Also known as the ‘City of Angels’, Los Angeles or L.A. is the most populous city in California and the second-most in the United States. The city’s strategic location on a broad basin in the southern end of the state makes it affluent in all things natural – mountains, forests, valleys, and of course the strikingly beautiful beaches along the Pacific.
Home to ‘Hollywood’, the city of angels has been attracting various kinds of tourists from all around the world for years.
English is the official and most widely used language in the city, however, as California borders with Mexico, Spanish is also broadly used. In fact, the city of Los Angeles is known to host one of the largest Spanish speaking communities in the world.
Los Angeles International Airport is the primary airport but the city has four more – Santa Ana, Burbank, Long Beach, and Ontario. Trains, buses, taxis, cars, and motorbikes are the usual way to commute within the city but you can ride a bicycle as well.
Apart from the infamously famous Hollywood, other significant sights of interest to behold for visitors are Santa Monica, museums, and the popular Venice beach.
Speaking of beaches, let us now explore 15 of L.A.’s finest beaches and discover what they have to offer to the wanderlust-stricken souls.
1. El Matador State Beach
The most popular among the three beaches flowing within the boundaries of Robert H. Meyer State Beach, El Matador is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque beaches in L.A.
A popular choice among wedding planners and photographers, the beach has plenty of massive rocks and secret sea caves to explore.
The parking lot at El Matador is situated on a bluff and has picnic tables that offer a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean. Take the stairs down the bluff to walk over to the beach.
The clifftop gives you a beguiling view of the surroundings and is perhaps one of the best spots to capture the scenery around you. The neighbouring kelp forest, the deep blue sea and the rare sight of migrating whales are all you need for that perfect L.A. holiday album.
2. El Pescador State Beach
The second among the three beaches within Robert H. Meyer State beach, El Pescador is the westernmost beach in the region.
The main beach is just a short trail distance from the parking lot which is located just off the Pacific coast highway. At the bottom of the bluff, there is a cave surrounded by impressive rocks and tide pools.
Even though El Pescador is not as deserted, it is comparatively quieter than the surrounding beaches of its kind, which necessarily implies that you may find a peaceful corner to spread out and enjoy a nice afternoon picnic. Food is not available for sale so carry your lunch and snacks.
El Pescador translates to ‘the fisherman’ but the beautiful beaches and the adjoining area is not only limited to fish. There are tide pools with crabs, sea snails, sea stars, urchins, brittle stars, and mussels.
Birdwatchers find the area quite amusing with the sights of California brown pelicans, gulls, sandpipers, and double-crested cormorants.
3. Zuma Beach County Park and Westward Beach
Zuma Beach Country Park, situated west of Point Dume flaunts a 3-mile-long beachline, the southern part of which is known as the Westward Beach. Its idyllic location within proximity of the Pacific Coast Highway makes it effortlessly reachable.
Due to the popularity of the beach and the number of visitors, the area is patrolled continuously by lifeguards from dawn to dusk. If you aren’t a fan of crowds, you may want to avoid the area during summer as it can get very, very crowded.
The beach area is famous for its open sandy beach, numerous volleyball courts, massive parking area, the swing sets, and onsite surf lessons.
There is a snack bar and a fully-functional restaurant on the beach. An ample number of restrooms and showers can be found as well.
Dolphins, seals, sea lions and whales are quite easily spotted and are a part of the Point Dume State Marine Conservation Area.
4. Paradise Cove Beach
Made famous by the beach café of the same name owned by the distinguished American mystery novelist, Bob Morris, Paradise Cove Beach attracts all kind of visitors – group of friends, solo travellers, couples, and families. The café is unique and so popular because of its location right on the beach sand which extends further to a romantic cove.
Most can recognize the beach as the location for super hit Hollywood movies such as ‘Charlie’s Angels’ and ‘American Pie 2’.
Beach beds and lounge chairs are available for rent along with large umbrellas to provide shade. If you are travelling in a large group, you can rent a complete terrace which fits up to 30 people.
Take a walk along the beach and you will find yourself near majestic palm trees, clean sand, and sandstone cliffs.
5. Malibu Lagoon State Beach
A popular sight among surfing enthusiasts, ornithologists, and history-buffs, Malibu Lagoon State Beach is situated at the confluence of Malibu Creek and the Pacific Ocean. The beach is surrounded by a picnic area to its west and the Malibu Pier to the east.
A massive wetland constitutes a major chunk of the land and offers birdwatchers an opportunity to spot and study over 200 species of birds in their natural habitation. There are dirt pathways along the wetlands which are frequented by hikers and birders alike.
Guided tours around the area are available for visitors who are interested in the flora and fauna spread throughout the area as well the history of the Chumash Indian tribe who inhabited the area until the late 1700s.
Built in 1929, the Adamson House is also worth a visit and so is its former garage which is now the Malibu Lagoon Museum.
6. Abalone Cove Shoreline Park
A rare gem situated along the rugged Palos Verde coastline, Abalone Cove is well-known for its outstanding views, a nicely maintained trail system, and inexhaustible tide pools.
The surrounding beach area offers brilliant avenues for picnic gathering. While a trail down the beach or a hike till the Portuguese Point are definitely the star attractions, the all-embracing vistas of the surrounding ambiance are a sight to witness in itself.
A section of the Abalone Cove trail intersects with the notable California Coastal Trail.
The tide pools of Abalone Cove, best visited during low tide, are home to a variety of sea creatures such as small octopi, anemone, hermit crabs, and sea hares.
7. Manhattan Beach
Located in the suburbs of L.A., Manhattan Beach is a nice beach spot to enjoy the sun and savour the ocean breeze.
