A Comprehensive Guide to Los Angeles Beaches and Amenities

  • 01 of 17

    LA Beaches

    El Matador State Beach at sunset
    ••• El Matador State Beach in Malibu. John B. Mueller Photography/Moment/Getty Images

    With about 75 miles of coastline from Malibu to Long Beach, Los Angeles County has a wide range of beach environments from flat, nondescript stretches of sand to scenic coves, rugged bluffs and rocky tide pools. There are west-facing and south-facing beaches that get different kinds of wave action and weather.

    The perfect LA beach for you depends on what you're looking for. Families with kids may prioritize being in the proximity of lifeguard towers, beaches within a breakwater for less dangerous waves or the proximity of snack bars on the beach. People watchers may seek out the biggest crowds. Honeymooning couples might look for more seclusion. People on a budget might prioritize free parking. Traveling surfers will be looking for the best breaks and friendliest waters.

    Beach Regulations

    These things are prohibited on ALL LA beaches unless otherwise noted:

    • Smoking
    • Alcohol
    • Nude (or topless for women) sunbathing
    • Pets of any kind (except Belmont Shore Dog Beach in Long Beach)
    • Camping or sleeping
    • F...MOREires or barbecues (except where fire pits or barbecues are provided)
    • Fireworks
    • Amplified music
    • Throwing balls in crowded areas (outside of ball courts) where you might hit other people

    Using This Guide

    Explore the following slides for pictures of each beach and a description of the activities and services available, as well as the parking options that were available the last time I visited. I also provide links to the latest water quality reports for each location, since water quality varies from beach to beach throughout the year. You can hover your mouse over the numbers below to jump to a specific beach.

    The beaches are listed in order from north to south down the coast.

    Most state beaches in LA are now managed by Los Angeles County or by individual cities, even though they may technically still be state beaches. One effect of this is that your annual CA state beach parking pass doesn't work at any of the beaches on this list (there are a couple in Malibu that do, but I cover those elsewhere). Once you cross into Orange County, there are still state beaches managed by the state that take the annual pass.

    Activities

    If you think lying in the sun is the only thing you can do at the beach, think again. There are so many possibilities, I put together a separate list of Things to Do at the Beach, from renting bikes to kite surfing, with recommendations for where to go for each activity. So you can pick the activity you want to do, and then find the best place to do it, rather than hunting through every amenity at every beach to find it.

    Weather

    Temperatures are cooler at the coast than inland most of the year and can be chilly, in the low 60s, even in the middle of summer. Low clouds, called the marine layer, often cover the coast until after noon from May or June through the summer. Check the Average Beach Temperatures for the month you'll be visiting or check accuweather.com for the immediate forecast.

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  • 02 of 17

    Malibu Beaches

    Zuma Beach, Malibu, CA
    ••• Zuma Beach, Malibu, CA. Kayte Deioma

    Malibu actually has over a dozen named beaches from the Ventura County Border to Pacific Palisades, so I'm putting them in a separate article.

    The photo above is Zuma Beach, one of the most popular, but least scenic beaches in Malibu. The huge parking lot, many surf breaks and concession stands might be a factor.

    Other Malibu beaches, like Matador and La Piedra are much more scenic, but less accessible, requiring a steep climb down to the beach. All Malibu beaches are public from the high tide line down to the water, but in some areas, beach-front homeowners do their best to discourage people from using the beach. Some beaches are just thin stretches of rocks and sand along Pacific Coast Highway.

    Two of Malibu's most beautiful beaches, Leo Carillo State Park and Malibu Lagoon State Beach, are the only two state beaches in LA County still managed by the state and accepting the annual state parking pass.

    Check out the complete Guide to Malibu Beaches.

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  • 03 of 17

    Topanga Beach

    Topanga Beach, Los Angeles, CA
    ••• Topanga Beach, Los Angeles, CA. Photo © 2012 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com

    Topanga Beach or Topanga County Beach, formerly Topanga State Beach, is a rocky beach in Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, CA, north of Santa Monica. The beach is split into east/south and west/north, divided by Topanga Creek, which empties into the Pacific Ocean here. This is a south-facing beach, so east and west is more accurate, and usually the parking lots are referred to as the east and west lots. The beach west of the creek is Topanga Beach, which is actually in Malibu. East of the creek is South Topanga Beach, which is in Pacific Palisades. It's all managed by the County as one beach.

    Environment: The Santa Monica Mountains reach down to the ocean at Topanga Beach, so there's a nice mountainous backdrop across Pacific Coast Highway where Topanga Creek cuts through Topanga Canyon and flows into the ocean. There are sections of sandy beach and areas that are rockier. It's a narrower expanse of beach than some other areas, so there's not as much sand to cross to get...MORE to the ocean.

    Parking: There is limited free street parking on Pacific Coast Highway and two pay lots on either side of Topanga Creek. Los Angeles County has taken over management of the beach from the state, so it's now under the county parking system. Parking rates vary from $3 to $10 depending on the season.

    Handicapped parking (2 spaces), beach and restroom access is from the East (south) parking lot only, and access is a little tricky. You need to take the left fork at the very east/south edge of the east/south lot that goes right down to the beach below the regular parking lot.

