The most beautiful beaches in central California stretches for many miles between Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. The counties along this coast include Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, and Santa Cruz. Central California beaches include Ventura County, Santa Barbara County, San Luis Obispo County, Monterey County and Santa Cruz County. Find your next Central California beach vacation here.
Ventura County, California has some of the best beaches. The main beach towns in this county are Ventura, Port Hueneme, and Oxnard. Situated in Southern California between Santa Barbara and Los Angeles, Ventura is home to delicious food, top-notch surfing waves, and picturesque scenery. Locals and travelers alike enjoy visiting beaches in Ventura County to surf, sunbathe, stroll, swim, and relax. Here are just a few of the great beaches in Ventura County.
Mandalay State Beach
Mandalay State Beach is a family-friendly golden dune beach with spectacular views of the Channel Island National Park and Marine Sanctuary. Check in to the Zachari Dunes on Mandalay Beach and visit Oxnard Beach Park, a palm-tree-studded 60-acre wonderland of grassy rolling hills, beautiful dunes, winding bike paths, and a well-equipped playground. This gorgeous stretch of beach features free public barbecue areas, volleyball courts, skating, and jogging paths. To plan your Oxnard California Vacation, visit our Oxnard Travel Guide here.
Oxnard Beach & Park
Oxnard Beach Park is a family friendly beach located in-between the Oxnard Shores neighborhood and the Zachari Dunes on Mandalay Beach. This gorgeous stretch of beach features rolling lawns, free public barbecue areas, volleyball courts, kids play area, skating and jogging paths. Oxnard Beach Park has a covered group picnic area. To plan your Oxnard California Vacation, visit our Oxnard Travel Guide here.
Silver Strand Beach
Silver Strand Beach is a local favorite in Oxnard. With only one entrance/exit to the Silver Strand neighborhood down Victoria Avenue, the mile-long beach is relatively isolated – bordered by Port Hueneme Naval Base to the south and the inlet to Channel Islands Harbor to the north. Since it’s a bit of a trek (7 miles) from Highway 101, the beach remains fairly uncrowded most of the year. To plan your Oxnard California Vacation, visit our Oxnard Travel Guide here.
San Buenaventura State Beach
San Buenaventura State Beach takes up about two miles of the waterfront in Ventura. It stretches from Marina Park near the Ventura Harbor all the way north to the Ventura City Pier. It’s the perfect place for picnics, sunbathing, and beach walking. To plan your Ventura California Vacation, visit our Ventura Travel Guide here.
Port Hueneme Beach Park
Port Hueneme Beach Park is the main beach in the city of Port Hueneme which is completely surrounded by Oxnard, CA. The beach here is wide with many picnic areas and volleyball nets available. The long fishing pier at the beach is worth a walk even if not fishing. Another walking opportunity is the promenade trail that connects the pier to the Port Hueneme Lighthouse at the north end next to the port entrance. To plan your Port Hueneme California Vacation, visit our Port Hueneme Travel Guide Here.
Santa Barbara County
One of the simple pleasures of Santa Barbara is its proximity to the ocean. With miles of sun-drenched and sandy coastline, you’ll have trouble picking which of its pristine beaches to visit first. From surf-friendly waves to gentle ocean waters, a day spent at any of these Santa Barbara beaches makes even a perfect day that much better. Santa Barbara County includes: Santa Barbara, Goleta, Montecito, Guadalupe, and Carpinteria. Here are just a few of the great beaches in Santa Barbara County.
Arroyo Burro Beach
Visitors and dog-lovers jump for joy over Arroyo Burro Beach, better known to locals as Hendry’s Beach. Load up your pooch and head to this flat, dog-friendly spot for a game of fetch along the coastline. Hungry after a day of beach play? Make time to grab a seaside meal at Boathouse, a local and visitor favorite. Visit our Santa Barbara Travel Guide here.
