Finding the best beaches in California is not that hard as this Golden Bear State is full of a variety of well-developed beaches featuring amusement and refreshment options as well as serenity and tranquility. California, heaven for beachgoers, is known for its amazing beaches and beautiful landscapes spread over the 800 miles of shoreline stretching from its windswept northern coast to Mexico in the south. Searching for your next outdoor recreational spot? How about the untamed beaches of Big Sur or the sun-kissed beaches of Southern California? Is your dream a beach break near the city or island getaway like Catalina? California beaches offer from very little to very big for every tourist, either a kid or an enthusiast surfer. You won’t miss out on your favorite beach activities from scuba diving, sea kayaking, snorkeling, wakeboarding, bodyboarding, surfing to beach volleyball, basketball, running, hiking, and, of course, sunbathing. 🥳 Have a plethora of enjoyment at Golden Sandy Beach spots with your family and friends. We have a list of the 18 never-miss-out best California beaches for you.
List of 18 Best Beaches in California 2023
- Zuma Beach
- Pacific Beach
- East Beach
- Main Beach
- La Jolla Shores
- Fort Bragg Glass Beach
- Stinson Beach
- Carmel Beach
- Butterfly Beach
- Pismo State Beach
- Avila Beach
- Capitola Beach
- Coronado Central Beach
- Santa Monica State Beach
- Laguna Beach
- Huntington Beach
- Sand Dollar Beach
- Trinidad State Beach
1. Zuma Beach: Best Beach in Southern California
📍 Location: Los Angeles County, Malibu California Known for its two miles expansive stretch of powdery-fine sand covering over 100 acres, Zuma Beach is equally among family, couples, and surfers. Zuma beach, perfect for sun-seeking travelers, holds several large yearly surfing competitions to make it a real source of amusement. This beach, located just next to the westward beach and Point Dume, features the year-round on-duty guards and every hundred yards life stand guard due to the strong rip current.. The popular activities among tourists are kite surfing, fishing, diving, and sand games like beach volleyball. You may also find public restrooms and a four-star hotel (20 mins drive away from Zuma beach). I love to shower at this watery spot where waves are calm. Important: This one of the famous beaches in California is ideal for families and children for its lively social environment; however, the costly parking lot fees hinder many visitors from visiting. 😉 There have been a lot of movies and TV shows filmed here, so you will not be unfamiliar with the area, even if you have never been.
2. Pacific Beach: Best Beach in North California for Swimming
📍 Location: North of Downtown San Diego Pacific beach is famous for its soothing weather and warm water for a good swimming day out. This San Diego Beach (located right after the Mission beach) is famous for its wide and long sandy shoreline spread over the 5 miles. The beach holds enough surfing conditions to operate the surf training; however, not for everyone as some enjoy the big mighty waves. Sports, outdoor activities, and watching the sunset are all popular activities on the beach and the Ocean Front Walk, which runs along the shoreline. Enjoy kiteboarding, surfing, and windsurfing all day long! 💡 Important: Don’t forget to pay a visit to “Woody’s Right,” a popular snack stand and breakfast spot in front of the hotel. This one of the best beaches in northern California offers lifeguards, public restrooms, showers, and some casual sit-down restaurants, taco shops, and cafés. The paid parking area is not spacious enough so if it is “house-full” you have to find the street parking on your own.
3. East Beach: Best for Families
📍Location: Santa Barbara, Southern California East Beach is the most beautiful and glamorous watery spot in California for a reason. Find the amazing balmy weather, waving mounted palm trees, wide and long stretches of sandy shoreline, magical landscapes, and traditional Spanish colonial-style architecture for an adventurous family day out here. You can enjoy the sensational hand-in-hand walk, relishing the cool breeze and mesmerizing scenery with your partner. Perfectly folded behind the Santa Ynez Mountains and trimmed by the lined tall palm trees, East beach calmly sweeps along the pacific coastline. 👉 NOTE: Rent Sun umbrellas, cabanas, long chairs, and rent kayaks to enjoy your stay on the sand. This is one of the best beaches in California for families since it offers public restrooms, a playground, and lifeguards on duty to make it ideal for family and friends vacations. You may find many other amenities such as beach-facing restaurants and cafes to picture-perfect day at the shoreline.