    Public Transportation: Metro Bus 534 from Downtown LA, stops at Topanga Beach at the bottom of Topanga Canyon Blvd, east of the East Parking Lot.​

    Amenities

    Restrooms: Permanent building on the beach
    Showers: yes
    Lifeguards: yes, seasonally during daylight hours
    Bike Path: no
    Fire Pits: no
    Volleyball Courts: no
    Playground: no
    Gymnastics Equipment: no
    Food: Restaurant, the Reel Inn on the other side of PCH. Chart House is on the same side of PCH and the south/east end of the beach, but not near the parking lot.
    Picnic Facilities: yes​

    Activities

    Surfing: yes
    Swimming: yes
    Diving: yes
    Fishing: yes
    Biking: no
    Other: hiking trails into Topanga State Park, windsurfing

    Continue to 4 of 17 below.
  • 04 of 17

    Will Rogers Beach

    Will Rogers State Beach
    ••• Will Rogers State Beach. Photo by Siri Stafford/Getty Images

    Will Rogers Beach, also known as Will Rogers State Beach, in Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles stretches 1.75 miles from Topanga Beach at the northwestern end to Santa Monica Beach in the south.

    This long expanse of beach on what was once part of Will Rogers' private ranch estate has multiple personalities. North of Sunset Blvd, the beach is just a narrow strip of sand and rocks between Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) and the ocean.

    Sections of the beach have their own local names. Castle Rock is the northernmost section where the pedestrian bridge crosses PCH.

    Sunset Point is near the brown beach stairway just south of Sunset Blvd. It is known as a good spot for beginning surfers and longboarders.

    South of the Bel Air Bay Club the beach widens and flattens and vast parking lots separate the wide beach from the road. It's a significant stretch of sand to cross between the parking lots and the ocean.

    Parking: Will Rogers State Beach has five parking lots with over 1700 parking spaces as...MORE well as some areas near Castle Rock Beach with street parking on PCH. The larger parking lots south of Sunset have very limited access. The only entrance is at Temescal Canyon Road, with an additional southbound exit at the southern end of the beach.

    There is a smaller parking lot at Castle Rock north of Sunset Blvd.

    The county has taken over operation of the beach from the state, so the beach now has county parking fees ranging from $4 to $12 depending on the season. Private parking is also available at Gladstone's.

    Public Transportation: Metro Bus 534 from the Fairfax District has multiple stops along Will Rogers Beach. Metro Buses 2 and 302 bring passengers from Downtown LA along Sunset Blvd to Pacific Coast Highway with three stops at Will Rogers Beach between sunset and Temescal Canyon. The Santa Monica Big Blue Bus 9 also has a stop at the edge of Will Rogers Beach near where it meets Santa Monica Beach and another at Sunset, but it travels through the neighborhood of Pacific Palisades, not along the beach between the two.

    Beach Access: Most beach access from the south lots are either paved or sandy inclines from the parking lots. More gradual accessible ramps are located behind the three restroom and concession buildings. Sunset Point has a wooden stairway next to Pacific Coast Highway that gives surfers access to the water over the rocky shore. Castle Rock, the farthest lot to the north, has a steep paved ramp and a more gradual wheelchair ramp from the small parking lot.​

    Amenities

    Restrooms: Multiple permanent buildings adjacent to the south parking lots and Castle Rock. Portable toilets at Sunset Point.
    Showers: Yes
    Lifeguards: yes, seasonally during daylight hours and hot weekends in the off season
    Bike Path: yes, the Marvin Braude Coastal Bike Trail begins south of the Bel Air Bay Club and runs 22.3 miles south to Torrance Beach.
    Volleyball Courts: yes
    Firepits: no
    Playground: no
    Gymnastics Equipment: no
    Food: Restaurant, Gladstones between Castle Rock and Sunset Point beaches at the end of Sunset Blvd, Starbucks on Sunset across PCH, seasonal concessions off the south parking lots. There are more restaurants at the very south end of the beach near the Santa Monica Beach parking lots.
    Picnic Facilities: yes

    Activities

    Surfing: yes
    Swimming: yes
    Diving: yes
    Fishing: yes
    Biking: yes, from south of the Bel Air Bay Club
    Other: windsurfing

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  • 05 of 17

    Santa Monica Beach

    Santa Monica Beach Bike Path
    ••• Santa Monica Beach Bike Path. Photo © 2014 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com

    Santa Monica Beach is operated by the City of Santa Monica. It begins where Will Rogers State Beach ends at the Rustic Creek Channel near where Channel Rd and Chautauqua Blvd run into Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) and ends at Venice Beach in the south. Sorrento Beach is a subsection of the north end of the beach south of the Annenberg Beach House. The part of the beach south of the pier from about Bicknell to Venice is Ocean View Beach or Ocean Park Beach. Santa Monica Beach is one of the most popular beaches for locals and tourists due to easy freeway access, an abundance of year-round amenities, activities, restaurants, parking and the attractions on the Santa Monica Pier.

    Environment: The beach is a predominantly flat with little vegetation, located below a high bluff on the other side of Pacific Coast Highway. It is set against the background of palm trees along Palisades Park on the bluff and the Santa Monica urban skyline of hotels, homes, businesses and the colorful Pacific Park...MORE amusement park on the Santa Monica Pier.

