A year-round tropical climate with an average water temperature of 78 degrees... that's what Southern California's beaches have to offer. Oh, and you can throw in perfect waves, superb dining, and oceanfront resorts for every budget. These shorelines are paradise on earth. You want more? How about picturesque harbors and hundreds of miles of shimmering coastline with free coastal access to the world's best white sand, surf and sun.
It's tough to pick the best of these treasures, but here are six of the greatest beaches in California. They include both nice quiet beaches and rip roaring beaches with thousands of bathing beauties.
1. Oceanside City Beach. This tropical beach lies in northern San Diego County. This tranquil and eloquent beach is lined with palm trees and perfect for beach walkers. You can take a leisurely walk or ride a rented bicycle along "The Strand" (the main street alongside the beach). If you're adventurous, you can even go rollerblading or spend some time fishing from the Oceanside pier. The nearby village of Cape Cod boasts a rich assortment of great restaurants. This beach has professional lifeguards and restrooms.
2. Newport Beach. This piece of trendy real estate is located between San Diego and Los Angeles in Orange County. Newport Beach offers delightful harbor cruises, boating, scuba diving, and bodysurfing. Most of local restaurants provide panoramic views of the ocean. This beach is distinguished by its Fun Zone and the Balboa Pavilion.
3. Cardiff State Beach. This San Diego County recreational facility has professional lifeguards for water goers and free public restrooms for all. The gently sloping beach is ideal for sunbathing, fishing, swimming, surfing and kayaking. Cardiff State Beach is a quieter, more casual beach with fewer crowds than most California beaches. The area's Restaurant Row features several quality seafood and Mexican restaurants. The San Elijo Lagoon is a bird watcher's fantasy come true.
4. Santa Monica Beach. If the East Coast has Coney Island, the West Coast has Santa Monica Beach. Seated in the heart of Los Angeles County, this beach enjoys wide sandy areas for beach front relaxation and the famous Santa Monica Pier complete with its own amusement park on the top of an old wooden pier. Dozens of movies and television shows have featured this beach and pier over the years. A sunset Ferris wheel ride offers an unforgettable ocean view. For good measure, you can easily visit the nearby Venice Beach and Palisades Park. This is a beach for the entire family.
5. La Jolla. If you prefer sheltered coves and unique landscapes, then La Jolla is just what the doctor ordered. This beach, just north of the city of San Diego, makes for a intriguing and enchanting getaway. La Jolla has an incredible underwater park for viewing marine life. The world famous Scripps Institute of Oceanography and Stephen Birch Aquarium Museum are located nearby.
6. Coronado Beach. Across from San Diego's bay on the ocean side of Coronado Island stands one of California's grandest family destinations. Coronado Beach offers room for a family to spread out. Let the kids play volleyball, soccer, or Frisbees, while you and your significant other laze in the sun and enjoy the sounds of the surf and the seagulls.
The internationally renown Hotel Del Coronado with its legendary and storied past sits on this beach. To get to Coronado, either take the ferry across the bay from downtown San Diego or drive over the 1.9 mile long Coronado Bay Bridge, but be warned. Parking is extremely limited.