The Best California Beaches

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Page 3 out of 11

  • 31. Dockweiler State Beach // Southern California

    Dockweiler State Beach
    Alistair McMillan
    Great for:
    • Fishing
    • Surfing
    • Kitesurfing

    This vast beach, which sits just three miles away from Los Angeles' international airport is a near-four mile stretch of soft golden sand on California's south east coast.

    Its proximity to the airport makes it a top spot for seeing the aeroplanes take off, but there's a lot more to this beach than plane spotting.

    Among the many amenities here, you'll find fire pits, picnic facilities, showers and restrooms, and there… read more »

  • 32. Drakes Beach // Northern California

    Drakes Beach

    Located on the more sheltered easterly side of Point Reyes Headlands is Drakes Beach. During the summer months this is a popular spot and the broad expanse of sand can quickly fill up.

    Despite being tucked away, around the corner from the full force of the Pacific Ocean there can still be plenty of waves at Drakes Beach. Before you dive in for a quick surf, be warned the water is… read more »

  • 33. Asilomar State Beach // Central California

    Asilomar State Beach
    Maxwell Pearl
    Great for:
    • Surfing

    Asilomar State Beach is a beautiful stretch of golden sand located on California's Monterey Peninsula. It is a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, surfing, and tidepooling. The beach is also home to the Asilomar Conference Grounds, a historic resort and conference center. 

    The one-mile long beach that is made up of both sandy areas and rocky coves and forms part of the Asilomar State Marine Reserve. This means that there are special rules… read more »

  • 34. Santa Barbara East Beach // Southern California

    Santa Barbara East Beach

    East Beach is the archetypal Californian beach; the Pacific Ocean, golden sand, tall palm trees line the boulevard behind the beach, beach volleyball courts, lifeguard towers and the backdrop of the Santa Ynez Mountains rising steeply behind the city. The beach here is home to many of Santa Barbara's most upmarket hotels, however, development has been sympathetic so you won't find any of the high-rise blocks that blot many of… read more »

  • 35. Half Moon Bay State Beach // Northern California

    Half Moon Bay State Beach
    © David Mark

    Half Moon Bay State Beach has a total length of around 4 miles, and is officially comprised of four separate broad sand beaches. They are named Francis (Kelly) Beach, Venice Beach, Dunes Beach, and Roosevelt (Naples) Beach.

    The Francis Beach section of Half Moon Bay State Beach lies at its southern end. A popular spot for picnics, it has public barbeque facilities. There is also a visitor centre that is open… read more »

  • 36. Will Rogers State Beach // Southern California

    Will Rogers State Beach
    © Don Ramey Logan
    Great for:
    • Swimming
    • Surfing
    • Kitesurfing

    Will Rogers sits between two illustrious neighbours, Malibu and Santa Monica, just to the north of Los Angeles. Stretching for nearly 3 miles this is a great option when the city beaches become too busy.

    The long sandy beach here is everything you would imagine of a South Californian beach. Surf from the deep blue pacific, permanent sunshine and a host of volleyball courts.It should be little surprise… read more »

  • 37. Newport Beach // Southern California

    Newport Beach
    Mitch Barrie
    Great for:
    • Fishing
    • Surfing

    Home of the biggest recreational harbor on the west coast, the classic California surf town of Newport Beach offers sandy beaches, water sports, and incredible views of the sunset. This is a place you will never run out of ways to fill your day, and you can experience a real slice of Southern California beach life.

    The sand stretches for 10 miles at Newport Beach with the central Municipal beach… read more »

  • 38. Seabright Beach // Central California

    Seabright Beach
    Mike Fernwood
    Great for:
    • Surfing

    Situated just along the coast from Main Beach and the boardwalk, Seabright Beach runs from the mouth of the San Lorenzo River to the entrance of Santa Cruz Harbour. The beach is accessed via the western end of East Cliff Drive, near the Museum of Natural History, and where there is free parking.

    Seabright Beach is a wide stretch of richly-coloured sands that continue on for around 800 metres, with… read more »

  • 39. Natural Bridges State Beach // Central California

    Natural Bridges State Beach
    David Merrett
    Great for:
    • Surfing
    • Kitesurfing

    Located at the end of West Cliff Drive, this sand beach is protected by its status as a 26-hectare California state park and marine reserve. Relatively sheltered, it is named after the natural archways that have formed over time in the rocks, of which only one now remains.

    Its marine reserve status means there's a possibility of observing seals and California's famed sea otters, while tidal pools provide a way of… read more »

  • 40. Muir Beach // Northern California

    Muir Beach
    Jesse Wagstaff
    Great for:
    • Surfing

    Twenty-five kilometres from San Francisco, Muir Beach is the first beach you'll come across heading north into Marin County. One of the cleanest beaches in California according to official data, it is a part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

    While not the longest of beaches, at around 300 metres in length, it is wide, at 60 metres. The broad sweep of dark sand is surrounded by rocky cliffs studded… read more »

  • 41. Pescadero State Beach // Northern California

    Pescadero State Beach
    Nick Amoscato
    Great for:
    • Fishing

    A great all-round beach, Pescadero State Beach incorporates sands perfect for sunbathing with rocky cliffs, tidal pools, picnic facilities, and sites for shore fishing. The latter you might expect with a beach that takes its name from the Spanish for "the place to fish".

    The beach covers a length of around a mile in total, divided into two areas separated by the creek that drains the Pescadero Marsh Nature Reserve, a… read more »

  • 42. Tennessee Beach // Northern California

    Tennessee Beach
    Fabrice Florin

    Tennessee Beach is located on the west side of the Marin Headlands in San Francisco's Marin County. It is named after the SS Tennessee, a ship which ran aground here in 1853 while trying to enter Golden Gate Bay. Though all 500 passengers on board escaped, its iron carcass can still be seen during the lowest tides of the month.

    Only twenty minutes by road from downtown San Francisco, the… read more »

  • 43. Linda Mar Beach // Northern California

    Linda Mar Beach
    © jnickp
    Great for:
    • Surfing

    You know a beach is going to be worthwhile when it has not one but two names! Pacifica State Beach is situated on the outskirts of San Francisco in California's San Mateo County. One of the most popular beaches to learn how to surf in the Bay area, it is known to surfers as Linda Mar Beach.

    The largest, and also southernmost, beach in Pacifica, its reputation as a surfing… read more »

  • 44. Morro Rock Beach // Central California

    Morro Rock Beach
    © David Mark
    Great for:
    • Surfing

    Nestled in a secluded spot along California's northern coastline, Morro Rock is one of the state's most naturally beautiful beaches.

    The Morro Rock itself stands at around 576 feet tall and was formed millions of years ago from volcanic rock. Until the mid-sixties it was regularly mined, partly for breakwaters, but by the end of the decade it had been recognised as a California State Landmark and a California Registered Historical… read more »

  • 45. Palisades Beach // Southern California

    Palisades Beach
    © Milan Ashley
    Great for:
    • Fishing
    • Surfing

    This narrow strip of soft white sand is just along the coast from the ever-popular Santa Monica.

    Unlike its next-door neighbor, there aren't a whole host of beachfront bars and restaurants, which helps to keep the crowds away, and means there's plenty of wriggle room for a spot of sunbathing.

    Lifeguards are on duty every day and there are loads of places to park nearby if you're taking the car to the… read more »