Located along the Pacific coast, California is spread over 163,696 square miles. The state is the home to some most populated cities like San Francisco and counties, with around 420 public beaches.
Beaches in California have been attracting tourists from all over the world for quite some time! Every year around 129 million people visit California beaches.
And it is said that you can never go wrong with your time spent at California’s beaches. Whether it’s your first or tenth visit, you will always find something new there.
Whether you want to spend quality time with your loved ones in La Jolla Shores or experience surfing in Huntington Beach, the state’s beaches have covered you all.
Below are the 14 top-ranked beaches in California to help you plan your visit. Read on to know more!
1) La Jolla Shores
Located in San Diego, La Jolla Shores is a splendid beach that stretches over a mile.
The unique characteristic of this coastal gem is the gentle surf and calm water. The beach is also home to the renowned Birch Aquarium.
La Jolla Shores also offers exciting beach volleyball, kayaking, and paddleboarding experiences. The beach is generously equipped with showers, restrooms, and picnic areas.
With its stunning scenery and family-friendly ambiance, La Jolla Shores undoubtedly ranks among the must-visit beaches in California.
2) Laguna Beach
Laguna Beach is a breathtaking coastal city in Orange County, Southern California. It’s a true feast for the eyes with its pristine beaches, translucent waters, and awe-inspiring sunsets.
The beach is perfect for swimming, surfing, and sunbathing, while the boardwalk and tide pools offer a unique experience for the adventurous. The city is home to several art galleries, museums, and theaters, showcasing the talents of local artists.
A must-visit location is the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park which offers miles of hiking trails, scenic vistas, and opportunities to observe wildlife.
The Crystal Cove State Park is also a stone’s throw away, with miles of sandy beaches, tide pools, and hiking trails to explore.
3) Butterfly Beach
Butterfly Beach is a sublime destination in Santa Barbara, known for its luxurious beach experience.
It’s renowned for its unparalleled views of the Pacific Ocean and the Channel Islands and its proximity to the exquisite Four Seasons Biltmore Hotel.
Visitors can lounge on the wide sandy beach to take a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear waters. Butterfly Beach is a place for surfing, stand-up paddleboarding, and beach volleyball.
Whether seeking a serene day in the sun or an exhilarating beach adventure, the beach has everything to offer.
4) Manchester State Park Beach
Located in Mendocino County, Manchester State Park Beach is a remote and quiet beach that offers a peaceful retreat for visitors. The rugged coastline makes it unique and perfect for exploring and beachcombing.
Popular attractions include the Point Arena Lighthouse and the nearby Manchester Ridge Vineyards. The park has some mighty fine steelhead fishing in two streams, Brush Creek and Alder Creek.
Visitors can explore the nearby park, which offers hiking trails and opportunities to see local wildlife. One also explores the nearby town of Point Arena, with various restaurants and galleries.
5) Sunset State Beach
Situated within the charming Santa Cruz County, Sunset State Beach is an immensely favored destination for indulging in the sandy beachfront and many other beach activities.
The distinguished highlight of the beach is the elongated stretch of sandy coast and its fog-free weather.
The beach offers an ideal setup for leisurely sunbathing, cool swims, and thrilling surfing experiences. Visitors can also discover the neighboring Santa Cruz town with various shopping outlets.
The must-visit locations in the vicinity include the impressive Monterey Bay Aquarium and the magnificent Big Basin Redwoods State Park.
6) Stinson Beach
Located in Marin County, Stinson Beach is a frequently-visited destination by tourists and residents.
Its pristine white sand and clear blue waters set it apart from other beaches, making it a popular spot for aquatic activities.
Beach offers activities such as swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing. Apart from the beach, tourists can venture into the nearby town of Stinson, which boasts a diverse range of shops, restaurants, and galleries.
Stinson Beach is a habitat for several wildlife species, including sea otters, seals, and various seabirds.
7) Coronado Beach
Coronado Beach is located in the cozy coastal town of Coronado, right across the bay from San Diego. It’s famous for its art galleries and cozy restaurants.
It is the ultimate destination for beachgoers and nature enthusiasts with its wide, sandy shores and breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and San Diego’s skyline.
