In a separate post, we highlighted beaches ranging from Carpinteria down south to the beaches at the Ventura Harbor. This is the 2nd installment of local area beaches that stretch from McGrath State Beach on down to the beaches gracing Malibu. We hope these compilations prove useful in guiding you to all the oceanfront fun Ventura County and adjacent areas have to offer!
Additionally, here's a compilation of beaches in the Santa Barbara area (excluding Carpinteria).
McGrath State Beach was closed from August 2014 until recently due to flooding from the Santa Clara River Estuary but recently re-opened half the campgrounds. However, McGrath is not available for day use.. Visit parks.ca.gov/?page_id=607 or call 805.968.1033 for more information. McGrath has 2 1/2 miles of beach available. Swimming, surfing, and water sports are discouraged because of rip currents. Currently (July 2019), half of McGrath’s campground of 174 sites is open. Make reservations by calling 800.444.7275. There's a .2 mile nature trail through jungle-like vegetation along the banks of the Santa Clara River. McGrath is 5 miles south of Ventura off the 101 freeway via Harbor Boulevard.
Mandalay Beach Park is 94 acres of undeveloped beachfront land located south of Reliant Energy's Mandalay Generating Station. The natural sand dunes and the wetlands ecosystem are recognized for their important natural value and houses several threatened bird species. This is a passive, natural open space park with no support facilities. The sandy ocean beach and adjacent coastal dunes are available for public day use only. The beach is managed by the County of Ventura on behalf of the California State Parks Department. Located at the corner of Harbor Boulevard and 5th Street in Oxnard. Visit www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=609. No dogs allowed.
Oxnard Beach Park has one of the best kids play areas around town, restrooms, lots of grass, and easy access to miles and miles of beach. The sand dunes are really large in Oxnard. The park is located at 1601 S. Harbor Boulevard. For more information, contact the Oxnard Recreation & Community Services Department at www.oxnardrec.org/17/3/960.
Hollywood Beach is a great spot for swimming, sunning and viewing the Channel Islands offshore. Free public beach volleyball courts, public restrooms on the north end of beach, on-street parking and lifeguards on duty between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Located right next to Channel Islands Harbor off of Harbor Boulevard. Dogs are allowed at Hollywood Beach on leash before 9am and after 5pm. West-facing beach means it great for catching the sunset!
Silver Strand Beach is a 1 mile long beach near Channel Islands Harbor, about 150 yards in width. It is capped by north and south jetties, both of which have small parking lots; one next to San Nicholas Avenue (at Ocean Drive), the other next to Sawtelle Avenue. Free parking from sunrise to sunset with limited restroom facilities. This is a sandy bottom beach break which may have rip tides and an undertow, so be careful. Dogs on leash allowed before 9am and after 5pm. Lifeguards on duty daily during summer months. Accessed via S. Victoria Avenue. Visit visitoxnard.com/listing/silver-strand-beach for more information.
There's a Kiddie Beach Park off of S. Victoria Avenue at Sunset Drive with available parking, restrooms and benches. It is a small sliver of sand that fronts the south end of Channel Islands Harbor and thus does not face ocean waves.
Hueneme Beach Park is 50 acres with picnic tables, barbecue pits, walking paths, a 24-hour fishing pier, sand volleyball courts, Surfside Seafood snack bar, lifeguards and restrooms. Beach parking lots and Surfside Drive parking available for a fee. No dogs allowed! Visit www.ci.port-hueneme.ca.us/index.aspx?NID=926 for more information. Located at 550 E. Surfside Drive, Port Hueneme.
Ormond Beach is 1,500 acres composed of agriculture, industry and wetlands. A two mile long beach extends from Port Hueneme on the north to Naval Base Ventura County on the south. This is one of the few areas in southern California with an intact dune transition zone marsh system, hosting over 200 migratory bird species. The California Coastal Conservancy is restoring these wetlands. A bit off the beaten path, it is probably more geared towards bird watchers and hikers. Get there via Hueneme Road, going south on either Perkins Road on the north and Arnold Road on the south.
Naval Base Ventura County occupies roughly 6 miles of oceanfront space between Ormond Beach on the north and Point Mugu State Park on the south. This space is not accessible by the general public. However, there are periodic opportunities for civilians to catch a glimpse of the Pacific Ocean from NBVC during organized events open to the public.
Mugu Beach is the first publicly accessible beach area south of Naval Base Ventura County off of PCH, located adjacent to the prominent Mugu Rock. For the most part this is the most quickly accessible beach to Camarillo and Conejo Valley residents. There is paid parking ($12 last time I was there) as well as parking available on PCH. Nothing fancy here and only a porta-john is available.
South of Mugu Rock there is also some beach that is accessible with plenty of parking on PCH. No facilities and not a lot of beach, but beautiful views and a quick place to explore.
Thornhill Broome Campground and Beach is also part of Point Mugu State Park, located a mile or two south of Mugu Beach. This is a campground right on the beach with a capacity for about 60 or so RVs. But of course you can visit for the day for a parking fee. Plenty of parking also available on PCH. Porta-potties available. Dogs are allowed around here as long as they are on a leash (and paleeeze...pick up after them).