    On the northern part of the beach, private homes and parking lots separate the beach from Pacific Coast Highway and on the other side of PCH, the City of Santa Monica sits high up above on the bluff. Through this area, Ocean Avenue is considered the local coastal road, but has limited beach access since it's on top of the bluff above PCH. It's easy to get stymied trying to figure out how to get to the lower level or upper level. Pacific Coast Highway is a limited access road through Santa Monica, turning inland through a tunnel near the Santa Monica Pier and not returning to the coast again until it hits Orange County.

    Parking: There are over a dozen beach lots north and south of the pier. There is also limited parking on the pier. Some of the small lots have reduced hours. The large lot just north of the pier has the most spaces and the longest open hours, but it sometimes gets closed off as a staging area for special events. Access to this lot is from Pacific Coast Highway South, or off Ocean via Moomat Ahiko Way just south of the pier. The parking lots north of the main pier lots are only accessible from Pacific Coast Highway. South of the pier, Ocean Avenue splits into Neilson Way going straight through the neighborhood and Barnard Way to the right along the coast for access to additional beach parking.

    Public Transportation: Metro buses 20/720, 33/733 and 534 provide service from Downtown LA via various routes to Santa Monica Pier. Route 20 has additional stops at Santa Monica Beach at Arizona and Wilshire.
    Santa Monica Big Blue Bus 1 runs from UCLA to Venice Beach via the Santa Monica Pier. Rapid 7 runs on Pico from the Santa Monica Pier through the south Fairfax District to the Metro Purple Line station at Western and Wilshire in Central LA.

    Beach Access: There is level beach access from most beach parking lots. If you're on foot or arriving via public transportation and you're trying to get to the beach from Ocean Avenue, you can access the beach via several pedestrian bridges that cross over PCH at Broadway, Arizona, Washington and Montana, with stairs down to the beach once you've crossed the highway. The last two are quite a long trek down to the bridge. The one near Broadway has the least stairs. There are also stairs down to the beach from the Santa Monica Pier. South of the pier, you don't have to cross PCH and there's no bluff, so beach access is pretty flat and direct.

    Amenities

    Restrooms: There are 12 public restrooms in permanent facilities
    Showers: 10 of the restroom facilities have showers
    Lifeguards: yes, seasonally during daylight hours
    Bike Path: yes, throughout
    Volleyball Courts: yes, at 5 locations with most at Sorrento and Ocean View beaches
    Fire Pits: no
    Playground: yes, at the Annenberg Beach House at the north end of the beach, a little bit at Muscle Beach at Arcadia Terrace, and at Dorothy Green Park at Ocean Park Blvd.
    Gymnastics Equipment: yes, at Santa Monica Muscle Beach just south of the pier
    Food: An abundance of food concessions and restaurants on and around the pier, as well as 3 Perry's Cafe Beach concessions on the beach, 2 south of the pier and one north, and the Back on the Beach Cafe at the Annenberg Community Beach House.
    Picnic Facilities: yes
    Other:

    • Santa Monica Pier has an abundance of attractions including an amusement park, aquarium, trapeze school and more. Check out my guide to Santa Monica Pier Attractions.
    • Annenberg Community Beach House at the north end of the beach has a free playground and beach areas and a public pool with a day use fee. There are 6 beach volleyball and 1 beach tennis courts, which can be reserved for a fee or are available on a first come basis for free if not reserved.
    • Santa Monica International Chess Park at Ocean Front Walk near Arcadia Terrace has one giant chess board on the ground and dozens of table boards with 1 or 4 boards per table.

    Activities

    Surfing: yes, several companies offer surfing lessons from Santa Monica Beach
    Swimming: yes
    Diving: no
    Fishing: yes, from the pier
    Biking: yes​
    Other: trapeze lessons

    Rentals

    • Bike, Skate and Surrey Rentals
    • Surf Boards, Stand Up Paddle Boards (SUP), Boogie Boards - Multiple vendors
    • Beach chairs and umbrellas from Perry's Beach Cafe, 5 locations

    Check surfing conditions at www.surfline.com and water quality at www.beachwaterquality.org.

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  • 06 of 17

    Venice Beach

    Venice Beach
    ••• Venice Beach, Los Angeles, CA. Photo © 2013 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com

    Venice Beach in Los Angeles, CA is most known for it's colorful boardwalk with psychedelic artwork, cheap sunglasses and T-shirt vendors, street performers and random eccentric locals and travelers. But of course, there's also a beach that's indistinguishable from the sands of Santa Monica Beach to the north, and if you're walking along the beach, you won't notice when you've crossed the border between the city of Santa Monica and the City of Los Angeles.

    Some people use the terms Venice and Venice Beach interchangeably for the whole neighborhood, but technically Venice is the neighborhood, and Venice, CA works as a postal address, and Venice Beach is the part of the neighborhood within a few blocks of the beach.

    Environment: Venice Beach is a wide, sandy, west-facing beach with waves. The boardwalk vibe of circus, freak show, flea market, art show, with a heavy side of cannabis provides a colorful backdrop for enjoying the sand and sea. Your sunbathing may be...MORE accompanied by the sounds of a drum circle, ritual chanting or the roar of skateboard wheels at the Venice Skate Park.

    Parking: There are three beach parking lots west of Ocean Front Walk on the beach. There are also numerous small lots off of Speedway, which is a one-way alley just east of the beach. There is an additional lot in the median between North Venice Blvd and South Venice Blvd at Pacific. In the off season you might also find street parking on Pacific or Main Street, but pay attention to time limits and restrictions. Venice Beach Parking Map

    Public Transportation: Culver City Bus 1 runs along Pacific through Venice. Santa Monica Big Blue Bus 1 makes several stops on Main Street in Venice on its way from UCLA to Santa Monica. And Metro Buses 33/733 from Downtown LA make a stop at Main and Marine a couple blocks from the northern end of Venice Beach on the way to and from Santa Monica.

