While Los Angeles has extended its lockdown through July 2020 (sigh), a bit of bright news did come out of Southern California this week: LA County beaches have officially reopened. With those good tidings in mind, here are three of our favorite places in LA for sand and surf.
Malibu’s beaches, tucked below the PCH and cut off from the rest of the world by the Santa Monica Mountains, are perhaps the most dramatically beautiful in Southern California. The Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach park is made up of three of these, the most stunning of which is El Matador. A trail descends from the bluff to the beach, offering access to caves, arches, sea stacks, and some of the most photogenic scenery in the 50 states. (Don’t be surprised if you come across a swimsuit model or a soon-to-be-married couple on a photo shoot.)
No mention of LA’s oceanfront is complete without the iconic, 3.5-mile-long Santa Monica State Beach. This one’s got something for everyone: Soft sand, a bike path, a surf break, easy access to downtown Santa Monica, the palisades, the Annenberg Community Beach House, and of course the famed Santa Monica Pier, the terminus of Route 66. Pro tip: Walk out to the end of the pier and you’re very likely to get barked at by a sea lion swimming in the water below.
We tend to associate Southern California with sun and surf, but this park in Rancho Palos Verdes, at the southern tip of LA County, offers an oft-overlooked wonder of the seashore: tide pools. Those who take the steep hike down from the bluff—go at low tide for best access to the pools—can rock-hop around for the chance to see starfish, anemones, and urchins. Kids will be enchanted, but keep in mind that the beach is part of an ecological reserve, so don’t let them try to bring any creatures home.