Get ready….this is a long list! and I have only included the best beaches for each area! Visit the best southern California beaches for a great beach destination. From Santa Barbara to San Diego, each beach area has its own distinct charms and attractions. What almost every California beach vacation shares in common besides the natural beauty of the Pacific Ocean is a delightfully sunny, mild climate throughout most of the year. You can go to these links to find the best southern California beaches include Santa Barbara, Ventura, Malibu, Santa Monica, Long Beach, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Dana Point, San Clemente, Oceanside, Carlsbad, Ensinitas, Del Mar Beaches, La Jolla and San Diego Beaches.
Santa Barbara Beaches
Tapped the “American Riviera”, the city of Santa Barbara is perfectly situated between the mountains and the ocean. East Beach is the main beach for tourists and beach volleyball, while West Beach allows water sports, with the exception of swimming. The Santa Barbara Pier, also known as Stearns Wharf, separates the two, with plenty of souvenir shops and fresh seafood to be had. Ready to visit Santa Barbara? Check out our Santa Barbara Travel Guide
Butterfly Beach is located along Channel Drive in Montecito, CA. This is a popular beach with Santa Barbara locals, who walk their dogs at the water’s edge. The beach has been eroded here so the sandy part is thin at high tide and after winter storms. Rocks and broken concrete barriers are trying to protect the bluff and the road. To get here drive toward the ocean on Olive Mill Road which turns into Channel Drive. Park along the waterfront on Channel Drive or on Butterfly Lane. Near Butterfly Lane there is a stair to the widest part of the beach. At lower tides, it’s possible to walk all the way to East Beach in Santa Barbara. In the other direction the narrow shoreline leads to Hammonds Beach. There is a paved bike path that runs from the Santa Barbara Pier to Butterfly Beach if you are coming from the city and have a bike. There are no public restrooms, so plan accordingly. Activities: sunbathing, biking, fishing and beach walking. Amenities: No facilities and dogs allowed on leash.
East Beach in Santa Barbara is located along the waterfront east of State Street and the Stearns Wharf Pier area. Most of the activity at East Beach happens at the east end where the beach is widest. At this end there are many sand volleyball courts, a grass park with picnic tables, an arts pavilion (Cabrillo Pavilion Arts Center), and a restaurant (East Beach Grill). Across the street from East Beach is a paved bike path that goes all the way west to UCSB and east to Butterfly Beach. Also, across the street and down the path a little is the Andree Clark Bird Refuge Lagoon for bird-watching. Closer to the Wharf the beach narrows a bit and a palm tree lined grass park called Chase Palm Park provides a buffer between the sandy beach and the busy street. This central part of East Beach is less populated than the area near the pavilion. Parking for East Beach can be found along East Cabrillo Boulevard and also in lots located at Ninos Drive, Corona Del Mar Drive, and Garden Street. Activities: volleyball, biking, sunbathing, walking, running, skating and picnicking. Amenities: lifeguard, volleyball courts, paved bike path, skate park, grass park, picnic tables, restrooms, kids play area, restaurant and accessible features.
Arroyo Burro Beach
Arroyo Burro Beach County Park is the official name of what Santa Barbara locals call Hendry’s Beach. This beach is surrounded by tall bluffs with parks and trails on top including the Douglas Family Preserve, a wooded space saved from development by locals and even Michael Douglas who named it in honor of his father Kirk. A footpath into the preserve begins at the entrance to the parking lot. Overhead at Hendry’s there are hang gliders and paragliders that take off from Elings Park nearby. Right at the beach is the Boathouse Restaurant so you can make this an all day affair or an evening visit for dinner. This is one of the cleanest beaches in the area because adults and kids venture out from the South Coast Watershed Resource Center to clean it monthly. The water however can be unsanitary if the creek is flowing so ask lifeguards if you plan to swim. The center is located at the same parking lot as Hendry’s and offers education programs for local kids (learn more at ExploreEcology.org). It’s possible to walk quite a ways in both directions from here especially at lower tides. The parking lot entrance for Hendry’s Beach is just west of the intersection of Cliff Drive and Los Positas Road. This is a popular beach so the parking lots fill up quick on nice days. Arroyo Burro Creek flows across the beach sometimes.Activities: sunbathing, body boarding, swimming, fishing, hiking, beach combing and beach walking. Amenities: lifeguard, restrooms, picnic tables, BBQs, grass park, restaurant, accessible features and dogs allowed off leash on the beach south of the creek mouth, and on-leash in the rest of the park.
Mesa Lane Beach
Mesa Lane Beach is a narrow beach below the West Mesa neighborhood of Santa Barbara. At low tides, this beach is wide enough for sunbathing and beach sports, but at high tide there is little dry sand. It requires a hike down a steep stairway to reach the beach here. It’s ironic that it takes more stair steps to get to the beach at Mesa Lane than at Thousand Steps Beach just east of here. West of Mesa Lane Beach the beach continues to be narrow below the Douglas Family Preserve and eventually opens up at Arroyo Burro Beach, aka Hendry’s. You can get to Mesa Lane Beach by turning toward the ocean onto Mesa Lane from Cliff Drive and continuing to the end at Edgewater Way. There is no parking lot at this location, but there are street parking spaces all along Mesa Lane and other streets nearby. A paved path leads to the top of the stairs. Activities: sunbathing, beach walking, tide pooling and surfing. Amenities: tide pools, no facilities and dogs allowed off leash.
Thousand Steps Beach
Thousand Steps Beach is one of the largest beaches in South Laguna Beach, CA. It’s a wide sandy beach with volleyball courts, restrooms, and tide pools and caves to discover. There is a large cave at the south end of Thousand Steps Beach that you can enter when the tide is out and the entrance is exposed. You can walk all the way through this cave (which is actually a tunnel) to a tiny rocky cove on the other side. At the north end of Thousand Steps Beach there is another rock tunnel, but this one leads to a large excellent beach that you must see. Unfortunately this beach, known as Totuava, is only accessible at low tide when the short (in height) tunnel and optional route around the point are safe to pass through. To get to Thousand Steps Beach, head to 9th Avenue and Coast Highway and park in a legal spot. Laguna Police love to give out tickets for miss-parking. Across from 9th Ave is the beach access entrance which leads to a long stairway. There are enough steps in the stairs that it seems like 1000 steps (especially when returning to the top of the bluff). The actual number is 223 which we have double-checked. Activities: sunbathing, scuba diving, volleyball, skim boarding, snorkeling, surfing and beach walking. Amenities: lifeguard, restrooms, showers, tide pools, caves and rock arch.
You can go to these links to find the best southern California beaches include Ventura, Malibu, Santa Monica, Long Beach, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Dana Point, San Clemente, Oceanside, Carlsbad, Ensinitas, Del Mar Beaches, La Jolla and San Diego Beaches.
Situated along California’s scenic central coast, the City of Ventura was once referred to as the “land of endless summers” and even the “city of good fortune”. This picturesque community offers plenty for visitors to do, including a stop along the pier at San Buenaventura State Beach and a stroll down the historic Ventura Pier. For those visitors more into surfing than swimming, make a stop at the rocky, narrow beach of Surfer’s Point. When it is time to take a break from the surf and sand, head to the vibrant restaurants, galleries and more of Ventura Harbor.Ready to vacation to Ventura? Visit our Ventura Travel Guide
Harbor Cove Beach
Harbor Cove Beach is the beach at the end of the peninsula in front of Ventura’s Harbor. Harbor Cove is protected by jetties and a breakwater so it is the best swimming beach in the Ventura area. Most of the other beaches near here have strong rip currents making them dangerous places to swim. Just a few steps away outside the south jetty is another Ventura Harbor Beach that can be violent with high surf. Harbor Cove Beach has a large parking lot near the end of Spinnaker Drive just past the Ventura Harbor Village Shopping Center. Across Spinnaker Drive is Island Packers where you can take a cruise to any of the Channel Islands. At the end of Spinnaker Drive is the visitor center for Channel Island National Park. Activities: swimming, picnicking and kayaking. Amenities: restrooms, showers, lifeguard and dogs allowed on leash.
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. The widest part of this beach is the section in front of the park at the main entrance. At this location there is a paved pedestrian and bike path that runs between the park and the dunes. This path, the Omer Rains Bike Trail, heads north to the pier and all the way to Emma Wood State Beach eight miles away making it a great bike ride. There are two parking areas for San Buenaventura State Beach. The main entrance is at the north end of Pierpont Boulevard at San Pedro Street where a large grass park with picnic tables is the site of many special events. The northern lot off East Harbor Boulevard provides access to the beach near the Ventura Pier. South of San Pedro Street the state beach is in front of homes the entire way. At Seaward Avenue there is a city-provided parking lot with beach access. Activities: surfing, biking, skating, volleyball, picnicking, walking and sunbathing. Amenities: restrooms, paved bike path, picnic tables, BBQs, volleyball courts, grass park, snack bar and rentals.