    Beach Access: All of Venice Beach is built up along Ocean Front Walk. There is direct, generally level beach access from the parking lots that are on the beach itself. Other lots are a block or two away.

    Amenities

    Restrooms: Multiple permanent buildings on the beach or adjacent to the parking lots along Ocean Front Walk at Ozone, Brooks Ave, Horizon Ave, 17th Ave, North Venice at the parking lot, and Washington at the Venice Pier parking lot.
    Showers: Yes at all the restrooms
    Lifeguards: yes, seasonally during daylight hours
    Bike Path: yes, the entire length
    Fire Pits: no
    Volleyball Courts: yes
    Playground: at the north parking lot near Rose Ave, at the end of Windward Ave near the skate park, basketball and handball/paddle tennis courts
    Gymnastics Equipment: Near Muscle Beach
    Food: Snack bars and sit down restaurants along the boardwalk
    Picnic Facilities: yes
    Other:

    • Muscle Beach in Venice is more well-known than the one in Sana Monica. It is an outdoor bodybuilding gym that can be used by anyone for a daily fee. It is located just south of Windward Plaza. Next to Muscle Beach is gymnastics equipment on the beach that is free to use.
    • Venice Skate Park is a concrete molded skate park on the beach near Windward Ave, north of Muscle Beach.
    • Handball/Paddle Tennis Courts and Basketball Courts near Muscle Beach
    • Venice Art Walls are walls remaining from a previous building that are designated to be painted for a temporary period by graffiti artists. Any artist can apply for a free permit to paint. Permits are issued for one day only and painting only happens on weekends under supervisions of ICU Art - In Creative Unity

    Activities

    Surfing: yes
    Swimming: yes
    Diving: yes
    Fishing: yes
    Biking: yes
    Other: kite boarding, skateboarding, shopping, drumming, art

    Rentals

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  • 07 of 17

    Marina del Rey Beach

    Marina del Rey Beach
    ••• Marina del Rey Beach. Photo © 2013 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com

    Marina del Rey is mostly marina, so you don't really think of it having a lot of beach. In fact, the Beach Bike Path detours inland around Marina del Rey and back down Ballona Creek to Dockweiler Beach. But there are in fact two distinct bits of what could be called beach in Marina del Rey.

    The piece in this photo is Marina Peninsula Beach. It's a small strip of sand just south of the Venice Beach Fishing Pier. This view is across the Main Channel from Dockweiler Beach. Since it's a lesser known beach, it tends to be less crowded, even in summer.

    The second piece is a tiny pocket inside the Marina off Admiralty Way called Marina (Mother's) Beach. Since it's inland away from the waves, it's a popular place for neighborhood moms to take their kids.

    Parking: Marina Peninsula Beach is accessible from the Venice Beach Pier parking lot. Mother's Beach has its own parking lot at Admiralty Way and Via Marina.

    Public Transportation: LADOT 108/358 and Metro Commuter...MORE Express have buses that stop at Mother's Beach at Marina and Admiralty Way and a couple stops on Pacific Ave with access to Marina Peninsula Beach.

    Beach Access: Level beach access from the Venice Beach Pier Parking or from Mother's Beach Parking.​

    Amenities

    Restrooms: yes
    Showers: Yes
    Lifeguards: yes, seasonally during daylight hours
    Bike Path: No
    Fire Pits: No, but Mother's Beach has BBQ grills
    Volleyball Courts: Yes at Marina Peninsula
    Playground: yes at Mother's Beach
    Gymnastics Equipment: no
    Food: hotel restaurant, cheesecake Factory at Marina Mother's Beach
    Picnic Facilities: yes​

    Activities

    Surfing: Peninsula yes, Mother's no
    Swimming: yes
    Diving: no
    Fishing: Peninsula yes, Mother's no
    Biking: no
    Other: kayaking, rowing, windsurfing

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  • 08 of 17

    Dockweiler Beach

    Dockweiler State Beach in Los Angeles, CA
    ••• Dockweiler State Beach in Los Angeles, CA. Photo © 2013 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com

    Dockweiler State Beach is a 3.7 mile stretch of beach from Ballona Creek at Marina del Rey in the north to El Segundo Beach in the south. Despite the fact that it's a longer beach than Santa Monica Beach or Venice Beach, many LA residents are not familiar with Dockweiler because it's hiding behind Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and cut off from the northern beaches by Marina del Rey.

    People who do know Dockweiler, know it for being one of only two beaches in LA with fire pits for having beach bonfires, and for having the only beachfront RV Park in LA County. This makes it a popular spot for RV campers from inland counties to spend holiday weekends.

    Its proximity to the airport makes it a reasonable destination to take a taxi to spend a couple hours on the beach if you have a four hour or more layover at LAX, but be sure to schedule a taxi to pick you up in plenty of time to get back, since there won't be any cruising the beach.

