The Best California Beaches

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Page 4 out of 11

  • 46. Avila Beach // Central California

    Avila Beach
    Great for:
    • Swimming
    • Surfing

    This secluded little spot sits on California's central coast, approximately halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

    The beach itself is a stunning unspoilt stretch of white sand and crystal clear water that's around half a mile long, with a near 1700-feet pier at the heart of it that's been standing for more than a century.

    It's partially closed for restoration works so you won't be able to walk all… read more »

  • 47. Gibson Beach // Central California

    Gibson Beach
    Eric Chan

    This is a top spot for nature lovers. Gibson's Beach is the southernmost beach in Point Lobos State Natural Reserve and can be reached by car in around 10 minutes from Carmel. The scenic drive alone is well worth the time spent. 

    It's a wide sandy stretch about a quarter of a mile long and access to the beach can be challenging, but the reward of seclusion and some nice wave… read more »

  • 48. Gray Whale Cove State Beach // Northern California

    Gray Whale Cove State Beach
    Christopher Michel

    When you hear that Gray Whale Cove State Beach is on an area of coastline known as "Devil's Slide" this should help convey that the descent to the beach is steep and tricky.

    Just 18 miles south of San Francisco, situated between Pacifica and Montara, this state beach is popular for whale watching during the spring migratory season, hence its name. Great white sharks have also been seen… read more »

  • 49. Clam Beach // Northern California

    Clam Beach
    Colby Gutierrez-Kraybill
    Great for:
    • Fishing

    Clam Beach County Park lies just off (Redwood) Highway 101 to the north of Arcata. It is a long stretch of fine golden sand backed by low sand dunes.

    The beach here is a popular stopover for camping with parks for both RVs and tents. Facilities include plenty of picnic areas, firepits, and restrooms.

    As the name might suggest, Clam beach is popular for clamming - the name comes from the abundant razor… read more »

  • 50. Lighthouse Field State Beach // Central California

    Lighthouse Field State Beach
    Don DeBold
    Great for:
    • Surfing

    Lighthouse Field State Beach lies at the north end of Monterey Bay in downtown Santa Cruz, and can be accessed via West Cliff Drive. A protected state park covering 15 hectares, it overlooks the famous Steamer Lane surf break, making it incredibly popular with experienced surfers and body boarders.

    The beach itself is formed of flat, lightly-coloured sands surrounded by smooth platforms of sedimentary rock that act as the… read more »

  • 51. Cowell Beach // Central California

    Cowell Beach
    Great for:
    • Fishing
    • Swimming
    • Surfing

    Cowell Beach is located on the westside of Santa Cruz's wood-built municipal wharf in the downtown district. Stretching from the wharf to the cliffs overlooked by West Cliff Drive, this broad sweep of golden sand is popular for a number of reasons.

    Beyond the delights of its sands, it is close to the amusements of the boardwalk, and is also popular for those looking to be a little more active than… read more »

  • 52. Redondo Beach State Park // Southern California

    Redondo Beach State Park
    Great for:
    • Fishing
    • Surfing
    • Kitesurfing

    This 1.5 mile-long stretch of shoreline is jam-packed with activities and facilities, which keep visitors coming back time and time again.

    At the far north of the beach you'll find the magnificent pier. It's a great place for a spot of fishing, and there are plenty of bars, shops and restaurants here too, with plenty of variety on the menus. Naturally as you'd expect, there are plenty of fresh seafood places… read more »

  • 53. Montara State Beach // Northern California

    Montara State Beach
    Vadim Manuylov
    Great for:
    • Surfing

    Located a little over 30 kilometres south of San Francisco, west of Highway 1 and nestled between bounding low hills, this beach boasts a sandy shore and high bluffs. Montara Mountain, also known as McNee Ranch, looms above to the east. 

    Beachgoers here can enjoy basking in the sun and recharging their batteries. People also flock here to take a relaxing stroll on the soft sand along the seashore. Although… read more »

  • 54. More Mesa Beach // Southern California

    More Mesa Beach

    More Mesa Beach near Santa Barbara is a secluded sandy beach between Arroyo Burro and Goleta Beach.

    It is accessed from Mockingbird Lane in the Vista La Cumbre development, however there is no parking in that area so you need to park on Puente or Vieja Drive. Enter the park and walk about ¼ mile across the open cliff top towards the ocean and look for a steep path… read more »

  • 55. Lester Beach // Lake Tahoe

    Lester Beach
    Mark Doliner

    Forming the northern trailhead of the 20 mile Rubicon Trail, Lester Beach is located on the western shores of Lake Tahoe. Facing roughly northeast, it stretches in a thin ribbon for approximately a mile, with its widest portions being at its south-eastern end. It then links to the much shorter Calawee Cove Beach.

    Together, both beaches are sometimes known as Bliss Beach, since they form the shoreline of D. L. Bliss… read more »

  • 56. College Cove Beach // Northern California

    College Cove Beach

    Beautiful College Cove Beach is one of the finest beaches in North California. This public beach is near Trinidad, about 75 miles south of the California/Oregon border. College Cove Beach is the northern cove of Trinidad State Beach and has a more secluded atmosphere. It is separated from the main state beach by "The Portal", a natural arch through the rocks.

    The beach looks out to Pewetole Island, a… read more »

  • 57. Red Rock Beach // Northern California

    Red Rock Beach
    Andrew Ballantyne

    Noted as one of the best nudist beaches in California, Red Rock Beach is just south of Stinson Beach in California. It has a steep trail leading down from the highway so wear sensible footwear to reach this remote wave-battered crescent of beach which is favoured by naturists. You can also reach it at low tide by walking along the sand and scrambling over the boulders at Rocky Point from… read more »

  • 58. Lands End Beach // Northern California

    Lands End Beach
    Willis Lam

    Close to San Francisco, Lands End Beach is a clothing-optional beach which is particularly quiet and private during weekdays.

    To reach it, drive west along Geary Blvd and take a right at the fork onto Point Lobos Ave. You can park by continuing along to a large car park or by turning right again onto El Camino del Mar and parking at the end. There's a trail leading down… read more »

  • 59. Pirates Cove // Central California

    Pirates Cove
    Sergei Gussev

    Another California gem for naturists, Pirate's Cove is midway between Avila Beach and Shell Beach / Pismo Beach.

    This south-facing cove is sheltered which is probably why it is favoured as a nudist beach. Its secluded position and rocky caves would have made the beach a natural hideaway for smugglers when ships heading to Port San Luis Harbour dropped off smuggled liquor.

    Despite its name and notoriety, Pirate's Cove… read more »

  • 60. Laguna Creek Beach // Central California

    Laguna Creek Beach
    Miles Gehm
    Great for:
    • Surfing

    Laguna Creek Beach is within Coast Dairies State Park in Santa Cruz on Cabrillo Hwy. It is popular for sunbathing, birdwatching, exploring tidal pools and surfing. It is also unofficially a naturist clothing-optional beach, just so you know.

    There is a free parking lot at the north entrance of Laguna Road off Hwy 1. Cross the highway and look for a well-trod trail through the vegetation. Cross the railroad… read more »