Surfer’s Point Beach
Surfers Point Beach at Seaside Park in Ventura, California is located at the Ventura River mouth. A lagoon forms where the river backs up behind the beach which makes this a great birding location. The point faces south so waves coming from the west curl around it making right hand waves that roll in consistently. Surfers will start at various spots and ride these waves toward the Ventura City Pier. Kiteboarders and windsurfers put on a show in the area just west of the point when the wind is up. West of the point is Emma Wood State Beach. East of the point is Seaside Park and the Promenade, a paved pathway that connects Surfers Point to the pier. The Omer Rains Bike Trail continues from the Promenade and goes in both directions along the shore. Between the point and the pier the beach has eroded away so if the tide is up you won’t find sand there. Surfers Point has a couple large parking lots behind the beach. To get here, turn onto Figueroa Street from Harbor Boulevard at the Ventura County Fairgrounds. Activities: surfing, biking, skating, walking, windsurfing, kite boarding, fishing, running, bird watching and picnicking. Amenities: picnic tables, restrooms, showers, paved bike path, lagoon, grass park, benches and dogs allowed on leash.
Surfer’s Knoll Beach
Surfer’s Knoll Beach is across from the restaurants and shops at Ventura Harbor Village. Surfers Knoll has its own small parking lot where Spinnaker Drive turns north, but you can park at the Village and walk across the street if it is full. This spot is obviously popular for surfing, but for most of us, it is an excellent spot for beach combing. From the parking lot the beach continues south in front of the Santa Clara River which is usually dammed up by sand allowing passage all the way to McGrath State Beach. McGrath SB doesn’t have a day-use area and the campground is frequently closed so you might have this entire area to yourself. Activities: surfing and beach combing. Amenities: restrooms and showers.
You can go to these links to find the best southern California beaches include Santa Barbara, Malibu, Santa Monica, Long Beach, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Dana Point, San Clemente, Oceanside, Carlsbad, Ensinitas, Del Mar Beaches, La Jolla and San Diego Beaches.
With nearly three-dozen beaches to choose from, Malibu is a beach-lovers dream. From the iconic Surfrider Beach, famous for world-class surfing and movies like “Gidget”, to one of the area’s cleanest beaches at Zuma Beach, to the cave-like rocks and cliffs of El Matador State Beach, there are plenty of options. Do Malibu California! Visit our Malibu California travel guide here.
Point Dume State Beach
Big Dume Beach a.k.a. Dume Cove Beach is the main beach at Point Dume State Beach in Malibu, CA. Dume Cove’s crescent-shaped beach faces southeast from the east side of Point Dume. Access to the beach is via a walk across a small bluff-top natural preserve and down a long steep staircase. The trails in the preserve begin here and climb to the high point above Point Dume, loop around the bluff, and also head directly to Big Dume Beach. After you descend the stairway to the beach in Dume Cove you can walk east to Little Dume Beach and beyond to Paradise Cove. Along the way are excellent tide pools if you are here at lower tides. Because of the high vantage point, Point Dume is a popular whale watching spot during the gray whale migration February through April. On Cliffside Drive across from address 29245 there is a parking strip for about ten cars (which is limited to 2 hours and is usually full). If the Cliffside Drive spaces are taken, you can either wait for one to open or pay to park in the lot at the end of Westward Beach Road and then hike up and over Point Dume to the staircase that descends to Big Dume Beach. Direct access to Pirates Cove Beach is from the Westward Beach parking lot too. Activities: scuba diving, tide pooling, beach combing, hiking, whale watching, fishing, surfing, bird watching and wildlife watching. Amenities: tide pools, trails, but no facilities.
El Matador State Beach
This beach is one of the three beaches in the Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach. It is the most popular and closest to Malibu. The parking lot for all three is signed along the Pacific Coast Highway in western Malibu. Beautiful sea stacks are on the beach and in the surf. This is a popular spot to photograph swimsuit models and stunning sunsets. Explore north on the beach to caves and arches in the rocks. The largest cave faces the ocean at the bottom of a huge flat rock that is connected to the base of the bluff. It’s best to visit these natural features at low tide. Continue your walk north to La Piedra State Beach. Activities: sunbathing, beach exploration, bird watching, snorkeling, swimming, beach walking, cave exploration, and photography. Amenities: Caves, toilets, and picnic tables.
Zuma County Beach
Zuma Beach County Park in Malibu is a long wide beach with enough parking spaces for the Superbowl. The main beach at Zuma is about two miles long and doesn’t have any homes between the sand and Pacific Coast Highway – a contrast to many of the Malibu beaches that have homes built right to the high water mark. Zuma Beach is a massive beach with lifeguard stations spaced out on the shore to protect people who risk swimming these waters. Strong rip currents can develop at Zuma Beach so be aware if you want to swim. This is a gradually sloping beach so it’s great for taking off the sandals and walking in the surf. Volleyball courts, picnic areas, restrooms, and concession stands can be found at various spots along the beach. If you don’t want to pay to enter the parking lots, there are spots along the southbound lanes of PCH. The southern part of Zuma County Beach is called Westward Beach and it is easiest to access from Westward Road on Point Dume. Activities: volleyball, surfing, scuba diving, fishing, swimming, windsurfing, body surfing and body boarding. Amenities: lifeguard, restrooms, showers, snack bar, picnic tables, volleyball courts, kids play area and accessible features.
You can go to these links to find the best southern California beaches include Santa Barbara, Ventura, Santa Monica, Long Beach, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Dana Point, San Clemente, Oceanside, Carlsbad, Ensinitas, Del Mar Beaches, La Jolla and San Diego Beaches.
Santa Monica Beaches
Enticing for visitors from around the world, Santa Monica includes both mountain and beachfront views. Santa Monica State Beach offers up not only miles of waterfront, surfing and biking paths to its star-studded community, but also a number of adjacent parks with endless opportunities. Santa Monica Pier provides an ideal spot for family fun, including amusement rides, a video arcade and restaurants.
Santa Monica State South Beach
The south part of Santa Monica State Beach is located south of the Santa Monica Pier and north of Venice Beach. On the other side of the pier you’ll find North Beach. The city of Santa Monica operates this California state beach and Los Angeles County provides the lifeguards. South of the pier there are several different parks and public parking lots with beach access. These parks have open fields, sport courts, picnic areas, playgrounds for kids, and even a large human-scale chess board. The origninal Muscle Beach is still located near the pier with workout facilities for bodybuilders. Bike riders and skaters zoom along on the Marvin Braude Coastal Bike Trail, a paved path that winds through the back part of the beach. Volleyball courts are all along this wide sandy beach that is big enough to land a 747 on. The Santa Monica Pier has a mini-amusement park complete with rides and arcade games, restaurants, shops, and an aquarium. Parking lots for South Beach are located along Ocean Avenue and Barnard Way. The main park centered on South Beach is at the west end of Ocean Park Boulevard. Activities: biking, Ssating, walking, tennis, volleyball, fishing, surfing, swimming, sunbathing and basketball. Amenities: restrooms, showers, kids play area, picnic tables, grass park, volleyball courts, paved bike path, walking path, tennis courts, accessible features, lifeguard, bike rentals and fishing pier.
Will Rogers State Beach
Will Rogers State Beach is a state park operated by Los Angeles County that occupies the entire waterfront of the Pacific Palisades District of Los Angeles. The southern section of this three mile long beach is a wide sandy spot with volleyball courts next to parking lots. The central portion of the beach has sandy segments between short rock jetties and a continuous parking lot along the highway. The northern end of Will Rogers Beach is a narrow shore next to Gladstones Restaurant, known as Sunset Point Beach where Sunset Boulevard ends at Pacific Coast Highway. Will Rogers is the northern terminus of the Marvin Braude Coastal Bike Trail, a twisty paved path that leads 22 miles south along Santa Monica Bay to the other end at Torrance Beach. This is an excellent bike ride and a great way to see LA’s famous beaches. There are several large parking lots for Will Rogers State Beach off of PCH north of Santa Monica. The Santa Monica Pier at Santa Monica State Beach is visible to the south from anywhere at Will Rogers. Activities: volleyball, swimming, diving, surfing, body boarding, fishing, windsurfing, sunbathing, biking and skating. Amenities: lifeguard, restrooms, showers, volleyball courts, paved bike path, accessible features and picnic tables.
Santa Monica State North Beach
The north part of Santa Monica State Beach is a wide sandy beach that runs north from the Santa Monica Pier to the city border where Will Rogers State Beach begins. Santa Monica State Beach, which is operated by the city of Santa Monica, also continues south of the pier at South Beach where several grass parks complement the sand. At the pier, visitors will find many family-friendly tourist attractions including an amusement park, arcade games, an aquarium, and restaurants and shops (santamonicapier.org). The beach has volleyball courts near the various parking lots and a long serpentine paved bike path for bikers and skaters to enjoy. Signs at the Santa Monica Pier mark its claim as the western end of famous Route 66. Annenberg Beach House is an amazing public recreation facility at the north end of Santa Monica State Beach. The main parking lot is next to the pier at the west end of Colorado Avenue. Other public beach access areas can be found along Pacific Coast Highway north of the pier. Activities: biking, volleyball, fishing, surfing, swimming and sunbathing. Amenities: fishing pier, sport courts, basketball courts, kids play area, grass park, paved bike path, lifeguard, picnic tables, restrooms, showers, bike rentals, amusement park, arcade and restaurants.
