Beaches of Los Angeles: Which One is Right for You?

For those living under a rock, the city of Los Angeles is packed full of beaches!  In fact there are sandy beaches stretching the entirety of the county from north to south, each one with its own distinct character.  However not all beaches are created equal, and here we’ll talk about the differences of each beach in regards to natural beauty as well as the culture that exists within it.

For a city with so many beach options, there’s truly something for everyone.  From sections of sand packed with crowds to desolate  areas of peace and quiet, you’ll be sure to find something that suites your mood and personality.  So here’s the breakdown!  Going from north to south we’ve listed out each major stretch of sand with a blub on what to expect.  So now you can find out….which one is right for you?

Will Rogers State Beach:

Similar to the Malibu beaches in many respects and a hell of a lot easier to get to from LA, Will Rogers State Beach is a nice quiet break from the chaos of Santa Monica and Venice.  There’s a parking lot there if you want to drive, or if you want you can actually bike there from Santa Monica if you’ve rented a bike.  As you head up the coast you’ll notice people becoming less and less of an obstacle as you ride.

Santa Monica:

As seen on TV and in film, this is LA’s most famous beach and home to the Santa Monica Pier!  With tons of shopping and restaurants on the 3rd Street Promenade and a stretch of bars on Main Street, this place can get busy!  The pier itself is a constant madness with tourists coming from near and far.  As for the beach itself, you’ll probably notice that it’s packed full of people of all kinds…families, children and sunbathers.  It’s a bit of an overload.

Venice Beach:

Dogtown, Ghetto by the Sea, the Hippie Beach…no matter how you feel about it you have to admit that Venice Beach is something special.  These days this tiny section of Los Angeles is a crazy mix of hippies, thugs, yuppies and tourists.  It can be a little wild and obnoxious at times but it’s always entertaining.  The boardwalk is lined with shops, artists, and performers.  And if you get tired of the sand, make sure you check out the all-too-often forgotten Venice Canals as they are walking distance from the boardwalk.  Venice Beach is the only beach in Los Angeles city proper…all the rest are in other cities in Los Angeles county.

Marina del Rey:

The beach in the Marina de Rey should probably fall into that “average” category.  The sand and surf is just as good as anywhere but its mainly surrounded by residential housing so it’s not necessarily a go-to spot.  In fact it’s one of the few areas where the bike path doesn’t hug the sand so they really do a good job of keeping you away.  Other than that, the marina itself is a nice area to walk around on a sunny day.

Dockweiler State Beach:

This beach is primarily known for its evening bonfires where locals pile onto the sand with food and booze to enjoy the summer breeze off the ocean.  During the summer months, the bonfire pits fill up fast and it feels like a festival on the sand.  However most other times you can probably have this beach all to yourself as its pretty quiet…probably because of the airport backdrop.

El Segundo:

El Segundo is hardly a beach town but technically it does have a beach.  It’s probably the least desirable stretch of sand in Los Angeles due to the ever-so-lovely water treatment plant that sits only meters away from the sand.  You’d never make a specific point to come to El Segundo beach but you could easily cut across it while biking along the coast.

Manhattan Beach:

As the most northern of the “Beach Cities” (a name for the beaches of the South Bay), Manhattan Beach is most known for being a wealthy community of mid-30s professionals.  It sits on a sublime stretch of sand just south of the airport and has a laid back feel free of tourism and crazy partying.  In the summer you’ll frequently see volleyball and surf competitions taking place on the strand.

Hermosa Beach:

Spanish for “Beautiful”, Hermosa Beach definitely lives up to the name!  It’s a tiny portion of sand that is dominated by a mid-to-late 20s crowd and is the center of drunken debauchery for the South Bay.  In the day time the beach is packed full of volleyball players and girls in bikinis.  At night the central street of Pier Ave becomes a drunken mess of young professionals desperately trying to hold on to their college days.  Expect long lines and the occasional bar fight.

Redondo Beach:

Redondo Beach can be said to have two sides, one is the busy area of the marina and the other is the sparsely populated stretch of sand on its south side.  The marina is on the north side of Redondo and is home to a bustling wharf that hosts a plethora of sea food, carnival games, and boat docks.  It’s a popular spot for families.  The south side is worlds apart as a mostly forgotten beach where you’ll easily be able to bike or run while free of dodging other beach-goers.

Okay, that’s wrap for Los Angeles!  Although going north or south you’ll find a ton more beaches to explore.  With small beach towns to the north and Orange County to the south, we’ve only scratched the surface.

Daniel Royse Written by:

Daniel Royse is the founder and editor in chief of the online travel publication, This Boundless World. He has written numerous articles on travel, business and politics and has recently completed his first full-length novel titled The Watermelon King. Daniel is an obsessive writer and explorer who has backpacked to over 50 countries, spanning five continents. To the disbelief of many, he still enjoys long, hot bus rides through chaotic places. More information about The Watermelon King can be found at