    Environment: Dockweiler Beach starts in...MORE the north at Ballona Creek, which is part of the Ballona Wetlands ecosystem. This part of the beach and the surrounding neighborhood is called Playa del Rey. There is a block of homes between the beach and the wetlands around Del Rey Lagoon Park, but you'll see the herons and snowy egrets passing over the beach at the end of the block where the beach and park meet to get to the wetlands. There's some nice habitat restoration along the beach that is fenced off from the street here.

    South of Playa del Rey, directly west of the airport, the houses end. The beach here under the flight path is a wide and flat expanse with the bike path coming off Ballona Creek and heading to the southern beach cities. It was repaved in 2013 to replace the seriously cracked pavement. South of the airport you have the ugly view of the state-of-the-art Hyperion Sewage Treatment Plant just across Vista del Mar.

    Parking: There is free street parking along Vista del Mar for most of the length of Dockweiler Beach. There are also multiple large parking lots and an RV Park.

    Public Transportation: none

    Beach Access: From the street parking you might have to clamor down a more or less steep path cut through scrub to get to the beach. How steep depends where you park. That will also determine whether you're climbing down to a parking lot or directly to sand. From the parking lots, it's mostly level access to the beach, with plenty of sand to cross before you get to the water. At the southern parking lot near the Youth Center, the lot is more level with the road, so there's more of a drop from the parking lot to the beach.​

    Amenities

    Restrooms: Multiple permanent buildings adjacent to the parking lots and on the beach
    Showers: Yes
    Lifeguards: yes, seasonally during daylight hours
    Bike Path: yes, the entire length
    Fire Pits: yes, many
    Volleyball Courts: yes
    Playground: no
    Gymnastics Equipment: no
    Food: seasonal concessions only, no restaurants nearby
    Picnic Facilities: yes
    Other: RV Park​

    Activities

    Surfing: yes
    Swimming: yes
    Diving: no
    Fishing: yes
    Biking: yes

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  • 09 of 17

    El Segundo Beach

    El Segundo Beach, El Segundo, CA
    ••• El Segundo Beach, El Segundo, CA. Photo © 2013 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com

    El Segundo Beach is a brief strip of less than a mile of beach in the City of El Segundo between Dockweiler Beach and El Porto Beach. It is maintained by the City of El Segundo according to the posted sign, but they have no mention of it on their website. It's also not listed on the LA County Department of Beaches and Harbors website, which includes most beaches in the county, regardless of who manages them.

    Environment: This is about as gritty and industrial as a beach gets in LA with red and white smoke stacks from the Department of Water and Power across from the parking lot, a strange looking crane over the road and a giant rusty-looking tank of something on the southern border with El Porto Beach. The beach itself seems well maintained. There was some construction going on around a new-looking building that looks like a lifeguard station when I was there, and a temporary public art installation on the beach.

    Parking: There's a small parking lot on the beach off of Vista del...MORE Mar.

    Public Transportation: none

    Beach Access: level beach access from the parking lot.

    Amenities

    Restrooms: Portable toilets
    Showers: No
    Lifeguards: no info
    Bike Path: yes
    Fire Pits: no
    Volleyball Courts: yes
    Playground: no
    Gymnastics Equipment: no
    Food: no
    Picnic Facilities: no

    Activities

    Surfing: yes
    Swimming: yes
    Diving: yes
    Fishing: yes
    Biking: yes

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  • 10 of 17

    El Porto Beach

    El Porto Beach, Manhattan Beach, CA
    ••• El Porto Beach, Manhattan Beach, CA. Photo © 2013 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com

    El Porto Beach is in the city of Manhattan Beach and shares most of the same characteristics of Manhattan Beach Main Beach. It is adjacent to El Segundo Beach to the north, sharing a giant rusty Chevron storage tank. El Porto transitions to Main Beach around 36th Street just past the end of the parking lot and the El Porto Surf School.

    Environment: Aside from the aforementioned unsightly tank, El Porto is a lovely little beach with a separate walking path in front of the beach front homes and a bike path across the parking lot at the edge of the sand. As in the rest of Manhattan Beach, the homes are on a steep hill up to the main drag on Highland Avenue. There are strategically placed benches along the Strand to enjoy the view. There are stairs from the Strand path down to the parking lots and more stairs to the beach.

    Parking: El Porto has it's own long, thin parking lot accessible via Crest Drive off Vista del Mar, right where it becomes Highland Avenue. As you turn down Crest...MORE Drive toward the ocean, it looks like a dead end into the beach, but the parking lot entrance is at the bottom of the hill. The parking is metered. Every other meter is a credit card meter that also takes $1 and $.25 coins. The adjacent meter on the same post for the next parking spot takes either nickels, dimes and quarters or a cash key.

    Public Transportation: LADOT Commuter Express Bus 438 stops at Crest Drive and Highland Ave, a block east of El Porto Beach parking.

    Beach Access: There are stairs down to the beach from the parking lot.

    Amenities

    Restrooms: Permanent building adjacent to the parking lot
    Showers: Yes
    Lifeguards: yes, seasonally during daylight hours
    Bike Path: yes
    Fire Pits: no
    Volleyball Courts: yes
    Playground: no
    Gymnastics Equipment: no
    Food: no
    Picnic Facilities: benches along the Strand, but no picnic tables.
    Other: surf school

    Activities

    Surfing: yes
    Swimming: yes
    Diving: yes
    Fishing: yes
    Biking: yes
    Other:

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  • 11 of 17

    Manhattan Beach

    Manhattan Beach
    ••• Main Beach in Manhattan Beach, CA. Photo © 2013 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com

    Manhattan Beach, also called Main Beach, in the city of Manhattan Beach, is a longer stretch of beach on both sides of the Manhattan Beach Pier between El Porto Beach to the north and Hermosa Beach to the south.