Across the street on PCH is a gigantic, steep sand dune that I've always found to be interesting. Learn more about that sand dune here.
Sycamore Cove is at the southernmost beachfront portion of Point Mugu State Park. Point Mugu State Park features 3.6 miles of ocean shoreline (Sycamore Cove to Mugu Beach), with rocky bluffs, beaches, sand dunes, rugged hills and uplands, two major river canyons and wide grassy valleys dotted native trees.
Sycamore Canyon Campground across PCH from Sycamore Cove has 58 campsites. For a challenge, ride or hike down through Sycamore Canyon from Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa in Newbury Park. You'll most likely have to pay to park here (most recently $12 for day use) as there are not many spots on PCH available on the south side...watch out...there are no parking signs all over the place.
In the 3.3 mile stretch of PCH between Sycamore Cove Beach and County Line Beach (below) there are three or four places where you can park on PCH and access the beach.
One of these places I’ll call 26 Steps Beach. 26 Steps Beach is approximately 1.9 miles northeast of County Line Beach (see below) and 1.5 miles southwest of Sycamore Cove Beach (see above), at approximately 9999 PCH, just west of Deer Creek Road. I made up the name 26 Steps Beach because there is a well-worn, tagged up staircase that leads you from your parked car on PCH near the Call Box sign to the beach. This is not a bad little section of beach that rarely has many people. No restrooms. Parking is free on PCH.
County Line Beach is located across the street from the iconic Neptune's Net, 3 miles south of Sycamore Cove at 42505 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu. Lots of surfers and places to explore. Park on PCH. Watch out for bikers...there can be hundreds of them hanging out here on many a weekend. There are outer reefs for scuba diving that have an abundance of sea life. Activities include diving, surfing, and tide pools. No lifeguards on duty. There are a few porta-johns here.
Leo Carrillo State Park has 1 1/2 miles of beach for swimming, surfing, windsurfing, surf fishing and beach combing; one of our favorites for exploring sea caves, rocks and tidepools. Leo Carrillo is about 1 1/2 miles south of Neptune's Net at 35000 West PCH, Malibu. On the other side of PCH, Leo Carrillo has 135 campsites, with over 2,500 acres of land. Visit www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=616 or call 805.488.1827. Dogs on a leash are allowed in day use areas, campground and north beach (north of lifeguard tower 3). Dogs are not allowed on back country trails or south beach (south of lifeguard tower 3). Park on PCH or in the State lot ($12) and take the tunnel under PCH to the beach. More details on how to get to Leo Carrillo from the 101 freeway at this link.
Before the main Leo Carrillo Beach area while heading south on PCH is the Leo Carrillo State Park Staircase Beach area. There’s a California State Parks parking lot at approximately 40000 PCH. As of July 2019, day use fees were $3/hour, $8 all day and $7 seniors all day. Room for I’m gonna guesstimate 50 cars. There’s a moderately narrow trail that takes you down to the beach, which is also fairly narrow. You can also walk to this beach from the main Leo Carrillo Beach. Dogs allowed on leash.
Nicholas Canyon County Beach is 1 mile east of Leo Carrillo at 33850 Pacific Coast Highway. Great beach where you can hang out, fish, picnic, surf and more in about 25 acres. About 150 parking spaces available. Generally $10 to park, or park on PCH. More info at beaches.lacounty.gov/nicholas-canyon-beach. Restrooms available.
Located between Leo Carrillo and Point Dume State Beaches, Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach is made up of a number of cove or cliff-foot strands known as "pocket beaches" along the west end of Malibu, including El Pescador, La Piedra and El Matador. www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=633 Dogs are not allowed on state beaches.
El Pescador State Beach is 1.4 miles east of Nicholas Canyon at 32900 Pacific Coast Highway. Steep stairs lead to about 10 acres of narrow, sandy beach. It is just east of Decker Canyon, the curvy, steep road that takes you up to Hidden Valley/Westlake Village. Dogs are not allowed on state beaches. Parking is $8 or park on PCH. Small, secluded beach. Restrooms available. www.lamountains.com/parks.asp?parkid=146
La Piedra State Beach is .3 miles east of El Pescador at 32700 Pacific Coast Highway. Stairs lead to 9 acres of narrow, sandy beach. Dogs are not allowed on state beaches. Parking is $8 or park on PCH. Small, secluded beach. Restrooms available. www.lamountains.com/parks.asp?parkid=149
El Matador State Beach is .3 miles east of La Piedra at 32350 Pacific Coast Highway, just east of where Encinal Canyon Road intersects with PCH. A dirt path, then stairs, lead to 18 acres of narrow, sandy beach with beautiful rock formations and caves.
