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The Best Beaches to View the California Sunset

The Best Beaches to View the California Sunset

The next time you’re looking for the top places to see the sunset in California, head to these beautiful beaches for unparalleled views.


7 min read

January 10, 2021

“If you are in a beautiful place where you can enjoy sunrise and sunset, then you are living like a lord.” —Nathan Phillips

Is there anything more magical in the world than watching a California sunset by the beach? Glassy, calm, and candy-colored waters glimmering in the afterglow of golden hour—it truly is a remarkable sight to behold. As the sun sets, the California sky catches fire, causing the ocean to reflect the explosion of mesmerizing red and orange shades. 

Sunsets in California

There’s nothing like watching the last bits of light disappear over the gleaming ocean waters in California. There’s a good reason why the Golden State has the best sunset views: With an 840-mile-long coastline, California has no shortage of beautiful places to watch the sun sink below the horizon. So, the next time you’re looking for the top places to see the sunset in California, head to these pristine beaches to feast your eyes on the dramatic sky as vivid colors emerge and bestow tranquility upon the landscape below. 

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Spectacular Sunsets in San Diego

When San Diego sunset time arrives, take in the fiery hues of golden hour from Ocean Beach Pier.

Ocean Beach Pier

Location: 5078 Niagara Avenue, San Diego

Ocean Beach Pier is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque places to watch the sunset in California. Nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts come here to appreciate the beauty of the beach during San Diego sunset time. Plan an outdoor date at this SoCal spot and you’ll definitely land another one. 

Watch in awe as the sky comes alive in cotton-candy hues over the island of Coronado.

Coronado Beach

Location: Ocean Boulevard and Isabella Avenue, Coronado

Coronado Beach is the ultimate spot for watching the sunset in the San Diego coastal town of Coronado. (Bonus: You can bring Fido to this dog-friendly beach.) Here, you’ll see children flying kites and building sandcastles during the day, but once the sun starts disappearing into the horizon, the beach becomes ablaze in color and blows your mind. As one of the best beaches in San Diego, Coronado Beach is a must-see during sundown.

Beautiful Sunsets in Los Angeles

Prepare to be blown away by the setting sun at El Matador State Beach. The sunset views here are unparalleled.

El Matador State Beach

Location: 32200 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu

Just when you thought California sunsets couldn’t get any better, El Matador State Beach transforms into a fiery eruption of reds and oranges at golden hour. Here, you’ll view the best sunset in Los Angeles. Imposing bluffs and grand geological formations don the sunset colors and create a one-of-a-kind setting. Libras in particular would love this beach, but everyone should add it to their bucket list. 

Venice Pier Beach

Location: West Washington Boulevard and Ocean Front Walk, Los Angeles

Once it’s sunset time in Los Angeles, head over to Venice Pier Beach for rewarding views during golden hour. Surfers ride the waves as the waters gradually change colors, making it seem as though the surfers are gliding over a fire. Venice Pier Beach is one of the best places to watch the sunset in Southern California—do yourself a favor and visit this locale at least once. 

The Best Sunset in Orange County

Sit on the sand and soak in the enchanting sight of the sun sinking below the horizon.

Sunset Beach

Location: 19th Street and South Pacific Avenue, Huntington Beach

One does not simply go to Sunset Beach in California and miss the sunset—it’s blasphemy. The wide and sandy public beach knows a thing or two about the best California views for watching the sunset. While most beaches in Huntington Beach are busy, this one is rather quiet and tranquil. After a calm afternoon picnic, linger here to watch the sun disappear into the horizon—now that’s our idea of a day spent well. 

Sunsets in Santa Barbara County

Watch the waves crash against the shores as the sky transforms into a tapestry of colors.

Loon Point Beach

Location: 2781 Padaro Lane, Carpinteria

Behold the most dazzling Santa Barbara sunset at Loon Point Beach, where high bluffs loom above the sandy area. This beach is a hidden gem in Santa Barbara—most tourists prefer going to the city beaches. But at Loon Point, golden hour is a quiet and easy time to ponder and reflect because you’ll likely have the entire beach to yourself. 

Paradise Beach

Location: 6404 Brown Road, Santa Maria

It is simply heavenly to watch the sunset at Paradise Beach. As one of the best beaches in Santa Barbara County, Paradise Beach never disappoints when it comes to stealing the show during sundown. Accessing this beach isn’t exactly an easy task—it’s tucked between Point Sal and Mussel Point, and any route you take is an arduous trip. But that’s exactly what makes Paradise Beach so special; the best things in life are often the hardest to obtain.  

