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Get Ready to Explore LA’s Gorgeous Coastline

Summer weather is here, so grab your sunscreen, pack your beach bag and get ready to explore LA’s gorgeous coastline. Take a drive up Pacific Coast Highway where you’ll find everything from sandy beaches to magical tide pools, sea caves, rock formations, rare ecosystems, and miles of dramatic vistas. The coast is also dotted with elegant seaside restaurants and classic beach joints, where you can enjoy the sunset over cocktails and a great meal. Whatever your pleasure – from swimming to surfing, hiking and basking in the sun, we’ve rounded up some of the most breathtaking beaches and secret coves along our golden shore.

Santa Monica State Beach Pacific Coast Highway, Santa Monica, CA 90405

Located just west of downtown Los Angeles, a short drive from THEA, Santa Monica State Beach is an iconic destination that draws visitors from around the globe. Extending over three miles and covering 245 acres of sand, you’ll find large expanses of beach, bike trails, and other nearby activities. The Santa Monica Pier is a local landmark, featuring an amusement park, aquarium, and restaurants. Santa Monica beach is also home to the Original Muscle Beach (not the weightlifting kind, that’s Venice Beach) with gymnastic equipment including parallel bars, rings, swings and and ropes.

Paradise Cove Beach 28128 Pacific Coast Hwy. Malibu, CA 90265

Paradise Cove in Malibu is a public beach in front of the privately-owned Paradise Cove Beach Cafe. Paradise Cove is a great starting point for long beach walks. Heading east you’ll walk below some Malibu mansions, find some private beaches, and eventually end up at Escondido Beach. Heading west you can walk below steep sandstone cliffs all the way to Little Dume Beach and Big Dume Beach in Point Dume State Beach. When you’re ready for some refreshments, enjoy the iconic Southern California experience at Paradise Cove Beach Cafe, the quintessential beach restaurant nestled right on the sand in Paradise Cove.

Carbon Beach 22126 Pacific Coast Hwy. Malibu, CA 90265

Also known as Billionaire’s Beach because of the lavish homes owned by famous celebrities and CEO’s located right at the water’s edge. Carbon Beach is a south-facing, mile-long beach between the Malibu Pier at Surfrider Beach and Carbon Canyon Road. The water is excellent for swimming, calm with no rocks, and the sand is soft and cozy – perfect to laze out on a sunny afternoon. There are few places in Malibu that aren’t overrun with people, and this is one of them, so enjoy.

Abalone Cove Shoreline Park 5970 Palos Verdes Dr S, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275

Abalone Cove Shoreline Park is a coastal treasure on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in the Los Angeles area. The park contains an ecological preserve and is known for its outstanding tide pools. Trails meander on the bluff out to excellent views from two prominent points. Below these points are three separate coves with beaches and tide pools. Out at the end and right at the base of the points, you’ll discover amazing rock tunnels where waves come crashing through. Before you go, check out the tide charts. You’ll want to visit these beaches at low tide to take full advantage of the tide pools and tunnels.

Point Dume State Beach 29245 Cliffside Drive Malibu, CA 90265

Point Dume is situated at the end of Malibu at a point where a dramatic cliff’s edge juts into the Pacific and drops down to a beautiful crescent-shaped beach. Operated by Los Angeles County, Point Dume State Beach features headlands, cliffs, rocky coves and vast beach access, noted for swimming, surfing, scuba diving and fishing. Point Dume is a great place to watch for California gray whales during the December to mid-April migration period.

Leo Carrillo State Park 35000 Pacific Coast Hwy. Malibu, CA 90265

Leo Carrillo State Park features a stunning, ecologically diverse 1.5 mile beach, perfect for swimming, surfing, windsurfing, surf fishing and beach combing. You’ll also find tide pools, coastal caves, and reefs for exploring, along with campgrounds shaded by giant sycamores and back-country hiking. The park was named after Leo Carrillo a preservationist, conservationist, and actor, who served on the California Beach and Parks commission for 18 years. Leo’s greatest fame came from his portrayal of Pancho, the sidekick to Duncan Renaldo’s Cisco Kid, an early 1950s TV series.

Malibu Surfrider Beach 23200 Pacific Coast Hwy. Malibu, CA 90265

Popularized by surfing movies in the 1950s and 1960s, Malibu Surfrider Beach is the place to go for the ideal Southern California surfing experience. Surfrider Beach is part of Malibu Lagoon State Beach, which also comprises the Malibu Lagoon and the Malibu Pier. Malibu Lagoon contains 22 acres of wetlands, gardens, and sandy beach, while Surfrider Beach has almost a mile of ocean frontage with 0.7 acres of property. There is also a saltwater marsh; Adamson House, a National Historic Site housing many Malibu historical artifacts; and the Malibu Lagoon Museum, which allows visitors to walk through the history of the area from the days of the Chumash tribe, to the gentlemen ranchers, and finally to the birth of the surfing era.

El Matador State Beach 32350 Pacific Coast Hwy. Malibu, CA 90265

El Matador State Beach is the most popular of the three beaches within Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach. Start at their parking lot on the bluff, with picnic tables that look out over the Pacific Ocean. A trail descends through unique formations on the face of the bluff, then stairs take you down to the beach. Explore north on the beach to discover caves and arches in the rocks. The largest cave faces the ocean at the bottom of a huge flat rock that connects to the base of the bluff. It’s best to visit these natural features at low tide, and pack some water shoes, as the rocks can be difficult to navigate. There are no services or amenities at El Matador, so bring your own beach towels, sunscreen, and picnic gear.

Lechuza Beach Sea Level Dr. Malibu, CA 90265

Lechuza Beach is a lesser-known public beach in Malibu located below homes at the northern end of Broad Beach Road, near El Matador State Beach. The State Coastal Conservancy granted the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority funds to acquire this spectacular beach property, which features exquisite rock formations, kelp forests, and scenic views. Sorry pet parents, no dogs are allowed on the beach.

If you want to explore more of our stunning coastline, California Beaches is a comprehensive guide including beaches, maps, hotels, restaurants, and local attractions.

Photo credits:

Photo #1: Paradise Cove Beach Cafe

Photo #2: Santa Monica Travel & Tourism

Photo #3: Paradise Cove Beach Cafe

Photo #4: California Beaches

Photo #5: California Beaches

Photo #6: California Beaches

Photo #7: California Beaches

Photo #8: Los Angeles County

Photo #9: California Beaches

Photo #10: California Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority