Follow the Sun: California Beaches

28 June 2017
Read Time: 3.7 mins

From mellow beach towns to surf meccas, the California coastline is the stuff endless summers are made of.

Malibu beach in California. Beautiful Malibu beach.

Meet Me in Malibu

Look beyond the luxury boutiques and multi-million dollar real estate to find a clutch of sandy stretches perfect for laying out your beach towel, hitting the waves or bringing out the bucket and sand pail. Popular Zuma Beach is particularly family friendly, especially on weekdays, while Surfrider Beach is, naturally, popular with the surfer set. You don’t have to be a billionaire to visit ‘Billionaire’s Beach’ now either; after years of resistance from cashed-up locals, the western stretch of Carbon Beach is open to the public with a wheelchairaccessible pathway leading to its shores. Take a dip, breathe in the salty air or simply have a sticky beak at the mind-boggling mansions lining the waterfront.

The famous Santa Monica Pier. Head to the famous Santa Monica Pier.

There’s Something About Santa Monica

Where Malibu is exclusive, Santa Monica is laidback and carefree. Its beachfront is instantly recognisable; the iconic Pacific Park amusement park on the Pier draws everyone from nostalgic travellers to ironic hipsters and young families. Beneath a hazy sunny sky, you can also navigate the boardwalk (on a beach cruiser, no less) to grungy Venice Beach, rummage through top name-brand stores along Third Street Promenade, mix it up with bronzed bods, or simply kick back with a sunset aperitif in one of the many beachfront bars – very LA indeed.

Huntingtons Beach Both beginner and experienced surfers will find waves to suit at Huntington Beach.

Surf’s Up in Huntington Beach

With the trademarked nickname of ‘Surf City USA’, Huntington Beach is the perfect place to soak up those famous coastal Cali vibes. The once sleepy town is a fully fledged surf mecca with a strong pedigree – Hawaiian surf legend and Olympian Duke Kahanamoku moved here in 1925. Huntington Beach is also the home of the Vans US Open of Surfing, the world’s largest surf comp and lifestyle festival, held at the end of July. Outside the event, you can get your fix of sun along the legendary pier, in the waves and at the many alfresco eateries perfectly positioned to make the most of the day’s rays, from sun up to sun down. As local surf legend Corky Carroll once said, “Orange County is the cultural centre of the surf world and Huntington Beach is like the heartbeat.”

Rodeo Beach Rodeo Beach is a unique and pretty spot to wander.

Wonderfully Windswept on Rodeo Beach

Who says San Francisco is all hilly streets, city living and tram rides? Just beyond the city limits, across the Golden Gate Bridge, are the natural wonders of Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Here you’ll find Rodeo Beach, a wide beach covered in brown, green, red and blue pebbles, renowned for its challenging waves (for experienced surfers only). Sheltered by cliffs, Rodeo Beach is ideal for kite flying, leisurely strolls and picnicking, too.

Enderts Beach in California. The hike through a redwood forest to this flower-lined stretch of Enderts Beach is worth the effort.

Enderts of the Earth

SoCal doesn’t get all the fanfare. At the far reaches of the Golden State, near the town of Crescent City, is a rocky stretch found a short hike through the towering trees of Redwood National Park. Crescent-shaped Enderts Beach is fringed with low-lying bushland and blooms, and laden with rocky outcrops and driftwood. As picturesque as beaches come, Enderts Beach is a true Californian gem. Follow a ranger on a guided walk, pack a picnic to simply watch the wild waves or time your visit for low tide, which reveals ethereal rock pools filled with sea urchins, sea stars and giant anemones. 

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Anna Howard

Give me street food over Michelin stars, cellar doors over wine bars and small towns and wide open spaces over big cities any day. Travel for me means ticking off the 'to eat and drink' list one regional flavour and wine bottle at a time.