The Search for the Best Beach in LA

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The Search for the Best Beach in LA

Being an Australian and having grown up spending most of my summers on the beach has made me something of a beach snob, so when I travel I often find myself a little underwhelmed by the beaches I come across.

That’s not to say I haven’t been able to find the beauty in a ‘less than Australian’ beach or have one hell of a good time, but it does mean that it’s a rare time that I am absolutely floored by a beach on the road. I’ve talked in the past about visiting the so-called “Hawaii of Korea”, the tropical island paradise of Hainan in China, and the beaches in Fiji – but my only real brushes with beaches in the United States (Miami, Sanibel Island, Ocean City and Assateague) had so far left with thinking that maybe America just didn’t do beaches. Most tended to be pretty with no surf, with only Assateague really measuring up to the standards I’ve come to expect.

But if California is famous for anything, it’s almost certainly the beaches of the state. On day #1 of Heather and I’s 14 day trek up the west coast and with day #2 already dedicated to visiting California Adventure, we thought it’d be a good day to tackle the task of deciding what the best beach in LA would be.

What Defines a Good Beach?

Everybody is going to have their own opinion on this, but here are my requirements for a good beach.

  • Surf: We Aussies like our waves. If there isn’t the chance I’ll be thrown around violently, I’m not into it.
  • Sand: I want to feel sand – not rocks or shells – between my toes. The whiter the better.
  • Natural Beauty: I want to be able to snap some photos too. Of the scenery, not the girls <_<
  • Not too crowded

To that end, we woke up bright and early on the first day of our trip and began our search for the best beach in LA.

The Contenders

Google wasn’t a whole lot of help, offering up entirely too many beaches for the title of best beach in Los Angeles. The iconic beaches such as Malibu, Venice, and Laguna were thrown up – as well as lesser lights such as Hermosa, Point Dume, and Leo Carrillo.

With Google not providing us with the answers we sought, we ducked into a little cantina for a late breakfast of tacos and burritos and asked a local what they thought. His nomination for a beach that promised less crowds and more photo opportunities? Leo Carrillo State Beach.

Ninety minutes and one parking ticket later, we’d found what we were looking for.

The Winner: Leo Carrillo Beach

I will be up front and say that Leo Carrillo didn’t meet all of my requirements from above. It had surf of the ‘watch out for big ass rocks if you fall’ variety and wasn’t crowded, but the many rock pools meant that it was definitely not a swimmer’s beach.

Its sand was also scattered with shells and driftwood, so I wouldn’t say it was the best sunbathing beach you could find either.

But as you can hopefully tell from the pictures below, it had natural beauty in spades. Our day at Leo Carrillo wasn’t filled with amazing adventures or particularly memorable hijinx, but damned if it wasn’t a pretty place to snap a few photos.


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