Best Beaches in the Los Angeles Area

Los Angeles, California, is famous for many things; it is the second-largest city in the United States, it is the center of the movie, television, and recording industries, and it has Pacific coast beaches where surfers, swimmers, and sunbathers can spend time away from the office and close to the natural beauty of their surroundings. The Santa Monica Mountains end at the Pacific coast and these beaches are beauty spots that are ideal for family outings and for fun in the waves. Photo: flatbox/Fotolia


»El Matador State Beach

El Matador State Beach


El Matador State Beach in Malibu is one of the most picturesque locations in the Los Angeles area. A highly popular site for wedding and engagement photography, this dramatic beach has high bluffs, large rocks on the beach, and sea caves to explore. It is not accessible to those with mobility issues – from the parking lot on top of the bluffs there is a dirt trail which leads to stairs down the hill. There is an incredible view from the clifftop: Deep blue water with thick kelp forests and the sight of migrating whales. El Matador State Beach has hiking trails, restrooms, and drinking water.

32215 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90205 14 Best Beaches in the Los Angeles Area - Photo: trekandphoto/Fotolia

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»Abalone Cove Ecological Preserve

Abalone Cove Ecological Preserve


The Abalone Cove Ecological Preserve is first and foremost a protected area providing refuge for at-risk marine species such as starfish, urchins, lobsters, and anemones. With the exception of lobster, these species can be viewed in the tide pools at low tide. There are two black sand beaches that are safe for swimming, and rocky bluffs from which to take in the view of the beach and the water. There are designated hiking trails along the bluffs. Visitors may get the chance to view migratory whales that pass this way; blue, grey, and humpback whales have been seen close to shore at Abalone Cove. There is a parking lot and picnic tables for visitor use.

5970 Palos Verdes Drive South, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275, Phone: 310-377-1222 14 Best Beaches in the Los Angeles Area - Photo: trekandphoto/Fotolia

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»El Porto Beach

El Porto Beach


El Porto Beach sits in front of the El Porto neighborhood in Manhattan Beach, California. Its consistently huge waves make it a popular destination for surfers, body surfers, and stand-up paddleboarders, and its volleyball nets attract beach volleyball aficionados. The Marvin Braude Bike Path is paved and runs along El Porto Beach; it is open to cyclists, inline skaters, walkers, runners, and joggers. El Porto Beach is relatively quiet, as it is a lesser-known beach; because of that it is a haven for those wishing to avoid crowded beaches. El Port Beach has a laid-back atmosphere, lifeguards, restrooms, showers, and a restaurant.

440 The Strand, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266 14 Best Beaches in the Los Angeles Area - Photo: van_sinsy/Fotolia

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»Cabrillo Beach

Cabrillo Beach


Cabrillo Beach is a quiet, uncrowded beach that looks out onto Santa Catalina Island and the interesting sight of shipping vessels making their way down the coast. It is popular with families and windsurfers and has all the amenities necessary for a great day at the beach. There are volleyball nets, a children’s playground, a snack bar, picnic tables, restrooms, and shaded areas for visitors who don’t want a sunburn. Cabrillo Beach has a great fishing pier with fish identification charts and a sink for rinsing off your catch. Whale watching is a big draw to this beach. Cabrillo Beach has a paved boat ramp accessible from the parking lot.

3720 Stephen M. White Drive, San Pedro, CA 90731 14 Best Beaches in the Los Angeles Area - Photo: John/Fotolia

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»County Line Beach

County Line Beach


County Line Beach was made famous by the Beach Boys, who named it in their 1963 hit Surfin’ USA. It is a very popular beach for board surfing, and others come to bodysurf, stand-up paddleboard, and windsurf. The rugged coastline is actually at the end of a canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains, which stop at the coast, and both the half-mile beach and the water are clean with good visibility for scuba diving. Divers are attracted to County Line Beach by its underwater kelp forests and reefs, while beachgoers can sight dolphins, whales, seals, and seabirds close to shore. Spear-fishing is permitted at the beach; most of the catch is sea bass.

Pacific Coast Highway at Yerba Buena Road, Malibu, CA 90265 14 Best Beaches in the Los Angeles Area - Photo: flatbox/Fotolia

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»Hermosa Beach

Hermosa Beach


Hermosa Beach is a 2-mile stretch along Santa Monica Bay with clean sand and water, which makes it a great location for families, as do the waves, which are milder here than they are at other coastal beaches. Novice surfers and stand-up paddleboarders come here to learn the ropes of their sport. Numerous beach volleyball nets are set up along the shore and visitors can watch professional and semi-professional play. The beach has lifeguards during the day as well as showers and restrooms. Parking is trickier, but there is street parking nearby and parking lots a few blocks away. The pier at Hermosa Beach brings fishermen and next to the pier there is a palm-lined promenade with shopping, restaurants, and bars.

Pier Avenue and Hermosa Avenue, Hermosa, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254 14 Best Beaches in the Los Angeles Area - Photo: Jo¨rg Hackemann/Fotolia

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»Leo Carrillo State Park and Beach

Leo Carrillo State Park and Beach



Leo Carrillo State Park and Beach was named for a Hollywood movie actor who was an ardent conservationist and served on the California Beach and Parks Commission for 18 years. The park is part of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and has 1.5 miles of beachfront suitable for swimming, surfing, windsurfing, and beachcombing. There are tide pools full of fascinating creatures, and sea caves to explore while the tide is out. Leo Carrillo Beach has been used in many movies, including Grease and The Usual Suspects. The state park has a campground shaded by giant sycamore trees, children’s programs, and nature walks. There is a small visitor center with interpretative displays.