You can go to these links to find the best southern California beaches include Santa Barbara, Ventura, Malibu, Long Beach, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Dana Point, San Clemente, Oceanside, Carlsbad, Ensinitas, Del Mar Beaches, La Jolla and San Diego Beaches.
Long Beach Beaches
With a diverse locale, Long Beach provides close proximity to big city attractions, as well as Southern California adventures. Belmont Shore is the city’s answer to tourist-friendly restaurants and shops, while the narrow Long Beach City Beach provides views of the snowy San Gabriel Mountains as well as the mega-mansions of Naples Island. Take a chartered boat from Belmont Pier or head to the popular sandy beaches of Alamitos Bay. Mothers Beach is a winning force with families in search of some outdoor fun, while Alamitos Bay Beach is perfect for young adults and singles.
Belmont Shore Beach
Belmont Shore Beach spans the waterfront of the Belmont Shore neighborhood in Long Beach, CA. Generally this beach is between the Belmont Pier area and 55th Place. Near the Belmont Pier are sand volleyball courts and running the length of the beach is a wide paved bike path. This path continues north all the way to the end of City Beach. Belmont Veteran’s Memorial Pier (the official name) is worth exploring to check out the view. Waves typically don’t crash here because of the Long Beach breakwaters so surfing is rare, but swimming is common. Belmont Shore Beach has a large parking area at Bennett Avenue and street parking along Ocean Boulevard. The Belmont Pool shares the parking lot for the pier and is a public facility for swimming when the ocean is less-inviting. Activities: biking, skating, walking, running, swimming, fishing and beach walking. Amenities: fishing pier, lifeguard, volleyball courts, paved bike path, swimming pool, restrooms and showers.
Mother’s Beach is a family-friendly beach in a marina setting, with volleyball courts, picnic sites & a play area. Mother’s Beach at Marine Park is in the Long Beach neighborhood of Naples on an island in the middle of Alamitos Bay. The park here is popular with local families using the protected swimming area, large kids playground, sand toys, grass lawns, concessions stand, and picnic facilities. The northeast facing beach is broad and flat. Kayakers and stand-up paddle boarders often start at Mothers Beach. The parking lot for Mothers Beach has an entrance on East Appian Way at Attica Drive. It can fill up on nice days so get here early. Activities: swimming, volleyball, picnicking, kayaking, stand-up and paddle boarding. Amenities: grass park, restrooms, swimming area, lifeguard, kids play area, picnic tables, volleyball courts, accessible features and benches.
Long Beach City Beach
Long Beach City Beach is the main beach of Long Beach, CA. This long south-facing beach is located along Ocean Boulevard from the Belmont Pier all the way to Alamitos Beach at the west end. Locals call this beach “Junipero Beach” because the main parking lot in the center is at Junipero Avenue. Bluff Park is a grass park with a pedestrian walking path above the beach that goes from Junipero Ave almost all the way to the Belmont Pier. A wide paved path meanders on the beach in both directions from the parking lot and is popular with bicyclists and skaters. This area is protected from ocean waves by the extensive Long Beach breakwaters so surfing isn’t really possible any more. Before the breakwaters were constructed in the 1940’s Long Beach was a long board surfing Mecca. Swimming is usually safe here, but water conditions can be poor so check with the lifeguards before taking a dip. Street parking is also available all along Ocean Blvd and stairs descend the bluff every couple blocks or so. Activities: biking, skating, kite boarding, swimming, sunbathing, walking, running and beach walking. Amenities: lifeguard, paved bike path, walking path, grass park, restrooms and showers.
Seal Beach (the beach) is located in the city of Seal Beach, a small beach-side community wedged between Long Beach and Huntington Beach. It is the northernmost beach and beach town of Orange County. Seal Beach is a wide sandy beach packed with sunbathers and surfers on sunny days. At the north end it is bounded by the San Gabriel River mouth and on the south end by a jetty protecting the entrance to Anaheim Bay. There is a nice grass park, Eisenhower Park, and the Seal Beach Municipal Pier at the central part of the beach where two parking lots can be found. Walking the pier is a must to take in the wide view that includes Seal Beach, Long Beach, mountains, jetties, seals, and surfers. There is a restaurant at the end of the pier, but many more food options and shops are nearby on Main Street. There is another parking lot at the north end of the beach at 1st Street right on the San Gabriel River. Activities: surfing, body boarding, fishing, sunbathing, swimming, and volleyball. Amenities: lifeguard, fishing pier, grass park, restrooms, showers, kids play area, and volleyball courts.
You can go to these links to find the best southern California beaches include Santa Barbara, Ventura, Malibu, Santa Monica, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Dana Point, San Clemente, Oceanside, Carlsbad, Ensinitas, Del Mar Beaches, La Jolla and San Diego Beaches.
Huntington Beach Beaches
So popular with surfers its nicknamed “Surf City USA” the community of Huntington Beach offers up impressively consistent surfing all year long. Limiting to developers, the area is mainly unmarked from its natural existence. Huntington State Beach comes with plenty of outdoor recreational opportunities, as well as fire pits serving as evening bonfires. Vacationing to Huntington Beach? View our Huntington Beach Travel Guide
Bolsa Chica State Beach
Bolsa Chica State Beach is a three mile long wide sandy beach in Huntington Beach, CA. It starts at Warner Avenue and extends south to Seapoint Avenue. North of Warner Ave is Sunset Beach and south of Seapoint Ave is Huntington Dog Beach and Huntington City Beach. Bolsa Chica State Beach has an abundance of parking in huge lots that line all of Pacific Coast Highway. A designated paved RV campground is centered on the beach (sorry no tent camping). Across Pacific Coast Highway is Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve with birding, wildlife watching, hiking, and biking opportunities. This beach and the reserve make up one of the top birding destinations in California. The paved Bolsa Chica Bicycle Path runs behind the beach and connects to Huntington Beach Bike Trail south of here for a long protected bike route. Activities: surfing, biking, volleyball, basketball, fishing, sunbathing, swimming, beach walking, Bird watching, hiking, running, walking, bonfires, and camping. Amenities: lifeguard, paved bike path, walking path, grass park, restrooms and showers.
Huntington City Beach
Huntington City Beach is the center of a long stretch of sandy waterfront for the city of Huntington Beach, CA. This huge asset and the fact that surf’s up regularly here has led to a trademarked name of “Surf City USA” for Huntington Beach. HB City Beach starts at Seapoint Street and runs south to Beach Boulevard where Huntington State Beach starts. The north end of City Beach from 21st Street up to Seapoint Street is known as Huntington Dog Beach and beyond that is Bolsa Chica State Beach. The Huntington Beach Pier marks the center of the long wide municipal beach. This area near the pier is where beachgoer density is highest on any given day, but the sand and surf is great all along this 3.5 mile beach so visitors can walk away from the pier to find a quieter spot. Volleyball courts are set up near the pier and beach rentals are available just south of the pier. The Huntington Beach Bike Trail is a paved path that runs behind the beach for bikers, walkers and runners. Eating is not a problem here as many restaurants are available close to the beach and even at the end of the pier. Parking for City Beach is available in large lots on both sides of the pier. Activities: surfing, biking, running, skating, volleyball, sunbathing, bonfires, swimming, fishing, beach walking and camping. Amenities: lifeguard, campground, pier, restrooms, showers, fire pits, volleyball courts, restaurants and rentals.
Huntington State Beach
Huntington State Beach is a two mile long wide sandy beach that starts at Beach Boulevard and runs south to the Santa Ana River Channel. This state beach has volleyball courts, picnic tables, fire rings, lifeguards, and nice facilities. North of Beach Blvd is Huntington City Beach centered on the Huntington Beach Pier which is visible from here. The south end of the state beach is JG Island which is formed by the mouths of Talbert Channel and Santa Ana River. Huntington State Beach has a huge continuous parking lot along its entire length on Pacific Coast Highway with four entrances at Beach Blvd, Newland St., Magnolia St., and Brookhurst St. This is a day-use only beach that is open 6am to 10pm every day. There is no campground at Huntington State Beach so if you want to camp near the beach, contact the City Beach or Bolsa Chica State Beach just north of here for reservations (both are for RV camping only). Activities: surfing, body surfing, body boarding, biking, walking, skating, sunbathing, fishing, bonfires, swimming, beach walking and volleyball. Amenities: lifeguard, fire pits, restrooms, showers, snack bar, paved bike path, picnic table, BBQs, basketball courts, volleyball courts, rentals and accessible features.
Sunset Beach (the beach) is a wide sandy public beach in the Huntington Beach community of Sunset Beach. Sunset County Beach, as it is often called, is located about two blocks west of Pacific Coast Highway between Anderson Street and Warner Avenue. A long public grass park and parking strip can be found between North and South Pacific Avenues behind the beachfront homes in Sunset Beach. North of Anderson Street is Surfside Beach a private beach in the city of Seal Beach. South of Warner Ave is Bolsa Chica State Beach and many more miles of wide open Huntington Beach beaches all the way to the Santa Ana River. During the winter months a tall sand berm might extend the length of Sunset Beach to protect it from erosion forces of winter storms. Activities: sunbathing, surfing, volleyball and beach walking. Amenities: grass park, kids play area, restrooms, showers, volleyball courts, lifeguard and paved bike path.
