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The 7 Best Beaches in California

There are countless reasons why you should go on a road trip through the amazing state of California. But the top 3 are: California has the most spectacular beaches on earth, year-round good weather, and amazing sunsets!

Some of the most beautiful beaches in the U.S. are located on California’s Pacific Coast and they’re perfect for a day trip or a longer stay. Don’t forget your swimsuit and sunscreen when packing for your California adventure. Below is an overview of the best beaches in California and what they have to offer!

1. Ventura

The small coastal town of Ventura is located about 1 hour north of Los Angeles and is an affordable travel destination, especially for families. Off the coast, you will find the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, which is often called the Galapagos of North America. Here you can go whale watching, scuba diving, snorkeling, and kayaking.

From the Ventura Pier you can get to San Buenaventura State Beach, where, unlike other beaches, you can enjoy a drink on the water at sunset (there is great wine grown nearby!). Free parking for your roadsurfer is available in Ventura itself, and it’s a quick walk from downtown to the pier.

Naturally, the coastline in the area is great for surfing. Ventura’s “Surfer’s Point” is actually a favorite surfing location of surfers worldwide. If you prefer to stay on dry land, you can hike to Smugglers Cove, a 7.5-mile loop trail that is considered one of the most beautiful in the state.

2. La Jolla Cove

La Jolla is located in the heart of San Diego and is a great beach for families and nature lovers. Lifeguards patrol it year-round, and the water is relatively calm. However, this is less about swimming and more about wildlife watching as the entire beach is a nature preserve.

There are small tide pools for kids to splash around in and get up close and personal with the local wildlife. If you’d like to go diving or snorkeling, underwater you can see barracuda, big sea bass, and even leopard sharks if you’re lucky. Along the gorgeous shoreline, seals and sea lions are often seen basking in the sun, barking at one another, and putting on a show for visitors.

Important with all animals you encounter: keep your distance and approach only with your camera zoom!

3. Pfeiffer Beach

Big Sur delights California visitors with its dramatic coastal panorama, and Pfeiffer Beach is no exception. Unlike many other beaches in Big Sur, this one is open to all visitors.

While Pfeiffer Beach isn’t great for swimming, you can take insanely great photos here. The sand is purple and violet because of the spessartine in the surrounding rock, which makes it particularly photogenic at sunset hour.

The beach is also great for hiking, though good footwear is very important because you’ll be walking along the cliffs for the best views.

Pfeiffer is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and the adjacent parking lot costs $10. The number of visitors is deliberately kept small, so you’d better come in the morning, otherwise, you’ll need some luck getting a spot.

4. Pismo Beach

Pismo Beach provides the ideal backdrop for a California beach vacation. The sand is white, the sea is blue, and there’s plenty to do for active vacationers – Pismo is a paradise for water sports enthusiasts.

You have the choice to get on a surfboard, take a kayak, or paddle a SUP. From the sea, you can not only admire the beautiful coastline, but with a little luck, you can also see dolphins, sea lions, or even whales. If the wind is good, you can also go kitesurfing.

Before you return to your roadsurfer after an extended day on the beach, you should stock up on a good bottle of Pinot Noir in the small town of Pismo. This area is particularly famous for its delicious deep red wine.

5. Coronado Island

Coronado is not really an island, but a peninsula off the coast of San Diego. If you want to swim and feel like you’re on a tropical island vacation, then Coronado’s 5 beach paradises are perfect for you.

Does the sight look familiar to you? You may recognize the beach near the Hotel del Coronado as the famous backdrop in “Some Like it Hot”. Even today, chic houses, white sand, palm trees, and crystal clear water awaits you.

If you’re traveling with small children, head to Glorietta Bay, where the ocean is especially calm and suitable for swimming and splashing with the whole family.

6. Fort Ord Dunes State Park

It is not as famous as the 8 official national parks in California, but Fort Ord Dunes State Park is one of California’s best kept secrets. The 4-mile-long beach is quiet, idyllic, and perfect for a long walk.

There’s also a boardwalk and an observation deck that provides you with a great view of the dunes and the Monterey Peninsula. Be sure to bring binoculars, because depending on the season, you may see whales in the water. If you want to get even closer, you can book a boat tour from Monterey and cruise alongside orcas and humpback whales as they migrate.

To discover more beautiful beaches in Monterey Bay, drive up and down Ocean View Boulevard. You won’t get more of a California feeling than that!

7. Carmel Beach

One of the most beautiful of California’s beaches is Carmel Beach, straight out of a postcard. White sand, cypress trees, clear sparkling water, and a great view of the coastline characterize the motif.

If you don’t mind the cold, you can also go swimming or surfing, although we recommend a wetsuit. Otherwise, the beach is great for a long walk, and dogs are also allowed to romp in the waves without a leash.

In Carmel-by-the-Sea, one of the most picturesque coastal towns in California, you can stock up on goodies and wine for a beach picnic. Carmel Beach is another beach where alcoholic beverages are allowed. Perfect for a sunset on one of the most beautiful beaches in the U.S.

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