I say Los Angeles, you say? Celebrities. Palm trees. Good looking people. And beaches. But mostly, it’s the beaches. Mansion-lined beaches, amusement park beaches, and BYOBeaches — LA truly has it all. Walk its boardwalks and piers, swim its clear waters, and lay in its soft, sparkling sands. The beach is quintessential LA. Here are the ones you need to know about.
Paradise Cove Beach
Steal away for a few quiet moments beneath the Malibu cliffs en route to Santa Monica down the Pacific Coast Highway. This small, tucked-away beach at the base of the Ramirez Canyon Creek is stocked with amenities by the surfside resto, Paradise Cove Beach Café. You can go big when in Malibu by renting out a private terrace or lounge space with beach beds for you and your friends. Or you can take a dip or suntan free of charge.
Take a break from some of the world’s best people-watching on the boardwalk and dig your feet into the soft sand at Venice Beach. If you’re out for a relaxing beach day, this isn’t it. Come to mingle with street performers and eccentric locals, sneak a peek at the macho men and women pumping serious iron at the famous Muscle Beach, and visit the Italian-inspired Venice Canals at South Venice Blvd. Stay for the sprawling Pacific Ocean views.
Carbon Beach is the place to mingle with the elites — that is, if anyone’s on the beach at all. This Eastern Malibu stretch known as Billionaire’s Beach is lined with multi-million dollar homes occupied by wealthy vacationers, celebrities, and SoCal big wheels. Thus, it’s not private, but it often feels that way. Its calm water, soft sand, and lack of rocks make it an easy choice for a lazy beach day.
Santa Monica State Beach
This is likely the beach that comes to mind when you first started reading about Los Angeles beaches. At the bottom of downtown Santa Monica’s Colorado Ave, it’s defined by the iconic, more than 100-year-old Santa Monica Pier and its oft-photographed sign, plus sandstone cliffs, a beach house, and a ferris wheel. Santa Monica State Beach offers plenty for groups to do, from roller coasters and bumper cars to the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, plus the restaurants and bars of the always-vibrant Santa Monica.
Point Dume State Beach
Find this tiny crescent-shaped beach at Malibu’s west end jutting into the Pacific Ocean. Surrounded by bluff viewpoints, hiking trails, and luxury mansions, the small piece of sand is guarded by cliffs that can be scaled by aspiring rock climbers. Point Dume’s crystal clear waters are also known to be scuba-friendly and populated with sea lions that just might join you.
El Matador State Beach
Known to be a favourite of the locals, El Matador is a natural beauty surrounded by rock formations that you have to descend a steep staircase to find. You’ll have to plan ahead because there are no services or amenities provided — it’s BYO everything. Still, arrive early to snag a good spot, and be sure to dip into its tide pools to get a look at some sea creatures.
Seaside Lagoon is a parents’ paradise. Bring the kids and let them splash the day away without worry. Seaside is an enclosed beach with more of a public pool vibe and lifeguards on staff. Its shallow, chlorinated waters are safe for little ones, and water slides and water features are full-on fun. Large groups can reserve the Lagoon for a party or event and use the barbecues to cook up grilled faves.
Start with an art tour visiting some of the popular galleries downtown Laguna Beach. Then, walk the Main Beach boardwalk the entire length of the beach, stopping in for a game of volleyball or basketball or a swim in the soft-sand water. Finish at the Laguna Sunset Viewpoint at the western end of the beach before proceeding toward Heisler Park with scenic walking trails, public art sculptures, and an Instagrammable gazebo.
Will Rogers State Beach
To the immediate west of Santa Monica State Beach, Will Rogers is less crowded than some of its neighbours despite its proximity to downtown Santa Monica. It’s big and wide and has room for everyone. So bring a big group here for a beach volleyball game without the fear having to fight for the court or rub elbows with hundreds of others. The section just south of PCH and Estrada Drive is known as LA’s unofficial gay beach.
Looking to sneak in one last moment on the sand before leaving LA? Dockweiler Beach is right next to LAX, so you can put the finishing touches on your tan before catching your flight. One of California’s state parks, Dockweiler has a hang gliding training area so you can get airborne and even closer to the aircrafts. Its proximity to the airport also makes it a great spot for watching takeoffs and landings. This beach has relaxing water for swimming and paddling.
Do you need a bus to get to these beaches?
You know about Los Angeles’ famously bad traffic, right? Well then, you have your answer. There may be no way to totally avoid the City of Angels congestion, but you can make the best decisions in order to deal with it.
Earlier this decade, Dutch electronics company TomTom put out an ad for its satellite navigation device claiming, “You are not stuck in traffic. You are traffic.” Boy, were they ever right. Instead of renting 10 or 15 cars for your big group — and contributing to the very traffic you’d be sitting in — rent a charter bus that can hold up to 50+ people. Trust a local driver with your itinerary, and leave the rest up to Bus.com.
One of our four distinct bus sizes — the minibus, mini coach, school bus, and coach bus — can accommodate your group, depending on travel distance and trip type. Consult a Bus.com booking specialist and you’ll be bussin’ and beachin’ in no time.