You can show your significant other how much they mean to you by organizing a dreamlike beach vacation in California reminiscent of something out of a fairytale. This state has everything from stunning blue coves to crescent-shaped coasts that are cool and comfortable.
If you’re looking for a romantic beach vacation, look no further than California’s breathtaking coastline. With 840 miles of coastline, there are many beautiful beaches to choose from – some may even make you feel as if you’re in a foreign land or stepping back in time. California has something for everyone, from rugged cliffs to cozy seaside towns.
The following article discusses everything you need to know about where to take your significant other on a romantic vacation. We will discuss the various California beaches and the activities you can enjoy there.
1. Crystal Clear Water La Jolla Beach
One of the most beautiful areas in San Diego features enviable shorelines and exceptional adventure opportunities. The neighborhood’s primary beach, La Jolla Shores, is ideal for families. In addition to being patrolled by lifeguards year-round, the beach features calm waters, a long shoreline, and a park with a playground.
In addition, adventurers can snorkel with leopard sharks at La Jolla Shores or garibaldi fish at La Jolla Cove when they are not kayaking through sea caves along the coast or observing sunbathing seals at Children’s Pool Beach.
This location is ideal for couples and families of all ages, as there are numerous opportunities for adventure. La Jolla is the perfect location for a SUP (stand-up paddleboard) excursion, snorkeling, kayaking, or even a scenic beach stroll. Check out the Marine Room at La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club for breathtaking ocean views during dinner.
2. The Romantic Carmel Beach
Travel to Carmel Beach to experience the best of central California’s beauty. The beach’s pearlescent sand, clear blue water, and untouched cypress trees make it ideal for a long, romantic stroll. After admiring the shore’s beauty, visit the nearby town of Carmel, which is brimming with locally-owned restaurants and boutiques.
Make sure to stay until evening, though, because Carmel Beach is known for its spectacular sunsets. Carmel Beach is one of the most romantic beaches in California, if not the entire world. It’s a small, beautiful beach with white sandy shores where dogs can run free.
With beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean, this is a great place to spend time with loved ones or even propose. (Be aware that this is not a swimming beach due to strong currents).
3. Crystal Cove State Park
Crystal Cove State Park is a slice of paradise in Orange County (near Laguna Beach and Newport Beach). The park contains numerous beaches, including Moro Beach and Pelican Point. In addition to scenic shorelines, Crystal Cove State Park is home to 18 miles of hiking trails spanning 2,400 acres of wilderness, allowing visitors to experience the best of Southern California’s beautiful terrain in one location. This beach is ideal for those who enjoy hiking and interacting with a natural coastline.
This romantic California beach is featured in the epic love story The Notebook, much to the delight of romance fans. “If you’re a bird, I’m a bird.” The ocean scene between Noah and Allie, one of the film’s most romantic moments, was shot here.
4. Glass Beach, Fort Bragg
If you’re looking for a romantic beach that will whisk you away to the most magnificent and enchanted place, this is it. Glass Beach is a treasure trove of shimmering, sparkling sea glass that attracts photographers from all over the world. It is a fun activity to do alone, with friends, or with a significant other.
For more than a century, residents of Fort Bragg threw bottles, cars, and appliances into the ocean near the city’s northern border. Instead of becoming enraged, Mother Nature transformed all glass bottles, headlights, and other glass into colorful jewels that washed up on three small beaches within MacKerricher State Park and are now known as Glass Beach.
Hunting for colorful glass is a popular tourist activity, so much so that the park administration had to stop it by asking people to look but not take it, or there would soon be nothing to see. One can reach the beach on foot by following a short but steep trail down the cliff to the water’s edge.
Although you cannot collect the colorful glass anymore, it is still worth visiting for its beauty and romance alone. There is a myth that sea glass is, in fact, the sad tears of mermaids in love with sailors.
5. Coronado Municipal Beach
Coronado Beach (near San Diego) is a tourist favorite frequented over the years. It is beautiful, spotless, and ideal for a romantic stroll. It features soft, golden sand, gentle waves, and breathtaking views of the renowned Hotel Del Coronado.
