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IMG_6142 water warning sign bryce (Medium)

Are these the worst beaches in California? Well they are from a water quality standpoint. It’s too bad because we love most of these beaches.

Some of these beaches, like Clam Beach in Humboldt County, are repeat offenders and have been on the list for most of the last ten years. Others are not on the list that often, but remind us that many beaches are just not safe.

This list comes from Heal The Bay who has published their Beach Report Card for 2020 to 2021. In their annual report they publish a “Beach Bummer List” which lists the worst 10 beaches based on regular failing grades in water quality tests.

For 2021 it was very clear that you shouldn’t swim anywhere near the mouth of the Tijuana River. The closest beach on is Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge and Border Field State Beach isn’t far away too. Several beaches in Foster City made the list this time, but note that they are all inland on Central Lake and not on San Francisco Bay. As far as the bay is concerned it still made the list with Candlestick Park.

We also included a few stinkers from last year (e.g. Cowell Beach and Pillar Point Marsh) as they probably weren’t far down the bummer evaluation data. Our list is just to remind you that water quality is an important thing to consider before entering the water anywhere on the California shoreline.

The worst beaches are typically those on harbors, marinas, and bays where the water gets warm or doesn’t get cleaned out well by the tides. This is especially true after storms when street runoff can poison beaches with chemicals and bacteria. Beaches near urban river mouths and storm drains on the ocean are dangerous after storms too.

Before you go to any beach in California look for a water testing location near you to get a current water quality report.