The 2-mile-long sandy beach offers ample opportunity to run, swim, surf, and indulge in a game of beach volleyball with your gang. Separate running and biking paths are made along the coastline.
The adjoining Manhattan Beach Pier is a popular spot for sunset viewing and fishing. The Pier is the oldest of its kind on the West Coast and has been declared a state historical landmark. The Roadhouse Marine Studies Lab and Aquarium is located at the end of the pier.
8. Venice Beach
One of the most popular beaches of Los Angeles, Venice Beach is a highly popular attraction for local and international tourists alike.
The beach is the perfect location for enjoying sun, sand, and sea all year around. The area around is decked with a 2.5-mile promenade meant for pedestrians only. The zone also houses plenty of shops, bars, and restaurants.
Apart from swimming and surfing, you can rent a bike to ride between Venice Beach and the nearby Santa Monica.
There is an adjoining skating arena, a fully-equipped gymnasium, the Venice Pier, and a broad canal system.
9. Leo Carrillo State Beach
Named in the honor of American actor, conservationist, and political cartoonist, Leo Carrillo, the State Beach is also known as the “movie beach” due to its popularity among filmmakers. In fact, it is the only beach to be as popular as this after the famous El Matador State Beach.
Boasting a wide range of caves, tide pools, and reefs, Leo Carrillo State Beach is located within proximity to the Pacific Coast Highway and Mulholland Highway so is easily accessible.
Some of the commonly enjoyed activities around the area include swimming, surfing, sunbathing, windsurfing, and fishing.
If you plan to explore the tide pools at the Sequit Point, you may spot sea stars, anemones, crabs, and mussels.
10. Will Rogers State Beach
Whether you wish to spend some time sunbasking on your own or you plan on spending a romantic sunset with your beloved, Will Rogers State Beach is the perfect setting and strategically located between the Santa Monica Bay and the Pacific Coast Highway.
The area is patrolled by lifeguards during the day when most visitors come here to surf, swim, dive or indulge in kitesurfing, windsurfing, diving, and fishing.
Volleyball nets, restrooms, a huge parking space, and a nice restaurant add to the many facilities available at the beach.
The nearby Santa Monica Bay is home to several different species of marine creatures which can be more closely studied at the Santa Monica Aquarium.
11. Santa Monica State Beach
Santa Monica is one of the most iconic and scenic beaches of Los Angeles, and it not only offers visitors with spectacular views but a plethora of recreational facilities. Any day is a carnival day at the Santa Monica Beach.
The most significant feature of the beach is the Santa Monica Pier which may look a little kitschy to the common eye but is worth a visit for a complete Santa Monica experience.
Roller coasters, Ferris wheel, game booths and carnival-style food stalls make the beach fun and enjoyable for all kind of visitors.
Santa Monica beach is known for its 3-mile-long sandy shoreline and is perfect for runners and walkers. While surfing, swimming, and paddle-boarding are some of the most popular water activities here, beach volleyball is a tradition.
12. Redondo Beach
One of the three beach cities in the south bay of Southern California, Redondo Beach can be distinguished from the others of its kind because of its unique horseshoe-shaped pier.
Proclaimed as the birthplace of surfing in the United States, Redondo Beach is the best suitable location for expert surfers.
Numberless beach volleyball courts maintained by the city adorn the coastline and are known to be some of the most well-kept courts in the country.
The Marvin Braude Bike Trail, also called The Strand, follows along the length of Redondo Beach, continuing up to Santa Monica and Will Rogers State Beach.
Recurrent farmer’s market crop up every now and then. Whale watching cruises (seasonal), kayak rentals, pedal boats, and stand-up paddleboard rentals are on offer throughout the year.
13. Hermosa Beach
Made popular for its lively bar scene and white, sandy beaches, Hermosa Beach is the counterpart to Redondo Beach and Manhattan Beach, and is another in the group of three beach cities of Southern California’s south bay.
The beach waters are famous for water excursions and adventures as well as beach volleyball.
The Strand passes through the beach along with others on the route. Now a major attraction for cyclists, runners, and joggers, Hermosa Beach houses a daily farmer’s market and is home to The Lighthouse Café – a famous jazz club.
Oozing archetypal SoCal vibes, Hermosa offers restrooms, showers, rental shops, lessons, lifeguards, wheelchair facility, and restaurants as some of the necessary facilities to its visitors.
14. Topanga State Beach
Perhaps the most significant spot for surfers, Topanga State Beach is a haven for all kinds of beach enthusiasts – sunbathers, swimmers, scuba divers, kayakers, and even sailors with catamarans.
If you are visiting in a group or with your family, you can bring your own lunch and make a picnic out of it, or head to the Malibu Chart House restaurant for a sumptuous meal by the beach.
Surrounded by Will Rogers Beach to the east and Las Tunas to the west, the beach is open to the public as early as the sun rises and closes when it’s time for the lifeguards to leave.
There is a bait and tackle store across the street from the beach if you want to give fishing a try.
15. Nicholas Canyon County Beach
While Nicholas Canyon County Beach sits just north of the prevalent Robert H. Meyer Memorial Beach, it is less congested than its popular neighbour.
The beach’s point break makes it a great choice among surfers while swimmers, divers, and windsurfers enjoy the beautiful waters of Nicholas Canyon County Beach as well.
The tide pools are home to several sea creatures and the fine sand provides for peaceful sunbathing.
If you are here on a summer break, you may find a few food trucks along the beach. If not, bring your lunch and enjoy it at one of the many picnic tables scattered around the area.
The area was inhabited by the Chumash Native American tribe long before it was a county owned by the city of Los Angeles. The nearby Chumash village, maintained by The Wishtoyo Foundation, has been recreated for educational purposes and offers a guided tour for enthusiasts which can be booked 24 hours in advance on the foundation’s website.