Perhaps nothing is more quintessential to California than her coastline and beaches. For those that love the sea, surf and sand, California's 840 miles of shoreline offers a cornicopia of coastal delights and an incredible array of beach divesity. From seemingly endless stretches of fine golden sand and tranquil turquoise waters to coastal marine wildlife sanctuaries thriving among kelp forests to fog enshrouded mountains and forests rising above driftwood-strewn beaches, California's beaches are as diverse as the state is long.
With an impressive ecological and climate range spanning nearly 10 degrees of latitude - an eastern seaboard equivalent covering the Georgia coast to Cape Cod - the golden state has a beach for just about everyone. The Mediterranean climate and palm-laden strands of southern California's bight offer a gentler coastal environment to sink your toes into, while the rugged coastline and rocky beaches of the central and north coast is marked by continual coastal mountains steeply descending into the Pacific.
Whether your coastal calling is hiking through old-growth forest to a hidden cescent-shaped Humboldt cove, surfing a right hand point break, or cooling off with an ocean dip on a sun-kissed Malibu day, you're guaranteed to find what you're looking for at one of the California beaches listed below.
When visiting these beautiful beaches, please make sure to pack out what you pack in and help improve the scenery for everyone by picking up any trash left behind by others.
California's best beaches oriented south to north: