The coastline of California is 840 miles and has more than 420 beaches open for the public. From sandy beaches to rocky beaches, from secluded beaches to crowded beaches, you can find it all. The busiest and the best beaches in California are near LA, San Francisco, and San Diego. But secluded beaches are away from urban areas.
Since there are so many beaches to choose from in California, we had to narrow down some of the best. Here, we will give you an insight into the best beaches and California, and the reasons why you should visit them.
Best beaches in California
From the best surf spot to the beach that offers you the great cocktails, there are different criteria that draw in visitors. Some beaches are pet-friendly while some give you a romantic vibe. Check out the beaches you’d want to come to when in California:
1. Coronado Beach
Coronado Beach is also known as the silver beach because the mile-long area glitters in silver. It has a high concentration of mica, which is a silver mineral and shines brightly due to the Southern California sun. The beach locates on a peninsula at San Diego Bay and is around 10 miles away from Mexican border. The beach is famous for watchful lifeguards that make it family-friendly.
The soft waves make the waters ideal for boogie boarding and there are flat walking surfaces making it accessible to all. The Coronado Surfing Academy is one of the best rated places to learn surfing from. You can simply walk along the Ocean Boulevard and find several seaside mansions. If you’re planning to stay by the beach, you must try booking at the Hotel del Coronado.
2. Laguna Beach
Laguna is a fashionable town in Orange County and is also culturally rich. One more thing that draws in people is because it has one of the best beaches in California. The Laguna waters are clear and calm until the Pacific brings in occasional tides. The white and warm sandy beaches are perfect to stroll around, host volleyball matches, or simply unwind.
3. Bolinas Beach
If you’re looking for a quiet beach when you can walk your dog as well, come over to Bolinas. The beach also draws the attention of beginners at surfing. The locals around Bolinas call this beach Brighton. You need to be aware of what to ask for when booking a cab to come over. Moreover, there are no sign points around – you will have to find it by crossing unmarked roads.
The beach allows pet dogs as the waves are light and they can roam around without a leash. Many locals come over to spend a laidback afternoon. You might want to come over to have some private time with your partner or just to spend some time by yourself.
4. La Jolla Shores
Come over to the hilly neighborhood that locates at the northwest edge of San Diego to reach the mile-long beach of La Jolla. The sandy beach is filled with sandstone cliffs both towards the south and north. It is worth spending a day out here.
5. Newport Beach
Newport Beach is a ‘happening’ place where you’d want to come over with friends. The beach has a different charm altogether and gives you an urban vibe. There is a ritzy harbor that tourists want to dock a yacht in. Moreover, there are many worthy bungalows, shopping places, and food options to make you want to plan a day around here. The beach offers you a wide bed of blonde sand that rolls from south of the Newport Pier to Balboa Pier. It is one of the ideal beaches for surfing in California.
6. Cayucos State Beach
The Cayucos beach is famous for its wooden fishing pier that was built in 1875. The area is called the last of all Californian beach tows. It gives you a laidback vibe, as you explore the untouched terrain, and find miles of spotless sand. If you love to take long walks by the beach, this is one place you must come over. Explore the tidal pools or try beachcombing, kayaking, surfing or kiteboarding. This place is also perfect for going fishing and you’d find many locals do so.
7. Hermosa Beach
There is simply so much to do at the Hermosa Beach that you will be spoilt for choices. Some come here only to swim and sunbathe while some surf or play paddleball and volleyball. You might always find an intense action going along the 1.5-mile stretch of warm sand.
You can walk through the Strand, which is a paved boardwalk bordering the beach. It is common to bikers, joggers, bladders, and strollers. During the night, the Strand welcomes the crowd at the makeshift bars and restaurants.
8. Huntington Beach
Huntington Beach is one of the five beaches along the 10-mile-long Surf City of USA. This one is not only one of the best beaches in California but was also marked the best in 2016 among all beaches in USA. The Huntington State Beach stretches for 121 acres and has 3.5 miles of waterline.
There are 200 fire rings that make nighttime visits before for cookouts. This beach doesn’t close by 10 pm so you have plenty of time after sunset. Beach lovers come to surf or ride through the bike trail to go across 10 miles and explore the waterline. It connects the north beaches to the south and is an amazing experience.
9. Santa Cruz Beach
Santa Cruz Beach is famous for surfing, playing volleyball, and sunbathing. It has 15 volleyball courts and is beginner-friendly for surfers. At close proximity, you will find Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.
The beach is also called Cowell’s Beach is the most popular spot for both rookie surfers and laidback beach goers. You can start practicing how to surf here and bring your longboard along.
10. Manhattan Beach
The Manhattan Beach locates at the northernmost of Manhattan, Hermosa, and Redondo. It locates towards the southwest coast of Los Angeles County. The beach is quieter than its neighboring beaches and stretches for 2.1 miles.
The beach is famous for hosting AVP Manhattan Beach Open that is an annual volleyball tournament. You might find beginners trying to learn volleyball on this beach.
