The best beaches in California

Zuma Beach

The best beach for a California beach vacation

Do you fancy a California beach vacation? Finding a perfect beach for a vacation in California is not that easy. The most beautiful beaches in California line up between Santa Barbara and San Diego along the Pacific coast from north to south. These are among the most beautiful beaches on the west coast of the USA.


The most beautiful California beach for a California beach vacation
A California vacation isn't complete without a California beach vacation - East Beach is one of them © Damian Gadal, Flickr


Since the water off the California coast north of Santa Barbara is too cold to swim because of the cold ocean currents, our beach tour does not begin north of Santa Barbara with its East Beach. In the north you can see the Santa Ynez Mountains, in the south is Stearns Wharf with its yachts. Santa Barbara also has an average of nearly 300 days of sunshine. And those who come on Saturday can also browse through the offerings of almost 250 artists who are exhibiting their works at the Santa Barbara Arts & Crafts Show.

Discover, what to do in Santa Barbara*




Zuma Beach - one of the most beautiful beaches in California for a beach holiday California
The Most Beautiful Beaches in California - Zuma Beach © Alex Beattle, Flickr


Zuma Beach - a vacation in California at Malibu

Approaching Malibu on Highway 101, be sure to look out for a line of cars tightly parked along the Pacific Coast Highway. This indicates that you are approaching Zuma Beach. If you see an empty parking space here, take it. Or pay the parking fee for the large parking lot. This beach is also a great place to relax - just bring a towel, bathing suit and time and while away the day at the beach. 


What you should definitely pack for your California beach vacation:

  • This beach equipment must be in yours Case. With our checklist you won't forget anything.
  • Bathing shoes * should not be missing on many beaches in California. Not all beaches are sandy. Some go “tide pooling”, which means they climb over rocks to tidal pools to collect shells or other things. You need non-slip shoes that can get wet.
  • "It never rains in Southern California" - the Beach Boys were right with their song. Therefore a sun hat must definitely be in the suitcase for a beach holiday on California's beaches. This is particularly practical because it can be folded up and easily fits into a handbag or suitcase.
  • Reading material for the beach holiday We've put together a list of easy holiday reading that's perfect for the beach.


Malibu Beach - one of the most beautiful beaches in California for a beach holiday California
Vacation in California USA on Malibu Beach © Ted Murphy, Flickr


California beach vacation at Los Angeles

Los Angeles beaches line up along the Pacific coast in the suburbs that stretch from Malibu to the far south, the perfect start for your road trip in California. However, the "Best Beaches in California" are not directly in the Los Angeles area. Due to the vastness of MegaCity Los Angeles, it is not always easy to reach these beaches. Therefore, these offers, which you can book through our partner Get your Guide, offer a practical solution. And of course there are also great activities on these beaches.


Malibu - California Vacation Tips for Beach Holidays

Parking on the Pacific Coast Highway is not allowed here. There's even valet parking at Geoffrey's Malibu, and don't forget to watch the beach beauties sip cocktails at the bus parade.




Venice Beach - one of the most beautiful beaches in California for a beach holiday California
The Most Beautiful Beaches in California - Venice Beach © Esther Lee, Flickr


Venice Beach Hotels California - California Beach Vacation With High Life

On the other hand, the beach community in Venice Beach is very different. Muscle men vie for the attention of sporty beach mermaids. Muscle Beach has been famous since Arnold Schwarzenegger flexed his muscles here. Dropouts also enjoy life on the beach. You need stamina to get behind the hustle and bustle on the promenade to the actual beach. 


Discover, what to do in Venice Beach*.




Manhattan Beach Pier
One of California's Most Beautiful Beaches - Manhattan Beach Pier © Tino, Flickr


Manhattan Beach - glamorous vacation in California

Manhattan Beach feels like stepping into one of those glossy magazines that promote life on the shore. Manhattan Beach is easily one of the most stylish beaches in Southern California, with its bougainvillea-covered fences, groomed children playing on the beach, and cottages on the hillside behind the beach. 

Excursions to Manhattan Beach*



Huntington Beach
Huntington Beach © Teresa Boardman, Flickr


Cabrillo Beach - perfect for a California beach vacation with kids

Before San Pedro you can find Cabrillo Beach. Cabrillo Beach consists of two beaches. One is protected behind the breakwater. This beach is suitable for families with children. On the pier you can cast your fishing rod or just go to the end to get another view of the beach. In a park on the coast is the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium.