If possible, stay there during your romantic getaway. It is similar to traveling back in time. Numerous films (including Some Like It Hot) were filmed here and inspired the novels Somewhere in Time (which got set here) and The Wizard of Oz.
Coronado Municipal Beach is considered by many to be the most beautiful American beach and one of the best California beaches due to its glistening sand, gentle, warm waves, and picturesque surroundings. Four beaches make up the municipal beach: Coronado City Beach, Glorietta Bay Park, Tidelands Park, and Centennial Park. Both Glorietta Bay Park and Tidelands Park have picnic areas with grass and children’s playgrounds.
6. El Matador State Beach
This beach, with its dramatic cliffs, coves, and even hidden sea caves, is reminiscent of a Hollywood love scene. Whether igniting a new flame or reigniting an old one, you can count on El Matador to ignite your fire.
If you are driving along the Pacific Coast Highway in western Malibu, you will see a sign for El Matador Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in an area with an abundance of breathtaking beaches. There are picnic tables in the parking lot on top of the bluff before you brave the steep dirt trail, which descends on the bluff face before you find stairs that will take you the rest of the way to the beach.
The views everywhere, but mainly from the upper cliffs, are breathtaking, with enormous boulders, deep, dark blue water, and visible underwater kelp forests. The beach is top-rated among sunbathers, surfers, and swimmers and has a year-round lifeguard. At low tide, walk to the northernmost end of the beach to view large caves and rock arches at the base of the bluff.
7. Baker Beach, San Francisco
We recommend this beach if you’re in the Bay Area and looking for the best view of the Golden Gate Bridge. This location is ideal for a photo shoot or even a quick selfie session due to its dramatic background. We suggest going on a romantic picnic and watching the sunset together.
This romantic beach in California is an ideal getaway for Bay Area couples who don’t want to travel too far to enjoy themselves. Instead, plan a picnic in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, visit Fort Point National Historic Site, and schedule a photo shoot with a breathtaking backdrop.
8. Main Beach, Santa Cruz
Do you feel like your relationship is losing its “spark”? Then, plan a romantic trip to this California beach for a day of amusement park rides, soft-serve ice cream cones, arcade games, and good vibes. This bustling Santa Cruz spot, also known as Boardwalk Beach, always has something going on—impossible it’s to get bored at Main Beach.
Main Beach in Santa Cruz is as good as it gets in Northern California for a classic summertime beach experience. The beach is famous for its long stretch of soft, golden sand and mild surf.
The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, the most popular tourist attraction in Santa Cruz, fronts Main Beach. This classic wooden boardwalk is one mile long, filled with shops, carnival games, and the oldest amusement park in California.
Aside from sunbathing, Main Beach is ideal for outdoor activities such as bodyboarding, surfing, and beach volleyball. Dolphins, otters, sea lions, and whales may also be swimming offshore.
Main Beach has excellent amenities, such as public restrooms and lifeguards on duty during the summer. However, from November to February, the boardwalk and amusement park (as well as many tourism businesses) are closed.
9. Arroyo Burro Beach Park
Santa Barbara is the ideal location for a romantic weekend getaway. Santa Barbara is the perfect location for couples who wish to spend time together relaxing, rejuvenating, and reigniting their passion. We adore Arroyo Burro for a sunset stroll, and with ample parking and restrooms, it makes for a stress-free beach walk. The locals refer to Santa Barbara’s Arroyo Burro Beach Park as Hendry’s Beach. It has a long, scenic coastline ideal for strolling and admiring the Pacific Ocean.
With its breathtaking sunset views and beautiful cliffs, this quaint beach is ideal for unwinding, photographing, and having deep conversations. In addition to sunset strolls and good food, this beach is excellent for swimming, surfing, horseback riding (equestrian trails), and picnicking. Visit this beautiful, romantic beach. Also, dine at Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach, a popular upscale seafood restaurant with ocean views.