You can go to these links to find the best southern California beaches include Santa Barbara, Ventura, Malibu, Santa Monica, Long Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Dana Point, San Clemente, Oceanside, Carlsbad, Ensinitas, Del Mar Beaches, La Jolla and San Diego Beaches.
With eight miles of beachfront and the sophistication of a picturesque Southern California community, Newport Beach has plenty to offer tourists and locals alike. With its canyons, coves and bluffs, Crystal Cove State Park offers up a number of beaches and trails, while Corona Del Mar Beach is so beautiful its been the backdrop of a number of television series.
West Newport Beach
West Newport Beach is the western end of the Newport Beach Municipal Beach before the area at Santa Ana River. West Newport Park parallels Pacific Coast Highway here and has a nice sports facility just south of the intersection of Seashore Drive and 57th Street. This public sports complex has many sport courts for tennis, hoops, and handball. The beach here is wide and less populated than the beaches near the Newport Pier and Balboa Pier to the south. Sand volleyball courts line the beach between here and the mouth of the Santa Ana River where surfers congregate in an area nicknamed “River Jetties.” Numerous parking lots are all along Seashore Drive between the river and the sports complex. Activities: surfing, tennis, basketball, handball, volleyball, sunbathing and beach walking. Amenities: sports courts, grass park, picnic tables, BBQs, basketball courts, tennis courts, handball courts, restrooms, volleyball courts and dogs allowed on the beach before 10am and after 4:30pm, but not between those hours.
Little Corona Del Mar Beach
Little Corona Del Mar Beach is a popular small beach at the end of a ravine called Buck Gully in the Newport Beach neighborhood of Corona Del Mar. This is a rocky cove that draws snorkelers and scuba divers and tide pool aficionados. Bring sturdy shoes to explore the rocks south of the sandy beach. Arch Rock is visible offshore to the south. You can walk the uneven shoreline to near the rock and continue further south to a sandy hidden public beach called Cameo Shores Beach. To get to Little Corona Del Mark Beach, drive Ocean Boulevard to Poppy Avenue and look for street parking nearby. From that intersection a long paved ramp descends gradually to the beach. Scuba divers and snorkelers know this area as Robert E. Badham State Marine Park, a marine managed area between Poppy Avenue and Cameo Shores Road. Activities: snorkeling, scuba diving, tide pooling, and bird watching. Amenities: tide pools, restrooms, showers, rock arch, seashells, lifeguard and dogs allowed on the beach before 10am and after 4:30pm, but not between those hours.
Crystal Cove State Beach
Pelican Point Beach in Crystal Cove State Park has a broad beach between Pelican Point and the park’s Historic District at Los Trancos Beach. The beach slopes gradually so it’s a narrow beach at high tide and a wide beach with rocks in the surf at low tide. There are tide pools at the north end near Pelican Point where scuba divers enter in search of even more marine life. A paved bike path meanders along the bluff and dirt hiking trails descend to Pelican Point Beach at the north end of Crystal Cove. To get here, drive into the park entrance that is signed “Pelican Point Area” at Pacific Coast Highway and Newport Coast Drive. Note that this entrance is NOT at Pelican Pont Drive which is the private entrance to homes on the Pelican Hill Resort Golf Club South Course. The state park charges for entry, but you get a map to help you find the excellent beaches here. Activities: scuba diving, biking, surfing, beach walking, tide pooling and whale watching. Amenities: campground, paved bike path, trails, restrooms, showers and tide pools.
You can go to these links to find the best southern California beaches include Santa Barbara, Ventura, Malibu, Santa Monica, Long Beach, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, Dana Point, San Clemente, Oceanside, Carlsbad, Ensinitas, Del Mar Beaches, La Jolla and San Diego Beaches.
Laguna Beach Beaches
Rocky bluffs and canyons dot the landscape of the tourist-rich community of Laguna Beach. This creative city offers the ideal destination for budding artists as well as visits to the laid-back cove beaches like Thousand Steps Beach and steep scuba diving locales of Wood’s Cove. Both scuba diving and snorkeling are big draws at Laguna beaches.
Treasure Island Beach
Treasure Island Beach is south of the Montage Resort in Laguna Beach, CA. This sandy beach is actually the north end of the same large cove that begins at Aliso Beach Park. Treasure Island Beach is a safer place to swim because it has some protection from huge rocks just offshore and the water is typically cleaner than Aliso Beach which gets contaminated when Aliso Creek is flowing. Access to Treasure Island Beach is down a long graded concrete ramp on the southwest side of the Montage Resort. There is a large flat platform at the bottom of the Treasure Island wheelchair accessible beach access. West of this platform you can hike on the rocks around the point through a natural arch on the way to Middle Man Cove and Goff Cove beyond that. Walking on the paths from the resort out to the west is worth it for views and Parking is available along Coast Highway (Hwy 1) and also at Aliso Beach Park if you are willing to walk that far. If you plan to swim here check for rip currents before entering the water. Activities: swimming, scuba diving, tidepooling, sunbathing and walking. Amenities: lifeguard, accessible features, but no dogs allowed on beach 9am to 6pm June 15 to Sept 10. Ok on leash outside of those dates and times.
Crescent Bay Beach
Crescent Bay Beach is a large popular beach in northern Laguna Beach, CA. The main public access is on Cliff Drive one block from where it begins at North Coast Highway (PCH). A long ramp that is signed for “authorized vehicles only” is the best walking path and it lands you at the middle of the cove. Another pathway can be found between homes on Circle Way nearby. Crescent Bay Point Park is above the west side of the beach off Crescent Bay Drive, but there is no beach access from the park. Whale-watching is popular from the park. The scuba diving areas called Seal Rock and Dead Man’s Reef are both located offshore from Crescent Bay Beach. Seal Rock is clearly visible with seals and birds atop. Tide pools are exposed at both ends of the cove during low tides. Swimming can be dangerous here because of rip tides. Parking can be a problem in this neighborhood so park on PCH and walk to the beach entrance if necessary. Activities: scuba diving, snorkeling, tide pooling, swimming, body boarding, body surfing, skim boarding and whale watching. Amenities: lifeguard, restrooms, showers, accessible features, tide pools, but no dogs allowed on beach 9am to 6pm June 15 to Sept 10. Ok on leash outside of those dates and times.
Main Beach in Laguna Beach
Main Beach is the simple name given to the main centrally-located city beach in Laguna Beach, California. Main Beach is a nice sandy beach in a broad cove that faces southwest. Main Beach has a grass park located where Broadway Street (Hwy 133) tees into South Coast Highway (Hwy 1) in downtown Laguna Beach. The park offers a boardwalk, basketball courts, sand volleyball courts, a play area for children, and a wide sandy beach for laying out on. Lifeguards look on from a tower near the middle of the beach. After it rains a creek appears out of nowhere and will flow out from under the park and cross over the sand. Rip currents can develop here so be careful swimming. Surfing is not allowed in the summer months. North of Main Beach is Heisler Park which has tide pools and south is a long stretch of connected beaches starting with Sleepy Hollow Beach that can be walked at low tide. Metered street parking is available along Highway 1 and the many side streets. Activities: volleyball, basketball, scuba diving, surfing, body surfing, beach walking, sunbathing and swimming. Amenities: boardwalk, grass park, kids play area, basketball courts, volleyball courts, picnic tables, lifeguard, restrooms, showers, accessible and no dogs allowed on beach 9am to 6pm June 15 to Sept 10. Ok on leash outside of those dates and times.
Woods Cove Beach
Woods Cove Beach is in a sandy cove that has rocky points at both ends and fancy Laguna Beach homes high above the entire bluff. Lover’s Cove is the nickname of the southern part of this beach (south of the stairs). At the north end there is a rock arch that leads to Pearl Street Beach at low tides. Large rocks poke out of the water just offshore and can be quite spectacular when large waves are present. This beach can be entirely wet at high tide so plan accordingly. At low tide you’ll be rewarded with tide pools to explore and a small rock arch at the south end of the beach. When conditions are calm Woods Cove is a real treat for scuba divers, but this is not a great swimming beach as rocks and rip tides can make it unsafe. A steep stairway provides access near the center of Woods Cove. The entrance to these stairs is where where Diamond Street ends at Ocean Way one block west of Pacific Coast Highway. Ruby Street Park is one block south at Ruby St. where there is a nice ocean overlook, but no beach access. Look for street parking nearby on Ocean Way or PCH. Activities: scuba diving and sunbathing. Amenities: lifeguard, benches, tide pools, rock arch and dogs not allowed on beach 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from June 15th through Sept 10th. At all other times they must be on a leash.
