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Not many places in California have a continuous stretch of sand like Monterey Bay. Between Santa Cruz & Monterey lies 31 miles of sandy coastline, only interrupted by the infrequent waterway, which can easily be crossed by foot. There is one exception, the Elkhorn Slough in Moss Landing cuts this long sandy coastline in half, and requires the help of Highway 1 to make the crossing.

Below are other areas with continuous beaches that don’t quite measure up to the shores of Monterey Bay.

The Pismo Beach & Oceano area has 14 miles of continuous sandy beach, and it has no major interruptions, unlike Monterey Bay. But even if you cut Monterey Bay in half (at Moss Landing), both segments are still longer. The Monterey to Moss Landing segment is 16 miles long and the Capitola to Moss Landing segment is 15 miles long. So Pismo / Oceano is still a runner up to Monterey Bay, no matter how you slice it.

IMG_3662 Guadalupe Nipomo Dunes from SouthPismo’s sandy shoreline

Santa Monica Bay is a worthy contender (especially considering that you can bike it), but it only covers 19 miles of coastline and it has two major interruptions, Marina Del Rey and Redondo Beach Harbor. However, each of the two major sections are about 8 miles long each, which is still a very respectable length.

Santa Monica Bay

In Orange County, there is a 15.5 mile stretch of sand from Surfside Beach to West Jetty View Beach on Balboa Peninsula. But there are three water crossings that require you to leave the beach for a short trek across pavement to complete this journey. Any way you look at this sandy shoreline, Monterey Bay can snub its nose at it.

Huntington Beach CaliforniaA typical OC sandy beach

Up north in Humbolt County there is an extended stretch of sand between Trinidad and Ferndale that is similar in length to Monterey Bay. However, it has three major water crossings, the Mad River, the Eel River and Humboldt Bay, all of which don’t have a walkable detour around them.

Humboldt’s long shoreline starts here (Moonstone Beach)

One final challenger to the sandy trek on Monterey Bay is the legendary Lost Coast Trail from the Shelter Cove trailhead to Mattole Beach trailhead. That segment is approximately 25 miles of rugged coastline that can be traversed on the beach if you schedule the hardest sections at low tides. Though seldom done, it is possible to walk the shoreline north from Mattole Beach for another 11 miles along the Mattole Road Beaches to Cape Mendocino making a total of around 36 miles and a clear winner for longest beach walk – but this is not your average beach walk. The Lost Coast is very remote and challenging so plan ahead if you want to do that trip.

If you are looking for a long, beautiful, and safe stretch of walkable sandy coastline in California, it has to be Monterey Bay. Here is a list of the 31 beaches you’ll find along the way (listed north to south).

Beaches on this map

  • 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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  • Pot Belly Beach

    Pot Belly Beach is a public beach in front of a private community and beach club in Aptos. The land on both sides of this community is owned by the […]

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  • Seacliff State Beach

    Seacliff State Beach is a long sandy beach on the waterfront of Aptos, CA. This is a great place for sunbathing or walking the sandy shores of Monterey Bay in […]

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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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  • Hidden Beach Park

    Hidden Beach Park is a small hard-to-find park in a creek ravine that empties out on a sandy beach in the Rio Del Mar community in Aptos. The park has […]

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  • Beer Can Beach

    Beer Can Beach is a locals beach in the Rio Del Mar neighborhood of Aptos, CA. This is a wide sandy beach below a bluff with homes built atop. Some […]

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  • Seascape Park Beach

    Seascape Park is a six acre city park that sits high on the bluff above the ocean in the Rio Del Mar area of Aptos. In the park you’ll find […]

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  • La Selva Beach

    La Selva Beach is a private beach with public access near Watsonville. The beachfront community with the same name is part of unincorporated Santa Cruz County but has a Watsonville […]

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  • Manresa State Beach

    Manresa State Beach is a day-use facility in the La Selva Beach area near Watsonville, CA. The main day use area of Manresa State Beach has a large paved parking […]