10. Half Moon Bay Beach
Check out Half Moon Bay if you’re a traveler who prefers large, beautiful beaches. This beach town, about 30 miles south of San Francisco, is renowned for its magnificent namesake beach, which is so expansive that it contains beaches within beaches. Dunes Beach in the north and Francis Beach in the south are excellent spots to soak up the sun.
The beaches of Cowell Ranch, Martins, and Tunitas Creek are also a must-see. The California Coastal Trail provides the best panoramas. Sunset is the most romantic time to visit these beaches.
It is wheelchair-accessible and features some of the most vibrant colors along well-paved paths. Follow the 3.7-mile Half Moon Bay Coastal Trail for a stroll through scenic terrain. Camping enthusiasts should reserve a site at the Half Moon Bay State Beach Campground. There are RVs and tents allowed. Please note that there are no water or sewer hookups.
11. Point Reyes National Seashore
Point Reyes is likely one of the most underrated California destinations. This national seashore, located approximately 40 miles northwest of San Francisco, caters to intrepid travelers with its miles-long trails, diverse wildlife, and remote landscapes. Most Point Reyes’ beaches are accessible by boat or on foot, though you can reach some of them by car.
Great Beach, Limantour Beach, and Drakes Beach offer spectacular views of the area’s cliffs and bluffs. However, swimming is discouraged here due to the region’s frigid ocean waters and frequent rip currents. Instead, you can spend an entire weekend exploring Point Reyes National Seashore’s 150 miles of trails, 80 miles of coastline, and lighthouse.
There are numerous beaches, although Kehoe Beach may be the most romantic. It is a secluded sanctuary characterized by rugged cliffs, granite rocks, cool weather, and crashing waves. Comparable to entering a Bronte novel in California.
Typically, the more northward one travels in California, the more dramatic and rural the coastal landscape becomes. The Point Reyes National Seashore is a prime example of this unspoiled beauty, sure to leave you speechless.
12. Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur
Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur is a breathtaking beach where couples cannot help but fall in love. It is a must-see stop along the Pacific Coast Highway, an incredibly scenic one-day drive. Its rocky cliffs, purple-colored sands, and numerous hiking trails make it one of the most romantic places in California to watch the sunset.
Travel to this secluded gem, preferably at sunset when the lighting is optimal, to photograph Keyhole Rock and explore the tide pools. However, keep in mind that swimming is discouraged due to the beach’s strong currents and underlying rocks.
Hike to a location from which you can view McWay Falls, photograph the renowned Bixby Bridge, and take your next favorite Instagram photo as a couple along the rugged Big Sur coastline. Pfeiffer Beach is a remote location that is difficult to reach (do not attempt to drive your RV down the narrow road), but the natural beauty makes the trip even more memorable.
13. Victoria Beach, Orange County
La Tour, also known as “Pirate Tower,” a tower resembling Rapunzel’s tower, gives Victoria Beach the appearance of a scene from a fairytale. Although you cannot enter the castle, seeing it close up with the waves crashing next to it is a majestic and romantic sight. Unfortunately, however, you can only access the tower during low tide.
In addition to the fairytale tower, you can visit the “swimming pool” and other Laguna Beach locations, such as Thousand Steps Beach. If you want to reach this location, walk to the north end of Victoria Beach in Laguna Beach, around the bluff, and past another sandy stretch of beach.
14. Pismo State Beach
Pismo Beach has everything you might expect from California, including beachgoers, surfers, fresh seafood, and colorful storefronts with an easygoing charm. Pismo Beach, located roughly halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, is a great place to get a feel for central California due to its unspoiled natural environment.
From the rolling dunes of Oceano to the jagged cliffs that drop into the Pacific, you will be in awe of Mother Nature for the duration of your trip. If you’re a hiker, you should check out the Pismo Preserve’s trails, which offer panoramic ocean views. Pismo Beach is renowned for its extensive stretches of soft, white sand and ideal climate, making it a perfect location for outdoor activities.