35000 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265, Phone: 818-880-0350 14 Best Beaches in the Los Angeles Area - Photo: Gottfried Reidler/Fotolia

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»Malibu Lagoon State Beach

Malibu Lagoon State Beach


Malibu Lagoon is an estuary caused by the meeting of Malibu Creek and the Pacific Ocean. This lagoon is a premier surfing destination and attracts surfers from all over the world. It is also a lovely beach for sunbathing, swimming, whale watching, and for looking at the fascinating creatures to be found in the tide pools left at low tide. From Malibu Lagoon State Beach, visitors can access the pier, where saltwater fishing is permitted, and there are trails around the coastal wetland that are ideal for birdwatching. The state park has picnic tables and a nature area with signage.

23200 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265, Phone: 310-457-8143 14 Best Beaches in the Los Angeles Area - Photo: Andy/Fotolia

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»Beaches in Los Angeles: Manhattan Beach

Beaches in Los Angeles: Manhattan Beach


Manhattan Beach is in an upscale Los Angeles coastal neighborhood with fancy homes, trendy hotels, and excellent dining. It is also a beautiful beach, the sort seen on television shows and in movies, which has a surfing vibe to it as well as excellent waves for surfing. The beach is dog friendly and it is permissible to fish from the pier, on which there is a small but interesting aquarium. Manhattan Beach is a magnet for professional beach volleyball players and there are often pro matches to watch. On the beach there is a pedestrian-only boardwalk as well as the South Bay Bicycle Trail, which is open to inline skaters as well.

400-500 The Strand, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266, Phone: 310-305-9503 14 Best Beaches in the Los Angeles Area - Photo: FiledIMAGE/Fotolia

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»Paradise Cove Beach

Paradise Cove Beach


Paradise Cove Beach is a white sand beach in a lagoon at the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains. This lovely curve of beach has all the amenities for a lovely day at the shore: parking, clean public restrooms, showers, beach chairs, and a lifeguard on duty during the day. There is a restaurant, the Paradise Cove Beach Café, right on the beach. There is pier from which fishing is permissible, and the beach itself is perfect for sunbathing and sandcastle building, and this stretch of the Pacific Ocean is popular for swimming and surfing. No dogs are permitted on this beach.

28128 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265 14 Best Beaches in the Los Angeles Area - Photo: vericelemma/Fotolia

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»Point Dume State Beach and Preserve

Point Dume State Beach and Preserve


Point Dume State Beach and Preserve has a lot to offer its visitors. On the bluffs above the beach, there are hiking trails suitable for families and a boardwalk that leads to a viewing area. The views are spectacular; on a clear day you can see Catalina Island and the whole sweep of Santa Monica Bay. It is also an excellent location to watch migrating grey whales from December to April, and dolphins are commonly sighted in these waters. A staircase leads down to the beach, on which California sea lions are often found lounging, and there are interesting tide pools to explore. Swimming, surfing, and scuba diving are popular here, as is beachcombing.

Cliff Drive, Malibu 90264, Phone: 310-457-8143 14 Best Beaches in the Los Angeles Area - Photo: flatbox/Fotolia

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»Santa Monica State Beach

Santa Monica State Beach


Santa Monica State Beach is 3.5 miles of soft, white beach with a large pleasure pier in its center. From the beach it is walking distance to excellent shops, restaurants, and hotels, in addition to rental facilities from which visitors may obtain umbrellas and beach chairs. Santa Monica Beach has gymnastics equipment for use by children and adults: Parallel bars, rings, swings, and ropes as well as a multitude of beach volleyball nets, which are on a first-come first-served basis. Popular for swimming, surfing, and sunbathing, the beach can be accessed by the Marvin Braude Beach Trail, which permits bicycles and inline skates. The Santa Monica Pier is world renowned and offers an amusement park, an arcade, and has an outdoor concert series in the summer season.

Pacific Coast Highway, Santa Monica, CA 90407, Phone: 310-458-8300 14 Best Beaches in the Los Angeles Area - Photo: FiledIMAGE/Fotolia

»Venice Beach

Venice Beach


Venice Beach is an oceanfront community and beach renowned as a haven for the creative and artistic; it is a location heavily populated with Hollywood actors and musicians. It is famed for its “Muscle Beach,” an area of the shore where bodybuilders work out and where Arnold Schwarzenegger was discovered. The beach has lifeguards as well as a bike and rollerblade path and is popular for surfing at a site called the Venice Breakwater. Most visitors don’t come to Venice Beach to swim or sunbathe; they come for the boardwalk, along which there are literally hundreds of street performers and small stalls selling arts and crafts. The beach itself has courts for beach volleyball, tennis, handball, and basketball, and there are skateboard ramps where champion skateboarders have trained. 14 Best Beaches in the Los Angeles Area - Photo: jon bilous/Fotolia

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»Zuma Beach

Zuma Beach


Zuma Beach is part of the Santa Monica Mountains State Park in Malibu, California. It has been carefully preserved so that it is wide and clean, with dunes topped with sea oats and a lively population of seals and California sea lions. Over 350 species of migratory birds make their way to these shores, making it an important destination for birdwatchers. There is lots of parking at this beach, and it has several lifeguard stations, clean restrooms, and food stalls. It is popular with sunbathers, swimmers, and those who love to build sandcastles, and its mild waves bring novice surfers eager to learn in a safe environment. There are volleyball courts and swings for the kids.

Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265 14 Best Beaches in the Los Angeles Area - Photo: Alex Krassel/Fotolia

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14 Best Beaches in the Los Angeles Area