Victoria Beach is a long white sandy beach south of Victoria Drive in Laguna Beach. The majority of this southwest-facing beach lies in front of the private gated Lagunita housing development with many of the uber mansions built right to beach level. Show respect to these home owners who share the beach with us. The public beach access isn’t easy to see, but it’s right next to address 2713 Victoria Drive. This is a long stairway that eventually gets down to the very north end of the beach. There is also an emergency vehicle beach access ramp and public walkway at the end of Dumond Drive that is an easier walk from Coast Highway 1. If you hike out onto the rocks and around the point near the stairway access you will be able to see the Victorian Tower (this stair tower is commonly refered to as a lighthouse structure) that was built back in the 1920’s. Nearby there is also a circular concrete pool that fills with sand and salt water from the waves. The winter surf removes much of the sand at Victoria Beach so this northern area will be all rocks in the winter. Parking near Vic Beach is scarce, but you can park along the highway or a side street and walk a little ways. Get here early in the day to get a closer spot. Activities: scuba diving, sunbathing, volleyball, skim boarding and body surfing. Amenities: tide pools, no facilities and no dogs allowed on beach 9am to 6pm June 15 to Sept 10. Ok on leash outside of those dates and times.
You can go to these links to find the best southern California beaches include Santa Barbara, Ventura, Malibu, Santa Monica, Long Beach, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Dana Point, San Clemente, Oceanside, Carlsbad, Ensinitas, Del Mar Beaches, La Jolla and San Diego Beaches.
Dana Point Beaches
With its impressive high bluffs, as well as its secluded and sheltered coves, Dana Point provides not only a sought after surfing location, but also provides one of the area’s few harbors. From the fresh-water lagoon of Doheny State Beach, to the clean surroundings and fantastic views of Salt Creek Beach Park, there is much to offer.
Salt Creek Beach
Salt Creek Beach Park is a popular Orange County park located in Dana Point, CA. This wide sandy beach is directly below the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel beach resort, the Ritz Cove gated development, and the Monarch Beach Golf Links golf course. Salt Creek flows through the beach sometimes at the north end of the beach and on the other side of the creek is the private Monarch Bay Beach Club. Salt Creek Beach Park is a large grass park with picnic tables and walking paths going in all directions. To get here, turn off Pacific Coast Highway (Hwy 1) onto Ritz-Carlton Drive and park in the large public parking lot that this road loops around. At the center of the lot there is a pedestrian underpass and trail that leads down to the bluff park and beach below. It’s a long walk and on busy days there will be a shuttle for $1 rides back up the hill. The southern part of Salt Creek Beach (past the Ritz-Carlton) is called Dana Strand Beach because it is below the Dana Strand housing development near the Dana Point Headlands. Activities: surfing, body boarding, body surfing, swimming, basketball, sunbathing, picnicking, tide pooling, bonfires, beach walking and walking. Amenities: grass park, picnic tables, BBQs, restrooms, showers, snack bar, rentals, tide pools, basketball court, fire pits, accessible features and dogs not allowed on the beach, but ok in the park.
Dana Strand Beach
Dana Strand Beach is a public beach at the base of a gated housing development in Dana Point called “The Strand.” These are huge beachfront and hillside homes just north of the Dana Point Headlands that face southwest. The beach here is a nice sandy sunbathing spot that is also popular with surfers. To get to Dana Strand Beach, turn west onto Selva Road from Pacific Coast Highway (Hwy 1) and park in the large parking lot signed “Salt Creek Beach Park.” At the center of this lot is a fenced-in path and stairs that meander downhill between the homes to the beach. Once you get to the beach there is a boardwalk that makes it easy to walk north or south to other spots. There is a funicular (small slow tram) at the north end of the parking lot for those that can’t hike down. North of the funicular the beach narrows in front of the Niguel Shores neighborhood. If you walk north around the point you’ll get to the main part of Salt Creek Beach. You’ll find excellent tide pools at the point on your way if the tide is low. Another access to Dana Strands Beach is a switch backing concrete path that begins just past the gated entrance to The Strand. Street parking is available at this access. Activities: surfing, sunbathing, walking, beach walking and tide pooling. Amenities: boardwalk, restrooms, showers, lifeguard and tide pools.
Doheny State Park South Beach
The South Beach of Doheny State Beach is on the south side of San Juan Creek in Dana Point, CA. This southern area of the state park has a large campground and a long day-use parking area. The beach here is long and narrow, however it’s easy to find a spot to enjoy somewhere along this expanse. The view west from here looks over San Juan Bay and the Dana Point Harbor jetties to the Dana Point Headlands. There are lifeguards, picnic tables and fire rings provided along South Beach, but it doesn’t have grass lawns and shaded picnic areas like North Beach does. There is a freshwater lagoon at the creek mouth which divides the two sections of Doheny. This is a great birding spot. At the south end of the beach volleyball courts are sometimes set up where Capistrano Beach Park begins. The main entrance to Doheny State Beach is at the intersection of Park Lantern and Dana Point Harbor Drive. You’ll have to pay for parking if you enter there. If you want free parking for day-use of South Beach, just look for spots along Coast Highway near the tall pedestrian overpass which drops you at about the mid-point of the beach. Activities: fishing, camping, volleyball, bonfires, bird watching, sunbathing and beach walking. Amenities: campground, lifeguard, picnic tables, fire pits, rentals, restrooms, showers, and lagoon.
Doheny State Park North Beach
Doheny State Beach has two separate beaches and day-use areas – north and south. This North Beach is located north of the San Juan Creek mouth and has a large grass park with nice picnic facilities, sand volleyball courts, and an excellent beach. It’s popular for swimming, SUPing, and beginner surfing as the waves roll in slowly from San Juan Bay. At low tide a boulder field and marine life is exposed for some fun tide pool exploration. This state park has a visitor center complete with interpretive exhibits, an aquarium, indoor tide pools, and a store with books and other fun items. The south part of Doheny State Beach has a large campground and a long beach. The entrance to Doheny State Beach is where Park Lantern intersects Dana Point Harbor Drive. Be sure to check the water quality for the area before swimming here. Activities: surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, swimming, sunbathing, kayaking, windsurfing, volleyball, camping, biking and bird watching. Amenities: lifeguard, grass park, restrooms, showers, picnic tables, BBQs, accessible features, campground, aquarium, tide pools, volleyball courts, interpretive center, rentals, cafe and lagoon.
Capistrano Beach Park
Capistrano Beach Park is the main beach in the community of Capistrano Beach (“Capo Beach”) in Dana Point, CA. Orange County operates this park, which isn’t much more than a parking lot with nice facilities. There is a basketball court here and sometimes north of the parking lot there are sand volleyball courts, but there is no grass. The beach is narrow at the parking lot but it opens up north of there. Beyond that is the south day-use area of Doheny State Beach. South of the parking lot are many homes along Beach Road. The only portion of this beach that is public is below the mean high tide line so if you go for a walk in that direction stay off the dry sand next to the homes. Surfing is popular at Capistrano Beach Park when the waves break in the summer. The entrance to the parking lot is located at Coast Highway and Palisades Drive. Activities: sunbathing, basketball, surfing, volleyball, bonfires and fishing. Amenities: lifeguard, restrooms, showers, fire pits, picnic tables, volleyball courts and basketball court.
You can go to these links to find the best southern California beaches include Santa Barbara, Ventura, Malibu, Santa Monica, Long Beach, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, San Clemente, Oceanside, Carlsbad, Ensinitas, Del Mar Beaches, La Jolla and San Diego Beaches.
San Clemente Beaches
Famed for its Spanish Colonial architecture, San Clemente attracts vacationers with its dramatic views and powerful winds. Bounded by a steep bluff, San Clemente State Beach offers an escape for visitors looking to surf, hike or just set up camp. Ready to visit San Clemente? Check out our San Clemente Travel Guide
Calafia Beach is city-operated park and beach on state park property in San Clemente, CA. The park is called Calafia Beach Park and it is adjacent San Clemente State Beach. Calafia Beach Park isn’t much of a park per se as it doesn’t have much grass, a playground, or other amenities. But it has a large day-use pay parking lot with access to a fantastic sandy beach. If you want more grass to throw a frisbee on, just hike up the trail at the back of the parking lot to a large lawn high on the bluff on Avenida Lobeiro. The Calafia lot fills up on sunny days as this is one of the most popular beaches in the area. There is a cafe right on the beach so if you plan to spend a while here, you are set. Just walk across the railroad tracks and down some stairs and then head in either direction to find some space to spread out on the sand. San Clemente State Beach also has day-use beach facilities, but it has a full-service campground as well. The state park entrance and Calafia Park share the same access road, Avenida Calafia, just west of I-5. The San Clemente Coastal Trail starts here and heads north for 2.3 miles to North Beach if you are looking for a nice walk, jog, or bike ride. Activities: surfing, walking, running, biking and sunbathing. Amenities: restrooms, showers, restaurant, grass park and trail.
North Beach in San Clemente is in front of the Ole Hanson Beach Club near the intersection of El Camino Real and Avenida Estacion. North Beach is wider than the rest of San Clemente City Beach that stretches south to the San Clemente Pier. There are picnic tables, fire rings, swings for kids, and volleyball courts to enjoy. Nearby are coffee shops and other stores for beachgoers and Amtrak commuters who hop on the train at this stop. The parking lot is shared with train commuters so heed the signs. North Beach is the north starting point of the San Clemente Coastal Trail, a multi-use trail that offers walkers, runners, and cyclists a way to explore the coastline between here and Calafia Beach at the south end of San Clemente. Activities: volleyball, sunbathing, walking, running, biking, fishing, surfing and bonfires. Amenities: lifeguard, restrooms, snack bar, volleyball courts, fire pits, grass park and accessible features.
