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  • A sunset view on a California beach.

    My Favorite California Beaches

    Megan Morimoto

    As a born and raised Southern Californian, who lived 15 minutes away from the coast, and now attends college on California's central coast, I have a fair share of beach experience. In my “professional” opinion, I have created the ultimate beach tour guide with some of my favorite and not-so-favorite beaches that you should be sure to visit (or not to visit) the next time you find yourself in California, whether during Spring Break or any other time of year.

    Crescent Bay Beach in Laguna Beach

    This is my all-time favorite beach because of how perfect it is! The water there is always so clear and warm (most of the time), and the waves are not extremely big, but still big enough to dive under. Sometimes, if you’re lucky enough, you can see little baby leopard sharks and other fish swimming around the shore because of how clear and blue the water is. After a long, fun day at this beach, you don’t have to worry about bringing sand into your car either because there’s a shower station and bathroom right near the entrance of the beach too, and trust me, a shower station is not common in Laguna Beach.

    There are a couple of downsides to going to this beach, but they shouldn’t be the reason you miss out on such a perfect beach! The first downside is the beach is on the small side. During busier seasons, Crescent Bay Beach can seem more crowded than other beaches because of how little beach there is. Despite this, there’s never been a time that I’ve gone to this beach and not found a place to lay out my towel. The other downside is parking. While parking is free, it’s mainly residential parking. This means that it can be hard to find a parking spot, but if you keep looking around, you will get a parking spot, I promise. I just hope that you’re good at parallel parking!

    Strands Beach & Salt Creek Beach in Dana Point

    I typically do not go down to the water at these beaches too often, because the walk down from the parking lot is long and steep. These two beaches are still on my list though because they are such a great spot to watch the sunset over the water and enjoy the ocean breeze.

    At Strands Beach, you can watch the sunset from your car because the parking lot is on top of a hill that overlooks a neighborhood full of grand houses and the water. At Salt Creek Beach, you have to walk a little bit in order to find the perfect sunset-watching area. When you start walking down to the beach, you’ll come across this giant grass hill, and this is where everyone gathers to watch the sunset. In both places, you’ll get to watch a beautiful sunset, no doubt about it.

    Doheny State Beach in Dana Point

    This beach is definitely not my go-to swimming beach, but it is my go-to bonfire beach. Doheny Beach has a lot of bonfire pits that you can use for free (only have to pay for parking). What’s nice about it is that most of the pits are right next to the parking lot, so you can pull up your car and use your trunk for good seating (kind of) close to the fire. The pits aren’t that far away from the water either. However, if you choose to go swimming in the water, I hope you have strong ankles because rocks are in place of the sand. The rocks tumble and roll with the waves, making it highly likely that your toes will get stubbed. But if you brave it far enough into the water, you’ll start to feel sand!

    Avila Beach in San Luis Obispo County

    Finally, a Central Coast beach! I might be biased when I say this since this beach is so close to where I live now, but Avila Beach is my favorite Central Coast beach. I don’t go in the water, though, because it’s colder on the Central Coast than in Laguna Beach. This beach is nice in that it has free parking, a bathroom and shower station, restaurants, and my favorite part, swings! It’s also nice because the beach is big, so it doesn’t feel as crowded as other beaches I’ve encountered. Then again, the air is colder, and the water isn’t as clear blue, making it less appealing to swim in.

    Whether you’re visiting during your Spring Break, the summer, or any other time of year, I hope you find these recommendations helpful in finding the perfect spot for your beach adventure!

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