Best Beaches in California for the Ultimate Coastal Getaways!

Nothing says vacation better than long stretches of soft sand, turquoise water and some lazy, luxurious indulgence! Just the thought of relaxing on the beach as the sun goes down the horizon and the frothing waves of the sea crash around you is mesmerizing, isn’t it?  What better destination to bring this dream of yours into reality than the gorgeous state of California? Boasting of more than 800 miles of a stunning coastline along the Pacific coast, Cali has a huge variety of beaches which have something unique to offer to every kind of beach bum!

If you have got sun and sand on your mind, check out this list of best beaches in California for the ultimate coastal getaways in the Golden State- 

1. Santa Monica State Beach - The Ultimate Beach for all Kinds of Beachgoers!

Santa Monica State Beach

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

One of the most iconic beaches in South California, the Santa Monica State Beach is located just to the west of Downtown Los Angeles. Replete with amusement parks, aquariums, beachside cafes and a historic broad-walk, the outstanding pier of this beach is a massive crowd-puller. 

One can indulge in a plethora of activities when visiting this coast- right from water sports like surfing, paddle-boarding and playing volleyball to sunbathing and picnicking on the soft white sand! Doesn’t matter whether you are an adventure-junkie who loves the waves or a lazy beach bum whose vacation plans consist of simply relaxing on the seashore- Santa Monica State Beach has got you covered!  While you are there do explore these other fun things to do in Los Angeles.

Best Time to Visit - Summers-From June to September!

Best For - Families, kids and exercise enthusiasts

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2. Moonstone Beach, Cambria - The Scenic, Quintessential Beach

Moonstone Beach

Image Source: Phil Price/Flickr

Fancy a walk down a picturesque broad-walk overlooking a boulder-strewn beach dotted with moonstone rocks as the sunlight plays with the waves and solitary boats bob up and down the grey horizon? Sounds like a scene straight out of a movie, doesn’t it? But this actually is the scene that meets your eye as you venture down the Moonstone Beach in the scenic town of Cambria.

As opposed to most of the beaches in the South Bay region of California which boast of white sands, this one is a brown-sand beach. An exciting activity that the tourists can indulge in when they visit this beach is exploring numerous tide pools which are present along this coast in plenty. Also, if you are lucky, you might spot dolphins, sea-birds and even whales, since the waters near this beach are known to be frequented by abundant marine creatures. 

Best Time to Visit - Late Winter- From January to April

Best For - Spring-break vacations, romantic getaways and honeymooners

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Looking for comfortable and affordable places to stay near Moonstone Beach? If yes, then check this out!

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3. Coronado Beach - The Family-friendly Beach in California

Coronado Beach

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Running along the Ocean Boulevard, the Coronado beach entices the tourists with its gentle azure waters and sparkling sand. The water along this shore is great for surfing as well as swimming, thus making this beach a hit among water-sport enthusiasts. 

Set against the backdrop of the iconic Hotel del Coronado, this picturesque coastline is ideal for sunbathing and frolicking in the sand. Build sand castles, soak up some sunlight, admire the pretty condos lining the beach and have a stress-free time at the Coronado beach!

Best Time to Visit - March to May and September to November

Best For - Families and tourists with pets

Check Out: Best Beaches in San Diego and Dog Friendly Beaches in California

Looking for comfortable and affordable places to stay near Coronado Beach? If yes, then check this out!

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4. El Matador State Beach - The Ultimate Romantic Coastline

El Matador State Beach

Image Source: Jennifer Boyer/Flickr

Considered to be one of the finest beaches in Malibu, California, El Matador State Beach is full of massive moss-covered rocks, hidden sea caves, towering cliffs and spectacular rock formations! This secluded stretch of sand is ideal for beachgoers looking for an idyllic spot away from the noisy crowds. As the sun starts to set behind the horizon, the entire beach gets bathed in golden hues, thus making it one of the most romantic places in California.

The presence of a large number of colorful bird species make this beach ideal for birdwatchers and photographers. If you are someone who enjoys reconnoitering hidden spots and exploring undiscovered areas, then this is the place for you. California beach vacations would definitely be incomplete without a trip to this fantastic beach!  Explore things to do in Malibu on your California journey.

