13 Best Beaches in Southern California

Updated On October 4, 2023

Sunny Southern California is known for many things.

The sun and warm climate come to mind but the wide number of sandy beaches that are available is also something that Southern California is known for.

Surfing, sunbathing and just enjoying the Cali vibe are all part of the experience.

These are some, but not all the enjoyable beaches that you will find in Southern California.

Best Beaches in Southern California

Santa Monica State Beach
Santa Monica State Beach

Santa Monica State Beach

Santa Monica State Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Southern California.

There is an expansive sandy beach to enjoy, as well as a lot of water activities to engage in.

Located west of Los Angeles, it’s close enough for a day trip for fun in the sun.

Beyond the beach, there is also a bike path and opportunities for beach volleyball and working out on equipment located right on the beach.

Using ropes and rings may feel difficult but with a beautiful view, it makes working out even more enjoyable.

Perhaps one of the other things that Santa Monica Beach is known for is the Pier.

The Pier features an amusement park and an aquarium.

It’s enjoyable just strolling along the Pier and having a beach treat.

Also, shops, restaurants, and a park are located nearby in the downtown area.

Venice Beach
Venice Beach

Venice Beach

West of Los Angeles is one of the most funky beaches you’re likely to ever encounter.

This beach area is well known for local art, street performers, and, of course, Muscle Beach where everyone flexes their muscles and works out with the ocean in the background.

Despite that image, there are also many fine dining and interesting shops to explore in the area.

Activities also include surfing and riding in the skate park.

It may feel eclectic, but there is always something interesting going on.

Laguna Beach
Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach

Here you will find seven miles of beaches to enjoy.

There are also a number of rocky coves that allow everyone to explore the beach flora and fauna more closely.

Using a snorkel, there is the chance to discover things you’ve never seen before.

There is also an active art community in the city with galleries and public art to enjoy.

In town, there are also many restaurants and shops to explore.

Huntington Beach
Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach is best known for its surfing opportunities.

It’s not surprising that it is also known as Surf City USA.

The pros gather here for the annual US Open of Surfing which is a

chance to see the best in the sport.

Beyond surfing, there are miles of beaches to enjoy the sun, sand, and water.

In the evening, head to the downtown area for a variety of restaurants, bars, and shops that are very active.

Hermosa Beach
Hermosa Beach

Hermosa Beach

In the Los Angeles area, Hermosa Beach is known for its relaxed attitude.

There are 90 acres of coastline to explore.

When time in the sand is time, take to the bike path called the Strand for an enjoyable time.

Jump into a game of beach volleyball or simply stroll down the beach to the pier and enjoy the views.

When the day is done, there are still a variety of restaurants, pubs, taverns, and shops where everyone can enjoy themselves in the evening.

There are many entertainment options when the day at the beach is done.

Dana Point’s Doheny State Beach
Dana Point’s Doheny State Beach

Dana Point’s Doheny State Beach

This is a popular surfing destination that was made popular by the Beach Boys’ song, “Surfin USA”.

This beach is also a great place for people who want to learn how to surf.

While the focus of this beach area is surfing you can still enjoy the sand.

A note of caution though some areas can be a little rocky so sandals or other foot coverings are a good idea.

There is a marina and a number of restaurants and bars to choose from for the perfect day at the beach.

Coronado Beach, San Diego
Coronado Beach, San Diego

Coronado Beach, San Diego

This is a beach where you will be treated with opportunities to sunbathe and swim.

This is also a place to enjoy memorable sunsets.

For a classic hotel stay, there is the Hotel Del Coronado.

This hotel is known for its movie history and breathtaking architecture all within a prime beach location.

It’s quintessential Southern California beach life.

Seal Beach, Orange County
Seal Beach, Orange County

Seal Beach, Orange County

This is a charming area conveniently located between the Pacific Ocean and the Pacific Coast Highway.

Beyond lounging in the sand on the beach, people also enjoy surfing and beach volleyball.

This small town is very casual and relaxed making it a prime location for a beach vacation.

Also, explore the pier that provides extraordinary sea views.

Whenever the mood strikes, head into town where restaurants and shops are waiting for you.

The charming Main Street area provides opportunities for exploration without feeling like you are in a crowded area.

