It doesn’t matter that you live Downtown and can probably see the beach from the 1133 Hope rooftop: This is Southern California, and beach time is a rite of passage — especially during the summer when things get a bit too steamy east of La Brea. There are days when you simply need toes in the sand, sunsets at your fingertips, tide pools to explore, and water to surf.
The obvious choices are abundant, from Santa Monica Beach, with the pier as a backdrop, to Venice beach and the colorful and crowded boardwalk, and Malibu’s Zuma Beach. They’re all great; they’re all also very big, wildly popular and usually super crowded. When you want to get a little more off the beaten path to find your own slice of surf and sun, try going during the week if you can (or in the winter when it’s really empty!). Here are a few options.
This large state beach includes several smaller strips of sand, including El Pescador, La Piedra, and El Matador beaches. These “pocket beaches” extend along the west end of the city of Malibu, some having dramatic rock formations and caves to explore. All are great for tide pooling and beachcombing.
Known as one of the best (if only) beaches where bonfires are legal, this isn’t necessarily an unknown strip of sand. But it’s a great one if you go later in the day with the intention of sticking around until 10pm, when all fires must be out. It’s also not the quietest: LAX is pretty much right there, so there are lots of planes arriving and departing. But that’s part of the charm!
You’ll find this little pocket of heaven at the end of Topaz Street in Redondo Beach, accessed by a set of public stairs. It feels perfectly SoCal and not nearly as inundated with tourists as the beach closer to the pier. Want to check it out before heading there? Here’s a webcam.
Not every beach is as welcoming to dogs as this one in the Belmont Shore area of Long Beach. Completely off-leash, it’s a four-legged-friend’s dream. If they like the sand, that is. Watch the Facebook page for fun dog events like “Italian Greyhound Beach Day.”
A quiet, mostly residential beach in Rancho Palos Verdes — an outcropping of bluffs situated between Redondo Beach and Long Beach — is relatively unknown to most Angelenos. There are hiking trails, an ecological reserve, and a striking view of the Pacific.
Featured photo by John Forson/Unsplash