4. Main Beach: Best Broadwalk Beach in CA
📍 Location: Santa Cruz, Northern California The Main Beach faces a mile-long wooden boardwalk, which is lined with shops, outdoor games, and an ancient amusement park for the perfect seaside vacation. Perfectly known for its spacious shoreline of powdery-soft golden sand and amazing gentle surf, this beach is an excellent place for a summertime day-out experience. What if you get the chance to watch mammals moving offshore? Main Beach is popular to see the otters, dolphins, whales, and sea lions; a fun and exciting watch indeed. The visitors are welcome to enjoy numerous activities, including sunbathing, bodyboarding, surfing, and beach volleyball competitions on one of the best beaches in California. 👉 NOTE: Fewer tourism businesses operate on the boardwalk and at the amusement park (in November through February). There is a Comfort Inn beach hotel only a few minutes walk from the beach and a broad sidewalk providing tourist services. You can find lifeguard stands every hundred feet and public restrooms to rest and enjoy the beach. The hotel has comfortable and renovated rooms, but it is a bit pricey.
5. La Jolla Shores: Best for Romantic Seaside Date
📍 Location: La Jolla, about 15 Miles North of San Diego La Jolla is a small city famous for its attractive boutiques and popular gourmet restaurants. While going 15 miles north of San Diego, a high-end community welcomes you with its breathtaking views and beauty. Here you find the La Jolla shores; A dreamy Southern California beach destination with extremely gentle waves. La Jolla shores is a picture-perfect and well-protected trip destination for kids and families. There is even a play area for kids in the Children’s Pool, which is naturally shallow, separated by an old seawall. Up for a romantic seaside date? La Jolla shores is an ideal location to romanticize the couple’s vacation. At the beach, visitors have access to the public restrooms, showers, and picnic areas. The lifeguards are on duty year-round during daylight hours. Enjoy your night’s stay facing the beach at the four-star Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa that is worth your every penny spent here. Estancia La Jolla Hotel resided on 10 acres of landscaped gardens, presents traditional Spanish architecture. 💡 TIP: Don’t miss visiting the San Diego La Jolla Underwater Park Ecological Reserve. The beach is directly afterward a protected aquatic park, which is popular among divers and snorkelers. There’s no way you’ll miss one moment during your stay at one of the best beaches in CA because the hotel has restaurants, a café, a spa, and an outdoor saltwater pool.
6. Sea Glass California Beach
📍 Location: Fort Bragg, California The Glass Beach, a perfect example of how “Mother Nature blesses even the garbage to become good.” This unique beach is full of squares and round pieces of sea glass, but how? Fort Bragg residents have thrown bottles, cars, and appliances into the sea for over a century. As a result of these pieces of glass debris, colorful jewels were formed on three beaches near MacKerricher State Park, now called Glass Beach.
- The location is not the easiest to reach. It’s an adventure, but worth it.
7. Stinson Beach📍 Location: Marine County, Northern California Coastline Stinson Beach, a small town 20 miles north of San Francisco, is a crown jewel on the Northern California coastline. An expansive stretch of powdery-soft white sand lies hidden away in the bucolic setting of Stinson Beach. 👉 Its locally-owned shops, homey restaurants, and cafes make it a popular resort destination. Being a protected part of the Golden Gate National Recreational Area, the Stinson beach offers wonderful hiking trails, including the beautiful Dipsea Trail that passes the coastal hillsides, valleys, and redwood forests. It starts at Stinson Beach and goes all the way to Mill Valley. The area is ideal for sunbathing or playing. In contrast to other beaches in California, the waves on this one are gentle because it is sheltered in a bay. Visitors are welcome to enjoy the plenty of facilities:
- Public restrooms
- Snack bars
- Picnic areas
- Spacious parking areas
8. Carmel Beach📍 Location: Pacific Coast, California Carmel by-the-Sea is known for its sublime sandy beach, which is the centric reason for its existence. To me, this charming seaside community, Carmel Beach, is not less than a dreamy yet gladdened spot with its fairy tale ambiance, quaint boutiques, secret lanes, and storybook cottages. I love the town’s foggy and misty weather since it always gives off an appealing vibe. The wide range of glittering white sand, deep blue seawater, and swaying Monterey cypress trees are enough add-up beauty to captivate the tourist. Well, that is something that makes Carmel Beach picture-perfect shores on the Northern California Coastline. This beach does not have lifeguards, so being careful with water becomes much important. With around 50 degrees temperature, Camel is still not the place to enjoy swimming because of some dangerous ocean conditions such as rogue waves and rip currents. Furthermore, this one of the best California beaches offers a free parking lot on ocean Avenue and some public restrooms to make your stay here comfier. So, if you are looking for a romantic walk or stroll along the shoreline, Camel beach is something for every one of you.
