Are you vaxxed, waxed and ready for Hot Girl Summer? Whether you’re a California native or visiting for the first time, these beaches must be included in your road trip itinerary. Whether you’re looking to watch a beautiful sunset, surf some epic waves or have a bonfire with some friends, these are the go-to spots for every summer beach bum. Wherever you choose to spend your summer weekends, the foremost rules of Hot Girl Summer remain safety and to keep our beaches clean. In order to preserve the beauty of these locations, students need to do their part, HAGS!
Keep reading for the ten best beaches to visit while in California!
10. Santa Monica
This beach provides everything—good food, interesting people and sweet waves—but the main attraction has got to be the Pier. As businesses begin to reopen across California, the city is once again coming to life. Amongst the many attractions that you need to come see, the crazy street performers, Playland Arcade or one of the heart-thudding roller coasters at Pacific Park should be at the top of your list. You’re guaranteed to have fun in Santa Monica, no matter what…just beware of the crowds.
9. Bolsa Chica
Bolsa Chica in Orange County is an Ecological Reserve home for native bird species. Habitats include open water, mudflats, salt marsh, coastal dunes, seabird nesting islands, riparian and freshwater marsh.
“Bolsa Chica is a really special beach, especially for the birds that inhabit it. If you plan to visit, be aware of the rules, like the drone ban. Protecting the wildlife of the area is the number one priority,” recreational bird-watcher and University of California, Los Angeles junior Edwin Sanchez said.
More than 200 avian species have been identified at Bolsa Chica and the reserve is very popular with birders and photographers.
8. Huntington Beach
All Orange County natives know that Huntington Beach is the summer spot for surfing or roasting marshmallows at the bonfire.
“Huntington is the perfect hangout spot for summer. The farmer’s market every Tuesday is a great spot to find good food and little trinkets, but Huntington is also a great place to take your date,” California State Long Beach sophomore Rommy Saadani said.
The lively nightlife and restaurants make the city a go-to romantic spot, however many would recommend sex on the beach. Although the city and its residents have become infamous over the past few months for its turbulent political scene, the beach is an attraction for those looking to enjoy a chill day by the sea.
7. La Jolla Beach
This beach isn’t the best-smelling beach, but as you kayak alongside seals and other oceanic wildlife, the smell becomes less prominent. The beauty and natural scenes make the visit totally worth it!
“University of California, San Diego wouldn’t be the leading research center it is if it weren’t for La Jolla. The beach and its wildlife serve as a reminder of what ocean conservation is all about and why it’s so important,” UCSD senior Kristen Anderson said.
La Jolla is a beautiful beach with lots of wildlife and enriching experiences, but it’s also home to one of the largest oceanography research schools in the country. Its waters and protected wildlife are important facets of the California ecosystem that we should strive to protect. The deluge of local artists selling paintings, jewelry and other knickknacks inspired by the gorgeous scenery and wildlife make for great souvenirs and collectibles.
6. Crystal Cove State Beach
The hidden caves and rugged coast of Crystal Cove State Beach offers Instagram-worthy shots and the comfort of a smaller, more secluded beach. The sandy alcoves make for the perfect photo or shady spot to relax under, away from the large crowds that usually swarm popular California beaches.
Don’t forget to grab a quick bite to eat at the Shake Shack as you cruise down the Pacific Coast Highway. Not in the mood for a beach day? Hike up El Morro Canyon instead to watch the perfect coastal sunset. The sights truly make for an unforgettable day.
5. Pfeiffer Beach
The beaches of Big Sur, California are a truly unique scenic experience: the rock formations and shallow waters remind one of a Caribbean vacation rather than your generic, everyday beach, and the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is no exception.
The park is named for a Pioneer woman famous within the county, but the beach is most known for its unique purple sand, which is sadly best visible after rainfall. Instead, this summer you can check out one of the great hiking trails in the area, one of which leads to an 80-foot waterfall that drops from looming granite cliffs into the ocean waters.
Pack your cameras when you come visit because Pfeiffer Beach is everything you would want in and more in an Instagram photo.
4. June Lake
Though not technically a beach, June Lake in Mono County remains the ideal campgrounds for anyone looking to take a break from the classic beach trip. Make the day your own by enjoying the fresh air and wildlife the lake offers or dip your feet at the marina on any of the easily accessible rentals. You can also camp, hike, or enjoy a relaxing day at the local spa—this is your chance to escape for the weekend or enjoy a “beach” day with a unique twist.
3. Point Lobos State Reserve
Enjoy the coastal hike to Point Lobos State Reserve–a must see for anyone visiting the state. Visiting this beach is a truly unique scenic experience: the rock formations and shallow waters remind one of a Caribbean vacation rather than your generic, everyday beach.
“This is one of the best places to go scuba diving in California, you get to see so many fish and the seabed is gorgeous.” University of California, Riverside sophomore Aminah Ramjan said. “If you plan to come, I suggest having a picnic while the sun is setting—it was truly one of the most spectacular scenes.”
The art and cultural life in the city make it yet another place to visit with your family or to enjoy learning about local history at the Carmel Mission Museum.
2. Half Moon May
As the name implies, this crescent-shaped beach is a unique spot known for the shape of its coastline as well as the talented Mavericks who surf the giant waves. It’s no easy feat to surf here, especially when some of the waves can reach eight or 10 feet in height, but if you’re brave enough to try make sure you stay on the board.
“If you want to visit and surf, you have to prepare for the waves: wade as far into the water as you can and make sure that you get low enough, so the wave doesn’t get the better of you,” avid surfer and California State University, Fullerton sophomore Sabah Ahmad said.
If that isn’t your thing, just a short distance away is the Purisima Creek Redwoods Preserve. Enjoy a scenic hike or camp out under the stars while listening to the babbling waters of the creek.
1. Catalina Island
Enjoy the scenic views of Catalina Island as you hike (or zip-line!) over the island. Catalina’s Zip Line Eco Tour, going up almost 600 feet and zigzagging across the canyon, is one of the best ways to get to see the island and its gorgeous shoreline while also learning about the unique wildlife and plants native only to the area. Though a ferry is needed to get to the island, it’s totally worth the trip; be sure to snorkel through the crisp blue waters of the ocean, or simply bask in the sunshine at Lover’s Cove. Catalina Island is the true get-away spot for any beach bum.