San Clemente Pier City Beach
San Clemente Pier Beach is the main city beach of San Clemente, California. The beach is a wide sandy spot on both sides of the pier between T-Street Beach and Linda Lane Beach. Although the railroad tracks run right behind the beach, it is a nice setting with palm trees and grassy areas near the pier entrance. A large parking area at Parque del Mar City Park provides access to San Clemente Pier, the beach, and many shops and restaurants. Street parking is available when the lot fills up. The San Clemente Coastal Trail runs north and south from here to access all the beaches between San Clemente State Beach and North Beach. This downtown area near the pier is called Pier Bowl. When you walk out on the pier and look back at Pier Bowl it has a Mediterranean feel. Surfers wait below the pier for the right wave rolling in toward shore. Fishermen drop lines into the water. This is a great place for people watching. Activities: surfing, swimming, walking, running, sunbathing and fishing. Amenities: fishing pier, grass park, picnic tables, restrooms, showers, restaurants, trail and accessible features.
Trestles Beach is the northernmost part of San Onofre State Beach and San Diego County, but access is from San Clemente in Orange County. Surfers know this area near San Mateo Point as Uppers, Lowers, and Middles for the different surf spots near the train trestle the beach is named after. Unfortunately this surf area is fraught with localism which can be seen in the various spray-painted warnings along the path to the beach. Under the trestle at the beach San Mateo Creek stagnates and sometimes flows through the sand to the ocean. This wetlands area is called Trestles Wetland Natural Preserve and it is popular with bird-watchers. It is a long walk down the trail from the parking area to the beach. The parking area is located near the intersection of S El Camino Real and Cristianitos Road east of Interstate 5 in San Clemente. A dirt path begins at this intersection and dips under I-5 on the way to the beach. Another path, which is flatter and paved, begins on the other side of I-5 and can be reached by walking over the bridge. San Mateo Campground is near the beach trail parking lot. The San Mateo area of San Onofre State Beach State Park has many hiking trails to explore. Activities: surfing, sunbathing, bird watching and hiking. Amenities: trails and toilets.
You can go to these links to find the best southern California beaches include Santa Barbara, Ventura, Malibu, Santa Monica, Long Beach, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Dana Point, Oceanside, Carlsbad, Ensinitas, Del Mar Beaches, La Jolla and San Diego Beaches.
Close enough to area attractions, and rich in historic charm, you’ll find the casual destination of Oceanside. Take a step back in history, strolling along Oceanside Pier, one of the area’s most expansive wooden piers. This destination plays host to the infamous Ruby’s Diner, as well as serves as a prime fishing and surfing location.
The beach at Buccaneer Park is a small family-friendly beach along the southern part of Oceanside, CA. Buccaneer Beach is basically a gap between the homes and condos that exist right at the high surf line. South Pacific Street runs between this small beach and the parking lot. Buccaneer Park is a grass park for kids and families complete with a kids playground, a basketball court, and a large gazebo. Buccaneer Galley Cafe is also at the parking area for food and a latte when it’s open. Behind the beach and next to the park Loma Alta Creek backs up and creates a bird habitat. The Loma Alta Marsh Footpath provides a way to walk along the creek and watch the birds. Surfing is allowed at Buccaneer Beach outside of the designated safe swimming area. Activities: swimming, surfing, sunbathing, beach walking and bird watching. Amenities: kids play area, basketball court, gazebo, cafe, grass park, lifeguard and restrooms.
Oceanside Harbor Beach
Oceanside Harbor Beach is a large wide beach sitting in front of the Oceanside, CA city harbor. The beach is boxed in by two rock jetties at both ends which seems to hold in the large amounts of sand here. Oceanside Pier is in the distance to the south and the marina is visible right behind the beach. Nearby are shops and restaurants which make this spot great for a day at the beach. There are volleyball courts, picnic areas, barbeques for grilling, and many other beach amenities. Fishermen can cast off the jetties at Harbor Beach and surfers ride the waves when conditions are right. To get here from Interstate 5, take the Harbor Drive exit and follow it to the pay parking lots at the end right on the beach. Activities: surfing, fishing, volleyball, sunbathing, kite boarding, windsurfing and bonfires. Amenities: lifeguard, BBQs, fire pits, picnic tables, showers, restrooms, snack bar, RV parking and kids play area.
Oceanside Pier View North Beach
Pier View North Beach in Oceanside is a popular sand beach just north of the Oceanside Municipal Fishing Pier. The beach on this side of the pier is a little less crowded than the south side of the pier. Pier View North is also a wider and longer beach so there is more room to spread out for those who choose this side. It’s just a short walk into downtown and the excellent fishing pier makes a nice stroll too with restaurants at the end as a reward. The Strand is another option for stretching your legs. It’s a long narrow street with palm trees and a sidewalk that runs right behind Pier View North and Pier View South beaches. There are pay lots right on the beach but if they fill up there are more along N Pacific St. The best way to reach these beach lots are by heading west on Surfrider Way then turn left onto The Strand. Activities: surfing, swimming, fishing, sunbathing, volleyball and walking. Amenities: fishing pier, lifeguard, volleyball courts and kids play area.
You can go to these links to find the best southern California beaches include Santa Barbara, Ventura, Malibu, Santa Monica, Long Beach, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Dana Point, San Clemente, Carlsbad, Ensinitas, Del Mar Beaches, La Jolla and San Diego Beaches.
Known widely for its incredible floral industry, including poinsettias, the beachfront City of Encinitas provides a vintage feel where surfing is the dominant sport. This hip community ranges from massive rocky bluffs to the white sand of area beaches. Vacationing to Encinitas? Visit our Encinitas Travel Guide
Moonlight State Beach
Moonlight State Beach is a California state park that is operated by the city of Encinitas. This is the main central beach of Encinitas. It has a grass park with a kids play area in addition to a large family-friendly beach. The slope of the beach is gradual which makes playing in the surf more fun and a lot safer. Lifeguards have a significant presence here too. This is a popular beach so during the summers the park and the beach will be packed. If you can’t find a space to lay out right at Moolight Beach, then you can head south to D Street Beach and beyond or just head north toward Stone Steps Beach. Three sand volleyball courts are a big draw here. Surfing is allowed outside of the swimming-only zone. Moonlight State Beach is at the west end of Encinitas Boulevard from I-5. After crossing Highway 101 Encinitas Blvd becomes B Street. There is a paid parking lot with an entrance on C Street, but first look for free street parking in the area. You might have to walk a ways to the beach on sunny days, but there is a drop-off area next to the sand on B Street. Activities: surfing, sunbathing, tennis, volleyball, bonfires, beach walking and swimming. Amenities: lifeguard, restrooms, showers, kids play area, fire pits, picnic tables, tennis court, volleyball courts, snack bar, grass park and rentals.
Swami’s Surf Beach is a famous surfing mecca at the south end of Encinitas, CA. The park at Swami’s Beach is a great vantage point for watching surfers and has shaded areas to enjoy a picnic in as well. When the tide isn’t too high, you can walk south for quite a distance into San Elijo State Beach. Walking north leads into a spot below the steep Encinitas bluffs called Boneyards. Several cafes, including Swami’s Cafe, and other restaurants are just a short walk north on Highway 101. There is a long stairway that descends the steep bluff from the parking lot to the beach. If the parking lot is full you will have to park along the highway outside of the park entrance. During low tides some tide pools can be found at the point north from the bottom of the stairs. Activities: surfing, picnicking, beach walking and tide pooling. Amenities: restrooms, showers, picnic tables, BBQs, grass park, benches and tide pools.
Grandview Beach is the north beach access point at Leucadia State Beach, a California state park that is run by the city of Encinitas. Grandview Beach is a narrow beach below high bluffs topped with homes and condo buildings that have a “grand view” of the ocean. At high tide there isn’t much beach exposed, but otherwise this beach is excellent for walking. A long wooden stairway takes you down to the beach from the parking lot at the north end of Neptune Avenue near Grandview Street. Surfers hike up and down with their boards to enjoy the surf here as they do at Beacon’s Beach, the south access point of Leucadia State Beach about one mile away. There are no facilities here, but you could walk the beach north a half-mile to South Ponto Beach which has restrooms. Activities: surfing, sunbathing, beach walking and beach combing. Amenities: no facilities.
D Street Beach
D Street Beach is one block south of Moonlight State Beach in Encinitas, CA. As the name suggests the beach access is at the west end of D Street. The street ends at a nice viewpoint looking out over the ocean where surfers ride in on long rolling waves. A large wooden staircase leads down the bluff to the beach. The beach in this area is a gradual slope which makes it ideal for playing in the shallow waves. D Street and Moonlight State Beach are very popular on sunny days so parking and beach space is limited. If the tide isn’t high, you can walk south from here to an area below steep bluff walls called Boneyard Beach. This area south of D St. sometimes attracts locals who consider it a clothing-optional zone. Head west on D Street for a few blocks from Highway 101 to get here. Activities: surfing and beach walking. Amenities: lifeguard, benches and viewpoint.
