Los Angeles is one of the best cities to experience the quintessential endless summer in Southern California.
We rounded up eight of amazing beaches in L.A., from Malibu to the South Bay.
El Matador Beach
Depending on how hard you try, you might be able to find a more romantic experience in Los Angeles, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more romantic beach than El Matador. Located about 16 kilometers northwest of Malibu, this secluded pocket beach has rocky shores, robust waves and some of the clearest water in L.A.
Don’t be deterred by the lack of facilities or the rugged path to the shore; once there, you’ll find that it’s a great place to enjoy a sunset picnic in one of the hidden coves.
The sea caves at sunset at El Matador Beach
Leo Carrillo State Beach
Located in Malibu, 45 kilometers north of Santa Monica on the Pacific Coast Highway, Leo Carrillo State Park offers a beach that stretches for more than a kilometer and a half, dotted with sea caves, tidepools and other beach-combing delights.
The park is named after Leo Carrillo, an actor and preservationist who served on the California Beach and Parks Commission for 18 years. A small visitor center offers interpretive displays as well as guided nature walks and campfire programs. Picnic areas, campsites and RV facilities are also located in the park, so if you’re looking to set up shop for a while and enjoy the scene, this might be the right spot.
Malibu Surfrider Beach
When it’s time to get out the surfboard, there’s no better place to be than Surfrider Beach in Malibu. As the waves roll in and begin to curl near the shore, surfers paddle furiously to catch the waves.
You don’t have to be an experienced surfer to appreciate the act of surfing, the cool vibe at the beach or the toned bodies of the surfers. In fact, sometimes it’s better to just be a spectator when the crowds get hectic.
The Malibu Pier jutting into the Pacific Ocean at Malibu Beach
Santa Monica Beach
Located just north of the historic Santa Monica Pier, this is one of the most popular beaches in Los Angeles. At more than 3 kilometers long, Santa Monica Beach seems to go on forever and offers plenty of space to stretch your legs, set up for a game of volleyball or go for a bike ride along the waterfront bike trail. Bring sunscreen, a little cash for onsite parking and a beach towel or blanket.
In Manhattan Beach, it’s all beautiful people, shiny cars, big sunglasses and little lap dogs. But that’s in the trendy area of town next to the shore, where scenes from many television shows have been filmed.
On the sand, you’ll find beach volleyball at courts that seem to go on forever and bodysurfing near the pier. Check out the aquarium at the end of the pier, with its sea creatures and touch pool.
When it comes to getting in the water, surfing is limited to the south side of the pier and bodyboarding is confined to the water north of the pier. Swimming is prohibited in the areas immediately adjacent to the pier.
The pier at Manhattan Beach
Venice Beach is one place where it’s almost as much about the people as it is about the surf or the sand. In fact, the world famous Ocean Front Walk often upstages the Pacific Ocean.
As you’re strolling the boardwalk, keep an eye out for Harry Perry, the turba-wearing guitar player on skates who has appeared in numerous films and television shows. This is also the place to shop, eat and see bodybuilders, chainsaw jugglers and a full complement of palm readers, folk artists and other colorful characters.
Popular among travelers and locals hitting the beach with children in tow, Cabrillo Beach is a tranquil setting near San Pedro that has everything you need for a family outing.
Located on a thin peninsula near Point Fermin Park, the beach actually has two sides – one outside the breakwater that’s open to the surf, and one that’s open to the harbor. Depending on the activity, you can select either side and enjoy adventure or relaxation.
After you’re finished with the beach, head to the nearby Cabrillo Marine Aquarium and enjoy the interactive exhibits, tide pool touch tanks and other attractions.
There’s a hipster vibe at Hermosa Beach and its surrounding seaside community that you won’t find at other L.A. beaches. You’re just as likely to see people shopping and relaxing in outdoor cafes as you are the tanned and toned beach gods and goddesses frequenting the sandy shoreline.
Pier Plaza is the place to hang out when you’d rather skip the sunscreen and beach towels. Once you’re on the shore, a pristine expanse of sand awaits with volleyball nets, plenty of space for sunbathing and sandcastle building, and a paved walkway for strolling or biking.
More experiences nearby
Dine with a View in California
Santa Monica’s Food Scene, 3 Ways
The Super Bowl
TripAdvisor's Top U.S. Destinations
7 Cool College Towns in the USA
7 Great Beach Towns To Visit In The USA
7 Spots for Family Fun Around the USA
9 Weekend Getaways From 9 U.S. Cities
Top Cycling Spots in the USA
5 Hikes Where You Have to Hold on Tight
Plan a Camping Trip You'll Never Forget