Malibu, Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Manhattan Beach, Long Beach, Hermosa Beach: these are the Los Angeles beaches that we have all heard of at least once, and for sure you don't need to be passionate about a show like Baywatch (ah, good times when they were called "telefilms" and not TV series!) to know the fame of these beaches.
In the common imagination they are represented as kilometers of beaches full of surfers in wetsuits ready to ride the waves of the Pacific, beautiful women in bikinis, and tamarri guys who show off on the water's edge. In addition, there is no shortage of iconic ones in postcard photos lifeguard huts and the long piers that separate the beaches from each other along the endless strips of sand that go from Santa Monica to Redondo Beach, from Long Beach to the beaches of Newport Beach in Orange County and so on ...
In Los Angeles there are beaches for all tastes (including the most questionable ...): beaches for surfers and sports in general, trendy beaches for young people and beaches for families, etc. On the promenade dotted with palm trees you can take long walks among parks, markets, shops, restaurants, bars, outdoor gyms and murals, meeting painters, street artists, tattoo artists, artisans, dancers, improvised actors and an infinite variety of human types all irresistibly fascinating.
Before I tell you what the most beautiful beaches in Los Angeles and those to visit in general, however, I feel the need to dispel a myth: no, there are not only the very long strips of sand that you see in the movies! If you are looking for sheltered coves or lovely natural areas unknown to most, you just have to follow the advice that you will find at the bottom of this article.
- Map of the beaches
- The most famous beaches of Los Angeles
- Santa Monica beach
- Venice Beach
- Manhattan beach
- Hermosa Beach
- Redondo Beach
- Long Beach
- The secret beaches
- Palos Verdes Ranch
- San Pedro
- Two hidden beaches in Malibu
- The beaches of Orange County
Map of the beaches
The most famous beaches of Los Angeles
Here are the beaches you should visit to understand what the air is like on the Los Angeles coast. Remember that you can safely sunbathe on the beach during the summer months, but that the water temperatures of the Pacific remain basse for the whole year: for this reason it may not be comfortable for everyone to swim in the sea. Here is an article about the climate in Los Angeles that might help you understand the weather conditions in the city.
Santa Monica beach
Some say it is among the most beautiful in the world. I don't know if that's true, but surely this is one of the most famous and photographed in the whole West Coast: the Santa Monica beach is the classic wide beach that extends for the entire length of the city of the same name. Surely the main attraction of this beach is the nearby Santa Monica Pier, the pier with the funfair overlooking the ocean.
In addition to being the destination of continuous tourist pilgrimages, Santa Monica Beach, in Los Angeles, it is known as a meeting point for sports of all kinds. It is no coincidence that a part of the beach is dedicated to those who want to show off their sculpted body or do gymnastics: here is the famous Muscle Beach, the original one from 1934, not to be confused with the beach-gym of the same name in Venice Beach, which, however, is popular today.
- Where to park: there are numerous paid parking lots near the beach, but we have talked about them more extensively in this article, where you will also find information for park for free For a limited period of time.
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Actually, the beach of Venice Beach it is simply the continuation of Santa Monica Beach: it is in fact a single sandy strip interspersed only with the lifeguard huts. Known for being, along with Malibu's Zuma Beach, the Baywatch beach, Venice is ideal for seeing the huge variety of quirky human types that frequent the well-known and colorful Venice waterfront (Venice Boardwalk): you can sit and watch the people go by, surfers, bikers, skaters, bodybuilders in Muscle Beach, but also artists in search of fame, magicians, singers, artisans and so on and so forth!
- Where to park: the area attracts a lot of people, so finding a parking space could be a bit tricky. It is practically impossible to park along the road but there are still various public car parks (at somewhat high prices).
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When I first visited Manhattan beach it was a hit and run, just before leaving Los Angeles International Airport, which is no more than 20 minutes away.
Despite this, an unforgettable moment remained for me: I had seen the Pacific for the first time in my life. Manhattan Beach is a large stretch of sand in front of the quiet town of the same name, slightly elevated above sea level: the beach life takes place mainly around the pier, the Manhattan Beach Pier, which houses the Roundhouse Aquarium, a small free aquarium. South of the pier, Californian surfers ride the waves, while beach volleyball is played on the beach and bicycling is on the boardwalk.
