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11 Secret California Beaches to Discover Next

11 Secret California Beaches to Discover Next

By California.com
March 13, 2021

As California mitigates health risks during the COVID-19 pandemic, some travel restrictions may remain in certain communities. Call the local and regional tourism offices to learn more about the restrictions in your intended destination. Thank you for reading, and stay safe.

Boasting divine coastlines and stunning hues, California never fails to paint a beach lover’s paradise. Whether you’re braving the cold for a winter beach trip or soaking up the summer sun, the Golden State’s coastline has it all.

While well-known beaches welcome visitors daily, other coves throughout California remain empty. These shores offer much-needed breaks from the real world—they’re concealed from the average passer-by. So if you want to avoid crowds, jump in the car and blast your favorite playlist on the way to these secret California beaches.

Can’t-Miss Hidden Beaches in California 

Live it up, be the best version of yourself, and enjoy the surf, sand, and sun at the one and only Seal Beach.

Seal Beach

Location: Ocean Avenue and Main Street, Seal Beach

Hours: Sunrise to sunset

Amenities: Lifeguard, fishing pier, grass park, restrooms, showers, playground, volleyball courts, benches

Dogs allowed: No 

Bike rack: Available 

Seal Beach is the perfect antidote to its overcrowded counterparts. Tucked between Long Beach and Huntington Beach, this white-sand delight is nestled along Orange County’s northernmost shore. Beachgoers here engage in activities such as surfing, bodyboarding, fishing, and volleyball. 

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Prized as one of the best hidden beaches in California, Seal Beach has views that never cease to amaze. The panoramic vistas encompass everything from mountains to sea life; this contrast becomes even clearer from the scenic pier. 

Carmel Meadows Beach offers the best escape anyone could ask for. Pack your bags, it's time for your oceanside escape.

Carmel Meadows Beach

Location: 2575 Ribera Road, Carmel

Hours: Sunrise to sunset

Amenities: Trails

Dogs allowed: On leash 

Bike rack: Available 

Despite being located next to the Carmel Meadows housing community, the beach tends to be much less trafficked than you might expect. With free street parking and a charming trail leading to the crashing waves, this beach is a must-see for hiking enthusiasts.

If you love rugged parts of the California coast, then Pfeiffer Beach is an excellent choice.

Pfeiffer Beach

Location: 9100 Sycamore Canyon Road, Big Sur

Hours: Sunrise to sunset

Amenities: Rock arch, tide pools, dunes, restrooms

Dogs allowed: On leash  

Bike rack: Available 

Located south of Big Sur Station on Highway 101, Pfeiffer Beach occupies a scenic undeveloped landscape. Mountainous heights and grand rock formations serve as a backdrop to this wide sandy stretch.  

The Pfeiffer shore features purplish-white sand and unlimited recreational activities. Feel free to explore the overlook and famous Bixby Bridge. 

Cloaked below a tree-covered hillside, Hidden Beach in Klamath is surrounded by huge rocks and drift logs.

Hidden Beach in Klamath

Location: Redwood Highway, Klamath

Hours: Sunrise to sunset

Amenities: Trails, driftwood, picnic tables, restrooms

Dogs allowed: No 

Bike rack: Not available

Tucked below the hillsides of Del Norte County, this beach lives up to its name with a long hike through giant rock formations. The tree-covered landscapes offer unparalleled trails and curious bird sightings are common all around the sandy area.

Hidden Beaches in the Bay Area

Nothing soothes your soul like a walk on Black Sands Beach. Admire the waves as they roll gently to the shore.

Black Sands Beach

Location: Conzelman Road, Sausalito

Hours: Sunrise to sunset

Amenities: Restrooms, trails, viewpoint

Dogs allowed: No 

Bike rack: Available 

Marin County’s Black Sands Beach is a remedy to everyday troubles. The picturesque landscape reflects on the water’s surface as you make your way down the black sand, offering a relaxing escape from normal life.

Due to its unique location, this secret beach offers California’s best views without the blazing heat. When you reach the parking lot, a wooden trail greets you, inviting you to explore further. While you’re soaking up the sun, keep your eye peeled for beautiful native fish and bird species.

Let the waves hit your feet at Marshall's Beach as you take a casual stroll with your feet in the sand.

