The west coast is the best coast, and we'll give you 9 reasons why. Each of the beaches on our list offers plenty to do, but more importantly to see. It was hard to narrow it down, but these are our nine most beautiful beaches in California.
Most Beautiful Public Beaches in California
The dramatic interplay of cliffs and crashing waves along Hwy. 1 through Big Sur make everyone want to stop. Pfeiffer Beach is one of the most popular stretches of sand along the Big Sur coast. This state park is named after Julia Pfeiffer Burns, a well respected pioneer woman in the Big Sur country. It features redwood, tan oak, madrone, chaparral, and an 80-foot waterfall that drops from granite cliffs into the ocean from the Overlook Trail but is most famous for its purple-hued sand. The short paved Overlook Trail within Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park offers a panoramic view of the ocean.
Moonstone Beach is one of many not-so-crowded beaches, and that only adds to its charm. The beach is strewn with boulders and full of smooth moonstone rocks to take home as a souvenir. You can also enjoy the one-mile boardwalk meandering along the coast, the wooden benches along the beach park, or spend the afternoon watching whales, dolphins and birds. Sea otters are also known to frolic amongst the waves. Stay for the sunset because the water alters colors in the play of sunlight.
Located off busy Pacific Coast Highway between Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach, Crystal Cove State Park comprises more than 3 miles of beach backed by 2,400 acres of pristine woodland. Crystal Cove offers sand and surf, rocky reefs, ridges and canyons plus recreational opportunities that appeal to everybody. The beach is great for strolling but also popular for hiking, horseback riding, swimming and surfing. There's also an underwater park for scuba diving.
Consistently voted one of America’s finest beaches by The Travel Channel, the uncrowded white sand beaches sparkle magically with bits of mica year around. Visiting Coronado Beach is like taking a trip to Oz. Hotel del Coronado, the beach's landmark hotel, is said to resemble the Wizard’s castle in L. Frank Baum’s book, “The Wizard of Oz.” Baum lived around the corner while he wrote the book. Whether you’re looking for a fun-filled family beach vacation, or a romantic getaway, you’ll find plenty of wide open sand, gentle waves and gorgeous views at Coronado Beach.
East Beach in downtown Santa Barbara, looks like a vision right out of a movie. Lined with palm trees, it’s a beach perfect for swimming, kayaking or having your morning coffee and snacking on Stern’s Wharf. East Beach is located at the eastern end of the four-mile stretch of City beach parks. East Beach offers beautiful ocean views, picnic facilities, a playground, and more than a dozen volleyball courts. The beach hosts several volleyball tournaments each year at these world famous courts. Dogs are not allowed on East Beach, and alcohol is prohibited on all beaches.
Manhattan Beach used to be a hidden gem in the Los Angeles area but has recently been called one of the sexiest beaches in the U.S. This tiny beach town just two miles away from LAX is 25 miles southwest of Hollywood where hot bodies and eye candy are around every corner. However, the two mile long beach is still just far enough away that you can forget the egos and enjoy the sunshine amongst picturesque (multi-million dollar) beach cottages.
Located in the heart of Capitola Village, Capitola City Beach is loaded surf shops, small boutiques and delicious cafes. Since this beach is less windy than other Bay Area beaches, it's perfect for swimming and other activities like surfing, volleyball, and kite flying. It's definitely a local favorite and has been getting notoriety in many magazines as one of the top ten beaches on the west coast.
Known as "The Best Little Beach City," this small, sunny beach of 1.43 miles is only five miles south of Los Angeles. The town is the very essence of the Southern California lifestyle without the annoying tourists and noticeably cleaner sand than most Los Angeles area beaches. There are plenty of outdoor activities available like volleyball, surfboarding, skateboarding, and boogie boarding to name a few. Hermosa also has The Strand, a paved, multi-use trail running for miles attracting bikers, joggers or rollerbladers.
Huntington Beach features the most consistent waves on the West Coast, which undoubtedly helped the city receive the nickname, Surf City USA. Home to 10 miles of uninterrupted beaches, the area is popular with surfers as well as tourists with plenty of hotels, restaurants, and The International Surfing Museum. If you thought surfing was just a hobby, check out the US Open of Surfing, hosted at Huntington Beach every year. After that, bike along the Ocean Strand, try stand-up paddle boarding in Huntington Harbour, hike through the Bolsa Chica Wetlands or stroll down Main Street.
This article was written by Lauren Gaw.