When you think of California, you probably think of the TV famous beaches, like Venice and Laguna. But if you go to one of those beaches on any given weekend, you’ll have to fight the crowd to find a spot to sit.
Luckily, with 3,427 miles of coastline, California has plenty of underrated beaches with plenty of space to relax and enjoy the waves. If planning a Cali beach trip in the future, consider opting for one of the following nine most underrated beaches.
1. Corona del Mar State Beach
Corona del Mar State Beach, or the Crown of the Sea, is a half-mile long stretch of sand in the Newport Beach area surrounded by cliffs and a rock jetty, making it a favorite spot for kayakers and swimmers who want calmer water. The area is also suitable for surfing, once frequented by Olympic gold medalist and “father of modern surfing,” Duke Kahanamoku.
2. Solana Beach
Solana Beach is a quiet refuge located along San Diego’s north coast. With a scenic shoreline and plenty of nearby shopping, this is an excellent spot for those who want a beach with a small-town feel. Keep in mind when the tide is high, the water can reach up to the bluffs that line the beach, making swimming conditions more dangerous.
3. Descanso Beach
Descanso Beach is located on the 22-mile long island of Catalina, within walking distance of the town of Avalon. While this beach is private and charges a small fee, beach-goers say it’s worth it for the exceptional food, adventure activities and luxury lounge rentals. Rentals are also available for kayaking, snorkeling, surfing and more.
4. Avila Beach
Avila Beach is a beautiful town on the central coast of California, about 200 miles south of San Francisco. With boutique surf shops, tasty dining options and stunning beaches, there’s plenty to do for the whole family. Once you reach the beach, you can rent paddleboats and surfboards to take out on the water. Or if you’re a beginner, you can sign up for a surfing lesson or two.
5. El Pescador
El Pescador Beach, located in Malibu, is one of three beaches making up Robert Meyer Memorial State Beach. There’s a short hike to reach the beach, but the effort is well worth it. In the end, you’ll reach a picturesque, sandy cove with rocky areas and tide pools to explore. The spot is also popular for fishing, surfing, and paddleboarding.
6. 1,000 Steps Beach
Thousand Steps beach is one of the largest beaches in South Laguna Beach, but it’s not one frequented by many tourists. Even in summer, when beach crowds are buzzing, Thousand Steps Beach acts as a type of refuge. Getting to the area might take a little extra effort, but it’s the perfect spot for those looking for enough room to relax.
7. La Jolla Cove
La Jolla Cove, which lies within the San Diego La Jolla Underwater Park Ecological Reserve, is a small, picturesque beach rich with marine life. Known for its beauty, La Jolla Cove is a beach photographer’s heaven located in Southern California. If you’re in the area, consider stopping by to take a dip, dive with the fishes or have a seaside picnic.
8. Windansea Beach
Windansea Beach, located on the coast of San Diego, is best known for its shore breaks created by underwater reefs. These breaks, which are rated moderate to severe, have made this spot a popular destination for surfers. While swimming is allowed, always take precautions to stay safe in any area with riskier waters like this.
9. Shaw’s Cove
The public entrance to Shaw’s Cove, a sandy little getaway located in Laguna Beach, is located just one block from the Pacific Coast Highway. During low tide, tide pools are exposed on the beach, creating the perfect spot to explore marine life. The cove is frequented by snorkelers and divers, with classes taught right on the beach. Swimming and paddleboarding are also popular in the area.
10. Crystal Cove
Just south of Corona Del Mar is another stunner – Crystal Cove State Park, located between Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach off the Pacific Coast Highway. Crystal Cove features 3.2 miles of natural seashore and 2,400 acres of backcountry wilderness and an offshore underwater area. At the end of the beach nestled around the mouth of Los Trancos Creek is a federally listed Historic District with an enclave of 46 vintage rustic cottages built in the 1930s and 1940s as a seaside colony.
Finding an Underrated Beach in California
If you’re looking to beat the crowds and find a beach where you can enjoy the sun and sand, check out some of the most underrated beaches in California. While they might take a little more effort to get to, their picturesque scenes and gorgeous shores will easily make up for it.