Here, we have classified the best beaches in California according to their respective specialties.
California is heaven for aquaholics, as it has some of the best beaches in the world where you can get your daily dose of Vitamin Sea.
If you want to feel the serenity of waves around the sea glass, the calmness of wide sunny stretches of sand, the picturesque beauty of craggy coastlines, or the fun of splashing kids, California has it all.
- Most Unique Beaches in California
- Best Beaches for Family and Friends in California
- Best Beaches for Sea Life Lovers, in California
Most Unique Beaches in California
Glass Beach, Fort Bragg
It looks like jewels spreading across the shores of Glass Beach. Sand stretching across the beach is a beautiful mix of pebbles and sea glass. Actually, this spot was once a trash dump. Those dump glass bottles have since washed up and now they are laying along the shore in the form of countless colorful pieces. Enjoy the beauty of these glass ornaments, but don’t dare to take them home because it’s completely illegal and also mannerless to remove their beauty – the sea glass from the beach.
So, feel the sunshine, love the sea glass, and drink the wild air of Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, California.
Venice Beach, Los Angeles
It is true for Venice Beach that life feels better in flip-flops. It is estimated that some 28,000 beach lovers from all around the world come here daily, according to the Department of Parks and Recreation. Some of the amazing spots there are an oceanfront skate park, handball & basketball courts, and a running/bike path.
Moreover, its Muscle Beach (open-air gym on the sand) is famous for Arnold Schwarzenegger, palm trees, playgrounds, sunny patio bars, tattoo shops, restaurants, dispensaries, street performers, a fishing pier, and a vast sunny beach. In short, Venice Beach is a perfect blend of 3Ss: swimming, surfing, and sunbathing.
Oceano Dunes Beach, Oceano
This beach is unique because it’s the only beach in California where you can actually drive onto the beach and also park there. Its sand dunes are popular among off-riders. Moreover, Oceano Dunes Beach is an ideal combination of barefoot, sand, and sun.
Must-do activities are surfing, swimming, horseback riding, barefoot walking, and bird watching. If you ever dream to drive on the beach, then this is your place. However, passenger cars should keep away themselves from the ocean’s strong rip currents and try to park at the northern end of the beach.
Silver Strand Beach, San Diego
This 2.5-mile silver strand beach is unique for the countless silvery oyster shells that look like silver sand, stretching across its shore and the dunes. You’ll also enjoy finding numerous sand-buried treasure clams.
Moreover, it also offers RV overnight camping, shower, and bathroom facilities, picnic spots, and an amazing shell-collecting site. Camping is famous among visitors, so don’t be late because there are about 130 first-come, first-serve campsites. Further, competition is high in peak season. Some more beach activities are bodyboarding, surfing, swimming, jet skiing, water skiing, sailing, fishing, and beach volleyball.
Carmel Beach, Carmel-By-The-Sea
Carmel-By-The-Sea is itself a posh, exquisite, and picturesque seaside town that offers an array of art galleries, wine-tasting rooms, and some best cozy hotels. It is rated as “One of America’s Top Beach Towns.”
At the foot of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Carmel Beach is one of the most iconic spots on California’s Central Coast. It is known as a grade-A beach and is famous for its white sand, cypress trees, and views of Pebble Beach and Point Lobos. Further, beach activities include decent surfing, scenic bluff path jogs, and also allow dogs off-leash.
Moreover, it is good to wear a wetsuit when in water, as the water consistently sticks around 50 degrees. This beach also offers a nice walk – albeit steep – from any pitch of town as the overall town is only one square mile.
In short, Carmel Beach attracts visitors and locals alike no matter day or night to take a deep dive into its magical beauty and fun beach activities.
Best Beaches for Family and Friends in California
Coronado Beach, San Diego
Coronado means “the crowned one” in Spanish. Indeed it is a crown city.
Moreover, this Southern California Coronado beach is a family-oriented beach. It is consistently voted as the best beach in the U.S. by Dr. Beach. Its velvety sand, gentle waves, and lifeguard services are perfect for tension-free kids’ splashing. It also features numerous outdoor recreational activities including sailing, stand-up paddling, low-key surfing, kayaking, and Venetian gondola cruises are one of its main attractions.
This beach paradise is ideal for a family vacation or romantic getaway as it offers sparkling wide sand (mineral Mica) along the shore, a charming main street, and great hotels, including the famous pink stucco silhouette Hotel del Coronado that gives the beach a retro feel.
Mother’s Beach, Marina del Rey
The name of Mother’s Beach says it all. Its motherly gentle waves make this beach a love for families with kids. Moreover, it also features a shallow swimming area that is roped off, a paved ADA ramp to the waterline, a nearby play area, volleyball nets, sheltered picnic tables along the shore, and easy access to restrooms.
Further, you can easily find a large parking lot, though a fee is charged. It has a dock reserved, too, for use by the Marina del Rey WaterBus. The dock is a boarding and drop-off for the summer season water taxi service.
Santa Monica Beach and Pier, Santa Monica
The Santa Monica Pier is straightaway famous as the setting for a number of movies and television scenes, and it’s obviously as entertaining as it looks. Some of its sea adventures are the Ferris wheel (its towers are 85 feet over the sea and solar-powered), the amusement park with a classic roller coaster, and the West Coaster.
Young ones mostly enjoy ocean-themed rides such as the Shark Frenzy and Sea Dragon. Moreover, a small “The Health the Bay Aquarium” has fun and also educational exhibits i.e. a starfish pool.
The south side of the pier is best for families, with playgrounds, sports courts, and a lot more as discussed above. While the north side of the pier is a winding path that welcomes cyclists and skaters.
Related: Best Beaches in the Virgin Islands
Best Beaches for Sea Life Lovers, in California
Piedras Blancas Beach, San Simeon
If you are a nature lover, then this should be on your next vacation bucket list. Piedras Blancas Beach is famous for “elephant seal watching”. Here, these marine mammals are naturally protected from sea storms, high water, and sea predators.
You’ll really have the time to cherish with your young ones by spending hours seeing the marine life. For example, observing seals swimming, doing flips in the waves, snuggling up against each other, and rolling on the sand. Also, you’ll definitely enjoy seeing your kids laughing and mimicking the seals. Kids easily figure out the Big Daddy seals that are roaming around with chest-bumping zest and big mounds of blubbery bodies. It’s good to visit all year round except in the months of August and September. Because in those months, it’s hard to see any seal.
Moonstone Beach, Cambria
The central coast town of Cambria oozes charm and magic. Moonstone Beach is famous for its dramatic coastline and spectacular views. Also, strolling along the Moonstone Beach amazing Boardwalk is where your Cambria seaside begins its spell. It offers activities like sinking your toes into its magical sand, peeking at the marine life, exploring its extraordinary living tide pools, surfing, boating, and many other sea adventures.
Further, enjoying its sea life includes seeing playful sea otters, catching glimpses of whales and dolphins in season, and spying on the on-shore wildlife.
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She started BeachXplore as a traveling blog covering particularly amazing beaches which she was lucky to visit and research about. Here you can find her writings on the best beaches, guides on beach wear, items, and more.