Everyone is friendly and welcoming to visitors, so you will enjoy your stay.

Newport Beach
Newport Beach

Newport Beach

This is another beautiful beach area that delivers white sand and warm waters.

With 10 miles of beach to explore, there is something interesting around every corner.

For the surfers, there is a popular spot called The Wedge that they need to check out.

You’ll find that everyone has a relaxed attitude.

Other adventures include booking a fishing trip, or why not head out for a little whale watching?

Then there is the Newport Beach Pier to look into.

Or even a trip to Balboa Island.

There are so many things for the whole family to do during your vacation in this area.

Manhattan State Beach
Manhattan State Beach

Manhattan State Beach

This is a family-friendly beach that everyone will enjoy.

The beach is about two miles long.

There you can enjoy time in the sand and dips in the warm waters.

Located in the South Bay, there are a lot of activities to enjoy such as beach volleyball.

El Porto, located toward the north end of the beach is a great place to enjoy surfing.

When everyone is done swimming in the Pacific Ocean, head into town for dinner at the many restaurants that also have ocean views.

Finish with a little shopping in the area’s many boutiques and specialty shops.

It’s a wonderful place to enjoy a beach vacation for the entire family.

East Beach, Santa Barbara
East Beach, Santa Barbara

East Beach, Santa Barbara

When you are in the Santa Barbara area, head to East Beach for some time in the sand.

The beach has a large park.

For those that are active, there are also volleyball courts and walking paths.

When it’s time for lunch or snacks, there are picnic tables and a playground available.

These amenities make it perfect for families to enjoy the beach.

This beach is also located close to downtown Santa Barbara, as well as Stearns Wharf.

At the end of the day, there are many restaurants to choose from.

Also, there is an active live music performance schedule.

With so many activities, everyone will have something they love to do.

Descanso, Avalon, Catalina Island
Descanso, Avalon, Catalina Island

Descanso, Avalon, Catalina Island

This is where pure luxury meets beach life!

With clear blue waters, you’ll start feeling like you’re in the tropics somewhere.

There are many water sports everyone can get involved in.

There are kayaks, snorkels, and paddle boards available for rent so that everyone can enjoy their time in the water.

If water sports are not what you are interested in, you’ll enjoy time in a lounge chair with a cool drink.

Many recommend the Descanso Beach Club.

This beach club holds parties on Saturdays so that everyone can enjoy dancing on the beach to a variety of tunes.

Abalone Cove, Rancho Palos Verdes
Abalone Cove, Rancho Palos Verdes

Abalone Cove, Rancho Palos Verdes

This is a beach area where everyone can explore.

The beach itself is covered with pebbles which creates small tide pools that are ripe for investigation.

There are also three sea caves which can add more fun to the adventure.

This area is well-known for marine life and is popular with scuba divers.

During low tide, the hunt is on for crabs, starfish, and anemones.

This is the perfect beach area for families with kiddos who are interested in marine life.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best beaches for swimming?

Many consider Seal Beach, Huntington Beach, and Manhattan Beach to be the best places to swim.

Realize though that the surf conditions can vary throughout the year so spend some time checking the weather before heading out on your vacation.

What is the cleanest beach in SoCal?

Many consider Laguna Beach to be the cleanest of them all.

There are a number of beaches in this area with coves to explore.

It also has some of the clearest water to be found in Southern California.

Clean beaches and clear water is the perfect combination.

How many beaches are available in Southern California?

The answer is a lot!

With 100 named beaches, there are also towns that have smaller beaches.

Within LA County alone, there are over 15 beaches to explore and enjoy.

You are never really far from a beach in Southern California.

What is the most attractive beach in SoCal?

Many people consider Coronado Beach to be the prettiest in Southern California.

It offers white sand and crystal-clear blue water.

Many visitors come just to watch the sunset from this beach.

Whether you enjoy this beach during the day or late afternoon, you will not be disappointed.

1 Comment on 13 Best Beaches in Southern California

  1. B
    Beckett says:

    Southern California is known for its beautiful beaches, and Santa Monica State Beach offers a wide sandy beach with plenty of water activities, as well as a vibrant pier with an amusement park and aquarium nearby.

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