California Beach

Best Beaches in California


California’s beach culture is known the world over, with bleach-blonde surfers and Baywatch lifeguards seemingly par for course in the Golden State. Yet, with over 840 miles of coastline facing the Pacific, there is far more to California than mere stereotype. Beaches here come in all shapes and sizes, so let’s take a look at some of the best.

Venice Beach

Venice Beach tour

One of the most famous beaches in the state, Venice Beach is celebrated across the nation for its alternative, and occasionally grungy, beach scene. Bodybuilders, basketball players, buxom blondes and rollerbladers share space with oddballs, artists and a large homeless population to make this one of the most vibrant spaces in urban Los Angeles. Also contributing to the mix are wide eyed tourists who are often left wondering just what kind of place they have wandered into. Eccentric and proud of it, Venice Beach is where to visit to buy surf gear, to see the most avant-garde graffiti in the city, and, of course, to enjoy yourself on the hot sands. If you are feeling brave, make sure to take on the locals at beach volleyball, but don’t be surprised if they beat you; teams based here are amongst the most competitive in the country.

Baker Beach

Baker Beach

If you like your beaches windswept and rugged, with a spectacular backdrop to boot, then Baker Beach is just for you. Located below the picturesque Golden Gate Bridge, this foggy outcrop of sand halfway between San Francisco bay and the Pacific Ocean is a favourite of dog walkers, runners and those with a hankering after scenic views. The beach is also said to host its own microclimate, with certain plants such as the Marin Dwarf Flax, which grows nowhere else in San Francisco, known to thrive in the area.

Point Reyes

Point Reyes

Also in Northern California, the protected nature reserve of Point Reyes offers one of the last remaining stretches of virgin coastline and prairie in the state. Though just thirty minutes drive from San Francisco, this deserted and frequently befogged beach seems like a world away. Great for locating rare wildflowers, bird-watching, and enjoying nature walks, Point Reyes has barely changed in over a thousand years. If you are up for a challenge, attempt the hike to the 140 year old Lighthouse that stands cliff side some 600 feet high above the sea.

Piedras Blancas

Piedras Blancas

Not all Californian beaches are there for people to surf and sunbathe, however. In fact, some, like Piedras Blancas, aren’t even for humans. This stretch of coastline, just north of San Simeon, is known for the Elephant Seals who park here after long journeys across the Pacific Ocean. These 15 foot, 5000 pound beasts feed, rest, mate and even give birth on the sands here, and viewing platforms located just off Highway 101 mean you can watch the seals in their native environment. The area also attracts an abundance of California ground squirrels, mischievious animals who are known to badger visitors for food.

Malibu Beach

Malibu Beach

One of the more exclusive beaches in California, Malibu is home to the rich and the famous, and certain sections of this beautiful strand are even closed off to the hoi polloi. This affluent town is known for some of the most expensive beach front property on the planet, and stars such as Pierce Brosnan, Leonardo DiCaprio and Sylvester Stallone call this small city half an hour north of Los Angeles their home. Malibu is famed for the quality and size of its waves, and it attracts experienced surfers from all over Southern California.

La Jolla Beach

La Jolla Beach

Also known for an active surfing community, La Jolla, just north of San Diego, is a beach town with an arty and mature air. Shopping here is strictly upscale and exclusive, though, thankfully, the beach has a more down to earth feel. La Jolla Shores Beach is known for its wide bay and crimson cliffs, the perfect backdrop for a family day out by the sea. However, if you prefer rough waves, rock pools and late night partying, head down to Windansea Beach. Golfing fans, meanwhile, can tee off at the Torrey Pines Golf Course, a PGA Tour course and host of the 2008 U.S. Open. The magnificent greens and fairways of this golfing Mecca directly overlook the Pacific Ocean, so make sure not to slice your drives into the sea.

With so many world-class beaches in California it can be difficult to choose which one to visit. From isolated coves to salubrious suburban beaches, California has them all.

(Images from Flickr users, gibffe, epleitez, trodel, puliarf, mikebaird, tensaibuta, leeco)

Date posted: 4th October, 2011

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