Best Time to Visit - Summers, preferably at dusk.

Best For - Birdwatchers and nature-lovers

Looking for comfortable and affordable places to stay near El Matador State Beach? If yes, then check this out!

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5. Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur - Sun, Sand and Chill!

Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Nestling in the heart of the Big Sur area in California, Pfeiffer Beach is famous for its unusually purple-hued sand. With skimpily clad sunseekers often frequenting this coast, this beach has become quite a popular haunt of youngsters looking for coastal getaways in California.

The primary attraction at this beach is the Keyhole Rock, which is a rocky arch resembling the shape of a keyhole. Apart from this, the stunning vistas of the neighboring rugged natural surroundings offered by this coast often make it a great place for photography enthusiasts. This beach is perfect for tourists looking to chill and relax by the sea.

Best Time to Visit - September to November

Best For - Youngsters 

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6. Venice Beach, Los Angeles -  The Hippie-friendly Beach

Venice Beach, Los Angeles

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Bustling with street performers, flea markets, food joints and local vendors, the Venice Beach is perhaps the liveliest beach in California. This spot is so much more than a long stretch of sand and bright blue sea- it is a place where beach meets entertainment. Best known for its Bohemian vibes and hippie culture, this coast is perfect for trendy youngsters!

At this beach in Los Angeles, performers dressed in whacky outfits entertain the crowds with live music performances while street artists wow the tourists with their colorful murals, sculptures and paintings. From indulging in beachside shopping to hogging on delicious street-food as you watch the entertaining performances on the backdrop of the Pacific Coast, this beach is perfect for you if you are looking offbeat beach getaways in California.

Best Time to Visit - March to May

Best For - Youngsters

Looking for comfortable and affordable places to stay near Manhattan Beach, Los Angeles? If yes, then check this out!

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7. Baker Beach - The One with Splendid Views

Baker Beach

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Lying on the beach while soaking in the view of the magnificent Golden Gate Bridge is nothing short of a dream-come-true for most people, isn’t it? Well, a trip to the Baker Beach in San Francisco is all that you need to turn this dream into reality!

One of the most famous California vacation spots, the Baker Beach bequeaths visitors with fantastic views Golden Gate Bridge and the craggy cliffs of the Marin Headlands that rise up just beyond the bridge. Apart from taking a walk down the Baker shores, people can also indulge in fishing and photography as well as picnic at the picnicking areas when they visit this stunning coastline. However, a word of caution- swimming is not advisable on these shores, thanks to the rough tide and the chilly water. Don't get disappointed though, check out San Francisco itineraries to keep you entertained.

Best Time to Visit - Springtime

Best For - Spring-break

Must Read: Romantic San Francisco Date Ideas

Looking for comfortable and affordable places to stay near Baker Beach? If yes, then check this out!

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8. Hermosa Beach, Los Angeles- The Vibrant Coastline

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Hermosa Beach is a two-mile-long flat stretch of white sand nestling between the Redondo Beach and Manhattan Beach in California. The effervescent vitality and the vibrant crowds set this beach apart from the relatively peaceful shores of the surrounding South Bay areas. 

The prospect of undertaking abundant beach activities like surfing, paddle-boarding, swimming and sunbathing attracts visitors to the Hermosa beach, one of the best beaches in South California. Plenty of volleyball courts dotting this coastline entice even the laziest beach bums to indulge in a game of volleyball! Apart from this, a beautiful broad-walk bordering the sand is quite popular among people looking to indulge in activities like jogging and cycling. 

Best Time to Visit - Summers

Best For - Beach-sport junkies

Looking for comfortable and affordable places to stay near Hermosa Beach, Los Angeles? If yes, then check this out!

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9. Carmel Beach - The Land of Perfect Sunsets

Carmel Beach

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Invigorating scenery, silky sand dunes, pristine waters, rustling Cyprus trees, plethora of beach activities and bluffs lined with quaint cottages await tourists at the Carmel Beach, a hidden jewel in the crown of California’s beach destinations. 

