9 Best Beaches in California

Updated On October 4, 2023
California Ocean

The Golden State has long been known around the world for its beaches.

All the romanticizing of the California beach culture from the music industry and Hollywood is well-deserved.

When it comes to fun in the sun, California is definitely at the top.

There are so many wonderful beaches worth a visit, so if you do not know which one to visit, here is our list of California’s top beaches.

California wonderful beach worth visiting
California wonderful beach worth visiting

La Jolla, San Diego

La Jolla, also known as “The Jewel of San Diego”, is without a doubt one of the top beaches in California.

It is a one-mile-long sandy beach in the community of La Jolla.

During the summer here you can find the most gentle waves of all San Diego beaches.

The coastline of La Jolla is incredibly diverse.

From towering cliffs to hidden coves to gorgeous beaches, it has it all.

La Jolla Cove is a wonderful and safe destination for families.

The area is home to sea lions and kids will love checking out them.

There are also numerous swimming and sunbathing locations.

Blacks Beach, a beautiful and quiet place, is located within this area.

This beach is a popular bohemian hangout, widely known for its moonlit drum circles.

Since a few adventurous surfers discovered it in the late 1950s, it has become an iconic surfing location.

A couple walking on the beach
A couple walking on the beach

Santa Monica State Beach, Los Angeles

According to many, one of the best beaches in California is Santa Monica State Beach.

Its three-mile-long coastline is jam-packed with activities and attractions.

The beach is one of the most popular in the Los Angeles area, and there are numerous fun activities available for every generation.   

The Santa Monica Pier is a well-known symbol of the beach and the area.

Here you will find an amusement park, an aquarium and many restaurants.

Concerts are also popular on the pier.

Annenberg Community Beach House is just north of the pier.

Beautiful views and cultural events, among other things, can be enjoyed here.

Except for the swimming pool, everything is free here.

The Marvin Braude Beach Trail is a great place to get some exercise.

Enjoy a spectacular sunset while biking, skating or walking along the 22-mile paved trail.

Santa Monica
Santa Monica

Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur

When you think of California beaches, you probably imagine the larger, palm-lined beaches of Southern California.

That is usually the case for most people too, but we should not forget the rugged, beautiful beaches further north on the coast.

Pfeiffer Beach, in the Big Sur region of the central California coast, represents Northern California quite well.

A two-mile walk down a winding path off Highway 1 leads to a rocky shore with a hidden cove, pounding waves and a big rock just off the beach that has a hole in the middle, known as Keyhole Rock.

The beach is beautiful and just perfect for sunset photographs, but the view through the keyhole is absolutely breathtaking.

The swimming may not be so great because the water is cold and the currents are strong, but the hiking here is fantastic and the beach will keep you busy taking photos.

If you are driving along Highway 1, this is a nice place to stop.

Big Sur
Big Sur

Venice Beach, Los Angeles

One of the most famous places in California, Venice Beach, also regarded as one of the best beaches in California due to its unique character.

This cool neighbourhood has quirky shops, street performers and colourful murals in addition to the beach.

Its iconic beachfront boardwalk is widely known for its street performers and vendors.

There is also Abbot Kinney Boulevard, one of the most popular shopping districts in Los Angeles, which attracts a lot of fashionistas.

And of course, the legendary beach itself with its own charm.

It is three miles long and crowded with frisbee and volleyball enthusiasts, as well as surfers and bodyboarders.

Also, do not forget to visit the well-known outdoor gym.

Venice Beach
Venice Beach

Laguna Beach, Orange County

Another famous beach destination in the Golden State is Laguna Beach.

It is one of California’s top destinations for art lovers, beachgoers and outdoor adventurers, as well as for families.

Laguna Beach has seven miles of coastline and more than 30 coves.

It is Southern California’s only marine reserve.

The waters are indeed crystal clear, with rich marine life.

The beach area is widely known for its thriving art scene.

The Sawdust Art Festival, an annual art festival, attracts more than 200,000 visitors each year and features a wide variety of interesting displays.

Apart from the festival, you can find gallery exhibits, First Thursdays Art Walk, art classes and public art on daily basis.

Laguna Beach also has a vibrant music scene, and two of the most popular music events are Laguna Beach Live! and the Laguna Beach Music Festival. 

Girls playing on Laguna Beach
Girls playing on Laguna Beach

Montara Beach, San Francisco

Just south of San Francisco is located Montara Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in California.

Tall cliffs and crashing waves create spectacular scenery, while the long stretch of sand is just perfect to relax.

However, as it is usually up north, the water can be a little bit cold and the currents can be quite strong, thus making it dangerous for swimming. 

To be safe, most beachgoers remain out of the water, and we recommend the same.

But do not worry, the breathtaking views and the fantastic wide sandy beach make up for the lack of water activities.

A day trip or an afternoon excursion from San Francisco is a great way to get away from the hustle and bustle of the Bay Area.

Empty beach
Empty beach

El Matador State Beach, Malibu

Also known as Malibu’s best secret, El Matador State Beach stands out in a region widely known for its beaches.

The beach is one of the three that form the Robert H. Meyer Memorial Beach, and it is the closest to Malibu.

A long beach with lots of sea caves and huge rocks – breathtaking scenery worth visiting.

This area’s popularity as a site for photographing swimsuit models should tell you everything you need to know about its beauty.

Despite its amazing beauty, it does not get too crowded.

In comparison to the other popular beaches in the vicinity, there is not much commercial development.

Locals do not seem to mind, and they are pleased to keep this piece of paradise to themselves.

Malibu coast
Malibu coast

Newport Beach

If you want to experience high life, Newport Beach is the place to go.

Here you can get a look at the lifestyles of the rich and famous, as it is full of beautiful beachside bungalows and expensive yachts.

Even if you are not a millionaire, this is a fantastic place to visit, especially for families.

Families enjoy visiting Newport Harbor to see the landscape, nice houses and yachts.

Balboa Island is a wonderful destination to go shopping, dining and strolling.

The Balboa Fun Zone, which includes a Ferris Wheel and a variety of other activities, is a must-visit too.

The water here is also ideal for lots of water activities. 

The weather is similar to that of the Mediterranean, therefore the water is good to swim all year round.

The area is frequented by many surfers and kayakers.

Newport Beach
Newport Beach

Hermosa Beach, Los Angeles

As the name suggests, Hermosa Beach is really beautiful.

The beach is in one of the three Beach Cities located in the Greater Los Angeles area.

The beach is perfect for beach and water activities, as well as for relaxation. 

Volleyball, surfing and paddle boarding are all popular on Hermosa Beach.

The Strand, the beach’s famous beachfront sidewalk, is full of runners, bikers and walkers.

However, Hermosa Beach is also one of those typical Southern California beaches ideal for people looking for some rest and relaxation.

You can just sit in the sand, sunbathe and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere.

Hermosa Beach
Hermosa Beach

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2 Comments on 9 Best Beaches in California

  1. California’s beaches truly live up to their reputation, with a diverse and stunning coastline that offers something for everyone, whether it’s fun in the sun or a peaceful escape.

  2. California’s beaches truly live up to their reputation and offer a diverse range of activities and stunning scenery, making it a top destination for sun, surf, and sand lovers.

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