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San Jose is the largest city in the South Bay Area of San Francisco and one of the most populated cities in all of California. It’s a technology hub and has been called the Capital of Silicon Valley for many years. San Jose is surrounded by picturesque rolling hills and has fabulous parks and trails to explore. Even though the southern shore of San Francisco Bay doesn’t have sandy beaches, some of the best beaches in California are on the Pacific Ocean just a short drive away from San Jose.

At the bottom of this page is a list of our favorite beaches near San Jose organized from north to south.

The closest beaches are about 45 minutes away in Santa Cruz. From Santa Cruz, it’s a short drive north on Highway 1 to unique cove beaches near the town of Davenport. More sandy options near Santa Cruz include the beaches in Aptos and Capitola.

Just a bit farther north there are stunning beaches near the small town of San Gregorio and the resort town of Half Moon Bay, both an hour from San Jose by car.

More epic beaches are available to the south on the shores of Monterey Bay near the historic city of Monterey and upscale Carmel at the start of a memorable road trip down the Big Sur Coast.

And it’s not too far to drive north to see the best beaches of San Francisco.

There are so many beaches along the San Mateo, Santa Cruz, and Monterey coastlines to choose from, but here are our favorites that are just an easy day trip from San Jose, CA. These beaches are organized by their approximate driving time from San Jose.

Beaches on this list

  • Santa Cruz Main Beach

    Santa Cruz Main Beach is known as Boardwalk Beach because of the popular boardwalk and amusement park at the beach on the Santa Cruz waterfront. Main Beach is a south-facing […]

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  • Natural Bridges State Beach

    Natural Bridges State Beach is named for the natural arch in the huge rock located in the shore break here. This is one of the most photographed beach icons in […]

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  • Capitola Beach

    Capitola City Beach is a sandy beach at the north end of Monterey Bay in Capitola, CA. It’s a popular urban beach that can be jam packed on sunny days […]

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  • New Brighton State Beach

    New Brighton State Beach is a wide sandy beach at the north end of Monterey Bay. This state park has a large hillside campground in a wooded area surrounded by […]

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  • Redondo Beach on Half Moon Bay

    Redondo Beach is just south of downtown Half Moon Bay and just north of the Half Moon Bay Golf Links in the Ocean Colony community. It’s a long sandy beach […]

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  • Rio Del Mar Beach

    Rio Del Mar Beach is the main beach in the community of Rio Del Mar in Aptos, CA. It starts in the waterfront area at the end of Rio Del […]

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  • Davenport Landing Beach

    Davenport Landing Beach is a short drive from Highway 1 on Davenport Landing Road just north of Davenport, CA. Parking spots can be found along this loop road next to […]

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  • Scott Creek Beach

    Scott Creek Beach is one of the nicest beaches in the Davenport area north of Santa Cruz. The beach is right next to Highway 1 as it dips into the […]

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  • San Gregorio State Beach

    San Gregorio State Beach is a stunning beach in a valley about 10 miles south of Half Moon Bay and a short drive from Silicon Valley in the South Bay […]

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  • Pescadero State Beach – North Beach

    The North Beach at Pescadero State Beach is the main beach in this San Mateo County state park. It’s a wide sandy beach backed by dunes that are fun to […]

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  • Arroyo de los Frijoles Beach

    Arroyo de los Frijoles Beach is the southern beach at Bean Hollow State Beach. The parking lot is right off Highway 1 about three miles north of the Pigeon Point […]

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  • Marina State Beach

    Marina State Beach is a stunning sandy beach that sits below high rugged dunes in Marina, CA. Hang-gliders launch off the dunes and enjoy the ideal wind and launch conditions […]

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  • Monterey Municipal Beach

    Municipal Beach is the name given to the city-owned beach adjacent to the Municipal Fisherman’s Wharf 2 Pier in Monterey, CA. This is probably the busiest sandy beach in the […]

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  • Carmel City Beach

    Carmel City Beach is a long, wide, white sand beach that is hard to beat anywhere on the California Central Coast. It can be packed here on sunny days, but […]

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