10 Best California Beaches

Check out our California beach guide infographic!

best california beaches

Surfing, swimming and sunbathing are imaginative glimpses of carefree life on the 10 best California beaches. The west coast has some of the largest, most beautiful and eventful beaches available. There is no shortage of fun and entertainment on California beaches with many popular ones to choose from.

Water sports and activities are certainly one of the main attractions that you'll find at all of the 10 best California beaches. There's so much more to offer, however, and all of the beach fun is not limited to water action. Listed below are 10 of the best California beaches that any tourist or local resident is sure to enjoy:

1. Sonoma Coast

The beaches of the Sonoma Coast look like something out of a magazine! The white sand and clean water looks incredibly inviting and the area doesn't lack for tourists or beach lovers. There are numerous attractions to the beach, but the best known attraction is the waves that surfers love to challenge. The waves are a big hit, but surfers and swimmers should be aware of "sleeper waves" that can rise and fall unexpectedly, causing danger. The beach attracts more than 300 bird species each year, some of which are indigenous to the area.

2. Santa Cruz

The beaches of Santa Cruz boast over 29 miles of beach front that appeal to families, couples, kids and retirees. It is a very family oriented area where swimmers, surfers, fishers, sailboarders and sunbathers all enjoy the sights and sounds of the laidback area.

3. Pismo Beach

Pismo Beach is also very family-oriented and has over 23 miles of beachfront enjoyment. There are lots of opportunities for fishing, shopping, surfing and riding dune buggies. With California beach rentals in Pismo Beach, you can also find that beautiful, inviting white sand to enjoy as you watch the sunset over the horizon.

4. Malibu

Perhaps known as "Hollywood Beaches," the beaches of Malibu are popular for their many amenities. Malibu is home to many famous people, from actors to singers. Their beaches cater to this set and have everything that you can imagine at your disposal to enjoy. This includes a beach snack bar and jungle gym, along with a terrific beach scene that accompanies an eye-catching lifestyle.

5. La Jolla

The beaches of La Jolla are very beautiful and ideal for swimming, sunbathing and kayaking. You're also allowed to bring your dog along to enjoy in the fun. There is a popular but hidden spot at the cove that is excellent for snorkeling. It's also a great place to catch a glimpse of their state fish, an electric-orange fish called the Garbaldi.

6. Venice Beach

Venice Beach is known as having an entertaining and lively boardwalk scene and attracting quirky characters! This is a part of what makes Venice Beach so popular and one of the 10 best California beaches known. You can find artists, outdoor bodybuilders, roller skaters and belly dancers near and on the beach, entertaining the tourists. The busiest time for the beach is usually in the summer and on warm, weekday afternoons.

best california beaches

7. Huntington Pier

Located in Orange County, this beach has a great surfing scene with bike paths, skating trails and body-boarding. There is something for all entertainment preferences and is very conducive to families and surfers. In addition to the beach culture there, you can also take surfing lessons at nearby Bolsa Chica, where there are numerous surfing schools and many opportunities.

8. Imperial beach

This vibrant beach is located in San Diego and is lots of fun! Imperial Beach hosts a very lively event as one of America's largest and longest running competitions in sand-castle artistry. It is a long-time event that begins and continues with a street festival and live music, food and vendors throughout the day.

9. Baker Beach

Located in San Francisco, it is very family-oriented with a good mixture of groups, surfers and fishermen. It is primarily used as a daytime spot for water activities and it closes before sunset in the summer. Although there are no lifeguards on duty at this beach, the best use of the amenities are for beach strolls, sunbathing and beach games.

10. Zuma Beach

The beaches of Zuma offer that refreshing white sand and clean water that is a plus for residents and visitors. The beach has snack bars on site, restroom facilities and lifeguards on duty during daylight hours. Zuma beaches are also ideal for surfing and boogie-boarding.

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