In addition to indulging in activities like surfing, kayaking and snorkeling, visitors can also build campfires on some parts of the beach and have a beach picnic. Thanks to the presence of ample number of birds in this area, the Carmel Beach is quite popular for birdwatching and photography. Also, this idyllic beach is a preferred spot among couple for watching sunsets!

Best Time to Visit - Fall- from September to November

Best For - Families and couples

Must Visit: Small Towns in California

Looking for comfortable and affordable places to stay near Carmel Beach? If yes, then check this out!

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10. Limantour Beach, Point Reyes Station - An Unexplored Californian Coast

Limantour Beach

Image Source: Gene Selkov/Flickr

Considered to be one of the prettiest places to go in California, the Limantour Beach is a relatively less frequented shore in the Golden State. If crowded beaches and noisy activities is not your thing, then this coast is an ideal beach getaway in California for you!

Well-known for the seemingly endless hiking trails that frame the shores of the Limantour Beach, this spot is perfect for you if you love exploring coastal areas. If hiking is not your calling, then you can simply build a bonfire by the beach or relax as you soak in the sunny atmosphere. 

Best Time to Visit - Summers

Best For - Families

Looking for comfortable and affordable places to stay near Limantour Beach, Point Reyes Station? If yes, then check this out!

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11. Crystal Cove State Park - A Paradise of Nature-lovers

Crystal Cove State Park

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Boasting of azure waters, tide pools, sandy coves and bordered by untouched pristine woodlands, the Crystal Cove State Park is easily one of the best beaches in California. An official underwater park teeming with colorful aquatic life and fragile corals, this beach mesmerizes visitors with its stunning natural beauty.

Joggers, walkers and strollers prefer to frequent the wooden trails encircling this beach while adventure-seekers indulge in activities like scuba diving, horseback riding, hiking and mountain bike-riding. Another exciting prospect which seduces tourists to visit this spot is the prospect of backcountry tent camping. This park consists of a designated camping area for those looking forward to camping on the beach.  

Best Time to Visit - Winters

Best For - Adventure junkies 

Looking for comfortable and affordable places to stay near Crystal Cove State Park? If yes, then check this out!

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12. Rodeo Beach - Heaven for Birdwatchers

Rodeo Beach

Image Source: Dan Kunz/Flickr

A beautiful white-sand beach covered with pebbles of every imaginable color, the Rodeo Beach presents you with a picture that you are sure to fall in love with. Considered to be one of the best beaches in North California, this strikingly charming coastline is undoubtedly an Instagrammable one!

This crescent shaped beach brags of windy conditions which are ideal for surfing. In addition to surfing, visitors can picnic at the peaceful, uncrowded picnic areas and admire the exquisite birdlife that this beach is blessed with. So, do not forget your binoculars and cameras as you head to this beach – you are sure to witness terns, willits, loons, grebes, scoters, sanderlings or sandpipers flying about on the waters! 

Best Time to Visit - Spring time

Best For - Couples and solo adventurers 

Looking for comfortable and affordable places to stay near Rodeo Beach? If yes, then check this out!

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So, whether you are a surfer, a swimmer, a birdwatcher or a lazy beach bum- California has got you covered! Off you go to this American state of beaches for your much-needed dose of Vitamin Sea! Let the countdown to the beach begin! 

You May Also Like to Read:

National Parks to Visit in California

Swmming Holes in Los Angeles

Weekend Trips from San Diego

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
MEGHANA AGASHE MEGHANA AGASHE

Oscillating between reality and day-dreaming, Meghana is a journalist by education and a travel-blogger by profession. The eternal love for exploring different places and cuisines, the urge to interact with people across cultures and the thirst for adventures is what drew her to the world of travel. An effervescent and a happy-go-lucky person who draws inspiration from the world of books and movies, she believes in mostly following her heart and very rarely, her brain! One moment you might find her curled up with a book and a cup of coffee while in the next, she might be reaching out for her keys and heading for a road-trip. Unpredictability is something that defines her the best and her sensitive nature juxtaposing with her ambitious attitude, makes her a contradiction of all sorts.

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