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  • Manresa Uplands Beach (Sand Dollar Beach)

    The Manresa Uplands Campground unit of Manresa State Beach has a separate entrance south of La Selva Beach, CA. This facility has a day-use parking area in addition to its […]

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  • Sunset State Beach

    Sunset State Beach is located west of the city of Watsonville, CA. This is a popular state park with a campground, nice day use picnic facilities, and a long wide […]

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  • Palm Beach

    Palm Beach is a day use area of Sunset State Beach which has a separate entrance. This park provides access to a wide sandy beach on Monterey Bay that is backed […]

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  • Zmudowski State Beach

    Zmudowski State Beach is located north of the small town of Moss Landing, CA. It’s a long remote sandy beach with tall dunes and vast wetlands behind it. The most […]

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  • Moss Landing State Beach

    Moss Landing State Beach is just north of the Moss Landing Harbor Channel entrance in the town of Moss Landing, CA. This is a long sandy beach backed by dunes. […]

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  • Moss Landing City Beach

    At the end of Sandholdt Road on the peninsula that protects Moss Landing Harbor there is a parking area with beach access. On the harbor side next to the entrance […]

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  • Salinas River State Beach – Moss Landing Entrance

    Salinas River State Beach has a northern unit with a parking lot and beach access in the small town of Moss Landing, CA. This beach is walking distance from the […]

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  • Salinas River State Beach – Potrero Entrance

    The Potrero Road entrance to Salinas River State Beach is on a strip of land between the Old Salinas River and the Pacific Ocean. This is the central entrance to […]

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  • Salinas River State Beach – Monterey Dunes Entrance

    Salinas River State Beach is an exposed sandy coastline between the Salinas River and the town of Moss Landing at Elkhorn Slough. This long state park protects mostly undeveloped lands […]

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  • Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge

    Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge has a long remote sandy beach at the mouth of the Salinas River north of Monterey, CA. The refuge is managed by the US Fish […]

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  • Marina Dunes Beach

    Marina Dunes Beach is located just north of Marina State Park about ten miles from Monterey, CA. Behind the beach is a resort, two hotels, and the Marina Dunes RV […]

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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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  • Marina State Beach – South Beach

    The southern part of Marina State Beach has a little-known separate entrance from the main state park. Marina South Beach is remote considering how close it is to the city […]

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  • Indian Head Beach

    Indian Head Beach is a remote sandy beach between Marina State Beach and Fort Ord State Park Beach. There are large dunes to explore and the beachcombing is hard to […]

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  • Fort Ord Dunes State Park Beach

    Fort Ord Dunes State Park is a relatively new California state park that protects the beach and dunes for a four-mile stretch south of Marina State Beach. This is an […]

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  • The Crater Beach

    “The Crater” and its adjacent beach are known as a clothing-optional area, but they should be known for the sandy playground that they comprise. The Crater is a huge depression […]

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  • Sand City Beach

    The small city of Sand City, California is completely wrapped around by the city of Seaside. Once an industrial area along the shoreline, Sand City Beach is going through changes. […]

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  • Monterey State Beach – Seaside Beach

    Seaside Beach is the northernmost of three separate sections of Monterey State Beach. Ironically, this is the only part of the city of Seaside, California that actually touches the “seaside.” […]

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  • Monterey State Beach – Roberts Beach

    Houghton M. Roberts Beach is the middle portion of the three separate sections of Monterey State Beach. This beach is an excellent spot to relax or walk at the edge of the […]

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  • Del Monte Beach

    Del Monte Beach is a hidden gem known to Monterey Bay locals. It’s tucked away from the main streets and located on the back side of a coastal housing community. […]

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  • Window on the Bay Beach

    Window on the Bay Beach (aka Windows Beach) is the southernmost of three separate sections of Monterey State Beach. This state-owned beach is in front of the nicely landscaped city-owned […]

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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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