Stone Steps Beach
Stone Steps Beach is a locals beach in Encinitas that is a little off-the-beaten-track. The city has signed it as “Stonesteps Beach Access” (spelled as one word), but most people refer to it as Stone Steps. The reason for this name is a large concrete and stone stairway that descends the steep crumbly bluff to the narrow beach below. Surfers catch waves that roll over a reef here. It’s a great beach to walk in either direction, but be aware that high tides can cover the entire beach in this area. To get here, head west on El Portal Street from Highway 101 then veer left onto S El Portal St to the end. Park on a nearby street and head down the stairs. Activities: surfing, beach walking, beach combing and beach walking. Amenities: lifeguard and no facilities.
You can go to these links to find the best southern California beaches include Santa Barbara, Ventura, Malibu, Santa Monica, Long Beach, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Dana Point, San Clemente, Oceanside, Carlsbad, Del Mar Beaches, La Jolla and San Diego Beaches.
With mild, year-round temperatures, Carlsbad draws in visitors seeking rugged adventures as well as relaxing family fun. South Carlsbad State Beach offers visitors a remote camping adventure, situated among rugged cliffs, but allowing room for surfing, swimming, fishing and skin diving. Meanwhile, Tamarack Beach provides access for joggers, bikers and walkers along the Carlsbad Seawall and Frazee Beach offers a low-key locale for swimmers in search of calmer waters.
South Carlsbad State Beach
South Carlsbad State Beach is a three-mile long beach on the waterfront of Carlsbad, CA. Most of this state beach is in front of the linear South Carlsbad Campground that fills the void between the sand and the asphalt of Carlsbad Boulevard. The campground sits high above the beach on a bluff that is slowly eroding away. From the camping areas there are several long stairs to access the beach which can be narrow depending on tides. Unfortunately there are no day-use parking spaces in the campground. At the south end of the campground the beach widens next to the entrance to Batiquitos Lagoon and free day-use parking can be found at this location for access to the beach below the campground. So unless you are camping you’ll need to park at North Ponto Beach or South Ponto Beach and walk on the sand. For access to the lagoon nature preserve see the Batiquitos Lagoon Foundation website. Activities: camping, surfing, swimming, scuba diving, hiking, fishing and bird watching. Amenities: campground, fire pits, restrooms, showers, lifeguard and camp store.
Tamarack State Beach
Tamarack Surf Beach, as this part of Carlsbad State Beach is known, is located where Tamarack Avenue crosses Carlsbad Boulevard. At this intersection is the entrance to a large parking lot that is usually full on nice days. The city provides a stairway for access to the rest of Carlsbad State Beach at Sycamore, Maple, Cherry and Hemlock Avenues. The parking lot and beach access at Pine Avenue is called Robert Frazee Beach. Between Tamarack Beach and Frazee Beach are two paved paths, a sidewalk at the top of the bluff and a promenade at the back of the beach on a seawall, which makes this a great place to get out and walk. Tamarack Beach is a nice wide sandy beach all the way to Frazee Beach. Activities: surfing, swimming, sunbathing, fishing, scuba diving, running and walking. Amenities: restrooms, showers and lifeguard.
Robert Frazee State Beach
Robert C. Frazee State Beach is one of several great beaches within Carlsbad State Beach. There is ramp access to Frazee Beach from the intersection of Pine Avenue and Carlsbad Boulevard in Carlsbad, CA. The parking lot entrance is at Oak Avenue and Ocean Street which gives access to a small grass park with benches looking out over the ocean and the Pine Ave ramp. This beach is similar to Tamarack Beach to the south, but it’s less crowded. Between these two beaches is a beach promenade walkway on a seawall below the bluff. This is a great walk or running route and you can return on the sidewalk of Carlsbad Blvd to make a loop. The beach at Frazee is wide and sandy. North of the parking lot the state beach continues in front of homes and condos and it lacks lifeguards and facilities. Activities: surfing, swimming, sunbathing, fishing, running and walking. Amenities: restrooms, showers, lifeguard, grass park and benches.
North Ponto Beach
North Ponto Beach is the northern day-use beach access point at South Carlsbad State Beach. The North Ponto parking lot is located on the southbound lanes of Carlsbad Boulevard at the north end of South Carlsbad Campground. The water quality at this location next to the Encinas Creek outflow has tested “excellent” year-round despite the Carlsbad wastewater facility nearby. The beach here is narrow unlike the wide beach at South Ponto at the other end of the campground. Surfers park and head out from North Ponto, but sunbathers and other beach goers don’t flock to this location. But when the tide isn’t high this is a worthy beach walk below the steep bluffs of the campground. Carlsbad State Beach has wider beaches located north of here along Carlsbad Boulevard. Activities: surfing, swimming, fishing, scuba diving and sunbathing. Amenities: restrooms and lifeguard.
You can go to these links to find the best southern California beaches include Santa Barbara, Ventura, Malibu, Santa Monica, Long Beach, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Dana Point, San Clemente, Oceanside, Ensinitas, Del Mar Beaches, La Jolla and San Diego Beaches.
Del Mar Beaches
The prosperous beachfront community of Del Mar offers some unique downtown shopping locales, as well as illustrious dining options catered towards the rich and famous. For more casual options, head to the scenic Powerhouse Park to watch the surf or stretch out on the sand. Del Mar City Beach is the place to go for people watching, plus taking long walks along the soft sand or just enjoying an ocean-side picnic while basking in the Southern California sun.
Del Mar City Beach
The Main Beach of Del Mar City Beach starts at Powerhouse Park and goes north all the way to the lagoon entrance at the San Dieguito River. On the other side of the lagoon entrance is North Beach which is known as Dog Beach because many dogs are there at almost any time of day. On sunny days Del Mar Beach can be very crowded so parking in the lots and on side streets can be hard to find. Powerhouse Park is a great place to make your base for a day trip to Del Mar Beach. This grass park has picnic tables and nice facilities and there are restaurants, shops, and other services nearby. The large lifeguard building and several restaurants and next to the park and right behind the beach. Get here early to enjoy this beautiful beach for the entire day and then watch the sunset. Note that at high tide the beach can be narrow. If you walk south from Powerhouse Park you will be on South Beach which is below steep colorful bluffs. Activities: swimming, sunbathing, beach walking and picnicking. Amenities: grass park, picnic tables, kids play area, lifeguard, restrooms, benches and dogs not allowed on beach June 16th to Labor Day, but ok on-leash rest of year.
Del Mar Dog Beach – North Beach
North Beach in Del Mar is also known as Dog Beach because it’s the only place dogs can be off-leash on Del Mar city beaches. From 29th Street north all the way to Solana Beach dogs can run freely, except during the summer months when they must be on-leash. The main part of this beach is on the north side of the San Dieguito River Lagoon entrance next to Camino del Mar. Typically there are many volleyball courts set up in the wide flat part of the beach. A trail to an ocean overlook at James Scripps Bluff Preserve above North Beach is worth exploring. Parking can be found along Camino del Mar behind the beach and also at 29th Street. Activities: volleyball, fishing and dog walking. Amenities: volleyball courts, trails, beach overlook, lifeguard, toilets, river and dogs allowed on beach on-leash June 16th to Labor Day, and allowed off-leash after Labor Day to June 15th.
South Beach of Del Mar
South Beach in Del Mar is best described as south of Powerhouse Park all the way to 6th Street at the north end of Torrey Pines State Beach. This beach is less popular than the main beach north of Powerhouse Park known as Del Mar City Beach. You can park near Powerhouse or Seagrove Park and explore on the beach as far south as you want. Free street parking can also be found near the west end of 13th through 6th Streets where you’ll have to cross the railroad tracks and then find a route down the cliffy bluff to the beach. The safest route down the bluff is at 11th Steet, but it’s easy to park at any of the numbered streets and walk along a dirt path next to the railroad tracks to get there. South Del Mar Beach can be narrow at high tide which can put a damper on sunbathing and other beach activities here. Activities: sunbathing, beach walking, beach combing and surfing. Amenities: trails, grass park and dogs allowed on-leash all year.
You can go to these links to find the best southern California beaches include Santa Barbara, Ventura, Malibu, Santa Monica, Long Beach, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Dana Point, San Clemente, Oceanside, Carlsbad, Ensinitas, La Jolla and San Diego Beaches.
La Jolla Beaches
With plenty of high-end shopping and dining, the upscale San Diego County community of La Jolla offers a wealth of opportunity for tourists both on, and off the beach. Flanked by sea cliffs, La Jolla Shores provides a superb launch site for kayaking, while Windansea Beach is full of charm and romance, offering a stunning backdrop with few visitors.