The second beach is outside the breakwater and exposed to the surf. This beach is a true paradise for those who enjoy tide pooling. What is tide pooling? Very easily. Ponds form in the steep cliffs on this coast, where marine life is stranded at low tide. With a bit of luck you will find starfish, sea anemones, crabs, mussels and other animals that otherwise feel comfortable in the water. When the next tide comes, it sweeps the animals back into the sea. It's fun to look around the tide pools for washed-up sea creatures. You just have to be careful. Because the surf on this coast is unpredictable and wild.




Cabrillo Beach San Pedro Tristan Loper Flickr CC BY SA 20
Cabrillo Beach San Pedro Tristan Loper Flickr CC BY SA 20


California beach vacation at Huntington

Surfin 'USA - that's happening at Huntington Beach. In any case, the city is considered one of the centers of surfing. No wonder that you keep walking past surf shops in town. There is even a statue dedicated to the surfer Duke Kahanamoku dedicated to one of America's most famous surfers. However, the view of the ocean is marred by offshore oil rigs. 


What to do in Huntington Beach*. Discover the 10 best beaches for surfers in California here. 




Laguna Beach
Laguna Beach © Don Graham, Flickr


Laguna Beach California USA - one of the most beautiful beaches in California

It's more natural in Laguna Beach. One of the prettiest stretches of beach in this town is definitely Heisler Park, with its bougainvillea-lined walkways and rocky outcrops that reach into the sea.




La jolla cove
La Jolla Cove © SD Dirk, Flickr


Enjoy a California beach vacation at San Diego

La Jolla Cove - one of the most beautiful beaches in California

La Jolla is where you live if you are part of the affluent segment of the San Diego population. But it's also a place for families with kids who enjoy exploring the sea caves, looking for starfish in the tide pools, or climbing the cliffs that border downtown.

Discover, what to do in La Jolla Cove*.




Coronado Beach
Coronado Beach © hoteldelcoronado, Flickr


California beach vacation at San Diego

San Diego has a number of beautiful beaches that are worth visiting. One not to be missed is San Diego's Coronado Beach with its beachfront hotel, the Hotel Del Coronado. The charm that this five-star hotel radiates also gives the Pacific beach in front of it a very special appeal. However, military planes fly over the beach at irregular intervals when approaching the nearby military base. Special San Diego hotel tips * can be found under this link. Do you want the beaches of San Diego with kids * experience? Use this link to find hotels with family rooms near the beach. 

Discover, what to do on San Diego Beach*




More tips:

Travel Arrangements:

How to travel to your beach holiday California

Lufthansa, United and others will follow San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Car hire for your trip to the best beaches in California:

Cheap rental cars - book here! *

Are you looking for another beach hotel California?

Here you can do yours Beach Hotel California * search. Click on the map view. All Hotels in California * you can find via this link.

Travel Guides

Travel Guide for California * you can find on

Find more Slow Travel Tips can be found under this link. Do you already know the most beautiful beaches in Canada?


Do you like to travel by motorhome?


The most beautiful beaches in California for your beach holiday California
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Source: On-site research. The article contains affiliate links.

Text: © Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline
Photos: © Copyright see photo


Where can I find the best beaches in California?

The most beautiful beaches in California are between Santa Barbara and San Diego.

Where can I find Venice Beach hotels?

Here you can Book Venice Beach hotels *

Which San Diego hotel is located on Pacific Beach?

Discover your Hotel San Diego Pacific Beach *

The best beaches in California

6 thoughts too "The best beaches in California"

  1. Stunning photos! So far I have had a slightly different picture of LA in LA. Since you can also do very good beach vacation without much public traffic.

    1. Of course, LA is also a mega-city. But she is also by the sea. That's a big part of their attraction. The beaches here in the article, however, are not all to find in the immediate area of ​​Los Angeles. They stretch from Malibu to San Diego, where the water is the warmest.

    1. Hello nicole,

      that would be a good idea. The beaches in Southern California are worth a trip alone.

      Best regards,

    1. I can only confirm that, dear Jenny. From Santa Barbara to the south, California is a true beach paradise.

      Best regards,

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