    Environment: Manhattan beach has a unique geography among southern California beaches, being well built up with houses up a steep hillside from the beach for most of its length. There is more beach vegetation than on most Southern California beaches, so you have to use designated paths and stairs to get from the bike path to the sand.

    Parking: Most of the beach parking in Manhattan Beach is street parking on the couple streets above the beach. There are metered parking lots adjacent to Manhattan Beach Pier and off of 26th Street and Manhattan Avenue.

    Public Transportation: LADOT Commuter Express Bus 438 stops along Highland Ave, two blocks east of Manhattan Beach Main Beach.

    Beach Access: For most of the beach north of the pier, there's a very steep incline to get from street...MORE parking down to the beach. It can be intimidating, especially for older people or people with balance issues to go down the steep hill, and for people who aren't particularly fit, it can be an effort to climb back up, even though it's just a couple ​of blocks. South of the pier, the landscape flattens out from the Strand to the beach, but it's still quite steep up to street parking.​

    Amenities

    Restrooms: near the pier and at 8th street
    Showers: Yes
    Lifeguards: yes, seasonally during daylight hours
    Bike Path: yes
    Fire Pits: no
    Volleyball Courts: yes, all up and down the beach
    Playground: not sure
    Gymnastics Equipment: no
    Food: near the pier, but not along most of the beach
    Picnic Facilities: no​

    Activities

    Surfing: yes
    Swimming: yes
    Diving: no
    Fishing: no
    Biking: yes

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  • 12 of 17

    Hermosa Beach

    Hermosa Beach, CA
    ••• Hermosa Beach, CA. Photo © 2010 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com

    The beach at Hermosa Beach is a lot like Manhattan Beach to the north, but an additional row of houses right on the beach gives it a different personality. A new street, Hermosa Avenue, begins at the city line behind that row of houses and runs south. South of 22nd Street, Hermosa Avenue curves, making a much wider block to the beach. It's a beautiful beach, but the only amenities are right near the pier.

    Environment: Hermosa Beach is a 2-mile stretch of wide, sandy beach with the Strand walking and bike path combined in front of the row of houses directly on the beach. It does not have a separate bike path out on the sand and the Strand has a low wall separating it from the sand. The main drag through Hermosa Beach is Hermosa Avenue south of 14th Street and along Pier Avenue to the beach/pier. After the fishing pier, Hermosa Avenue curves back to just one or two house distance from the beach. The only public restrooms are at the foot of the pier, which doesn't have any other...MORE amenities.

    Parking: There is metered street parking on the sides and some of the way along the median of Hermosa Avenue. There is free street parking the next block west on Manhattan Ave. There is a parking garage at Hermosa and 13th St and a lot at 11th Street behind the businesses on Pier Avenue.

    Public Transportation: Metro Bus 130 comes from Los Cerritos Center down Pier Ave and runs south along Hermosa Ave. LADOT Computer Express Bus 438 comes from Palos Verdes and runs along Hermosa Avenue up to 27th street, then moves over a block to Manhattan Ave into Manhattan Beach.

    Beach Access: The closest parking to the beach is at the 11th Street pier lot or on Hermosa Avenue at the very north and south ends, north of 22nd Street or south of 2nd or 3rd Street. Access to the beach is flat, through openings in the Strand bike/walking path wall at the end of each street and sometimes mid-block.​

    Amenities

    Restrooms: Only at the pier
    Showers: Yes
    Lifeguards: yes, seasonally during daylight hours
    Bike Path: yes
    Fire Pits: no
    Volleyball Courts: yes
    Playground: no
    Gymnastics Equipment: no
    Food: only near the pier
    Picnic Facilities: no​

    Activities

    Surfing: yes
    Swimming: yes
    Diving: yes
    Fishing: yes
    Biking: yes
    Rentals Available:

    Continue to 13 of 17 below.
  • 13 of 17

    Redondo Beach

    The beach in Redondo Beach, CA
    ••• The beach in Redondo Beach, CA. Photo © 2010 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com

    Environment: The flow of West Coast sand is interrupted at Redondo Beach, in the city of Redondo Beach, CA with King Harbor Marina before returning to sandy beach south of Fisherman's Wharf at the Redondo Beach Pier. King Harbor and the Wharf have a number of restaurants and hotels as well as boat rentals from kayaks to yachts. The beach south of the pier is 1.5 miles of sand with conveniently placed restroom facilities along its length.

    In Redondo Beach the walking path in front of the homes is once again separate from the Marvin Braude Coastal Bike Trail, which after detouring around King Harbor heads back across the sand, with a separate pedestrian lane for walkers and runners. There is lots of coastal vegetation on the hillside between the two.

    Directly south of King Harbor, Veterans Park is a green area adjacent to the beach with picnic tables, a children's playground and a parking lot. South of the park, condominiums and homes line the beach. The separate walkway in front...MORE of the homes ends at Knobb Hill Avenue, where the homes end and it joins the beach bike path. At this point, a street called Esplanade runs south along the beach to Torrance Beach.

