Here are our favorite sandy gems and rocky coves along the SoCal coast.
It’s practically summer all year here, which means beaches tend to fill up fast— especially on the extra sunny days. While there’s nothing better than cooling off by the ocean, melting amongst droves of people is never appealing. So, taking a little drive and seeking out lesser-known shores is the best way to get fresh air while maintaining a safe distance from others. Okay, so with over ten million residents, it’s going to be tough to find a beach that’s a complete secret, but there’s still scope for the slightly quieter coves and stretches where there’s a little more sand than people. Whether you’re looking to surf, sunbathe, play beach volleyball or explore rocky coves, there’ll be something for you in the options below.
Let the adventure beneath the California sunshine begin…
[featured image: Roberto Nickson]
Despite the name, this beach only has around 230 steps, but it’s still a fair workout, especially if you’re lugging stuff around with you. Although, if you’re willing to brave the steep steps, you’ll be rewarded with an idyllic white sandy stretch of beach, rock pools filled with marine life, a cave, and, of course, tide pools. Getting to the pools and back can be dangerous. Stay safe and follow the guidance of lifesavers.
31972 Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA
2. El Matador State Beach, Malibu
This incredible beach is dotted with rock formations and rock pools—some that you’ll only discover during low tide. As with most (fairly) secluded beaches, you’ll need to descend an endless staircase and bring your own supplies as there aren’t any amenities on the beach.
32215 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265-2529
3. Moss Point Beach, Laguna
This beach practically disappears during high tide. It’s tricky to find and remains largely unknown to locals, which is why it’s often empty—even during the peak summer season. If you’re looking for a quiet, romantic spot to watch the sunset, this is your beach, as long as you get the timing right. The crystal clear waters and craggy rocks also make it ideal for snorkeling, but the waves can get quite rough, so it’s best left to those with experience.
139 Moss St, Laguna Beach, CA 92651, United States
4. Victoria Beach, Laguna
You’ll probably recognize the famous Victorian Pirate Tower on the North end of the beach that goes into full fairytale mode at sunset. While it’s a popular beach, it’s often quiet thanks to the hidden entrances, and it’s about the closest you’ll get to a private beach that’s still public in Laguna. The spot is filled with wonders, from the beautiful houses and tide pools to the reefs. There are also tons of activities to keep you busy, like kayaking, volleyball, and tennis. There’s both paid and metered parking available along the Pacific Coast Highway.
5. Point Dume State Beach, Malibu
You might recognize this spot from keys scenes in the Planet of The Apes, which means it’s not a secret. Point Dume Nature Preserve’s trail leads to an ancient coastal bluff dune. Most will come for the beautiful and seemingly endless shoreline stretch that features headlands, coves, and white-faced cliffs with green tops and winding wooden slat paths. However, if you take the stairs from the lookout, you’ll arrive at an incredible beach that’s also a little more sheltered from the crazy winds. It’s also a top spot for watching gray whales during the migration period from December to mid-April. The cliffs at sunset from the beach are a sight to behold—but it does get chilly, so come prepared.
800 Westward Beach Rd, Malibu, CA 90265, United States
6. Bluff Cove, Palos Verdes Estates
Bluff Cove is a scenic surfer’s haven that’s filled with amazing options for active beachgoers. The Bluff Cove trail has magnificent views, and on the way down the descent to Bluff Cove Beach, there’s a steep trail that leads to Flat Point Rock. When the tide is low enough, you can stroll along the narrow and explore the tidepools that will not disappoint. Another trail leads to an old shipwreck, so bring comfortable shoes and get to know this gem.
609 Paseo Del Mar, Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274
Other beaches worth noting:
- Lechuza Beach
- Marina Peninsula Beach
- Escondido Beach
- Malaga Cove Beach
- Sacred Cove
- Little Dume Beach
- Pirate’s Cove Beach
Featured Image: @wanderlust_bucketlist_girl via Instagram