Dogs are not allowed on state beaches. There is a parking lot with room for 25 or so cars where you can pay $3/hour or $10 for all day (as of July 2017). You can also park on PCH, but on the north side...for whatever reason parking is prohibited on the south side of PCH. This means you have to cross PCH, which can be a challenge. There are porta-johns available. www.lamountains.com/parks.asp?parkid=145
Lechuza Beach in Malibu, a mile east of El Matador State Beach, is maintained by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority. It is a small, sandy beach with beautiful rock formations and views up the coast. Accessible via the northeast end of Broad Beach Road. More information and specific access points at www.lamountains.com/parks.asp?parkid=663.
Zuma Beach is located at 30000 Pacific Coast Highway about 3.5 miles east of El Matador. At 4 miles long, Zuma is one of the largest and most popular beaches in Los Angeles County, Zuma is known for its long, wide sands and excellent surf. Plenty of facilities, including several food stands, restrooms, showers, volleyball, etc. Plenty of street parking on PCH and over 2,000 parking spaces (currently $8 weekdays and $10 weekends). Visit beaches.lacounty.gov/zuma-beach for more information. Zuma is known for riptides, so do be careful out there.
NOTE: Fires, including BBQs, are not allowed on any beach in Malibu; the exception is that fires may be allowed in designated spots at some state beaches.
Point Dume State Beach is a 63 acre promontory that juts out into the Pacific and features headlands, cliffs, rocky coves and vast beach access for swimming, surfing, scuba diving and fishing. Westward Beach borders Zuma Beach at Zuma's south side. There is plenty of parking on Westward Beach Road, which parallels Westward Beach. To the southeast of Westward Beach is a small 300 foot or so beachfront area called Pirate's Cove Beach (which due to its seclusion was once used as a nude beach).
At the end of Westward Beach Road (WBR), access to the protected 34-acre Point Dume Natural Preserve begins from the cul-de-sac. A gradual ascending trail leads to an ancient coastal bluff sand dune with spectacular views...we've seen whales, seals and dolphins over here. A stairway from the east side of the bluff-top preserve allows access to a more isolated beach and tidepools (look but don't touch). Location/Directions: Take Kanan south to PCH and turn right. WBR is over the rise, at the foot of the hill. Park free on WBR or pay a fee at Westward Beach lot. No restrooms at the Preserve but some can be found on WBR. Call 310.457.8143 or visit www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=623 for more information.
NOTE: Dogs are not allowed on trails in the Point Dume Natural Preserve or on the beach.
Paradise Cove Beach is a private beach located at 28128 Pacific Coast Highway, accessed via Paradise Cove Road. It is a small, private beach open 7 days a week, sunrise to sunset. Parking (as of March 2017) is $6 ($8 weekends/holidays) for if you spend 4 hours at the Paradise Cove Beach Cafe (and spend at least $30 there) or $35/$50/day (weekdays/weekends) if you park there for the beach. There are restrooms, cabanas, lounge chairs and chairs for rent, a small pier. Visit www.paradisecovemalibu.com.
Escondido Beach is a short, narrow strip of beach accessible just west of Geoffrey's Malibu via a long stairway at 27420 PCH or near the corner of Escondido Beach Road and Malibu Cove Colony Drive. Look for access signs. No dogs allowed. No facilities.
Dan Blocker Beach is located at 26000 Pacific Coast Highway (between Solstice Canyon and Corral Canyon Roads. A sandy, narrow beach that draws surfers and scuba divers. Limited free roadside parking. Restrooms are available. Corral Canyon (trail map HERE) is located across the street at 25623 PCH. The trailhead is on the north side of PCH next to Malibu Seafood restaurant. The beach can be accessed from via a seasonal trail under PCH. 310.305.9546
Malibu Beach is a 167 acre beach at 23050 and 23200 Pacific Coast Highway that includes Malibu Lagoon, Malibu Lagoon Museum and the Malibu Pier. Malibu Surfrider Beach next to the pier is quite popular with local surfers. Parking available for a fee, or park on streets surrounding Malibu Country Mart and walk across PCH at the signaled crosswalk at Cross Creek Road.
Perhaps the most expensive strip of beach in the world is Carbon Beach, which stretches about a mile and a half between the Malibu Pier and just east of Carbon Canyon Road. This wide beach is a beautiful strip of sand, but public access points can be challenging to find and parking can be a challenge. Learn specifics at THIS LINK but specifically, the public accessway points are at 22670 PCH, 22466 PCH and 22126 PCH. No restrooms and no dogs allowed at this beach.
Las Tunas Beach is located at 19444 Pacific Coast Highway, about 4 1/2 miles east of the Malibu Pier. It is a narrow beach beneath the bluffs that holds a special attraction to surf casters. Free parking lot. Located between Tuna Canyon and Las Flores Canyon Roads.
And there's more...the California Coastal Commission Shoreline Public Access Program helps maximize public access to the beach along the California coast. When you see one of those "Coastal Access" signs, that means you can get to the beach. More on the program at www.coastal.ca.gov/access/accndx.html. The L.A. County Dept of Beaches and Harbors has published Malibu beach accessways at file.lacounty.gov/dbh/cms1_151453.jpg, including 11 accessways on PCH, Malibu Road and Broad Beach Road. But if you do check them out, be mindful of those who live there!