It may be winter, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy time at the beach in California. Our mild winters mean there’s never a bad time to sink your toes into the sand (though you may want to leave your swimsuit behind for a few months). And better yet, the off-season means the beach will be quieter.
But even though tourist season hasn’t officially arrived in California, you’ll still see some good-sized crowds at our beaches, especially at our most popular destinations. That’s why we’ve prepared a list of lesser-known beaches that are off the beaten path.
Of course, before you cruise to the coast, you’ll need a good car rental Los Angeles. Seeing the beach in California means doing a lot of driving, so get something reliable and comfortable. Check out car rental Los Angeles to see if you can find a deal on a more long-term car rental.
These 10 beaches may take a little more effort to find than our most well known spots, but the peace and quiet you’ll enjoy will be worth it.
Russ Cove Beach
Russ Cove Beach is hidden near Half Moon Bay on the north side of Pillar Point. It’s located near the Bay Area, and although it isn’t as warm as summertime, you’ll still be able to enjoy the coastal hiking trails the area is known for.
Also known as Cypress Cove, Seal Cove sits inside the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve at Moss Beach and has amazing tide pools to check out during low tide. You’ll also see a lush forest behind the beach with plenty of hiking trails.
Carmel Meadows Beach
Located on the outskirts of Carmel, Carmel Meadows Beach is the name of the small portion of Carmel River State Beach that is adjacent to the Carmel Meadows housing community. It’s a little rocky and rugged, but it’s much less crowded than the main Carmel River Beach.
Table Rock Beach
Table Rock Beach is a tucked away, locally loved place in south Laguna Beach. Skimboarders love the shape of the waves, but you won’t find big crowds of people here.
Pirates Cove Beach
Pirates Cove is a secluded beach in a small cove on the west side of Malibu’s Point Dume. You can access it from the southern end of Westward Beach, though it can be tricky to reach during high tide. But in an often crowded area like Malibu, sometimes a little seclusion is necessary.
Hidden Beach Park
This park is a small, hard to find place in the Rio Del Mar community in Aptos. It may seem like an obscure place to visit, but it’s located in a creek ravine that empties out onto a small but pleasant sandy beach.
Pinnacle Gulch Beach
Will you be visiting Bodega Bay? Head to the Bodega Harbor housing community, find the Pinnacle Gulch, and go straight to the bottom. This beautiful beach is for sure a must go to on our list of hidden California beaches. It begins with a wide mile-long trail and stairway that begins across the road from the parking lot. After you hike down to the narrow beach, you’ll find tide pools and beautiful large rocks.
Mesa Lane is located below the tall bluffs in Santa Barbara. The beach makes up a narrow band between the cliffs and the ocean, and it takes climbing down 241 stairs to reach it. Clearly, this is a beach best explored during low tide.
Fleener Creek Beach
Fleener Creek Beach is a beautiful hiking and beachcombing spot located near the quiet coastal town of Eureka. If you’re planning to road trip way up the coast to Northern California, this beach is a must-see. The Fleener Creek Trail is a nice, short half mile hike down a hill to the beach below the bluffs. To find it, start in the town of Ferndale and turn into Ocean Avenue until it becomes Centerville Road.
South Black’s Beach
The southern section of Black’s Beach, which is also known as Torrey Pines City Beach, is accessible through a gate at the intersection of Blackgold Road and La Jolla Farms Road. The beach has long, paved trails leading to it, and while parking is minimal, it’s usually easy to find.
Gray Whale Cove State Beach
Resting between the tiny town of Montara and Pacifica’s San Pedro Point, Gray Whale Cove is often missed by the tourists who pass it on Highway 1. While the beach tends to be a bit packed with locals on a clear and sunny day, it remains largely uncrowded on overcast days. Something to be aware of: You might see some nudity at Gray Whale Cove.
Luffenholtz Beach is one of Northern California’s most solitary beach environments. Best during low tide, the beach is a great place to observe the beauty of the Pacific Ocean while relaxing and enjoying some peace and quiet.