Near the Santa Barbara Harbor and the breakwater, Leadbetter Beach is a popular location for long-board surfing, boogie boarding and SUP paddle boarding. Known for its rather mild shore break, this beach is perfect for anyone looking to take a leisurely dip in the ocean. Need a midday snack break? Head to Shoreline- Café for an order of fresh fish and chips or a beach burger to-go. Visit our Santa Barbara Travel Guide here.
Before hitting this crowd-favorite beach, go shopping along Coast Village Road or grab a craft cocktail at Coast & Olive or Honor Bar. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a famous celeb. Once your thirst has been quenched, sunbathe at Butterfly Beach while you catch up on your favorite novel. This long stretch of sand also makes for a serene beach stroll setting at any time of day. Visit our Santa Barbara Travel Guide here.
Just below The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara is a long, beautiful stretch of sand known as Haskell’s Beach—and you don’t have to be staying at the resort to access it. When you arrive, park in the designated beach parking lot and take the public access trail down to the beach for a day of fun in the sun along Goleta’s coastline. The waters along the Gaviota coast also make for great kayaking. Visit our Goleta Travel Guide here.
Goleta Beach Park
Make the most of your beach time with a visit to this “Good Land” beach. Cast a line off the Goleta Pier, or kick-start your weekend with a good ol’ beach-side barbecue. Goleta Beach Park also boasts a paved trail system that is popular for both avid cyclists and casual riders. On weekends between Memorial and Labor Day, take to the sea and rent a kayak or SUP paddle boarding right on the sand from Paddle Sports Center. Visit our Goleta Travel Guide here.
San Luis Obispo County
When it comes to beaches along this stretch of the Central Coast, variety is the name of the game. There’s the fun-in-the sun spirit of balmy Avila Beach, flat sands at Pismo Beach—one of California’s best strips of coastline for long strolls at sunset—plus the pier some 1,600 feet along. There are the rocky coves at Piedras Blancas, home to thousands of enormous elephant seals, great for wildlife watching. And surfing is popular in several locations. Beach towns in San Luis Obispo County include: Avila Beach, Arroyo Grande, Cambria, Cayucos, Grover Beach, Morro Bay, Oceano, Baywood/Los Osos, and San Simeon. Here are just a few of the great beaches in San Luis Obispo County:
San Simeon Beach
Located about 40 miles north of San Luis Obispo, San Simeon offers unique sandy beaches and wetlands near Hearst Castle. Don’t miss out on the elephant seals that congregate along the shoreline around Point Piedras Blancas! Visit our San Simeon Travel Guide here.
Cayucos State Beach
Situated near the classic California beach town, Cayucos State Beach is ideal for any beach day, whether tanning and swimming or fishing and surfing. This expansive beach is located about 25 minutes north of San Luis Obispo. Visit our Cayucos Travel Guide Here.
A Central Coast favorite, the Avila Beach Farmers’ Market brings fresh food and family fun to our charming California beach town. Join us on the Avila Beach Promenade to celebrate the beginning of the weekend with live entertainment, fresh fruits and vegetables, and artisan products ― all with a stunning ocean view! Visit our Avila Beach Travel Guide here.
Positioned along the Central Coast between Pismo Beach and Oceano, Oceano Dunes is a family-friendly beach with recreational vehicle access and beach camping, standing as the most extensive coastal dunes in California. Visit our Oceano Travel Guide Here.
The coastal hills open up to reveal shimmering turquoise waters and long stretches of the San Luis Obispo County coastline, with glimpses of this classic beach town hugging the shore. Work your way toward the sands, through streets of beach cottages, surf shops, and clam chowder joints. Visit our Arroyo Grande Travel Guide here.