11. Catalina Island
The Catalina Island locates 22 miles South to the California coast and is famous for innumerable outdoor activities. From snorkeling, horseback riding, to scuba and kayaking, there is a lot to try here. You can even go hiking if not anything else.
Once you have had an active day, you can walk around the social center to do some shopping at Avalon. You can also go gallery hoping or try a gourmet meal. You got to bring a camera as there are lots of places to click Instagram-able photos.
There are boats that depart from Long Beach, Newport Beach, Dana Point, and San Pedro for jet-setters. These can save time and take you from one place to another quickly. Many people take helicopter rides as the experience to look at this place from a height is incredible.
12. East Beach
Come over to the East Beach or Santa Barbara if you’re looking for an active day revolving around the beach. From volleyball courts to cycling on the bike path from going paddle-boarding to kayaking, there is a lot to do here. The Stearns Wharf will keep your stomach going as it homes several restaurants. It is a 1972 complex that has lots of art galleries and shops.
13. Santa Monica
The State Beach of Santa Monica stretches over three miles and is filled with powder-soft sands. The beach nestles amidst Pacific Palisades, Venice Beach, and the northwest of LA. Right in the center of the strand, lies the famous 1600 ft Santa Monica Pier and homes the Pacific Park amusement park. You get to see Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, Looff Hippodrome Carousel, and eat at any of the plenty of restaurants. You must come over to the Muscle Beach that is famous for its outdoor gym and find people doing gymnastics.
14. Crystal Cove State Park
The Crystal Cove beaches stretch for 3.5 miles and are known as an underwater park. It has lovely reefs and more than 2000 wooded acres that lead to exploring the Crystal Cove State Park.
The beach is a perfect escape to move away from the bustles of Newport Harbor. The tide pools and coves are delightful for visitors all-year-round. When the tides are low, you get clear views of aquatic life. Right into the ridges of the park, you will find more than 23 miles of trails for horse riding, hiking, mountain biking, and much more.
15. Glass Beach
For over a century, people living in Fort Bragg had a habit of throwing bottles, appliances, car parts into the sea that was close to the northern part of the city. Instead of having an environmental impact, nature turned these glass bottles into headlights. Visitors who come here get to see these as colorful jewels that get washed ashore.
Many visitors come here to hunt colorful glasses. There are times when the management asks people to stop doing that else soon there won’t be anything that attracts tourists. You can reach out to the beach on foot after a short yet steep trail down a cliff and right onto the edge of the water.
16. Moonstone Beach
The Moonstone Beach is a secluded part of Cambria, which locates in the central coast of California. It is different from long powdery beaches of the south. Moonstone is one of the beautiful escapes that is surrounded by rugged cliffs and bordered by a mile-long boardwalk. You will find lots of tiny pebbles that makes the beach look like it is full of jewels.
Take a walk along the water to look for tide pools, types of driftwood, and lovely stones. You will also find sea otters playing in the water. If lucky, you might also find whales passing by and many kinds of birds chirping around.
17. Baker Beach
The Baker Beach in San Francisco is a mile-long public beach right at the base of serpentine cliffs. It locates on the western side of the Golden Gate Bridge. The white and sandy expanse of this place makes it amazing for sunbathing, while the waters are perfect for surf fishing. However, it is not ideal for swimming because the large waves can make the activity dangerous.
Walk along the sand-filled area and get amazing views of the Golden Gate, Land’s End, and Marin Headlands. It is a great beach to come picnicking, grill food, and have fun with friends and family. Note that this beach is usually crowded on weekends and there are lots of clothing shops towards the north end.
18. Pfeiffer Beach
Pfeiffer Beach is one of the best beaches in California because it has unique purple sands among large boulders. It locates inside the Los Padres National Forest and you can reach out as you go downhill off Highway 1. The ride to the beach is no less than an adventure as there are ancient redwoods lined all through the road.
Pfeiffer Beach is small, flat, and inside a cove. It has rugged boulders scattered around and purple sands to gaze at. People don’t know why the sands are purple but it is worth a visit. The waves are pretty harsh so it isn’t ideal for swimming.
19. Carmel Beach
Carmel beach is yet among one of the best beaches in California because it exhibits beauty at its best. The sands are white and rich, while the blue water by the unspoiled cypress trees gives you a romantic vibe.
The beach is dog-friendly and you’re allowed to drink and enjoy a laidback atmosphere. If you need a break from sunbathing or surfing, you got to head to the nearby town of Carmel. It is known for some of the best local eateries and boutiques. Stay till sunset to have an unforgettable beach experience that you only get from California.
20. El Matador
Nestled between luxury hotels and mansions of Malibu, the El Matador beach is the perfect beach escape. The craggy coastal area is perfect for people who like to spend some time alone. The Pacific Coast Highway pit stops for a secluded feel. There are plenty of tide pools and ocean caves to explore. The best part is that it is one of the three beaches that comprise the Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach. Thus, you get to explore stunning shorelines that are just a walk away.
It is time you start planning your Californian itinerary around these beaches and experience ‘vitamin sea’ at it’s best!