Whether you are looking for that perfect sunbathing spot or some warm sand to run through, somewhere in the Golden State you’ll find your ideal spot to lay your towel...


Manchester Beach

manchester Creativecommons.org/ Sharon Mollerus

The eight kilometres of beach in Manchester State Park are one of the best places to search for driftwood, shells and other treasures from the sea. Less than a kilometre north of the town of Manchester, the area is rarely crowded, giving visitors ample space to appreciate the beauty of the region.

Trails in the area take you to ponds, bluffs and dunes, or over to Alder Creek and the Garcia River where the steelhead trout run in late winter/early spring. Nearby Point Arena lighthouse is open to visitors and the view from the top is delightful.

Seal Beach

seal beachCreativecommons.org/ memories_by_mike

If you’re looking for the Cali beach scene, but hoping for a few less folk, Seal Beach offers a pretty good mix of swimming, sunbathing and socializing - but it’s not quite as crowded as the Venice Beach area. The miles of white sand and palm trees are exactly what you’d expect from California, and the warm water is thoroughly inviting.

To take a break from the splashing around, wander over to the second longest wooden pier in California and drop a line in the water. After watching the surfers around the pier, you may be tempted to try out the sport yourself. Surfing is better there than closer to the river where the stingrays tend to congregate.

Nearby is the Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge that gives you access to more than 900 acres of salt marshes which are full of native plants and migrating birds.

Stinson Beach

stinson beach californiahttps://www.flickr.com/photos/deliciousblur/

This 5.6-kilometre strip of golden sand is just a bit north of San Francisco. With Mount Tamalpais and Marin Headlands being nearby, Stinson Beach is usually skipped by tourists in favour of the bigger, more exciting sights. Locals, however, enjoy the stretch of warm sand for volleyball, beachcombing and swimming.

The beach is part of the Golden Gate National Recreational Area and it is the preferred spot for barbecues, picnics and enjoying the fresh air. Lifeguards are on duty, but the sharks in the area tend to deter most swimmers. The hiking trails are also quite popular.

Channel Islands

channel islandsCreativecommons.org/ David Wan

The Channel Islands National Park is comprised of five islands. Access is by boat or plane only, but once there you are met with wild, scenic beaches and crystal clear waters. Those with an adventurous spirit will love the free and peaceful atmosphere.

Once on the islands, travel is by foot, kayak or private boat only. There is no food, water or equipment rentals available on the islands.

Camping is available on one of the islands or in the Angeles National Forest on the mainland. Visitors to the islands can hike the area to experience the variety of wildlife and seabirds, or explore the tidal pools and underwater kelp forests. Kayak, paddle, dive or swim in the pristine waters, or spread a towel and enjoy the sun in near solitude.

Coronado Beach

coronadoCreativecommons.org/ Senia L

Beautiful white sand glistens along the shoreline as waves gently lap the beach, Coronado is remote enough to not be crowded, yet close enough to be visited easily. The beach has the advantage of being near the picturesque Hotel Coronado.

Choose different sections of the beach to have different adventures; tidepools are best at the Central Beach, North Beach allows dogs and Silver Strand is near a great picnic area. Swimming, snorkeling, surfing and of course sunbathing are popular at all the sections, depending on wind and waves at the time. The breeze is usually right for kite flying, and there is enough open space along the beach to get a good running start.

Malibu Beach

malibu beachSunny Lapin, Flickr/97657657@N00/3462868216

The beaches at Malibu are so totally LA that you’ll feel like you’re walking through a movie set. You’ll see gorgeous people and possibly a star or two.

The area is popular and crowded, often so full of people that finding a place to drop your towel is difficult, but that’s part of the attraction – socializing is as much a beach activity as sunbathing.

Some people dabble in the water, but with the surfers searching for the perfect wave just off the breakers, most people choose not to do serious swimming. If you do want to be in the water, move up or down the beach to find an area without surfers or paddleboarders. Watch out for the riptides as well, since good surf and riptides are found together.

In keeping with the social scene, bars and restaurants line the beach. When you need a break from relaxing in the sun, look around and try to figure out how many movie and television scenes have been filmed there.