    Parking: Metered parking is available along George Freeth Way south of King Harbor, with an extended section at the edge of Veterans Park. There is also metered street parking all along Esplanade, and both metered and some free parking along the parallel streets to the east and side streets. There is plenty of parking at King Harbor and Fisherman's Wharf, but it's not particularly convenient for the beach.

    Public Transportation: LADOT Commuter Express 438 and Metro Bus 130 stop a couple blocks over on Catalina Avenue.

    Beach Access: The beach access road just below King Harbor is George Freeth Way. This section has diagonal parking just above the beach with stairs. George Freeth Way runs into Esplanade south of Pearl Street where it cuts away from the beach behind a row of houses. The area on George Freeth Way around Veteran's Park is the only actual parking lot with direct beach access. Street parking along Esplanade south of Knob Hill also has direct beach access via stairs or a long ramp. Since the street is along a bluff above the beach, separated by a fence and hillside vegetation, you can only access the beach at the stairs and ramp. Between Veterans Park and Knob Hill there are beach access ways between the homes at each street intersection, but there are only a couple stairs from the beachfront walk down to the beach. They are at Knob Hill, Topaz and in between Ruby and Saphire, closer to Ruby.​

    Amenities

    Restrooms: Multiple permanent buildings adjacent to the parking lots
    Showers: Yes
    Lifeguards: yes, seasonally during daylight hours
    Bike Path: yes, on streets around King Harbor, then across the sand
    Fire Pits: no
    Volleyball Courts: yes
    Playground: yes at Veterans Park
    Gymnastics Equipment: no
    Food: yes
    Picnic Facilities: yes, at Veterans Park

    Activities

    Surfing: yes
    Swimming: yes
    Diving: yes
    Fishing: yes
    Biking: yes
    Other: kayaking, boating, windsurfing
    Rentals Available:

    Continue to 14 of 17 below.
  • 14 of 17

    Torrance Beach

    Torrance Beach, Torrance, CA
    ••• Torrance Beach, Torrance, CA. Photo © 2010 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com

    Torrance Beach is the southernmost beach in the Los Angeles South Bay. It's a brief continuation of Redondo Beach just above the Palos Verde Peninsula, giving the City of Torrance a tiny beach-front footprint. Technically part of Torrance Beach is in the city of Redondo Beach, and it's managed by Los Angeles County.

    Environment: Torrance Beach is a flat sandy beach at the bottom of a heavily vegetated hillside that becomes the high cliffs of the Palos Verde Peninsula to the south. It's a very scenic spot. There's a postage stamp size park surrounded by parking at the north end of the beach, and luxurious private homes on the hillside as you go south.

    Parking: There is a metered lot and a Pay and Display public parking lot at the north end of the beach near Miramar Park as well as some free street parking adjacent to the lot.

    Public Transportation: Palos Verde Buses 225 and 226 stop about 3 blocks from Miramar Park. LADOT Commuter Express 438 from Downtown LA also stops a...MORE few blocks from Miramar Park at Palos Verde Blvd and Catalina.

    Beach Access: Beach access from the upper parking lot around Miramar Park is via long staircases equivalent to three or four household flights or via ramps. If you drive all the way to the south end of the lot (you have to enter at the north end), there is more level beach access. Once the houses start along Paseo de la Playa, there is no public beach access.​

    Amenities

    Restrooms: Permanent buildings below Marina Park and on the beach at the south end of the parking lots
    Showers: Yes
    Lifeguards: yes, seasonally during daylight hours
    Bike Path: Yes, this is the southern terminus of the 22.3 mile Marvin Braude Coastal Bike Trail
    Fire Pits: no
    Volleyball Courts: yes, a couple
    Playground: no
    Gymnastics Equipment: no
    Food: yes, concessions on the beach in season
    Picnic Facilities: not really
    Other: Malaga Cove hiking trail from the south end of the beach ascends to the top of the bluff for some great views.​

    Activities

    Surfing: yes
    Swimming: yes
    Diving: yes
    Fishing: yes
    Biking: yes
    Other: hiking
    Rentals Available:

    • Beach Chair and Umbrella Rental
    Continue to 15 of 17 below.
  • 15 of 17

    White Point Beach

    White Point Beach, San Pedro, Los Angeles, CA
    ••• White Point Beach, San Pedro, Los Angeles, CA. Photo © 2010 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com

    White Point-Royal Palms Beach is a scenic, rocky, southwest-facing pair of crescent beaches separated by a crescent parking lot in San Pedro, Los Angeles, CA at the bottom of the Palos Verde Peninsula. There are steep bluffs surrounding the strip of beaches. It's a great spot for tidepooling and exploring the rocks. There are two tiny sections of sandy beach. It is not a good beach for swimming due to the rocky water and extensive seaweed. Beach shoes are recommended.

    The White Point Beach side is to the southeast of the long parking lot. Royal Palms Beach is the northwest end, where you'll find palm trees, public restrooms and a paved picnic area with barbecue pits.

    White Point-Royal Palms Beach Park is a green area on top of the bluff overlooking the beach with a playground and baseball diamond. Across West Paseo Del Mar is the White Point Nature Preserve and Education Center on the grounds of a former missile launch site.

