Los Angeles County has roughly two dozen individually named beaches, many of which are absolutely gorgeous (and some of which… not so much).
Having access to so many beaches within a close coastal proximity is a boon unto itself, but it also leaves you with a kind of overwhelming amount of options.
Our goal here was simple. Pare down that list a bit (selecting eight total) and focus you in on the best of the best, from secluded tide pool spots to people-watching paradises.
And all you have to do? Just choose a spot and soak up a little sunshine.
El Matador (Malibu)
What makes El Matador stand out is its caves and rock formations. In the parking lot you are on a 150-foot bluff so you’ll enjoy some picturesque views of the Pacific ocean as you make your way down to the beach. Going down the bluff is a workout but once you’re down it’s a secluded pocket of sandy beach and a little privacy as there is no lifeguard tower.
It’s one of the most popular because it brings together some of the best things about Malibu beaches- surfer waves, dolphins and seals, and it’s large enough (with a big parking lot) to handle the swarms of beachgoers. Head there early if you want to catch a view of the dolphin pods and thought he waves are surfer-friendly they’re also great for boogie boarding.
If you want legit surfer waves then look no further than the beach deemed a World Surfing Reserve. Even if yo don’t surf you can enjoy watching the pros – and maybe some amateurs- ride the waves. Nearby attractions include historic Spanish-style home-turned-museum, Adamson House, Malibu Lagoon Museum, Malibu Pier and Malibu Country Mart, Geoffrey’s, and Nobu to satiate your seafood craving.
Point Dume (Malibu)
Point Dume’s high bluff is a favorite among rock climbers and whale watchers love to to go all the way to the top for one-of-a-kind views. If you climb to the other side of the bluff on the lower rocks (if the tide is low enough), you might encounter a seal or two.
The famous Santa Monica Pier is home to Pacific Park and the iconic Ferris wheel, an aquarium, and the historic 1922 carousel but the beach itself – at 3.5 miles- is worth checking out to get the full LA beach experience. During the summer it does tend to get packed (understatement) and if you’re into people watching you’ll find your fair share of characters ranging from street performers to the roaming Jack Sparrow. All along the pier you’ll find airbrush artists, caricaturist, and a shop where you can have your name etched on a grain of rice if you’re looking for a fun souvenir. Bottom line: For people watching in L.A., few spots are better.
Abalone Cove Beach (Rancho Palos Verdes)
If you’re looking to enhance your beach experience Abalone’s claim to fame is their tide pools. During low tide you can (carefully) walk around the tide pools and find sea anemones, urchins, and starfish.
Rosie’s Dog Beach (Long Beach)
Rosie’s is a four-acre park and that happens to be the only off-leash dog beach in L.A. County. Only one dog is permitted per adult so keep that in mind if you have a pack of fur babies. This is perfect for dog lovers who want to enjoy the beach with their bud on those especially hot LA days- it’s a win-win.
Manhattan Beach is a mecca of beach volleyball and home to The Strand, the beachside sidewalk perfect for strolling or the Roundhouse aquarium. The beach regularly hosts free volleyball tournaments so fans of the sport can check it out and then visit the bike trail known as Marvin Braude (The Strand). On the pier you’ll find the the free aquarium with a shark tank, tide pool, touch tank, and a lobster tank and after you’ve worked up an appetite there’s Manhattan Beach Post, the Manhattan Beach Creamery, and Little Sister.
Where is your #1 choice for best beach spot in L.A.? Let us know in the comments below or via social media!