West Coast beaches captivate visitors with their stunning vistas, varied terrains, and lively cultural scene. They cater to every type of beachgoer, offering everything from surfing and sailing to swimming and hiking, or even just lazing on the sandy shores.
Boasting an impressive 1,000-plus mile coastline, these beaches are characterized by an array of landscapes, transitioning from rugged and craggy to sandy and sun-soaked. Here are the top 9 West Coast beaches, as recommended by our readers.
No. 9: Dana Strands Beach - Dana Point, California
Nestled in Dana Point, California, Dana Strands Beach is not just a haven for sun-seekers and surfers, but also a paradise for those fascinated by the sea's hidden treasures with its tide pools brimming with marine life.
Visitors can reach the sandy shores via a secured pathway and staircase that meets a boardwalk at the bottom.
For those unable to navigate the terrain, a funicular service is also available.
No. 8: Black's Beach - La Jolla, California
Despite the steep 300-feet descent via challenging trails, Black's Beach in La Jolla, California, rewards the adventurous with dramatic cliffscapes and untouched sands.
Big winter swells make it a favorite among surfers, while its secluded north end is a popular spot for naturists who prefer a clothing-optional beach experience.
No. 7: Cannon Beach - Cannon Beach, Oregon
Renowned for its iconic Haystack Rock, the expansive Cannon Beach in Oregon presents an awe-inspiring blend of sandy shorelines and majestic rock formations.
The beach is a haven for beachcombers, birdwatchers, and tide pool explorers, and it also serves as an enchanting backdrop for leisurely walks and sunset gazing.
No. 6: Baker Beach - San Francisco, California
Perched in the northwest corner of San Francisco, Baker Beach offers more than a typical beach experience.
It grants visitors a stunning perspective of the Golden Gate Bridge and the vast Pacific Ocean.
The beach also has a clothing-optional section on its northern end for those seeking a liberating beach experience.
No. 5: Carmel Beach - Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
Carmel Beach, located in Carmel-by-the-Sea, is a gem among California's coastal treasures.
Its pristine white sands, mesmerizing turquoise waters, and stunning views of Carmel Bay and Pebble Beach make it a favorite spot for sunbathing, surfing, and enjoying sunsets by a bonfire.
Moreover, it's a dog-friendly beach, allowing dogs to run free along the sandy shores.
No. 4: Windansea Beach - La Jolla, California
Windansea Beach in La Jolla, California, captivates visitors with its excellent surf breaks, a rugged, rocky coastline, and unique sandy coves.
Ideal for seasoned surfers, the beach is also perfect for exploring tide pools and sunbathing.
The beach is home to a historical surf shack, adding to its unique charm.
No. 3: Oceanside Harbor Beach - Oceanside, California
Oceanside Harbor Beach in California presents a tranquil and family-friendly beach experience.
With gentle waves perfect for swimming, boogie boarding, and surfing, it’s an ideal spot for both relaxation and recreation.
The beach is also known for its iconic pier, offering fishing opportunities and panoramic views of the ocean.
As Enjoy contributor Jessica Brown observes,"This beach town is experiencing a big resurgence and transforming into a charming destination with a picturesque shoreline."
No. 2: La Jolla Shores Beach - La Jolla, California
La Jolla Shores Beach, one of San Diego’s most adored beaches, is a coastal treasure with a mile of sandy expanses and crystal-clear turquoise waters.
Known for its gentle waves and sandy bottom, it's a popular spot for beginners learning to surf, swimming, and snorkeling.
Its rich marine life, featuring vibrant fish, seals, and sea lions, adds to its allure.
No. 1: Oxnard Beach Park - Oxnard, California
A haven for beachgoers seeking tranquility, Oxnard Beach Park in California is adorned with palm trees, grassy dunes, and a lovely stretch of sandy beach.
Ideal for swimming, surfing, and sunbathing, this beach stands out for its undisturbed charm.
As expert Sophia Martinez observes, "Possibly the most undeveloped beach in California.
Yes, there are private homes, but no vendors, no pressure, nothing but soft sand and rolling waves as you look west."