- Where to park: there are paid parking lots, and it is not difficult to find a spot along the narrow streets immediately above the beach.
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For those who don't feel like throwing themselves into the crowds of Venice or Santa Monica, Hermosa Beach it can be the winning alternative. Some say that the California surfing tradition was born on the city beach, but this record is highly coveted by other coastal resorts. The pier, decidedly spectacular at sunset, is the hub of seaside life: in particular the Pier Plaza, from which Pier Avenue starts, which features shops and restaurants in the shade of palm trees.
In the square there is also the statue of a surfer, demonstrating how much discipline is felt. The beach is full of beach volleyball courts and paved walkways where you can walk or ride a bike.
- Where to park: along Hermosa Avenue and on the adjacent streets you will find some parking lots. Otherwise, head to the parking lot immediately next to the pier.
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A Redondo Beach you will find a city beach frequented by surfers, similar to those illustrated so far. Here, as in Manhattan Beach, the houses and buildings are in an elevated position above the beach: you have to use ramps to go down. The advice is to take a trip to the fish market and / or to eat in one of the restaurants of the Redondo Beach Pier, very characteristic: in particular I point out the Tony’s on the Pier.
If you want to have a slightly different experience, I recommend you go to Portofino Way, a Seaside Lagoon, an artificial salt pool obtained from the sea, suitable for families with children. Admission is subject to a fee.
- Where to park: Seaside Lagoon has dedicated parking. For the beach you can easily find parking lots along the Esplanade, not far from the ramps.
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Opposite Long Beach, beyond the port area, lies one of the few beaches in Los Angeles where you won't find a forest of surfers, as the breakwaters defend the beach from ocean waves.
Here, if the water doesn't seem too cold, it is possible to swim, but don't forget to ask the lifeguards for information on safety. The western end of the city beach is the broad Alamitos Beach, a paradise for beach volleyball players and for bikers running around on the seafront. In general all of Long Beach, including the stretch of Junipero Beach, is colonized by young people, so you will find a decidedly lively and sparkling atmosphere.
- Where to park: if you want to arrive by car right in front of the beach, you will find two dedicated parking lots, one in front of Alamitos Beach and one in front of Junipero Beach.
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The secret beaches
Who said there are only wide beaches in Los Angeles that stretch as far as the eye can see for miles and miles? You really can't believe they are on the Los Angeles coast beaches e quiet and sheltered coves, frequented only by true connoisseurs? Well, I want to show you that these corners of paradise exist: even if you don't swim in them, you will see truly unexpected views.
The cities of Torrance and Long Beach - which show off their classic sandy beaches that are a bit boring in the long run - are separated from the Palos Verdes Peninsula, a promontory that offers a completely different panorama from the coastal cities of Los Angeles. Almost all of this coastline is characterized by cliffs plunging sheer to the sea: on the hills above there are numerous inhabited centers where villas with sea views stand out, exclusive resorts with endless golf courses, but also nature reserves, trails, lighthouses and charming lookout points.
Below I point out some beaches and coves between the towns of Palos Verdes Ranch (traveled by a nice scenic drive) e San Pedro: it is worth reaching them to see the ocean from a completely different perspective from those listed so far.
Palos Verdes Ranch
- Pelican Cove Beach: in the shadow of the Point Vicente lighthouse is located Pelican Cove Beach (31300 Palos Verdes Dr), a cove with a pebble beach from which whales can be seen during their migrations. The sea is suitable for scuba diving. It can be reached with a short trail that descends from street level Palos Verdes Drive. The free parking is immediately above the path entrance.
- Terranea Beach: we are still in town Palos Verdes Ranch, minutes from Pelican Cove Beach. Terranea Beach it is located in an area largely occupied by the exclusive Terranea Resort. Fortunately, access to the beach is free via a path that starts right from the Pelican Cove Beach car park and passes under the resort. The walk is pleasant and offers some very suggestive views, however there is a way to get to the beach in a more agile way: just park the car in the dedicated lot on Terranea Way and descend into the cove via a short path. When you arrive on the beach (mixed sand-rock) - in addition to enjoying the beautiful ocean view - you can explore an easily accessible cave on the left of the beach.
