Life's a Beach! Public Beaches Spanning From Carpinteria to the Ventura Harbor

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The beaches of Ventura County have something for everyone, be it the sand, the ocean breezes, surfing, volleyball, sunning, picnicking or just chilling out to the sound of the waves. Here we have compiled a listing of beaches just north of Ventura County in Carpinteria down the coast to the Ventura Harbor. Separately we highlight beaches stretching further down the coast through Oxnard, Channel Islands Harbor, Point Mugu and Malibu as well as up the coast in and around Santa Barbara.

The Santa Claus Lane Beach Area in Carpinteria is a south facing beach area popular with surfers, boogie boarders and sunbathers. Get there from the 101 by taking the Padaro Lane exit towards Santa Claus Lane, then taking a left on Santa Claus Lane. You can park in a small dirt area (there's room for maybe 10 cars there) on the ocean side or find street parking, which is plentiful. This is not an "official" beach to my knowledge, as in city or county-run. Just a private beach. No restrooms to my knowledge. Oh yes, you'll have to cross the railroad tracks...so be careful! Down the street is Padaro Beach Village, where you can grab a bite to each and do a little shopping.

On a separate note, you may be wondering why it is called Santa Claus Lane. Well the old-timers among you (including me) know that a gigantic roadside Santa used to reside here that now greets us off the 101 freeway in the Nyeland Acres section of Oxnard. Learn more about the history at this link.

Surfers, boogie boarders, body surfers and frolickers at the Santa Claus Lane area beach.

Surfers, boogie boarders, body surfers and frolickers at the Santa Claus Lane area beach.

Just down the street is the quaint Padaro Beach Village, where you can grab a coffee, breakfast, lunch, do a little shopping, etc. Very relaxing little area.

Just down the street is the quaint Padaro Beach Village, where you can grab a coffee, breakfast, lunch, do a little shopping, etc. Very relaxing little area.

Carpinteria State Beach is a mile long beach for swimming, surf fishing, tidepool exploring and camping. Dogs are allowed only at the picnic area. The park originally opened in February 1932. There are four campground areas with 216 family campsites and seven group campsites available. Seals and sea lions can be seen in the area December through May, as well as an occasional gray whale. Tidepools contain starfish, sea anemones, crabs, snails, octopi and sea urchins. Exit the 101 at Casitas Pass Road, go west to Carpinteria Avenue, make a right at the signal; then turn left on Palm.  The beach is at the end of Palm Avenue near 4th Street. Call 805.968.1033 or visit www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=599.

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Tar Pits Park in Carpinteria provides hiking and biking trails and a few benches, but no other park amenities.  Access to the park is very remote and it is suggested that you enter from the Carpinteria State Beach campgrounds or beach area.  Here you will see tar oozing out of the hills...so watch where you step! The Carpinteria Tar Pits are one of the five natural asphalt lake areas in the world! Visit www.carpinteria.ca.us/parks_rec/park_system.shtml for more information. The Carpinteria Harbor Seal Rookery can be reached by following trails east of the park. MORE ON TAR PITS PARK HERE

Beach view from Tar Pits Park in Carpinteria.

Beach view from Tar Pits Park in Carpinteria.

Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve is 53 acres of open space situated overlooking the Pacific Ocean is a series of walkways, trails and open space for ocean views, whale watching and fresh air. There are restrooms and I believe parking is free. This is not a beach for hanging out on the sand. Visit www.carpinteria.ca.us/parks_rec/park_system.shtml for more information. Take the 101 Freeway to Ballard Avenue and turn towards the ocean.

Rincon Beach Park is near the Ventura/Santa Barbara County line just a few miles east of Carpinteria. Just take the Bates Avenue offramp off the 101 Freeway to the ocean and on the right you'll find plenty of free parking and easy beach access, with picnic tables and restrooms. Just steps to the south of Rincon Beach Park is Rincon Point, known as one of the best surfing spots in the world. There is separate parking  and restrooms there.

Great photo opps here at Rincon Beach Park :)

Great photo opps here at Rincon Beach Park :)

South of Rincon Beach Park is a brand new (premiered September 2014) Class I bike path that takes you through the La Conchita Beach area to Mussel Shoals. La Conchita Beach is low key, with several access points from the La Conchita Bike Path area. You can park at Rincon Point and bike or walk to one of several access points from the path or perhaps even better, drive into La Conchita and take the new undercrossing that'll get you to the beach by walking under Highway 101.  When I last looked, there were no restrooms or other facilities at the beach.

La Conchita Beach

La Conchita Beach

Mussel Shoals is a small beach community in Ventura with around 50 homes. There are about a dozen public parking spots along Old Pacific Coast Highway, paralleling the 101 near the Cliff House Inn. No restrooms. If you go there, perhaps have lunch at the Cliff House Inn and take in the peaceful views, while also checking out man-made Rincon Island.

Mussel Shoals

Mussel Shoals

The beach between Mussel Shoals on the northwest and Seacliff on the southeast is referred to Oil Piers Beach. There used to be piers here until they were taken down in 1998. You get here either via the La Conchita Bike Path or by taking the Seacliff Exit (#78) from Highway 101, then take Pacific Coast Highway northbound to Mobil Pier Road, where you will drive under the 101 to find parking (and if there's no spots available, go back to PCH and you'll find some). No facilities to my knowledge at this beach.

