Memorial Day Weekend is here, so grab your sunscreen and pack your bag – we’re going to the beach! Whether you’re hankering to swim, walk along the shore, catch some waves on your surfboard, explore magical tide pools and sea caves, or just want to relax on the sand, we’ve rounded up some of LA’s most breathtaking beaches and secret coves. Many of Southern California’s most dramatic coastal treasures are located along Pacific Coast Highway, where you’ll find everything from sandy beaches to craggy rock formations, rare ecosystems, and dramatic vistas. If you want to explore more of our stunning coastline, California Beaches has a comprehensive guide including maps, hotels, restaurants, and local attractions.
Paradise Cove Beach 28128 Pacific Coast Hwy. Malibu, CA 90265
Paradise Cove in Malibu is a public beach in front of the privately-owned Paradise Cove Beach Cafe. Paradise Cove is a great starting point for long beach walks. Heading east you’ll walk below some Malibu mansions, find some private beaches, and eventually end up at Escondido Beach. Heading west you can walk below steep sandstone cliffs all the way to Little Dume Beach and Big Dume Beach in Point Dume State Beach. When you’re ready for some refreshments, enjoy the iconic Southern California experience at Paradise Cove Beach Cafe, the quintessential beach restaurant nestled right on the sand in Paradise Cove.
Carbon Beach 22126 Pacific Coast Hwy. Malibu, CA 90265
Also known as Billionaire’s Beach because of the lavish homes owned by famous celebrities and CEO’s right at the water’s edge. Carbon Beach is a south-facing, mile-long beach between the Malibu Pier at Surfrider Beach and Carbon Canyon Road. The water is excellent for swimming, calm with no rocks, and the sand is soft and cozy—perfect to laze out on a sunny afternoon. There are few places in Malibu that aren’t overrun with people, and this is one of them, so enjoy.
Abalone Cove Shoreline Park 5970 Palos Verdes Dr S Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275
Abalone Cove Shoreline Park is a coastal treasure on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in the Los Angeles area. The park contains an ecological preserve and is known for its outstanding tide pools. Trails meander on the bluff out to excellent views from two prominent points. Below these points are three separate coves with beaches and tide pools. Out at the end and right at the base of the points, you’ll discover amazing rock tunnels where waves crash through. Before you go, check out the tide charts. You’ll want to visit these beaches at low tide to take full advantage of the tide pools and tunnels.
Point Dume State Beach 29245 Cliffside Drive Malibu, CA 90265
Point Dume is situated at the end of Malibu at a point where a dramatic cliff’s edge juts into the Pacific and drops down to a beautiful crescent-shaped beach. Operated by Los Angeles County, Point Dume State Beach features headlands, cliffs, rocky coves and vast beach access, noted for swimming, surfing, scuba diving and fishing. Point Dume is a perfect place to watch for California gray whales during the December to mid April migration period.
Leo Carrillo State Park 35000 Pacific Coast Hwy. Malibu, CA 90265
Leo Carrillo State Park features a stunning, ecologically diverse 1.5 mile beach perfect for swimming, surfing, windsurfing, surf fishing and beach combing. You’ll also find tide pools, coastal caves and reefs for exploring. The park offers campgrounds shaded by giant sycamores and back-country hiking. The park was named after Leo Carrillo a preservationist, conservationist, and actor, who served on the California Beach and Parks commission for 18 years. Leo’s greatest fame came from his portrayal of Pancho, the sidekick to Duncan Renaldo’s Cisco Kid, an early 1950s TV series.
Malibu Surfrider Beach 23200 Pacific Coast Hwy. Malibu, CA 90265
Popularized by surfing movies in the 1950s and 1960s, Surfrider Beach is the place to go for the ideal Southern California surfing experience. Malibu “Surfrider” Beach is part of Malibu Lagoon State Beach, which also comprises the Malibu Lagoon and the Malibu Pier. Malibu Lagoon contains 22 acres of wetlands, gardens, and sandy beach, while Surfrider Beach has almost a mile of ocean frontage with 0.7 acres of property. There is also a saltwater marsh; Adamson House, a National Historic Site housing many Malibu historical artifacts; and the Malibu Lagoon Museum, which allows visitors to walk through the history of the area from the days of the Chumash tribe, to the gentlemen ranchers, and finally to the birth of the surfing era.
El Matador State Beach 32350 Pacific Coast Hwy. Malibu, CA 90265
El Matador State Beach is the most popular of the three beaches within Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach. Start at their parking lot on the bluff, with picnic tables that look out over the Pacific Ocean. A trail descends through unique formations on the face of the bluff, then stairs take you down to the beach. Explore north on the beach to discover caves and arches in the rocks. The largest cave faces the ocean at the bottom of a huge flat rock that connects to the base of the bluff. It’s best to visit these natural features at low tide, and pack some water shoes, as the rocks can be difficult to navigate. There are no services or amenities at El Matador, so bring your own beach towels, sunscreen, and picnic gear.
Lechuza Beach Sea Level Dr. Malibu, CA 90265
Lechuza Beach is a lesser-known public beach in Malibu located below homes at the northern end of Broad Beach Road, near El Matador State Beach. The State Coastal Conservancy granted the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority funds to acquire this spectacular beach property, which features exquisite rock formations, kelp forests, and scenic views. Sorry pet parents, no dogs are allowed on the beach.
Santa Monica State Beach Pacific Coast Highway, Santa Monica, CA 90405
Located just west of downtown Los Angeles, a short drive from Circa, Santa Monica State Beach is an iconic destination that draws visitors from around the globe. Extending over three miles and covering 245 acres of sand, the beach is managed by the City of Santa Monica in cooperation with California State Parks. With few Los Angeles beach options offering both large expanses of beach, bike trails and nearby activities, Santa Monica Beach has something for everyone. The Santa Monica Pier is a local landmark, featuring an amusement park, aquarium, and restaurants. Santa Monica beach is also home to the Original Muscle Beach (not the weightlifting kind, that’s Venice Beach) with gymnastic equipment including parallel bars, rings, swings and ropes available for kids and adults.
Photo #1: Visit Santa Monica
Photo #2: Paradise Cove Beach Cafe
Photo #3: California Beaches
Photo #4: California Beaches
Photo #5: California Beaches
Photo #6: California Beaches
Photo #7: Los Angeles County
Photo #8: California Beaches
Photo #9: Califonria Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority
Photo #10: Santa Monica Travel & Tourism