- Abalone Cove Beach: located in the heart of a protected nature reserve called Abalone Cove Shoreline Park (5970 Palos Verdes Dr), this beautiful pebble beach can be reached via a path that starts from the only paid parking lot available on the road (watch out for closing times!). This beach - like the adjacent Sacred Cove - is very interesting because there are caves and tide pools (tide pools) rocks of great visual impact: children are happy to explore them.
- Rancho Palos Verdes Beach: next to the Portuguese Bend Beach Club private beach, you will find the Rancho Palos Verdes Beach, a remote beach where, in addition to rocks and natural pools, there are also some nice examples of "rock art". It can be reached thanks to a path that branches off from the paths of the Founder Park, among the golf courses of the Trump National Golf Club: right here there are parking spaces useful for the cause.
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- White Point Park: we are in the locality San Pedro. Under the splendid viewpoint of Paseo del Mar (1801 W Paseo del Mar) is the White Point Park: here access to the sea is very simple and the area is ideal for families, as children can swim and play in the natural pools of the two small bends protected by the rocks. Parking is subject to charges.
- Sunken City: not far from Long Beach, adjacent to the Point Fermin Park in San Pedro (807 W Paseo Del Mar), there is this particular place, which is not a normal beach but what remains of a town located on a cliff that has tragically collapsed into the sea. The particularity of Sunken City it is the large number of graffiti that decorate (I don't feel like saying “disfigure” given their symbolic meaning!) the rocks and trees of the area. Sunken City, however, at the moment, "officially" it cannot be visited: the area is closed with a fence around the perimeter, although many people step over it.
- Cabrillo Beach: the busiest beach in San Pedro is Cabrillo Beach (3800 Stephen M White Dr). Small and sandy, it is located near the port of the same name and is perfect for those looking for a comfortable and quiet beach in the Los Angeles area (even if in good weather it can be quite busy). There are actually two beaches in Cabrillo, and well equipped with picnic tables, a grassy garden, beach volleyball courts and an aquarium. The adjacent parking is subject to charges.
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Two hidden beaches in Malibu
The beaches of Malibu they are so beautiful and famous that they deserve a separate article, but I want to point out at least two hidden gems of this coastal stretch north of Los Angeles along the Pacific Coast Highway. For now I will not tell you about the famous ones Zuma Beach e Surfrider Beach but of two small hidden treasures:
- El Matador State Beach: this is one of the most beautiful beaches in Los Angeles. The spectacular rock shapes guarding the sandy beach of The Matador they look like elevated monuments to nature and reminded me of the beautiful (and loved by me) Costa de Almería, in southeastern Andalusia. You will find the detour to the paid parking lot directly along the Pacific Coast Highway, 3.4 miles after Leo Carrillo State Park: after leaving the car you will need to go down a path and reach the beach access ladder.
- Pirate’s Cove Beach: while El Matador is at the gates of Malibu, the incredible Pirate’s Cove Beach it's closer to the city center, yet it's hidden like a buccaneer's lair. The beach is hidden under the top of Point Dume, a lookout over the ocean; it can be reached by passing behind the "stone wall" that borders the neighboring one Westward Beach (if there is no high tide or rough sea the passage is simple). From this point a path also climbs (sheer and unprotected!) Which arrives at the aforementioned panoramic point. Paid parking is at 7103 Westward Beach Rd.
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The beaches of Orange County
The coast of the Orange County is the stretch of coast that goes south of Long Beach and mainly has a long strip of sand not very dissimilar to the towns mentioned at the beginning of the article: Huntington Beach, Newport Beach e Balboa Beach they stretch for nearly 15 miles. You will find city beaches colonized by resorts but also some decidedly more anonymous stretches.
South of Newport Beach the coast becomes more indented and the panorama more interesting: bays, gulfs, rocky cliffs, natural arches, caves, natural pools, stacks, and even a pirate tower (! ). There are some steps that absolutely must be taken if we are moving towards San Diego: I point out the uncontaminated Crystal Cove State Park, that we mentioned in the article on the best beaches in California, and the numerous and enchanting beaches of Laguna Beach, among which I mention:
- Crescent Bay
- Shaw’s Cove
- Pirate Tower
- Treasure’s Island Beach
- Three Arch Bay Beach
- 1000 Steps Beach
- Table Rock Beach
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