7 of the Best Beaches in California

Whether you like to take long walks with your loved one or your dog, or you want to hang ten or just chill out, there is a Golden State beach for you whatever your mood. So, grab your bucket and spade, and get ready to feel the sand between your toes, as here are some of the best beaches in California.

7 of the Best Beaches in California

1. Santa Monica Beach – Santa Monica

Not just one of the best beaches in California, but one of our top picks for the best beaches in the world. Located just south of Downtown Los Angeles, Santa Monica Beach is a pure quintessential California beach with its golden soft sand, pounding surf, and sweeping views overlooking the iconic Pacific Park amusement park. Not a tourist trap, this beach is also super popular with locals.

best beaches california

2. Steamer Lane – Santa Cruz

If you are looking for the best spot for surfing, Santa Cruz, aka ‘ Surf City’, is one of the best places to surf in California. As for the best beach? Well, Steamer Lane is the most famous surf spot, but it’s also one of the most difficult. “The Lane” is for pros only! When the swell is up it’s the most dangerous place to surf in the area.

3. Dog Beach – San Diego

For long walks on the beach with your furry family members, Dog Beach in San Diego is one of the most famous dog beaches in the United States. Here, dogs run wild and free as surfers hang ten on the Dog Beach Break. In fact, sometimes you’ll see pooches surfing with their owners! Located in Ocean Beach, this is one of Southern California’s last true beach towns.

4. Newport Beach – Orange County

Newport Beach has 8 miles of sandy beach and a thriving surf scene. It is also a very picturesque place to watch the kaleidoscopic California sunsets. Bring a picnic and a blanket and enjoy mother nature’s greatest show whilst listening to the soothing sound of the waves crashing onto the beach. Bliss.

5. La Jolla Cove – San Diego

La Jolla Cove is a small coastal inlet surrounded by picturesque sandstone bluffs that shelter the popular La Jolla Cove Beach. Its stunning setting and magnificent beauty make La Jolla Cove one of the most photographed beaches in Southern California. The waters surrounding the Cove are part of the vast La Jolla Underwater Park, which includes an Ecological Reserve. This means the waters teem with wildlife, such as seals, barracuda, opaleye, giant sea bass, baitfish and orange garibaldi. Because of its rich marine life, this beach is super popular with snorkelers, swimmers and scuba divers. In fact, it is one of the best places to snorkel in Southern California. The north end of the cove is the most popular snorkelling spot, encompassing a handful of caves that you can swim out to during low tide.

6. Pfeiffer Beach – Big Sur

Pfeiffer Beach is located in the heart of Big Sur on the Central Coast and is one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Big Sur. The sand at the north end of the beach is a unique shade of purple, thanks to the finely ground minerals that run down from the surrounding mountains. This famous beach is off the beaten path, but well worth the drive. The big draw, apart from the purple sand, is Keyhole Rock, which has an amazing natural arch at the base where salt water and the last rays of sunlight shine through.

7. Kiva Beach – Lake Tahoe

Not all beaches are located at the sea. One of our favourite beaches in California is located on National Forest land on Lake Tahoe. Kiva Beach is an idyllic spot to soak up Lake Tahoe’s many charms. With its crystal clear water, soft sand, and mighty mountains in the background, is incredibly picturesque. It’s also one of the lake’s few dog-friendly beaches.

Melanie May

Melanie is an intrepid solo traveller, endlessly curious about people, places and food. She is a fan of slow travel and loves exploring the world by mouth, discovering a culture through its food. Having backpacked her way around the world she turned her wanderlust into a career and is now a full-time travel writer.

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