The Best Beaches in Los Angeles

Experience an "Endless Summer" from Malibu to the South Bay

Los Angeles is the best city for experiencing the quintessential endless summer in Southern California. We rounded up eight of the best beaches in LA year-round, from Malibu to the South Bay. Get ready to travel from beach to beach throughout the year.

Windsurfer at Leo Carrillo State Beach
Leo Carrillo State Beach  |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

The Getaway: Leo Carrillo State Beach

Located in Malibu 28 miles north of Santa Monica on Pacific Coast Highway, Leo Carrillo State Park offers a beach that stretches for more than a mile. This best beach is dotted with sea caves, tidepools, and other beach-combing delights. The park is named after the 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 best spot.

Sunset at El Matador State Beach
El Matador State Beach  |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

The Hopeless Romantic: El Matador Beach

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more romantic best beach than El Matador. Located about 10 miles northwest of Malibu, this secluded pocket beach has rocky shores, robust waves and some of the clearest water in L.A. Use the bathroom at the top before taking the steps on the bluff to the shore; the rock formations, caves and hidden coves are perfect for frolicking into the sunset.

 Malibu Surfrider Beach   |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa
Malibu Surfrider Beach  |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

The Surf Spot: Malibu Surfrider Beach

When it’s time to get out the surfboard, apply a new coat of wax and zip on the wetsuit, there’s no better place to be than Surfrider Beach in Malibu. Living up to its name, Surfrider is known for its super long right-hand break as much as being a place to play in the waves or watch surfers from the shore as the sun sets over their silhouettes.

 Santa Monica Pier | Photo: Melissa Turner
Santa Monica Pier | Photo: Melissa Turner

The Classic Stretch of Sand: Santa Monica Beach

Located just north of the historic Santa Monica Pier, this is one of the most popular beaches in LA. The two miles of sand at Santa Monica Beach feels endless and offers plenty of space to stretch the legs, set up for a game of volleyball, or go for a bike ride. Bring the sunscreen, a little cash for parking and a beach towel or blanket. Let the sun, sand and surf do the rest.

Rollerblader on The Strand at Venice Beach
Venice Beach | Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

The People Watcher: Venice Beach

Venice Beach is a lively city beach where the action is as much about the people as it is about the surf, sand or skating. In fact, the world famous Ocean Front Walk often upstages the Pacific Ocean. Keep an eye out for Harry Perry, the turbaned guitar player often rollerblading down the boardwalk and seen in numerous films and TV shows. Bodybuilders, chainsaw jugglers, musicians, breakdancers, palm readers and all kinds of folk artists keep things entertaining.

 Biking The Strand in Manhattan Beach
Biking The Strand in Manhattan Beach  |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Manhattan Beach

At 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 for miles, and bodysurfing near the pier. Check out the aquarium at the end of the pier, with its interesting sea creatures and touch pool. When it comes to getting in the water, you should know that surfing is limited to the south side of the pier and boogie boarding is confined to the water north of the pier. Swimming is prohibited in the areas immediately adjacent to the pier.

 Hermosa Beach Pier | Photo: Melissa Turner
Hermosa Beach Pier | Photo: Melissa Turner

Hermosa Beach

There’s a certain stylish 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 that frequent 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.

Cabrillo Beach   |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa
Cabrillo Beach  |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Cabrillo Beach

Popular among travelers and locals hitting the beach with kids in tow, Cabrillo Beach is a tranquil setting near San Pedro, with everything you need for the perfect 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 some adventure or some well-deserved relaxation. After you’re finished with the beach, head to the nearby Cabrillo Marine Aquarium and enjoy the interactive exhibits, tidepool touch tanks and other unforgettable attractions.