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The Best Beaches in Los Angeles

Los Angeles is home to almost two dozen beautiful beaches. Combine this with the glorious, year-round sunny weather that LA and Santa Monica are famous for, and you've got a city that will really suit your ocean-view cravings.

Leo Carrillo State Park

Leo Carrillo State Park offers up one of the most scenic beaches in Los Angeles. It stretches for 1.5 miles and is dotted with sea caves, tidal pools and stretches of beautiful sand. This Los Angeles beach offers potential for all sorts of beachgoers; mellow waves give good sport for long boarders, nature lovers can explore the rock-dotted coastline and the northern end of the beach allows leashed dogs to roam, a real rarity of Los Angeles beaches. The beach is handy for a short trip and also works well for long days out with the potential for guided nature walks, picnicking, campsites and campfire programmes. Leo Carrillo is a little further out from central Los Angeles than others, however it does mean that the beach tends to be a little quieter and you can make the most of the secluded feel.

Venice Beach

Chances are you’ve heard of Venice Beach, and for good reason. Venice Beach Los Angeles stretches all the way from Venice Pier up to the city border with Santa Monica, at the north end of the Venice District. At its heart is Muscle Beach, named both for the outdoor exercise equipment and the people that frequent it. Venice Beach provides people-watching like nowhere else in the world, entertainment is in abundance too – think street performers vying for attention along the Venice Beach Boardwalk. If that's not for you, feel free to join in with volleyball near the pier or take the boardwalk at speed on a bicycle or strapped into a pair of roller skates.

El Matador State Beach

El Matador is a small beach that is one of three beaches that make up the Robert H Meyer Memorial Beaches. Home to some of the most romantic sands in Los Angeles, El Matador is perfect for a relatively secluded stroll, particularly spectacular if you time it for either sunrise or sunset. The beach is only accessible by a steep gravel path so, unlike most Los Angeles beaches, you’ll need to wear shoes and pack light. That said, the atmosphere and the photograph-worthy views more than make up for it and, if that's not enough for you, it's worth noting that it boasts some of the cleanest sea water in Los Angeles.

Manhattan Beach

Manhattan Beach seems like the quintessential Los Angeles beach - at first glance it's full of beautiful people and lined with expensive cars. But there's so much more to it than that. Head away from the town and further towards the water and you’ll find an abundance of volleyball courts and various water sports around the pier. The pier itself boasts a good aquarium and ample fishing opportunities, as well as having played an important part in the early days of modern surfing. Due to its enviable location, Manhattan Beach is always busy, providing plenty of material for the people watchers among us. The homes here are some of the nicest you’ll see along the coast too, so they're good for a gawk and a daydream.

Abalone Cove Beach

Abalone Cove is not a beach for the sedentary – for starters you’ll have to walk down a cliffside path to get there and, when you do arrive, there’s not a whole lot of sand in sight. It's still worth the trip though. It's actually part of Abalone Cove Shoreline Park, which is beautifully situated on the Palos Verdes peninsula to give unbeatable views of Catalina Island. The rocky shore is dotted with tidal pools, full of creatures protected by the area's status as a State Ecological Preserve, while hiking trails that cut through the bluffs will take you on an adventure through one of the most scenic areas in Los Angeles. The clear water is great for swimming and provides excellent diving opportunities if you’ve got the means and inclination to give it a go. 

Malibu Surfrider Beach

If you’re in Los Angeles and you want to go surfing you need to look no further than Surfrider Beach. Nestled between Malibu Pier and the Malibu Lagoon, the long stretch of sand here is famous for surfing, thanks to its perfect rolling waves. The beach is also beautiful by its own standards, so purely watching the surfers trying desperately to catch waves can be a spectacle in itself if you’re surf shy or get stuck babysitting your group's belongings.

Santa Monica Beach

Considered by many to be one of the best beaches in Los Angeles overall, this classic stretch of sand is around two miles long and provides plenty of space for nearly every beach activity you could think off. Santa Monica Beach is ideal for walking, playing volleyball, and provides amenities like tennis courts and bicycle paths, as well as plenty of sand for simply laying out a towel and soaking up some vitamin D. When you’re done with the beach itself be sure to check out Santa Monica Pier which is chock full of arcade games, food stands, carnival rides and an aquarium.

Zuma Beach

This Los Angeles beach is a favourite of locals who refer to it purely as 'Zuma'. It is the northernmost beach in LA, comprised of two miles of practically uninterrupted sand. While there is some sport for surfers, the gentler waves here lend themselves better to body and boogie borders. The beach boasts a gradual slope towards the water making it perfect for strolling along. The area is replete with volleyball courts, picnic areas and has excellent access to restrooms and concession stands. For wildlife lovers, head to Zuma in the winter and keep your eyes peeled for whales. And, while it's rare, there’s a chance that you might even get lucky and see some dolphins in the surf.

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Written by Kirsten Cardrick

I generally like my destinations quiet, green and full of stories… But I'll go just about anywhere if the food is good enough.

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