With nine national parks and some of the most iconic cities in the United States, it’s no surprise that California attracts more tourists than any other US state. And that’s before we even get to the beaches. The 840-mile coastline has everything from city beaches, to surf meccas, to relaxed lagoons ideal for paddling and swimming.
Whether you’re a local trying to get to know your state better, or you’re planning a vacation for a later date, California’s beaches should be on everyone’s bucket list.
In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the most fun things you can do on the beaches of California. Whether you’ve got kids, dogs, or elderly relatives, there’s a fun activity for your next vacation! Don’t forget – if you’re going out on the water in a paddle board, kayak, boat, or canoe your whole family needs PFDs, including your pup!
Stand up paddleboarding with the WHOLE family
Ever tried to stand up paddleboarding? Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, California’s calm waters are an awesome place to tackle this serene yet fun water sport. La Jolla Cove, Monterey, and Catalina Island are just some of the top places you can enjoy SUP here. You can even head inland to do so at Lake Tahoe if you’re looking for a change of scenery.
While SUP is a solo sport, it’s nice to paddle with friends and family (and your dog) And we mean the whole family!
We know some people don’t see their vacation as complete without their furry friend. Incredibly, there is at least one beach in San Diego geared towards bringing your dog – and you can make them to stand up paddleboarding from there too. If you want to bring your dog on such an adventure, don’t forget to get a life jacket. You can learn more about this safety jackest on gilisports.com.
Peanut butter and jelly, Ben and Jerry, surfing, and California. These are all things that go together without a hitch! Listed as the state’s official sport, there’s even an entire day dedicated to surfing – 20th September, if you want to get involved.
Throughout California, waves are consistent year-round, and you can surf from any of the major cities on the coast. Those are the easiest places to find surf schools and get lessons if you’re a beginner. However, you can get off the beaten track for the most challenging surf at Newport Beach and Rincon Point.
For those who want to live and breathe surfing, Huntington Beach is a great place to stay. Not only can you spend the entire day catching waves, but you should also visit the Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum if you’re interested in the sport’s history.
More great beaches to go surfing in California are Malibu’s Surfrider Beach, Pismo Beach, while you have your pick of awesome places in San Diego!
Snorkeling and Scuba Diving
The waters off California are teeming with wildlife, and snorkeling and scuba diving are your windows into the state’s magical underwater worlds.
Learning the basics of snorkeling can be a really fun activity to do as a family. All you need is a snorkel and your swimsuit – then you’re ready to jump into the warm, blue waters off a range of locations.
Catalina Island is an awesome place to go snorkeling as you’re likely to come across brightly colored tropical fish and beautiful reefs too.
Scuba Diving is another wonderful option too. If any of your family are new to it, there are plenty of PADI dive centers along the California coast. You couldn’t be in better hands! Anacapa Island, and Point Lobos National Reserve are two of our favorite places. Santa Cruz Island and the Naples Reef even have shipwrecks just waiting to be discovered!
Sea kayaking can give you a full-body workout, with a particular focus on building your upper body strength. Sea kayaks are your ticket to navigating off the beaten track coves, rock formations, and through caves that you could never access on foot.
Environmentally friendly, quiet, and minimal disturbance means sea kayaking is ideal for watching wildlife too.
Don’t miss spots such as San Diego’s La Jolla Shores, while further afield, you’re sure to love the Palos Verdes Peninsula, Tamales Bay, and Morro Bay.
One thing all the activities above have in common is the need for equipment. However, if you’re making an impromptu trip to the beach, you might not have time to source a board, snorkeling equipment, or a kayak.
With swimming, all you need to do is grab your swimsuit, maybe some goggles, slather up with sunscreen and you’re ready to go! And there’s no shortage of awesome beaches in California where you can practice your front crawl or float along to the backstroke.
Santa Monica Pier in LA has some nice spots, while Coronado Beach is a wonderful spot for families – no matter how you plan to spend your day at the beach.
People watch at Venice Beach
All of the activities we’ve looked at so far are water sports. But who says you have to get wet to have fun? The main attraction of Venice Beach is its iconic boardwalk. In fact, you might recognize it from films and TV shows, such as Romeo and Juliet.
The area surrounding the beach is packed with street performers – who could be anyone from unicyclists to chainsaw jugglers!
Go to the funfair at Santa Monica Beach
Another beach that you’re sure to recognize is Santa Monica Beach. The famous pier here has its own amusement park, complete with a wooden rollercoaster and big wheel. If you’re seeking thrills, you may want to have a go on some of the rides and enjoy the spectacular views out over the ocean from the top of the rollercoaster. That’s if you can keep your eyes open!
Prefer something a little calmer and quieter? There are plenty of places to eat and drink on the pier, or you could even enjoy an arcade game.
Chill out, relax, and enjoy the scenery
With such a long and beautiful coastline, it doesn’t matter where you go in California, you’re sure to be spellbound by its beauty. Going to the beach is about making the most of your time there. So, whether that’s paddleboarding, surfing, or just chilling out with a holiday read, do what makes you happy!