lake during your trip northwest from Tucson!

Lake Mohave – 5 hours, 50 minutes

Lake Mohave is the farthest lakeside beach on this list but is still less than a six-hour drive from Tucson. Bordering between Nevada and Arizona, this scenic reservoir offers activities for all – swimming, fishing, skiing, boating, and even scuba diving! The National Recreation Center is a great desert beach that allows visitors to swim at their liking.

Beaches to Hike To (Close to Tucson)

Maybe you’re the type of person who likes to hike to a destination! Oftentimes there’s nothing better than ending a long hike at a place you can sit down, relax, and dip your (sore) feet in the water. For all of you who want to stay in Tucson, work up a sweat, and still get access to a beach, these “hike-to” beaches are for you!

Seven Falls – 2 hours (by foot)

Seven Falls Hike

A four-mile hike with breathtaking views and seven waterfalls at the end? Count me in! Take the Bear Canyon trail in Sabino Canyon to reach the falls for a beautiful place to cool off after a long hike.

Tanque Verde Falls – 2 hours (by foot)

This short-distance, but challenging hike to Tanque Verde Falls will not leave you disappointed. The trail leads you through the saguaro-filled desert to a breathtaking series of waterfalls with a rocky beach at the end. The highest waterfall extends as high as 80 feet, but you’ll pass smaller falls along the way.

Hutches Pool – 3 hours, 10 minutes (by foot)

Hutches Pool, also known as “nature’s swimming pool,” is one of the most slept-on beaches to hike to in Tucson, in my opinion! Walk through the desert terrain to reach a breathtaking natural body of water along the sandy shores of the Lemmon Creek River. There are dispersed campsites at the bottom that make for an extremely fun backpacking trip!

Hutches Pool, Sabino Canyon Arizona

Riverside Beaches Close to Tucson

Now that we’ve covered beaches on the ocean, lakes, and ones you can hike to, let’s focus on the most common water source in Arizona: rivers! Although these may not be considered your typical “beaches,” these riverside swimming areas are perfect for cooling off from Arizona’s heat.

Pebble Beach Recreation Area – 2 hours, 10 minutes

Only 20 miles northeast of Mesa, Pebble Beach Recreation Area is just a little over a two-hour drive from Tucson. This sandy recreation area is great for anyone who wants to enjoy the Salt River where no motorized boats are present. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of some wild horses cooling off in the river!

Water Wheel Falls – 3 hours, 15 minutes

Water Wheel Falls in Payson, Arizona is a hidden gem that not many people know about! Located in between the first and second water stops, Water Wheel Falls offers a handful of swimming spots along the riverside. Take the 1.5-mile trail to the left of the parking lot and you’ll find yourself in a breathtaking canyon with water so deep you can cliff jump!

Water Wheel Well, Payson

Centennial Beach at West Wetlands Park – 3 hours, 30 minutes

Located in Yuma, Arizona, Centennial Beach at West Wetlands Park is a fantastic recreation area with great amenities and a sandy beach next to the Colorado River. Take a family road trip to entertain everybody with the nearby hiking trails, picnic areas, a disc golf course, and a playground for the kiddos. Plus, it’s only a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Tucson!

Grasshopper Point – 3 hours, 45 minutes

Looking for a beautiful and fun swimming spot near Sedona, Arizona? Look no further than Grasshopper Point – a great swimming and cliff-jumping spot nestled at the bottom of Oak Creek Canyon. Dry off at a nearby picnic table to watch other cliff jumpers while you enjoy your lunch!

Slide Rock State Park – 3 hours, 45 minutes

Also near Sedona, Slide Rock State Park ranks as one of the state’s most popular recreation spots, and for good reason! This State Park was named after its natural waterslide down Oak Creek. Enjoy your day picnicking, hiking, birding, or of course – swimming!

FAQs: Closest Beach to Tucson

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions surrounding the closest and best beaches to Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona.

1. How far is Tucson from the beach?

Depending on what type of beach you’re looking for, the closest beach can range anywhere from one to four hours. The closest oceanside beach is Rocky Point, about four hours away, and the closest lakeside beach is at Patagonia Lake State Park, about an hour and a half away. If you don’t want to drive that far, there are plenty of riverside beaches near Tucson or hiking trails that will take you to small beaches with pools of water.

2. What is the best beach closest to Phoenix?

Some of the best lakeside beaches that are close to Phoenix are Cattail Cove State Park, River Island State Park, and Tempe Beach Park. The best oceanside beaches close to Phoenix are Rocky Point, Huntington, and Newport Beach. There are plenty of great beaches near Pheonix depending on the kind of beach you’re looking for.

3. Is there a shuttle from Tucson to Puerto Peñasco?

Nenas Shuttles offers a direct shuttle from Tucson to Rocky Point Beach, costing $80 per person. It takes around 4 and a half hours to arrive. There are shuttles that operate every day of the week, leaving from the pickup point at 3 p.m.

4. What is the closest beach to Phoenix?

The closest beach on the ocean to Phoenix is Rocky Point in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico. A close lakeside beach to Pheonix is Tempe Beach Park. If you’re looking for a beach near a river, check out spots along the Salt River at Pebble Beach Recreation Area.

Wrapping Up: Closest Beach(es) to Tucson, Arizona

Whether you’re looking for an oceanside view, a waterfront with outdoor activities, or a destination on your hiking trip, here are 23 beach options close to Tucson, Arizona. I know how hot it can get in the summertime in Tucson, and if you don’t have a nearby pool to jump in, these spots can serve as a saving grace! Pack up your car for the weekend and choose one of these destinations to get all your beach needs met.