Compiling a list of the best beaches in California is a nearly impossible task, because almost all of them have something unique and exquisite to offer.
Still, if you love the seashore and are planning to visit the Golden State in the near future, then fear not – for we’ve got you covered!
It is hard to objectively list the best beaches in California, because the best beach for you will depend largely on your own tastes and preferences. For instance, Huntington Beach might be perfect for you if you are into surfing and water sports, while the gorgeous Limantour Beach might be more up your alley if sightseeing and whale-watching opportunities are what you’re looking for.
Similarly, Newport Bay is a quirky offshore beach and estuary that is popular among stand-up paddleboarders, while the Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica will offer you an opportunity to enjoy the scenic shoreline from one of its luxurious private bungalows. Dana Point in SoCal is the place for relaxation and sun-bathing, but McClures Beach is what you should opt for if you want the chance to explore something a bit more wild and remote.
The Best Beaches in California
So, whether you’re into whale-watching, sunbathing, or stand-up paddleboarding, California has something for the beach lover in you! Read on to know more about some of the best beaches in the Golden State – for all types of visitors.
- Santa Monica State Beach
The Santa Monica State Beach is a well-maintained, soft sandy beach in Southern California that is 3.5 miles (or 5.6 km) in length. It offers a wide range of attractions and activities, including world-class restaurants, great shops, and thrilling amusement rides. Opulent and affordable hotels in the vicinity make it easy to visit this beach on a long weekend.
The North Beach playground was opened on September 15, 2018 and is a universally accessible recreational center for children of all ages. Various slides, swings, and climbing equipment encourage children to be active, imaginative, and playful while on the beach. This makes the Santa Monica State Beach perfect for family vacations.
- Marina Del Rey
If you want a slightly more active and adventurous vacation with your family, then the calm and sheltered waters of Marina Del Rey might be just what you are looking for. This manmade beach provides the perfect ambiance to get the whole family out in the water for a day of surfing or paddleboarding. There’s also a nice picnic spot for when you want to take a break from the water.
The Marina is very popular among water-sports enthusiasts, so you will frequently meet other families out enjoying the tranquil waters on kayaks and paddleboards. If you’re lucky, you might also spot some sea lions and dolphins while paddleboarding on the Marina. Biking, sailing, and bird watching are some common activities that you can participate in while you’re there.
- Carmel City Beach
The charming and picturesque town of Carmel-by-the-Sea grew out of a tiny “village in the forest” that overlooked a gorgeous white sand beach. Originally an artist colony, the seemingly old-fashioned little town has stayed true to its Bohemian roots – with lovely cottages, quaint inns, and a thriving arts scene.
Carmel City Beach offers majestic scenery, remote hiking trails, and crystal clear water that’s perfect for surfing. Designated one of the most romantic destinations in the US, this beach is also an ideal place to watch sunsets with your significant other, while the two of you stroll sedately along its scenic gravel pathways.
- Redondo Beach
This is a quintessential SoCal seaside town which embraced the surf and beach culture in its early years and never quite let go. It is the ideal destination for surfers and paddleboarders who are looking to have fun with their family, friends, and pets.
Yes, you read that right! At Redondo Beach, you will find various likeminded pet-lovers paddleboarding with their dogs. In fact, the place currently holds the (unofficial) record for the most dogs on a paddleboard. Various gastro pubs, exotic restaurants, elegant inns, and quaint shops surround this beach, making it a relaxing seaside getaway for people of all ages.
- Pfeiffer Beach
Though quite well-known among locals, this Big Sur beach is relatively remote and often flies under the radar of tourists and visitors. However, the unique rock structures and fine, purple sands of Pfeiffer beach make it a must-see for lovers of nature, art, and aesthetics everywhere.
Pfeiffer is also an excellent choice for those who want a more rugged and wild seaside vacation. If you want to spend a day away from the crowds, chasing waves, taking long walks, and relaxing with your loved ones, then this is the perfect California beach for you.
Make a Plan
To fully enjoy your beach vacation in California, you’ll need to know exactly what you are looking for and make a plan accordingly. For instance, if you want to try surfing, stand-up paddleboarding, and other exciting water sports, then Redondo or Marina Del Rey are the perfect California beaches for you.
If, on the other hand, you’re looking for scenic beauty and tranquility during your seaside vacation, then you should try the Carmel City or Pfeiffer beaches instead. Whatever you decide, just be sure to pack the right equipment and gear for your preferred beach activities, be it hiking or paddleboarding.