9. Butterfly Beach📍 Location: Montecito, Southern California Just five kilometers before the gorgeous city of Santa Barbara, Butterfly beach is the location to catch up on some dreamy moments. If you want to spend some exotic days out of city life at the posh seaside community, the butterfly is the beach for you. Spend some recreational time in the neighboring area of many celebrities’ homes located in Montecito. I often enjoy sunbathing and relaxing on the sand while watching the scenic beauty all around. This one of the best southern California beaches also offers opportunities for funfilled activities such as surfing, swimming, kayaking, kiting, and playing on the sand. 👉 The beautiful view of sunset at butterfly beach is not worth missing. A romantic getaway awaits you at the Four Seasons Resort at the Biltmore Santa Barbara, starring incredible Spanish Colonial-style bungalows and villas. A deluxe spa, two gourmet restaurants, and a poolside café are available there.
10. Pismo State Beach📍 Location: Central Coast of California Looking forward to fun-loving vacation vibes this summer? Pismo State Beach is your good-to-go option. This, one of the best beaches in California, serves plenty of visitors with many hotels, casual restaurants, cafés, and surf shops options. Containing the three-mile-long stretch of coastline in Central California, Pismo state beach comprises multiple beach areas containing the dunes as well.
- The tourists are allowed to freely use this spacious area for fun, relaxation, and recreational activities.
- Spend your time doing whatever you like, such as sunbathing, sailing, bird-watching, or building sandcastles.
11. Avila Beach📍 Location: San Luis Obispo County, California Avila Beach’s scenic beauty sometimes resembles a hand-drawn portrait. Avila beach is located in a protected bay on the central California coast, offering a warmer climate. The hills block the winds, creating a mild climate with sunshine and ocean breezes. The mounted-lined hills in the background and palm-fringed waterfront adds up the beauty of the beach ten times higher. Furthermore, the wide sandy shoreline of Avila beach offers enough space for sunbathers to stretch out on the soft sand.
- The tourists are welcomed to enjoy the restaurant terraces and outdoor cafes located alongside the small Broadwalk in the pleasant downtown area.
- It’s always a pleasant view watching the seals, otters, and dolphins playing on Avila one of the best beaches in California.
12. Capitola Beach📍Location: Capitola, outside Santa Cruz, Northern California When compiling the list of famous beaches in California, I couldn’t resist adding this smaller yet extremely beautiful Capitola beach to the list. Why? The mesmerizing scene of waterfront village, vibrant colorful-lined houses, lush green Mediterranean landscapes, and evocative fishing shelters on the Italian or French Riviera are all the reasons to make it here. The tourists can enjoy exploring the cafes, restaurants, and shops in the downtown area, just a few steps away from the beach. Furthermore, the beach features an Esplanade park containing benches to sit and admire the picture-framed beauty as the beach offers breathtaking scenery. Fun-packed activities including sunbath, kiting, building sandcastles, beach volleyball, and surfing are enough to make your day memorable. Capitola beach features sheltered, gentle waves making it perfect for enthusiast surfers. 👉 On this wharf, fishing is the most popular activity, and people can rent fishing bait, boats, and fishing gear to engage in adventurous activities. During the high season, the lifeguards are on duty, and visitors are provided with public restrooms and outdoor showers to make the best out of their visit. The idea of staying in a beach cabin and having a bonfire on the sand at night will not be less than a dreamy experience.
13. Coronado Central Beach: Best Beach for Kids📍 Location: San Diego Bay, California Calling Coronado Central Beach just a true beauty in San Diego will not justify its mesmerizing outlook as the beach is more beautiful than one can see. Coronado is the most popular spot for filming multiple movies and beachside shows.
- Coronado has white powdery sand rich in mica that is more reflective and sparkling than any other beach, and a charming main street that makes it an ideal photography location.
- A long stretch of sand beach contains mild water, ideal for swimming, boogie boarding, and adventure surfing. Here, season-based lifeguards remain on duty.