With over 800 miles of coastline, it comes as no surprise that California is home to some of the world’s best beaches. From the silver sands of Coronado Beach to San Diego’s famous Mission Beach, these are, in no particular order, the top ten beaches in California.
Leo Carrillo State Park
While Malibu may be known for its sandy beaches that are ideal for an afternoon of soaking up the sun, Leo Carrillo State Park is a beach that attracts adventure-seekers. Its 1.5 miles of coastline is filled with sea caves, tide pools, reefs, and hiking trails, and even offers overnight camping, which is rare when it comes to the majority of other Californian beaches.
Otherwise known as Surf City USA, Huntington Beach has frequently won Best Beach awards, and it is easy to see why. While this ten mile long stretch of sand may primarily attract surfers, with its Surfing Museum and its hosting of the US Open of Surfing, there is plenty to do for non-surfers too.
Located on the dramatic Mendocino County coastline, 150 miles north of San Francisco, Manchester Beach features rougher waves and sharper headlands than the average Californian Beach, but this is what makes it so endearing. In addition to being a prime spot for whale watching in the late winter months, Manchester Beach is also sprinkled with an array of tide pools, meaning that it is always an adventure to explore.
Just ten miles from the Mexican border in the San Diego Bay, Coronado Beach is famous for its silver sand that literally shines in the sun, and this is because of its high concentration of mica, a pearly, silver-colored mineral. A generally flat terrain makes it an ideal beach for relaxing strolls, while its gentle waters are suited to several types of water sports.
A free-spirited San Diego surfing beach, Mission Beach is a popular one, and usually packed with crowds of sun-seekers. While this may not be the spot to head to if you are seeking some peace and tranquillity, the vibrant energy here, coupled with plenty of attractions, makes Mission Beach a must-visit.
Just like Mission Beach, Venice Beach is not where you would go if you are wanting some serenity. Instead, this iconic beach is packed with everything from street circus acts to sand sculptures to flea markets to food trucks, and is a legendary part of Californian life.
Located in Fort Bragg, Glass Beach is completely unlike any other beach that you would have seen. Rather than being filled with sand or shingle, this beach consists of layer upon layer of rounded sea glass, which was created over the years through erosion, when the beach was used as a dump site. Today, the pieces of glass are slowly diminishing, and while plans may be in place to replace this lost glass, it is well worth paying it a visit soon just in case.
La Jolla Cove
While La Jolla Cove may be quite a small beach, it is most definitely a scenic one, making it one of the most photographed in Southern California. Since the wildlife here is protected by the San Diego La Jolla Underwater Park Ecological Reserve, and visibility underwater extends up to 30 feet, this is a beach that is perfect for a spot of snorkeling or scuba diving.
Refugio State Beach
Located in Santa Barbara County, Refugio State Beach faces south, meaning that the waves are slightly livelier and the sun both rises and sets over the Pacific here in the winter months. With swaying palm trees and a gentle, bubbling creek that runs alongside the sand, this beach is one of the prettiest in California, and has quite the tropical ambiance to it.
Gold Bluffs Beach
Gold Bluffs Beach can be found in the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, and while it was home to a short-lived gold rush in the 1850’s, it is now an idyllic slice of sandy paradise. While this beach featured in the movie Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World, it has managed to still remain relatively crowd-free, and, if you visit in the early hours of the morning, you are likely to see herds of elk frolicking about on the sand.
California’s beaches are iconic, with different beaches to suit just about everybody. From the hustle and bustle of Venice Beach, to the isolation of the Leo Carrillo State Park, these are some of the finest beaches that you will find in the Golden State.