Are you seeking for the perfect location to unwind and immerse yourself with direct access to the scorching sun and soothing waves? Then, spend a day or a weekend at any of the best beaches in Monterey County. With over 99 miles of astonishing coastline, Monterey County provides plenty to keep you having fun; whether you want to dive below the waves or stay and get tanned by the touch of sunlight. Monterey County includes: Carmel, Monterey, Moss Landing, Pacific Grove, Seaside, Pebble Beach, Big Sur, and Sand City. Here are just a few of the great beaches in Monterey County:
Asilomar State Beach
This beach is a worthwhile beach getaway filled with all sorts of activities like water sports, and sunbathing. It is considered as a lot more remote among all the beaches in Monterey, which means, by just walking around within 30 minutes or by driving within 5 minutes along the trail of dunes, solitude and tranquility can be felt especially with the nearby sanctuaries of butterflies. Visit our Monterey Visitors Guide Here.
Carmel River State Beach
For those who are really into nature, Carmel River State Beach is the perfect place for you to relax and indulge with other natural living things. The majority of the people come here for the highlights of this place which is to see huge numbers of birds such as Terek sandpipers and Californian brown pelicans. Visit our Carmel Travel Guide Here.
Del Monte Beach
Del Monte Beach is far different and can be considered as the best beach for swimming in Monterey for its relaxing and soothing waters. This captivating destination also offers a moment of peace to contemplate and have strolls along the dunes. The area features stunning sea cottages near the shore, and several seafood eateries which add flavor to the beach life vibes that you’ll definitely enjoy. Visit our Monterey Visitors Guide Here.
Lover’s Point Park
Here you’ll find sparkling white sand, cypress trees, and craggy rocks make it the perfect sightseeing spot. This beach also provides a great opportunity to experience SUP boarding and catching some rays while contemplating how the water touches the shore. From swimming to fishing, and to other water sports, you’ll find it all here. Visit our Monterey Visitors Guide Here.
McAbee Beach might be the most appropriate and safest beach for kids knowing that it promotes relaxing salty picnics along the shore, creative murals with vivid color, and captivating historical plaques that your kids will surely find entertaining at their ages. Visit our Monterey Visitors Guide Here.
Santa Cruz County
Santa Cruz County offers 29 miles of scenic coastline and over 14 state parks and beaches. From the craggy cliffs of Davenport, the sandstone arch at Natural Bridges State Beach and the wide expanse of Sunset State Beach, Santa Cruz County offers plenty of options to catch some surf and sun. The main beach connects the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, the Santa Cruz Wharf, and the mouth of the San Lorenzo River. Santa Cruz County beach towns include: Aptos, Capitola, Watsonville, Davenport, and Santa Cruz. Here is a list of some of the best beaches in the Santa Cruz area:
Cowell Beach/Main Beach
Tourists and families tend to flock to this city-run beach in summer, and for good reason. Restaurants line the nearby Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf, and the games and rides at the adjacent Boardwalk go nicely with an afternoon dip in the Bay. This is also prime territory for learning to surf, playing volleyball or just relaxing in the rays. Visit our Santa Cruz Travel Guide here.
New Brighton State Beach
One of the most popular beaches in town, New Brighton anchors the northernmost end of a long stretch of beach that extends some 15 miles down the coast, forming a thin crescent limning the Monterey Bay. Visitors love the combination of seashore and forested bluffs, where Monterey Pines, cypress and eucalyptus shade picnic areas and campgrounds that are open year-round. Visit our Capitola Visitors Guide here.
This long stretch of beach is perfect for romantic walks, sea life viewing and all types of beach sports. Located about 10 miles up Highway 1, it’s accessible via a short hike across the railroad tracks and down a narrow trail. Once there, beachgoers are treated to stunning sandstone formations and a bit of privacy. Highway between mileposts 95 and 96. Visit our Davenport Travel Guide here.
Bonnie Doon Beach
This small and secluded clothing-optional beach is off the radar for most Santa Cruz visitors. Located along the base of a cliff about eight miles up Highway 1, it’s well protected from gusts of wind, and for that reason it is perfect for a naked lunch—or even just a regular lunch. The only downside is the slightly difficult walk down the cliff. Visit our Santa Cruz Travel Guide here.