The tranquil area is also ideal for birdwatching, observing Western Monarch butterflies, and exploring the dunes. Pismo State Beach has attractive campgrounds if you enjoy camping. Or, if you prefer something more contemporary, you can stay in one of the charming beach towns (such as Pismo Beach or Cambria) in the vicinity.
15. Monterey Beach
What Monterey lacks in swimmable beaches, it more than makes up for in breathtaking scenery. Fort Ord Dunes State Park is an underrated gem, featuring sky-high dunes, spectacular views of the Monterey Peninsula, and four miles of relatively uncrowded beach.
Drive along Ocean View Boulevard or the legendary 17-Mile Drive to see the best of Monterey. Both routes pass by pocket-sized beaches whose beauty will astound you, including the romantic Lovers Point Park and Beach.
It is impossible to choose only one beach between Monterey and Pacific Grove. There are numerous picturesque vantage points from which to observe beach activities. Lover’s Point is the most popular location, where couples often congregate to watch the sunset and take photographs. It is also a popular location for wedding photos. There are also numerous enjoyable activities, such as kayaking, surfing, and boating.
Monterey is a popular tourist destination (as seen in Big Little Lies.) with numerous restaurants, shops, and hotels and the famous 17-mile coastal drive to Pebble Beach. In addition, Monterey is one of the most beautiful places to visit in California, with numerous photo opportunities along the way.
16. Santa Monica State Beach
This list would not be complete without mentioning the renowned Santa Monica Beach (near downtown Los Angeles). The location, featured in numerous films and television shows, is perfect for a date or a good time.
Its most famous landmark is the historic Santa Monica Pier, which features an amusement park, an aquarium, numerous shops, and restaurants, among other attractions. The beach is 3.5 miles long, has soft sand, and is a popular tourist destination due to its proximity to restaurants, hotels, and shopping. Although it can become crowded, it is an exciting location.
Santa Monica has 3.5 miles of beautiful sand beach bordered by a paved boardwalk and bike path. The boardwalk and bike path continues from San Monica to Venice Beach. The water is chilly, but the waves are typically tranquil. The Santa Monica Pier’s amusement park includes an aquarium, an antique carousel, and roller-coaster rides.
Santa Monica State Beach has numerous lifeguard towers to ensure the safety of visitors. In addition, there are multiple restrooms and showers available. Along the beach boardwalk, there are also several snack stands and cafes.
17. Leo Carrillo State Beach, Malibu
Malibu is one of the most incredible treats in Southern California. Here you’ll find large and small beaches ideal for exploring, lounging, or both. Visit Zuma Beach or Point Dume State Beach for expansive stretches of sand. Malibu Colony Beach and Puerco Beach offer views of some of the mansions that comprise this affluent neighborhood.
There is a lot to see between the beaches and the nearby mountains that at least several days are required. This rocky coastline has been the idyllic backdrop for several films, including the opening scene of Grease, in which Sandy and Danny say goodbye.
It isn’t easy to get more romantic than remembering your first love. This beach is well-known for The Karate Kid, though this association is considerably less romantic. The state park has 1.5 miles of beach, entertaining coastal caves, and tide pools. The park also features a campground with sycamore trees that provide shade.
18. Something For The More Adventurous Couples
California’s “clothing optional” nudist beaches are not challenging to locate if you know where to look. There are portions of the California coastline without nudist beaches (the entirety of Los Angeles County, for instance), but each state region has at least one. Typically, these beaches have a clothing-optional “zone” or area at the beach’s more secluded northern or southern end.
Note that you must obey all municipal, county, state, and federal laws, regardless of whether they get posted or not. Technically, nudity is prohibited throughout the state and is either a citable or arrestable offense under Title-14 section 4322 of the California Code of Regulations – public nudity. However, state park properties appear to be where rules get enforced. On other beaches, it is socially acceptable.
If you want to plan a romantic beach vacation or just a getaway with your significant other, then California is the place to do so. California has beaches with anything and everything a couple could want and more. You can visit various beaches, each having something else to see, explore, and experience. Some beaches are known for being used in famous film scenes or attractions.