Black’s Beach is a famous clothing-optional beach below the gliderport parking area on Torrey Pines Mesa. Blacks is a combo of Torrey Pines City Beach and Torrey Pines State Beach. It’s a long beach that stretches from Torrey Pines State Beach below the famous Torrey Pines Golf Course at the north end to Scripps Beach at the UCSD Oceanography Campus at the south end. The access route down from the large glider port parking area is quite steep and slippery in places. If you are carrying stuff and/or need help descending steep trails then consider a different beach or a different route. There is another access further south at the intersection of Blackgold and La Jolla Farms Roads where a long paved path leads down to an area known as South Blacks Beach. The clothing optional section of Black’s Beach is well defined to avoid problems that could affect the nude beach status. The north boundary is Mussel Rocks (where large rocks extend into the water) and the south boundary is about 100 yards south of the main access trail. Torrey Pines State Park has two easier access points at North Beach and South Beach on N Torrey Pines Road. Activities: surfing, hang gliding, paragliding, fishing and beach exploration. Amenities: restrooms, hang-gliding launch and leashed dogs allowed on beach before 9am and after 6pm from April-Oct. (changes to 4pm Nov.-March).
La Jolla Cove Beach
La Jolla Cove Beach is located at the northeast end of Ellen Browning Scripps Park in La Jolla. This beach is protected by a rocky point which blocks waves rolling in from the west most of the time and creates a safe swimming beach. Since it is north-facing, usually there are shaded areas at the back of the beach. It is very popular on sunny days and because of its size you probably won’t get a spot unless you are here early. Divers love this spot because of the easy entrance and great diving. Two stairs lead you down from the grass park above. At the south end of the cove there is a tunnel through the rock wall that you can explore if willing to hop around on large boulders. Parking near the park can be difficult so plan to drive around on Coast Boulevard looking for a spot and possibly walking a ways to get here. From La Jolla Cove you can walk north or south along the bluffs that have a wide walkway above them. Birds and seals on the rocks can be watched from the bluff trail, but note that this is a smelly area. Activities: snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming, bird watching and wildlife watching. Amenities: lifeguard, restrooms, showers, benches, picnic tables, grass park and leashed dogs allowed on beach before 9am and after 6pm from April-Oct. (changes to 4pm Nov.-March).
La Jolla Shores Beach
La Jolla Shores Beach is a long, wide, and very popular beach in northern La Jolla. Compared to most of the La Jolla beaches which are tucked into gaps between rocky points, this one is a monster at over a mile in length. Kayakers put in at the south end of the beach and paddle out to see La Jolla Cave and other water-accessible sites. Beach walkers can head north for a long way by passing under the Scripps Pier and continuing all the way to Black’s Beach (warning this area is clothing optional). Lifeguards are on-hand daily at La Jolla Shores for swimmers and surfers to safely enjoy the surf. It’s tops for picnicking, sunbathing, playing in the water, and people watching. The beach is in front of Kellogg Park which has two grassy areas for picnics that are separated by a large parking lot. Even though the beach is large and so is the parking lot, they both can fill up on sunny days. Get here early and make a full day of your visit. Rentals are available at the beach and on Avenida de la Playa where you’ll also find a market and restaurants. From downtown La Jolla head north on Torrey Pines Road then turn north onto La Jolla Shores Drive then turn left onto Calle Frescota which leads to the lot entrance. Activities: surfing, volleyball, scuba diving, sunbathing, swimming, picnicking, kayaking, scuba diving, sunbathing and beach walking. Amenities: grass park, picnic tables, kids play area, volleyball courts, lifeguard, rentals, boat launch and leashed dogs allowed on beach before 9am and after 6pm from April-Oct. (changes to 4pm Nov.-March).
Boomer Beach is located on the exposed western side of Ellen Browning Scripps Park in La Jolla. Because of the exposure to the strong ocean waves it is less popular than its neighboring beach, La Jolla Cove, just around the corner to the east. The park has wide open grass areas and a rocky bluff to sit on as well. Body surfing is popular here because of the way the surf breaks. Surfing and boogie boarding is not allowed. If you want to swim, then head over to the Cove. There are no stairs so you will need to scramble down the sandstone bluff to reach the sand. Parking is problematic so plan to drive around on Coast Boulevard until you find a spot. Activities: body surfing, snorkeling and scuba diving. Amenities: grass park, picnic tables, benches, restrooms, showers and leashed dogs allowed on beach before 9am and after 6pm from April-Oct. (changes to 4pm Nov.-March).
You can go to these links to find the best southern California beaches include Santa Barbara, Ventura, Malibu, Santa Monica, Long Beach, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Dana Point, San Clemente, Oceanside, Carlsbad, Ensinitas, Del Mar Beaches, San Diego Beaches.
San Diego Beaches
One of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. is sought after for its mild temperatures and expansive beaches. San Diego is home to large crowds of people at both Pacific Beach and Mission Beach and at the only 24-hour dog beach located within Ocean Beach. Perfect for sunning, surfing and for swimming, many of San Diego’s beaches are protected by Mission Bay.
Sunset Cliffs Natural Park – Garbage Beach
Sunset Cliffs Natural Park is a steep hillside park between Point Loma Nazarene University and the ocean. There are boot-beaten footpaths all over the hillside here to explore. The beach below the park, which has been nicknamed Garbage Beach, has a steep access route down the sandstone cliff directly below the lower parking lot. This route follows a broken drainage trough and is so steep at the bottom that a fixed rope is used for safety. This is a popular beach so many locals and tourists make this steep trip down and back up every day – some of them in flip flops. There are two free public parking lots for the park. One is off Lomaland Drive on the college campus and one is at the corner of Ladera Street and Cornish Drive. You’ll also find street parking at Sunset Cliffs Boulevard and Ladera Street where a nice stairwell leads to the rocky shore below. From that access it can require wading through water on a rocky shore to reach the sandy beach. The beach at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park is best at low tide when tide pools are exposed. Activities: tide pooling, surfing, hiking and mountain biking. Amenities: tide pools, trails, fossils and leashed dogs allowed on beach before 9am and after 6pm from April-Oct. (changes to 4pm Nov.-March).
Ocean Beach City Beach
Ocean Beach City Beach is the main beach in the San Diego neighborhood of Ocean Beach. This is a wide sandy beach that has formed at the south side of the San Diego River mouth. Looking north you can see the neighborhood of Mission Beach on the other side of rthe rock jetties that protect the Mission Bay Entrance Channel. The southern view from City Beach is dominated by the Ocean Beach Pier which extends about a half-mile out into the Pacific Ocean. If you are visiting here for the first time you should walk out to the end of the pier to take in the view of the city. There are two parking lots and they tend to fill up fast on weekends, so you might have to settle for on-street parking near here. The Ocean Beach Bike Path runs inland along the river from here for bikers and runners. The extreme north end of this beach is called Dog Beach and it’s overrun with happy pooches. To get here, take the Ocean Beach Freeway (I-8) west to the end then follow Sunset Cliffs Boulevard to West Point Loma Blvd which ends at the beach. Activities: surfing, walking, running, biking, sunbathing, volleyball, bonfires and fishing. Amenities: fishing pier, bike path, restrooms, showers, grass park, picnic tables, lifeguard, volleyball courts, tide pools, fire pits, accessible features and leashed dogs allowed on beach before 9am and after 6pm from April-Oct. (changes to 4pm Nov.-March).
South Mission Beach
South Mission Beach is at the extreme south end of the Mission Beach Peninsula at the Mission Bay Channel Entrance. There is a nice grass park here with picnic tables, restrooms, and a basketball court. On the sand next to the park are many beach volleyball courts. The beach at this location is very wide so you won’t have a problem finding a spot to spread out on. A huge lifeguard building watches guard over this end of Mission Beach. To reach South Mission Beach head south on Mission Boulevard to the end and turn right into a large parking lot. This lot fills up so plan on getting here early in the day. The Ocean Front Walk pathway starts here and continues north along the back of the beach all the way to Mission Beach Park and ends around Pacific Beach. Mission Point Park is at the east end of the jetty just walking distance from South Mission Beach. Activities: volleyball, basketball, sunbathing, biking, running, walking and bonfires. Amenities: grass park, basketball court, volleyball courts, picnic tables, restrooms, lifeguard, fire pits and leashed dogs allowed on beach before 9am and after 6pm from April-Oct. (changes to 4pm Nov.-March).
North Pacific Beach
North Pacific Beach is north of the Crystal Pier at Pacific Beach and south of Tourmaline Beach. This wide sandy beach below a steep bluff in the Pacific Beach district is often very crowded. Offshore the waters are also packed with surfers, kiteboarders and windsurfers. There stairs and ramps to the beach from Loring St, Crystal Dr, Law St, Chalcedony St, Diamond St, and Felspar Street. You’ll find street parking near all these streets and along Mission Boulevard. The Pacific Beach Boardwalk follows the bluff’s edge the entire length of North Pacific Beach and has several grass parks along its path. Crystal Pier is worth visiting if you haven’t before. This wooden structure is a public fishing pier during the day and a secured hotel with private cottages for rent at night. Activities: swimming, surfing, sunbathing and walking. Amenities: fishing pier, lifeguard, boardwalk, grass parks, restrooms and leashed dogs allowed on beach before 9am and after 6pm from April-Oct. (changes to 4pm Nov.-March).
You can go to these links to find the best southern California beaches include Santa Barbara, Ventura, Malibu, Santa Monica, Long Beach, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Dana Point, San Clemente, Oceanside, Carlsbad, Ensinitas, Del Mar Beaches, and La Jolla.