West Coast Beaches
West Coast beaches are some of the most visited in the United States and some of the best beaches in the world. From boardwalks and piers to bodybuilding and surfing, a West Coast beach vacation will be nothing short of fascinating. California is the most notable West Coast destination in terms of being blessed with a long coastline of sandy beaches, especially in the areas around Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, and San Diego, and there are plenty of family beaches here. The majority of the top 10 beaches in California provide visitors with sun and warm weather year-round, excellent sunbathing spots, and a range of activities. There is also a smaller, less touristy mix of Pacific Northwest beaches in Oregon and Washington that will suit beachgoers who are looking for peace and quiet on their beach vacation.
California boasts more than 700 miles of coastline, and as such it’s home to miles upon miles of excellent West Coast beaches. Southern California is home to a variety of urban and secluded beaches and some of the top 10 beaches in California. For instance, Malibu is a world-renowned spot for attracting celebrities, surfers, and scuba divers. With more than twenty beaches to choose from, visitors will be spoiled for choice if they head to this affluent beach community. If you prefer a more rugged West Coast beach vacation, try out Mountains City Beach, where the mountains reach right down to the sand and you can head out for a hike on the steep slopes after a few hours of sunbathing. Malibu Surfrider Beach is the place to be during the warmer months if you enjoy people-watching or are looking to take a leisurely stroll along the famous Malibu pier. Although often crowded, it is a great spot for sunning and beach activities, and it also provides a great glimpse into the California beach culture.
If you are looking for the quintessential West Coast beach vacation, then look no further than Santa Monica. The perfect beach area is located just west of Los Angeles, making it a prime destination for those visiting the urban center but also looking to spend time in a quieter area. Home to the famous Santa Monica Pier and not far from Venice’s Muscle Beach, Santa Monica Beach is easily one of the top 10 beaches in California, and its combination of sun, sand, and a historic solar-powered Ferris wheel are intriguing. The well-maintained 3.5-mile stretch of beach is the ultimate beach spot for swimming, surfing, and volleyball. If you prefer to lay low while at Santa Monica Beach, you can even hire a Beach Butler to help get you situated and assist with beverages and food.
Head farther south along the California coast and you will find some of the most beautiful West Coast beaches in the San Diego area. There are more than 30 public beaches in this vibrant area, making it a sun worshipper's paradise. Less urban and more relaxed, San Diego is a great alternative to the more high-maintenance beaches of the Los Angeles area. La Jolla Shores is a great place to stake out a beach spot. The family-friendly area is great for swimming and even body boarding and surfing on the northern part. The beaches of the Mission Bay area also are excellent, and they boast calmer water and fewer surfers, while Pacific Beach Park and Crystal Pier are among the most frequented areas with great shoreline and plenty of room to stretch out.
For those who want to couple their beach time with a picturesque landscape and plenty of rugged beauty, head to the Pacific Northwest beaches in Oregon and Washington. Cannon Beach is a stunning location, and Gold Beach is another beautiful spot on the Oregon coast that is much less crowded than the beaches in California. The beach is ideally located on the outskirts of a small seaside town and is surrounded by lush forests, mountains with plenty of hiking trails, and plenty of space for guests to stretch out and breathe. Rockaway Beach is located further north on the Oregon coast and is also part of a pleasant seaside community. There are seven miles of sandy shore for travelers to relax on, plenty of accommodation options, and cute shops and restaurants scattered about town.
Washington state is north of Oregon along the coast and home to its own share of peaceful Pacific Northwest beaches. Popular activities along the coast here are based more on enjoying the scenery than the water, as the current coming down from the Gulf of Alaska makes the waters quite chilly. However, there are great opportunities for hiking, camping, fishing, and boating, as well as a bit of sunbathing along the Washington coast. The Long Beach Peninsula is a great starting point for your Pacific Northwest beach vacation. With 28 miles of beach to choose from, guests will be awed with the breathtaking scenery, and despite the rough tides they make for a great camping and picnicking area. The Cranberry Peninsula is also a great choice if you are looking for long, sandy beaches with swimming and beach sports. The beaches here offer sweeping views of the coastline and the Pacific Ocean, plenty of sand, mild surf, and sunny skies.
Although California is usually the go-to destination for those seeking beach destinations along the West Coast, Oregon and Washington both provide less-crowded and uniquely beautiful alternatives. California boasts the largest variety of beaches and the best weather, and it's beach destinations are more widely known and are among the world's top beaches, but Oregon and Washington are more temperate and the welcoming atmosphere means it’s always tourist-friendly. No matter what beach you choose, you will enjoy your relaxing time on the West Coast.