Top 25+ California Beaches

Lapped by the deep blue Pacific Ocean, California boasts over 3,000 miles of coastline including 20,000 rocks and islands, 30 lighthouses and 11 major ports. Known as the Golden Coast, there are a huge variety of beaches, from the famous golden sands and surf around Santa Monica to the rocky rugged coastline defining Northern California. This beautiful coastline is stunning and in many places is overlooked by multi-million dollar properties.

In the subtropical south, the beaches are all about lifestyle. Lined with boardwalks and trails, the golden sand is a hub for watersports, bonfires, fishing and surfing. Heading north from San Diego, the coast is lined with iconic beaches - including Long Beach, Santa Monica, Venice Beach and Malibu.

California's Central Coast has a cooler Mediterranean climate with yet more beautiful beaches around Santa Barbara. Pismo Beach with its surfer vibe and Morro Bay with its monolithic rock (the remnant of one of the 7 long-forgotten volcanoes along this coastline) add to the character and individuality of each place. Finally Big Sur and Monterey beaches give way to San Francisco harbour before the more craggy coastline and wave-lashed rocks further north.

  • Baker Beach

    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… read more »

  • Laguna Beach

    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… read more »

  • Glass Beach

    Glass Beach
    Sarah and Jason
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  • La Jolla Cove

    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… read more »

  • Venice Beach

    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… read more »

  • Santa Cruz Main Beach

    Santa Cruz Main Beach
    David Merrett

    Santa Cruz Main Beach is also known as Boardwalk Beach because it sits in front of the boardwalk amusement park. Dating from 1907, it contains the historic Big Dipper rollercoaster, a swimming pool, mini golf, and restaurants among its attractions.

    On the opposite side of the municipal wharf from Cowell Beach, Main Beach faces south and stretches on to the mouth of the San Lorenzo River.… read more »

  • Black's Beach

    Black's Beach
    Raquel Baranow

    Situated on the beautiful California coastline north of San Diego, Black's Beach is north of La Jolla at Torrey Pines, just below the famous golf course of the same name. The name Black's Beach comes from the horse farm in the area that was once owned by the Black family.

    A little off-the-beaten-track, the beach is accessed down a steep sandy trail from the Gliderport Parking… read more »

  • Capitola Beach

    Capitola Beach
    Dale Cruse

    Often voted one of the top ten beaches on the US West Coast, this beach of fine sand lies at the northern end of Monterey Bay. It sits in front of the almost-neon homes of the village of Capitola, where you can also find a good choice of restaurants and shops. Very popular on sunny summer days when lifeguards are on duty, Capitola Beach… read more »

  • Coronado Beach

    Coronado Beach

    Consistently voted one of America's finest beaches, Coronado Beach is a long sandy stretch on the outskirts of San Diego. The main Central Beach runs along Ocean Boulevard from the Hotel del Coronado to Sunset Park. An area near Sunset Park is set aside for dog owners to bring their dogs to play on what is known locally as Dog Run Beach. There is parking… read more »

  • Huntington Beach

    Huntington Beach
    © James Kim

    Nicknamed "Surf City USA", Huntington Beach is a popular resort destination for locals and international tourists. This 121-acre state beach has a long pier and a beautiful sandy beach with dunes sheltering many bird species.

    Facilities include parking lots (open until 10pm), bathrooms, showers, lifeguard HQ and fire rings for bonfires. It is ideal for sunbathing, walking, fishing and watching pro surfers.

    There are sandbars at the… read more »

  • McWay Falls Cove

    McWay Falls Cove
    © Pexels

    Set in the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park this beautiful little horseshoe shaped cove is surrounded by high, tree-lined cliffs. Perhaps the beach's most notable feature though is McWay Falls, a waterfall that vertically plunges 80 feet directly into the aqua-blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. The cove here is one of the undisputed highlights of Big Sur and only a short trip from California's… read more »

  • San Gregorio State Beach

    San Gregorio State Beach
    Nathan Siemers

    Close to Silicon Valley in the South Bay Area, San Gregorio State Beach is a popular beach with a large car park and good amenities. Located on a wild stretch of the California coast this is a great place for picnics, birdwatching, beach activities, walking, hunting for fossils and exploring the trails.

    Accessed from La Honda Road and Cabrillo Hwy, you will find restrooms, picnic tables… read more »

  • Stinson Beach

    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… read more »

  • Zuma Beach

    Zuma Beach

    One of largest and most popular beaches in Los Angeles County, Zuma Beach has clean waters and wide sands that extend for a total of around two miles. The location for the famous final scene in the original 1968 version of Planet of the Apes, it is now better known by the surfing community for its breaks, with Zuma Beach hosting several major competitions each… read more »

  • Bowling Ball Beach

    Bowling Ball Beach
    Brocken Inaglory
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