Top Beaches on the West Coast of the USA

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  • Cannon Beach // Oregon

    Cannon Beach
    ©Stacey Andrew McClain

    Look for Cannon Beach on a map of Oregon and you'll find its not only the name of a stunning stretch of west coast shoreline, but also a city in Clatsop County. Named one of the world's most beautiful places by none other than National Geographic (and they should know), Cannon Beach also featured in the last scene of the 1991 cult classic Point Break.

    Face out from the soft sands and you'll be met by the Pacific Ocean gently rolling in around Haystack Rock, a pinnacle that stands close enough… read more »

  • Laguna Beach // California

    Laguna Beach
    ©Joe Belanger

    Located midway between Los Angeles and San Diego, Laguna Beach is the archetypal Southern Californian beach town. This is one of the most fashionable seaside towns in Orange County and as such has attracted the wealthy and famous for many years. Laguna Beach has a long established reputation as a cultural hotspot and is home to any number of art festivals, most notably the Pageant of the Masters. 

    But it is the beaches we are interested in; all seven miles of them. There are over twenty sandy beaches and secluded coves… read more »

  • Venice Beach // California

    Venice Beach

    When thinking of Los Angeles it is hard not to picture the city's iconic Venice Beach. Whilst many beaches are exactly that, and nothing else, Venice Beach is much more than that; a beach, cultural institution, vibrant community and international tourist destination to name a few. What goes on along the beach front is as important to Venice beach's character as the sand,ocean and palms trees that physically define it.

    Most of what makes Venice Beach what it is goes on along Ocean Front Walk, or the Boardwalk as everybody… read more »

  • La Jolla Cove // California

    La Jolla Cove
    ©John Uhrig

    Tucked away at the foot of the sandstone cliffs north of San Diego, La Jolla Cove is one of the most photographed beaches in SoCal, so it's fair to say it's exceptionally beautiful. The Spanish phrase "La Jolla" means "jewel" and this cove is a gem.

    Facing north it has an exceptionally clear deep blue waters with visibility up to 30 feet in depth making it popular for swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving. Marine life is prolific as the cove is part of the protected La Jolla Underwater Ecological Reserve.… read more »

  • Stinson Beach // California

    Stinson Beach
    ©Mark Gunn

    Situated within California's Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Stinson Beach lies approximately 30 kilometres northwest of San Francisco along Highway 1, making it a popular day trip for residents of the city.

    This long stretch of sand offers a relatively shallow entry into the waters of the Pacific, which can be a little on the cold side. However, as one of the region's cleanest beaches it offers a range of potential activities, including volleyball, fishing, surfing, windsurfing and swimming.

    There are reserved swimming areas where surfing and the use of motorised… read more »

  • Baker Beach // California

    Baker Beach
    ©UltraView Admin

    Situated between San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge to the north, Baker Beach is a flat, wide expanse of golden sand approximately 800 metres in length.

    In the city's Presidio area, its natural vistas are improved by views of the entirety of the Golden Gate Bridge on all but the foggiest of days. Within Golden Gate National Recreation Area, it also boasts a coastal trail that leads up onto the cliffs that overlook it, and a huge gun called Battery Chamberlin which was installed in 1904 and lies just… read more »

  • Bandon Beach // Oregon

    Bandon Beach
    ©Andrew Soundarajan / iStock

    Bandon Beach is a wide and wild public beach. Its sands form a relatively flat surface as they head towards the Pacific, making them suitable for all sorts of games, from beach football to tag. Commonly referred to as Bandon State Natural Area, the beach is probably best known for its sea stacks - thin slivers of rock that rise majestically out of the surf and have all manner of names linked to their appearance. Most notable of these are Face Rock, Elephant Rock and Komax.

    The beach and rocks provide… read more »

  • Pope Beach // California

    Pope Beach
    ©Ken Lund

    Immediately to the west of the Tahoe Keys residential development of South Lake Tahoe, Pope Beach is an attractive area of lakeshore lined with mature trees. Its narrow ribbon of golden sand is still wide enough to ensure there's plenty of space for everyone who visits.

    Mountain vistas provide a pleasant backdrop to time on Pope Beach, which can be spent swimming, boating or cycling. Roughly a kilometre in length, the water is relatively shallow, and waves at a minimum because of protection from the surrounding trees.

    Public restrooms are situated at… read more »

  • Sand Harbor Beach // Nevada

    Sand Harbor Beach
    ©Mariusz Blach

    When you think of beaches in America you're probably thinking California, Florida or even Hawaii. Yet, he we are several hundred miles inland and in the mountains. I guess half of the lake is in California, but the beach we are interested in is over the border in Nevada.

    There are actually around over 70 miles of beaches around the shores of Lake Tahoe but of all these Sandy Harbor is the best. A big stretch of sand with lots of nooks and crannies along with a bunch of smooth boulders… read more »

  • Santa Monica State Beach // California

    Santa Monica State Beach

    Just west of downtown Los Angeles, Santa Monica State Beach stretches for an astonishing 8 miles of soft sand. Cleaned and raked on a daily basis, it will host the beach volleyball competition of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

    The archetypal West Coast beach town, Santa Monica State Beach has a pier with an amusement park that contains a carousel dating from 1922 and is listed as a National Historic Landmark. There is also an aquarium making the beach a great options for families.

    There is a children's playground to the… read more »

  • Moonstone Beach // California

    Moonstone Beach

    Located in Cambria, San Luis Obispo County, central California, Moonstone Beach is made up of a dark sand the colour of brown sugar. Located within Hearst San Simeon State Park, it has also no facilities.

    However, Moonstone Beach does boast a number of attractions that make it well worth a visit. A mile-long boardwalk runs from Moonstone Beach Park at Santa Rosa Creek to Leffingwell Landing. You can find parking at either end, although they can both be busy on summer days.

    In addition, Moonstone Beach is so well known as a… read more »

  • Bonny Doon Beach // California

    Bonny Doon Beach
    ©Nick Amoscato

    Pretty Bonny Doon Beach is a gorgeous sandy cove backed by high cliffs and flower-covered slopes creating a natural amphitheatre.

    Situated just off the Cabrillo Highway near Bonny Doon Road in Santa Cruz, it is part of Coast Dairies State Park with free parking but no facilities. The paved parking lot is open 8am to sunset but it quickly fills up. Beach access involves walking across the railroad tracks and down one of the steep and slippery trails.

    Bonny Doon Beach is a well-known clothing-optional area and naturists are… read more »

  • Pacific City Beach // Oregon

    Pacific City Beach
    ©Loren Kerns

    Pacific City Beach is a hugely diverse landscape, though the attention of most people will fall immediately on the its wide expanse of gently undulating sand.

    At its southern extreme is a spit of land created by the Big Nestucca River entering the Pacific Ocean which attracts everything from herons to puffins, making the beach popular with bird watchers. Seals, sea lions, otters, and porpoises can all be seen in the surf.

    To the north are the large sand dunes of Cape Kiwanda, which can be climbed up and even jumped off… read more »

  • Collins Beach // Oregon

    Collins Beach
    ©Just Me BN

    Collins Beach is a rare thing - not an ocean beach but a river one. It is located on the eastern side of Sauvie Island, on the border between Oregon and Washington state, with sands that disappear beneath the waters of the Columbia River.

    Approximately 1.5 kilometres in length, it is also worth noting that Collins Beach is in part a clothing optional beach, one of just two beaches in the state where this is a possibility - legally anyway. Despite this, Collins Beach can be quite busy on summer days.

    One… read more »

  • Ariya's Beach // Oregon

    Ariya's Beach

    Ariya's Beach is located in Oregon's Samuel H Boardman State Scenic Corridor, an area of protected land named after the state's first superintendent of parks. A wide and secluded expanse of clean sands, you'll find few rocks on which to accidentally tread on. However, the main attraction is the sea stacks immediately offshore, which certainly add to the majesty of the Pacific Ocean at this point on the Oregon coast.

    Easily accessed just off the coastal route 101, Ariya's Beach is backed by grassy and forested hills. A beach for nature… read more »