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Hobson Beach Park is located north of Faria Beach Park and the Rincon Parkway, at 5210 W. Pacific Coast Highway, Ventura. It is managed by the County of Ventura. Day use parking is free but limited. Restrooms available. Limited beach space. Camping and RV spaces are available on a first come, first served basis. CLICK HERE for more info or call 805.654.3951.

Rincon Parkway is located between Faria Beach Park and Hobson Beach Park on Highway 1 off the Ventura Freeway at 5275 Pacific Coast Highway, Ventura. 127 parallel parking spaces are available for RV use only; no camping. All RV's must be fully self-contained units as there are no hookups, utilities, etc. Minimal beach, mostly rocks. Next to a train track. But nonetheless fun to stop by from time to time.

Faria Beach Park is located south of Hobson Beach Park is another popular RV/camping spot at 4350 W. Pacific Coast Highway, Ventura. Also managed by the County of Ventura with spots available first come, first served. There are restrooms. No dogs on beach but they are allowed in camping areas. CLICK HERE for more info or call 805.654.3951.

South of Faria Park and north of Solimar Beach is an area referred to as Mondos Beach. We recently rode bikes from the Ventura Pier past this area and saw plenty of families enjoying the sand and the water. There is parallel parking available on the old highway. I believe there are also some porta-johns available.

Mondos Beach area in Ventura, south of Faria, north of Solimar.

Mondos Beach area in Ventura, south of Faria, north of Solimar.

There's a strip of beach along Old Highway 1 between Mondos Beach and Solimar Beach that has parallel parking available, with large rocks separate the street from the beach. I don't know the name of this beach, but it is there, open to the public. There's not a specific street address but it is in the proximity of 3456 Pacific Coast Highway.

Solimar Beach is a strip of beach between Faria and Emma Wood known for surfing, swimming and fishing. Park along Old Highway 1. No facilities. There are about 60 homes along this beach.

Emma Wood State Beach is popular for swimming, surfing and fishing.  The Ventura River estuary is at the mouth of the Ventura River at the southeast end of the park.  It attracts a variety of wildlife including raccoons, songbirds and great blue herons. Dolphins are occasionally seen just offshore. The park also features the crumbling ruins of a World War II coastal artillery site. Emma Wood offers family camping for self-contained vehicles only and group camping is available at Ventura River Group Camp. There are 90 campsites. There is a day use area in the park and beach access is available.  A bike path connects the park to Ventura and to the coast highway to the north. Parking is currently $10. Call 805.968.1033 or visit www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=604. Directions at this link.

We noticed a new sign at Emma Wood in the summer of 2015

We noticed a new sign at Emma Wood in the summer of 2015

The Downtown Ventura Promenade beachfront area stretches from Surfers' Point and Promenade Park at Figueroa Street and Shoreline Drive on the north, down the Promenade bike/walk path to the Ventura Pier. This is a popular area with lots of surfers, a cool kids' playground area just north of the pier and plenty of beach with lots of interesting looking rocks. There are several restrooms in the area. Great place to go bike riding with the family. Plenty of parking in the area on the north end. On the south side by the pier you may need to pay for parking at the Crowne Plaza on Harbor Blvd east of California Street or at San Buenaventura State Beach further east. CLICK HERE for a pdf map of the area.

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San Buenaventura State Beach stretches from the Ventura Pier down south past the homes of the Ventura Keys to Marina Park. This beach features swimming, surfing and picnicking. There are two miles of sandy beach, sand dunes, picnic sites, a parking lot and the Jolly Oyster. Bike trails connect to other nearby beaches. The 1,700-foot pier has a snack bar, Eric Ericsson's restaurant and bait shop. Wheel Fun Rentals is right near the pier if you need a bike. Visit www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=600 or call 805.585.1850.

Marina Cove Beach is a very popular family spot located at Marina Park, with a newer, small playground area, lots of parking (though weekends can get pretty packed), restrooms and a nice family-friendly beach.. Walk from Marina Park south to Soter Point for picnic area, mermaid statue and more.

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Fun stone jetty to navigate at the beach adjacent to Marina Park in Ventura.

Fun stone jetty to navigate at the beach adjacent to Marina Park in Ventura.

Harbor Cove Beach is located at the west end of Spinnaker Drive near Ventura Harbor Village and across from the Channel Islands National Park Visitor Center. It is a "still water" beach protected by jetties that is considered one of the safest family friendly beaches in the area (and also referred to as "Mother's Beach"). Restrooms and showers are available and across the street, next to the Visitor Center, is the Harbor Cove Cafe.

Harbor Cove Beach Lifeguard Station

Harbor Cove Beach Lifeguard Station

Surfer's Knoll Beach is located in Ventura adjacent from Ventura Harbor Village and as its name implies, is geared towards surfers, as well as others looking to relax and explore. Riptides are common here so be careful if you're a novice swimmer. There are restrooms and showers but no lifeguards on hand. Free parking!

And there you have it! Let's take a break for now but as mentioned above, beaches stretching further down the coast through Oxnard, Channel Islands Harbor, Point Mugu and Malibu are covered in this separate post!

But wait! Here's a compilation of beaches in the City of Santa Barbara and surrounding areas!