    Parking: There's a long, narrow Pay and Display...MORE parking lot right at the edge of the water between the two beaches. Parking access is down Key Florentino Drive off of West Paseo Del Mar. There's additional metered parking on top of the bluff at the park. It is possible to find free street parking on Warmouth Street, a double cul de sac accessed via S Anchovy Avenue (NOT the piece of Warmouth Street further west accessed via Stargazer Ave), and hike down a trail from the west end of the street that ends on the Royal Palms side, but it's tricky to find the trail and it's all uphill on the way back up.

    Public Transportation: No

    Beach Access: Beach access is relatively level from the lower parking lot, but it's a very rocky beach.​

    Amenities

    Restrooms: Portable toilets on the lower lot at the White Point end, a Restroom building on the Royal Palms end. Permanent building at the park above the beach
    Showers: yes
    Lifeguards: no
    Bike Path: no
    Fire Pits: barbecues on the Royal Palms side
    Volleyball Courts: no
    Playground: yes, at the park above the beach
    Gymnastics Equipment: no
    Food: no
    Picnic Facilities: yes, at Royal Palms Beach and at the park above.

    Activities

    Surfing: not the best surfing beach
    Swimming: not a great swimming beach
    Diving: yes
    Fishing: yes
    Biking: no
    Other: hiking trails
    Rentals Available: none

    Continue to 16 of 17 below.
  • 16 of 17

    Cabrillo Beach

    Bonfires at Cabrillo Beach, San Pedro, Los Angeles, CA
    ••• Bonfires at Cabrillo Beach, San Pedro, Los Angeles, CA. Photo © 2010 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com

    Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro, Los Angeles, CA is a small stretch of east-facing beach and another south-facing stretch across a breakwater at the southeast corner of the Palos Verde Peninsula. It faces the Cabrillo Marina and the Port of Los Angeles. It's popular for beach bonfires, tidepooling, and windsurfing. It's also a popular spot to observe the seasonal midnight grunion spawning on the beach.

    Environment: The east-facing beach is sandy with a strip of green grass and park amenities. The south-facing piece is narrow and rocky, good for exploring the tide pools during low tide. Because of the breakwater, there are relatively calm waves for windsurfing. North of the beach is the Salinas de San Pedro Salt Marsh, which can be good for bird watching.

    Parking: There is a pay lot between the beach and the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium. there is also parking on the breakwater.

    Beach Access: Beach access is level from the beach parking lot.

    Amenities

    Restrooms: at Cabrillo Beach Bathhouse
    Showers: at...MORE Cabrillo Beach Bathhouse
    Lifeguards: yes, seasonally during daylight hours
    Bike Path: no
    Fire Pits: yes, but just a few
    Volleyball Courts: no
    Playground: yes
    Gymnastics Equipment: no
    Food: no
    Picnic Facilities: yes
    Other: Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, Cabrillo Beach Bath House community center and art gallery​

    Activities

    Surfing: no
    Swimming: no
    Diving: no
    Fishing: yes
    Biking: no
    Other: windsurfing, bird watching

    Continue to 17 of 17 below.
  • 17 of 17

    Beaches in Long Beach

    Alamitos Beach, Long Beach, CA
    ••• Alamitos Beach, Long Beach, CA. Photo © 2015 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com

    Long Beach, the southernmost city in LA County, doesn't have as many miles of beach as Malibu, but it does have a bunch of different ocean and inland beaches, all sheltered by a breakwater that protects the Long Beach and LA harbors as well as beach-front homes. Because of the breakwater, there are no surfable waves at Long Beach Beaches.

    Most of the downtown Long Beach waterfront is along the Rainbow Harbor and Shoreline Village Marina. The first strip of south-facing beach, within walking distance of downtown, is Alamitos Beach, which extends from Alamitos Avenue and Shoreline Drive to the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier. The part of Alamitos Beach around the parking lot at Junipero Avenue (locally pronounced Wanipairo) is also sometimes called Junipero Beach or Cherry Beach.

    After the pier is Belmont Shore Beach, with a subsection at Granada Avenue known as Rosie's Dog Beach, which is the only beach in LA County that allows dogs on the beach. Past the Bayshore parking lot is Pen...MOREinsula Beach, which dead ends at Alamitos Bay, looking across at Seal Beach in Orange County.

    If you walk around the end of the peninsula, you'll be on Inner Peninsula Beach, a calm stretch of beach along Alamitos Bay. This is a popular spot for kayakers, windsurfers, and stand up paddle boarders. Back toward the other end of the inner peninsula, you'll find the Seaway Sailing Center, operated by the Department of Parks, Recreation and Marine and Kayaks on the Water kayak rentals. Where the beach curves inland along Bay Shore Avenue, is Horny Corner, a strip of sand that becomes one big beach party during the summer months when Bay Shore Drive is closed to traffic.

    Mother's Beach at Marine Park is on the far side of Naples Island, which is opposite the peninsula and Horny Corner. Naples Island is really three islands. A small inner island is completely surrounded by the bigger island, with a tiny chunk known as Treasure Island on the southwest corner of the main island. The beach is a roped-off stretch of sand just beyond Marine Stadium, which is a straight stretch of waterway used for various kinds of boat racing and water skiing.

    Water from Marine Stadium goes underground and comes back out a block farther inland at Colorado Lagoon, which has another small stretch of beach, playground and wetland habitat that's popular with families with small kids and bird watchers.

    For a full list of all the amenities at each beach in Long Beach with photos, check out the redundant-sounding Guide to Long Beach Beaches.

    To Keep exploring further south, visit my Guide to Orange County Beaches.