This paradise also offers surfing, swimming, sunbathing, beach volleyball, and bonfires. You can stroll along the boardwalk or explore the quaint downtown area filled with shops, restaurants, and galleries.
8) Venice Beach
Venice Beach is a colorful, vibrant, and eclectic hub of creativity located on the west side of Los Angeles County. Street performers, artists, and vendors line the boardwalk, selling wares and entertaining visitors with their talents around the beach.
The beach is a prime spot for sunbathing, surfing, swimming, and beach volleyball, with its wide sandy, and crystal-clear waters.
Visitors can also explore the nearby canals lined with picturesque homes straight out of a postcard. Or, for the more adventurous souls, check out the famous Venice Skate Park and watch the pros do their thing.
9) Newport Beach
In Orange County, Newport Beach has become a well-loved haven for beach lovers and seafarers.
What truly sets it apart is its expansive, unspoiled coastline that boasts of some of Southern California’s best surf breaks.
The beach offers the invigorating thrills of surfing. Laid-back pleasures of sunbathing, beach volleyball, and bike rentals. Additional attractions in the area include the iconic Newport Beach Pier and the Newport Harbor Nautical Museum.
10) Seacliff State Beach
Seacliff State Beach is located in Santa Cruz County. One of the beach’s most distinctive features is the SS Palo Alto, an awe-inspiring concrete ship constructed during World War I and now functions as a fascinating artificial reef just off the coast.
The beach boasts a seemingly endless expanse of sandy shores, ideal for soaking up the sun’s rays and strolling along the coastline searching for hidden treasures.
Beach is a hotspot for a wide range of thrilling activities, to the soothing pleasures of picnicking and fishing. It is considered the best and most easily accessible beach to spot wildlife.
11) Pfeiffer Beach
Located in the rocky Big Sur, Pfeiffer Beach is a crescent-shaped slice of paradise.
What sets this beach apart is the mesmerizing purple sand that graces its shores. The beach creates a kaleidoscope of colors that will leave you amazed.
If you’re in the mood for a stroll along the beach, you can take a thrilling hike through the surrounding hills while doing photography. And catch a glimpse of the legendary Keyhole Rock formation just off the coast.
You can also see McWay Falls – it’s a beautiful waterfall that pours right onto the beach. And if you’re into history, you should swing by the Point Sur Lighthouse.
12) Santa Monica Beach
Santa Monica State Beach is a stunning location in Los Angeles County, brimming with tourists and locals.
One of the unique features of this beach is its proximity to the Santa Monica Pier. The pier has a historical carousel, amusement park rides, and diverse restaurants.
The beach has a long stretch of sandy shores, perfect for the ultimate sunbathing experience and beach volleyball. You can also enjoy surfing, swimming, and biking in its stunning surroundings.
13) Huntington Beach
In Orange County of South California, Huntington Beach is a surfer’s paradise that will leave you in awe. This coastal town is renowned for its iconic Huntington Beach Pier, stretching 30 feet above sea level.
The beach boasts a long stretch of soft, sandy shores, perfect for basking in the sun and playing beach volleyball with friends.
The beach is a spot for surfing, paddle boarding, and fishing. Make your way to Main Street, lined with charming shops, eateries, and bars.
Nature enthusiasts can explore the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, home to an impressive range of wildlife and bird species.
14) Sonoma Coast State Beach
This hidden gem is located in the exquisite Sonoma County, a collection of beaches that will leave you speechless.
Its towering rock formations will make you feel like tiny, hidden coves waiting to be discovered. Sonoma Coast State Beach is a natural wonder.
This beach offers entertaining activities such as hiking, beachcombing, and fishing. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can also explore the nearby tide pools and sea caves.
In conclusion, California is home to some of the world’s most beautiful and diverse beaches. It’s like nature’s rollercoaster ride, with waves crashing against the rocky cliffs.
Each beach has unique features, activities, and attractions as diverse as those visiting them. You can go surfing, build sandcastles, or just lounge around with a good book.
So, whether you’re a seasoned local or a curious visitor, take the time to explore California’s many amazing beaches.