Updated: Jun 11, 2022
The Los Angeles area has some of the prettiest beaches I have ever seen! The coastline around LA is just stunning, but not every beach is perfect and pristine. I've been to LA over 15 times and have found some of the best beaches in LA I'm excited to share with you.
If you follow me on Instagram, then you’ve seen a few of the pictures I’ve posted already, and if you’ve followed me for a real long time (pre-blog), you’ve seen my posts from previous visits, too!
I’ve categorized the best beaches into different areas with info on each beach. All are worth a visit, and as you may be able to tell, I love a good sunset at the beach—it’s the best!
For more great beaches, consider heading out to Catalina Island. Amazing snorkeling, beautiful clear water, and much quieter than LA!
Beaches in LA
Los Angeles has tons of really cool beaches, but here are my favorites. Honestly, these are some of the most touristy beaches, but that’s why I love them! I feel like when in Los Angeles, you always want to see the most unique beaches, and I’ve listed three below.
1. Venice Beach
1800 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA
Parking: limited street spots and parking lots available for $10-$12.
Venice Beach is known for its funky vibe with graffiti, skateboarders, surfing, and more to entertain and give you a taste of all the interesting things going on in SoCal. Definitely a crowded beach with lots to do. Take time to watch the skateboarders on the boardwalk, eat an açaí bowl, and check out some street performers. If you like shopping, the boardwalk area has everything from high-end boutiques to kitschy tourist shops.
Abbot Kinney Boulevard is also full of boutiques, shops, and awesome cafés to explore. I love spending time here when I visit LA!
2. Santa Monica Pier and Beach
200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA
Parking: along the beach for $3 an hour up to $15 a day—you can try parking in the city above the beach, but most spots are limited to two hours, so make your visit short if you choose this free option.
With a really fun pier full of attractions, food, and even a trapeze school, you won’t get bored here. I spent almost a full day at this beach, and it was a blast. It’s crowded and really popular but for good reason. If it’s your first time in LA, this is one of the best beaches to visit.
3. Muscle Beach
1800 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA
Parking: limited street spots and parking lots available for $10-$12
Muscle Beach is located next to Venice Beach and has a different vibe than Venice Beach. There is an outdoor gym here, and lots of bodybuilders do serious training here. It’s just such a notorious, fun, and unique SoCal spot.
Beaches in Malibu
Malibu is such a gorgeous place. I first visited a few years ago, and on my last trip, I made my way back because I loved it so much! Malibu is about 45 minutes north of Los Angeles and easy to find because of large signs.
Make sure you plan ahead when visiting these beaches because they are popular, and while parking is free, you can end up in a spot with a long walk to the beach entrance!
4. El Matador Beach
32350 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA
Parking: free lot near the beach—if full, park on Pacific Coast Highway.
El Matador State Beach is a really beautiful beach with multiple small caves, interesting rock formations, and three sections of beach. Expect to do some climbing down to the beach and along the rocks. Wear sturdy shoes and be prepared with a bag to carry your things to make climbing easier. This beach is a really popular spot, so be prepared for a lot of other people!
There are only port-a-potties available for restrooms here, and it is fairly remote compared to other beaches in Malibu. Visit during low or high tide for the best views!
5. Leo Carrillo State Beach
35000 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA
Parking: free lot on beach or park along Pacific Coast Highway.
At first glance, this beach looks like it doesn’t have a good place to watch the sunset. But, you just have to keep climbing around to one side of the beach to a sea cave and rocks. We had fun climbing around. Again, bring sturdy shoes if you want to do climbing or have strong feet! Visit at low tide for easy climbing.
6. Malibu Beach
23000 CA-1, Malibu, CA 90265
Parking: very limited.
Malibu Beach, located in the heart of Malibu, is home to one of the most popular restaurants in LA right now—Malibu Farm. They serve farm-to-table food directly sourced from the area. It’s a great beach with plenty of space to relax on, and the pier has a really great vibe to it, with vendors selling cute boutique items and food.
7. Point Dume
Cliffside Dr & Birdview Ave, Malibu, CA 90265
Parking: very limited.
Point Dume is beautiful! It’s located in a neighborhood in Malibu. Heading here for an easy hike has a great reward. Point Dume is a small hill that’s very easy to climb around. There are beaches on either side that you can enjoy before or after your hike. The cliffside offers beautiful views that you’ll want to take in.
I found Laguna Beach to be my favorite of all the beach spots around LA that I visited. The unique beaches, tide pools, and few tourists made it the perfect spot to relax. Parking here can be tricky, but there is a free bus that runs from beach to beach I recommend if you have the time to spend a full day here (click the link for times and info). I came during offseason and parked instead without an issue.
8. 1000 Steps Beach
31972 Pacific Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA
Parking: Street parking along Pacific Coast Highway for free.
This beach actually only has about 300 steps, but still, this is a lot of steps! Located right along PCH and easy to find at a light along the highway. The bottom of the steps leads to some really cool rock formations and tide pools to swim around in if you go to the left after taking the stairs.
I spent over an hour just climbing around here because it’s beautiful! Make sure you go through the archway to the other side and climb around. Wear shoes you can use in the water and climb around easily. Visit at low tide to see the tide pools.
9. Victoria Beach
2713 Victoria Drive, Laguna Beach, CA
Parking: pay for a spot along Pacific Coast Highway ($2 an hour, 2-hour limit) or be lucky enough to find parking in the neighborhood (I was there in November and still didn’t find a neighborhood spot—it’s very limited.).
This beach has some really cool tide pools and what is affectionately called the “Pirate Tower,” although it was actually built by a rich SoCal resident back in the early 1900s. This is a clean beach that has lots of space for you to spend the day.
To find the beach, walk through the neighborhood after parking to the gates. It feels a little funny walking in a residential neighborhood, but the residents were very friendly, and I kept to myself while passing through. The Pirate Tower is to the right after you get down the stairs. Visit at high tide to see the tide pools.
10. Pearl Street Beach
1791 Ocean Way, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Parking: park along Pacific Coast Highway in a paid spot ($2 an hour) or try to find parking in the neighborhood.
Pearl Street Beach has a really cool rock formation and lots of little tide pools to explore. Once down the stairs, head left to the southern part of the beach to see the formations. You have to go through water to get to the arch rock formation, so wear shoes to climb and explore this area. As always, visit at low tide to easily climb around.
These are the best beaches in LA that I have visited so far! Do you have any favorite beaches in LA? Let me know in the comments below. I’d also recommend seeing these spots on your California road trip. They’re the perfect relaxing destinations.
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