A Stunning Sunset in San Luis Obispo County

Cave Landing Beach

Location: Cave Landing Road, Avila Beach

Looking to visit unique beaches in California? Cave Landing Beach is the place to go. The hidden and hard-to-reach beach is a can’t-miss San Luis Obispo hidden gem that boasts some of the best California sunset vistas. A magnificent rock arch stands proud at Cave Landing Beach—tunnels, trails, and sea caves become radiant in vivid colors as golden hour arrives. You wouldn’t want to miss this for the world. 

Standout Sunsets in Monterey County

Breathe in the crisp coastal air and see the sun setting over the rugged coastline of Big Sur at Sand Dollar Beach.

Sand Dollar Beach

Location: 69232 Cabrillo Highway, Big Sur

There isn’t a single place in Big Sur that isn’t swoon-worthy—Sand Dollar Beach is no exception. Don’t be fooled by the name; the beach doesn’t have a lot of sand dollars. However, there’s a nearby campground for people looking to stay the night. Witness the beauty of the beaming golden hour as the sun slowly fades away. 

Carmel City Beach

Location: Ocean Avenue and Scenic Road, Carmel

Carmel City Beach becomes aflame with vibrant sunset hues every evening. The warm sands of the beach turn orange and complement the radiant California sunset. Visitors are allowed to start small bonfires on the beach—if you’re planning a romantic evening with your one and only, a beach date at sunset just might blow their mind.  

Epic Sunsets in San Francisco

Head to Marshall's Beach to witness the Golden Gate Bridge change hues as the sun drops in the sky.

Marshall’s Beach

Location: Lincoln Boulevard and Langdon Court, San Francisco

Marshall’s Beach offers one of the best photo ops in the Bay Area, especially during sunset. Providing a secluded experience, the beach is astonishingly photogenic, featuring incredible panoramas of the ocean and the Marin Headlands. Pay a visit to this Bay Area beach and explore the nearby military structures while the fiery San Francisco sunset takes over the sky. 

Sutro Baths

Location: 680 Point Lobos Avenue, San Francisco

There’s nothing quite like seeing the vibrant sunset colors paint the ruins of a historic site. Experience the magic of a San Francisco sunset at the Sutro Baths, a once large, privately owned public saltwater swimming pool complex. Now, only the wreckage of this S.F. hidden gem remains. Strong ocean waves crash into the ruins, almost as if they’re crying over the demolition of the swimming pool complex. 

Pretty Sunsets in Marin County

Walk to the Muir Beach Overlook at golden hour to experience one of the best sunsets in Northern California.

Muir Beach

Location: 200 Pacific Way, Muir Beach

Marin County stands out from the rest of the Bay Area thanks to its countless sunset spots, with Muir Beach being the best. The small and intimate beach is located three miles west of Muir Woods and features a 1.7-mile trail that leads to a scenic overlook—this is the perfect place to watch a Northern California sunset

Bolinas Beach

Location: Brighton Avenue and Cliff Road, Bolinas

Bolinas Beach is one of the coolest surf spots in the Bay Area. No two sunsets are alike at this beach, either. The epic California sunset spot is also perfect for going on a summer adventure, catching waves, or simply relaxing on the sand. The best part about this beach is that you can watch the last bits of light dim with your four-legged friend. 

Marvelous Sunsets in Mendocino County

Visit one of the most unique beaches in California to admire perfectly round rocks and an unforgettable sunset.

Bowling Ball Beach

Location: Highway 1 and Schooner Gulch Road, Point Arena

Bowling Ball Beach is undeniably the most magnificent place to watch the sunset in Northern California. It’s almost impossible not to notice the almost-perfect round rocks dotting the beach—it’s how Bowling Ball Beach got its name. The beach is worth visiting any time of the year, even in the cold. Witness the beauty of the watercolor-splashed skies during the unmatched California sunset

Hare Creek Beach

Location: 1211 Del Mar Drive, Fort Bragg

Unusual rocks, high cliffs, sandy dunes, and a densely vegetated gulch comprise Hare Creek Beach. The beach itself is set in a deep cove with multiple scenic spots to watch the sunset in California. Gaze up at the gates of heaven as the sky gradually darkens and the sun disappears from the scene. 

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