Marshall’s Beach

Location: Lincoln Boulevard and Langdon Court, San Francisco

Hours: Sunrise to sunset

Amenities: Military structures, viewpoint, trails

Dogs allowed: No 

Bike rack: Available 

Steep cliffs and narrow paths make for quite a descent to Marshall’s Beach— one of the most scenic hidden beaches in the Bay Area. If you rise to the challenge, you’ll find that this secluded hideaway bumps against the Golden Gate Bridge.

Winding trails lead you through bluffs and stairways, only to grant you a front-row seat to a glorious San Francisco Bay sunset. Swimming is not advisable due to rip currents and cooler temperatures—but the sweeping views and picnic areas are sure to make up for it.

Estero De San Antonio Beach

Location: Oceana Drive and Lelani Lane, Dillon Beach

Hours: Sunrise to sunset

Amenities: Not available

Dogs allowed: No  

Bike rack: Not available

Nesting at the mouth of the Estero de San Antonio stream, this glorious sandbar puts the “hide” in hideaway. With practically no land-based access—except for a trail in the private Dillon Beach housing community—this secluded shore is a must-see for adventurers.

One of the most common routes to Estero De San Antonio involves either a boat or a kayak. Either way, you’ll set sail from Dillon Beach—the closest public access point. If you wish to explore this hidden gem for longer, rent a house in the Dillon Beach Community and revel in the marvelous surroundings.

Secret Beaches in Southern California

Discover the many secret pools and lagoons at Thousand Steps Beach. Trust us, you won't want to leave.

Thousand Steps Beach

Location: Coast Highway and 9th Avenue, Laguna Beach

Hours: Sunrise to sunset 

Amenities: Lifeguard, restrooms, showers, tide pools, caves, rock arch

Dogs allowed: No 

Bike rack: Not available

Relish in tranquil seclusion at Thousand Steps Beach—one of Laguna Beach’s finest coastal oases. Don’t worry if you’re not one for hiking; getting to this beach doesn’t actually require you to take a thousand steps.

Instead, the wooden steps lead you down to the scenic shore, where explorers are guaranteed to get their kicks. If you pass the large rock cave towards the southern end of the beach, you’ll discover a small cove—equipped with two swimming pools overlooking the ocean. This picturesque hotspot, though rewarding, can only be accessed at low tide.

Happiness comes in gentle waves at Torrance Beach. Lose yourself as you listen to waves crash against the shore.

Torrance Beach

Location: 201 Paseo De La Playa, Torrance

Hours: Sunrise to sunset

Amenities: Lifeguard, restrooms, showers, paved bike path, grass park, snack bar, volleyball courts

Dogs allowed: No, except for the nearby park

Bike rack: Available 

Nestled between Redondo Beach and Malaga Cove, this sun-soaked gem is an ideal sanctuary. Torrance Beach is the perfect spot for surfing, biking, swimming, and sunbathing. Nicknamed RAT Beach—an acronym for Right After Torrance—the shore is easily reached by way of ramps and is one of California’s accessible beaches.

This secret beach is also the start of The Strand, California’s 22-mile path meandering along the Pacific coastline from Torrance to Malibu.

The ocean breeze at San Carpoforo Creek Beach puts your mind at ease. Embrace the great outdoors and let go.

San Carpoforo Creek Beach

Location: 18550 Cabrillo Highway, San Simeon

Hours: Sunrise to sunset

Amenities: Creek, dunes

Dogs allowed: No 

Bike rack: Not available

San Carpoforo Creek Beach is a hidden wonder that shares part of its land with Los Padres National Forest. Located in the northernmost part of the Hearst San Simeon State Park, this sandy beach is one of the least trafficked Big Sur locations—perfect for wandering, surfing, and beachcombing.

A cool wind blows through most of the year, clothing the beach with eerie fog and Instagrammable locations.

Hidden San Diego Beaches 

South Ponto Beach

Location: Coast Highway and La Costa Avenue, Encinitas

Hours: Sunrise to sunset

Amenities: Restrooms, showers, lifeguard

Dogs allowed: No 

Bike rack: Available 

Along its beautiful 70-mile coastline, San Diego boasts some of the best beaches in the state. Armed with dreamy weather year-round, San Diego’s beaches have long been visitor favorites. But, with demand comes overcrowding.

If you’re in search of a less-packed alternative, look no further than South Ponto Beach. Located 35 miles north of San Diego, this beach hides in an undeveloped area between Carlsbad and Encinitas. The beach is rather wide, making it perfect for picnicking, playing volleyball, and sunbathing. Its seclusion only adds to its allure—especially when majestic whales emerge from the water.

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