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The beaches of California provide a world-class landscape for taking photos. Both professional and hobby photographers love capturing the Golden State’s crashing waves, sandy shores, seaside cliffs, piers, and palm trees on camera. You don’t even need an expensive Nikon DSLR – you can get albums of stunning photos by just using your trusty old iPhone.

Whether you’re looking to fill your portfolio or just to capture the perfect shot for Instagram, these shorelines across the state are especially picture perfect. They’re photogenic on camera, but of course nothing ever really compares to getting to see them in person.

Bowling Ball Beach

photography John Fowler on Flickr

photography Bob Dass on Flickr

On the north end of Schooner Gulch Beach near Point Arena, Bowling Ball Beach has massive round rocks across the shore that look like – you guessed it – giant bowling balls. When the tides are low, you can get surreal pics of these enormous rocks, and also explore the tide pools.

Shark Fin Cove

Santa Cruz Shark Fin Cove

When California’s oceanside beauty meets Jaws, you get Shark Fin Beach with a rock formation off-shore that looks exactly like a shark fin. It’s just off Highway 1, south of Davenport, and relatively easy to reach by way of a .3-mile walk. There’s a rock arch to photograph too!

Flat Rock Beach


Flat Rock Beach, a sandy stretch of shoreline below the bluffs of La Jolla’s Torrey Pines, has plenty of natural beauty you’ll want to get photos of. There’s dramatic seaside bluffs, a huge sandstone fin, a flat rock you can sit on at low tide, and of course, mesmerizing ocean views.

Pfieffer Beach


Pfeiffer Beach is a prime example of Big Sur’s wild beauty, with lots of great photo ops all day and evening. A giant rock sits off-shore with an arch through its base, known as “Keyhole Arch”, that you can capture both light and waves crashing through. The radiant colors at sunset here will just add all the more color to your shots.

Heisler Park, Laguna Beach

Spanning along oceanside bluffs, Heisler Park provides a dream landscape for both photography and cozy beach picnics. The park also has walking trails, gardens, tide pools, creative benches, and palm-tree lined beaches with Pacific views that are all just as beautiful behind the lens.

Natural Bridges State Beach

Read more about Natural Bridges State Beach

As you can probably tell from the name, Natural Bridges State Beach has endless photo ops with this massive natural rock arch that sits off-shore. You can snap pretty shots of the waves crashing through, or come in the evening to capture the vivid shades of pink, purple, and blue by sunset.

El Matador Beach

Read more about El Matador

Near Malibu, El Matador Beach shows off some of California’s most stunning oceanside beauty with sea stacks, sea caves, and by evening, the most radiant sunset hues. Visitors can find bluff-top parking available, along with a trail & stairs (pictured above) that leads you down to the beach.

Related: The Hidden Beaches of Malibu

Huntington Beach

Read more about Huntington City Beach

With a brilliantly-designed pier, up-front ocean views, and fiery red and orange colors by evening, Huntington City Beach is without doubt one of Southern California’s most breathtaking landscapes to photograph. The pier marks the middle of the sandy, three-and-a-half-mile beach, but you can go for a long walk in both directions to get away from the crowds.

To be fair, you can’t go wrong with photographing any beach in the beautiful state of California. What do you think – where are some of your favorite places to take photos?