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Los Angeles is known for long wide sandy beaches with picturesque piers jutting out into Santa Monica Bay. These are world class beaches that draw thousands of visitors every day. They are filled with families playing at the waters edge, building sandcastles, and resting in the sun. Surfers bob in the water next to the piers and volleyball players enjoy the sand courts. All of these fairly homogeneous bayside beaches are excellent destinations, but LA is lucky to have some more diverse options nearby on the Malibu shoreline and on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. There you will find cove beaches with a much different feel.

Our list of the best beaches in Los Angeles puts every beach into a category that it is most associated with. Sunny Southern California is the land of the “endless summer” so these beaches are fun to visit year-round. Some of the smaller beaches are better at lower tides when more sand is exposed and tide pools too.

Here are the Best Beaches in and near Los Angeles. To see our favorite beach in LA, scroll to the bottom of the list.

Best Surfing (and Sunbathing)

Manhattan Beach
Hermosa Beach
Redondo Beach
Venice Pier Beach
Zuma Beach

Best Longboard Surf Spot

Surfrider Beach

Best Tide Pools

Abalone Cove Shoreline Park 

Best Lighthouse

Point Fermin (the Sunken City is a bonus).

Best People Watching

Venice Beach

Best Hidden Beach

Pirate’s Cove at Point Dume

Best Kid-Friendly Beach

Seaside Lagoon

Best for Beach Walking

Billionaires’ Beach

Best Beach Cave

Terranea Resort Beach

Best Beach Worth Fighting For

El Sol Beach

Best Pier

Santa Monica Pier

Best Camping

Leo Carrillo State Park

Best Spot for Kayaking & SUP

Mother’s Beach in Marina Del Rey

Best Shipwreck Beach

Lunada Bay

Best Beach for Photography

El Matador State Beach

Best Dog-Friendly Beach

North Beach at Leo Carrillo State Park

Best Beach Bike Ride

Marvin Braude Bike Trail

Best Bird-Watching

Malibu Lagoon State Beach

Best Overall Los Angeles Beach!

Santa Monica State Beach

Why is Santa Monica State Beach the best? It has a fantastic pier nearby, large grass parks, playgrounds for kids, tons of parking, a wide sandy beach, lifeguards, volleyball nets, a paved bike path in the sand, friendly people, places for picnics, and many hotels and restaurants behind the beach. While there are other excellent beaches on Santa Monica Bay, we feel that Santa Monica tops them all.