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The 15 Best and Most Romantic Beaches in California You Need to Visit

From Malibu to Monterey, these are some of California's most idyllic and romantic beaches.

If you’re looking for a romantic beach getaway, look no further than the stunning coastline of California. With 840 miles of shoreline, there are plenty of beautiful beaches to choose from – some even feel like you’re visiting a foreign country or stepping back in time! From rugged cliffs to cozy seaside towns, California has something for everyone. In this article, we’ll highlight some of the most romantic beaches in California so that you can easily find a beautiful spot to visit.

most romantic beaches in california to visit; featured image with a collage of California beaches
Most Romantic Beaches in California. Photo Credit: Carmel Beach (By James), Glass Beach (By wollertz), El Matador (By bennymarty), Victoria Beach (By jonbilous), Pfeiffer Beach (By David), and Pismo Beach (By Matthew) – stock.adobe.com

Of course, romantic beaches aren’t just for couples! These idyllic beaches are perfect for anyone looking to connect to the Earth more and live that Romantic, imaginative lifestyle we love here at The Silver Petticoat Review!

So, set your sights on one of the most romantic beaches in California and enjoy the beauty of the Golden State!


15 MOST ROMANTIC BEACHES IN CALIFORNIA

(IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER)


#1 ARROYO BURRO BEACH PARK

Rainbow at Arroyo Burro Beach Park; most romantic beaches in california
Rainbow at Arroyo Burro Beach Park. Photo Credit: By korkeakoski – stock.adobe.com

Why This Beach is Romantic: Arroyo Burro Beach Park is located in Santa Barbara and is nicknamed Hendry’s Beach by the locals. It has a long, scenic stretch of coastline that’s great for walking and gazing upon the Pacific Ocean.

With breathtaking sunset views and gorgeous cliffs, this cozy beach is perfect for relaxing, taking photos, and having thoughtful conversations.

Besides sunset strolls and good food, this is an excellent beach for swimming, surfing, riding horses (there are equestrian trails), and going on a picnic. It’s a lovely, romantic beach to visit.

Also, make sure to dine at the popular upscale seafood restaurant with views of the ocean, Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach.

#2 CARMEL BEACH – CARMEL-BY-THE-SEA

Carmel Beach with Dog
Carmel Beach with a dog. Photo Credit: By James – stock.adobe.com

Why This Beach is Romantic: Carmel Beach is one of the most romantic beaches in California or anywhere! It’s an intimate, gorgeous beach with white sandy shores where dogs can roam leash-free!

With serene views of the blue Pacific Ocean, this is a lovely place to enjoy time with loved ones or even propose! (Although this is not the beach for swimming due to strong currents, be aware!)

But what makes Carmel Beach so unique is location…location…location.

Carmel Beach is situated in the beautiful, whimsical, European-style village of Carmel-by-the-Sea, where you can find mouth-watering restaurants, adorable boutiques, art galleries, adorable inns, and more.

You can stay at charming, affordable hotels like Hofsas House or stay at Doris Day’s famous dog-friendly place, Cypress Inn, among many more resorts and B&B’s to choose from there.

Nearby is also Monterey and the famous 17-mile scenic drive.

So, stay in town for your vacation and take a short walk to the beach. It’s the perfect romantic getaway that should be on everyone’s bucket list.

#3 CORONADO BEACH

Coronado Beach and Hotel
Coronado Beach and Hotel Del Coronado. Photo Credit: By WaitforLight – stock.adobe.com

Why This Beach is Romantic: Coronado Beach (near San Diego) is one of our favorite beaches we’ve visited many times over the years.

It’s stunning, clean, and perfect for a romantic stroll. It has soft sparkling golden sand, gentle waves, and spectacular views of the famous Hotel Del Coronado.

If you can, make sure to stay there for your romantic getaway. It’s like stepping back in time. All the movie buffs out there will love that numerous movies were filmed here (including Some Like it Hot), and it also inspired Somewhere in Time (the book takes place here) and The Wizard of Oz.

It is a magical, idyllic place to stay, and the food is delicious.

#4 CRYSTAL COVE STATE PARK

Crystal Cove State Park
Crystal Cove State Park. Photo Credit: By Jongik – stock.adobe.com

Why This Beach is Romantic: Located in Orange County (near Laguna Beach and Newport Beach), Crystal Cove State Park is a slice of heaven.

It has pristine white sands surrounded by cliffs with 18 miles of trails for hikers to explore the unspoiled wilderness. So, if you’re into hiking and connecting to a natural seashore, this is the beach for you!.

The beach stretches 3.2 miles with numerous tide pools, an underwater park perfect for scuba diving, and 2400 acres of wilderness.

Inside the park, you can also visit the Historic District and see the 46 vintage cottages initially built in the 1920s to the 1940s for a seaside colony.

As of 2006, some of these cottages are available to stay in for a night, making the trip even more romantic!

For food, make sure to check out the Beachcomber Cafe in the Historic District.

#5 EL MATADOR STATE BEACH – MALIBU

Why This Beach is Romantic: Romance fans will love that this romantic California beach features in the epic love story, The Notebook! “If you’re a bird, I’m a bird.” The ocean scene between Noah and Allie is one of the most romantic moments from the movie and was filmed here.

So, what better romantic beach to visit than this one?

El Matador State Beach
El Matador State Beach. Photo Credit: By bennymarty – stock.adobe.com

The gorgeous cliffs, sea caves, and dramatic waves will make you feel like you walked into your very own Hollywood movie. There are plenty of secret hideaway spots to explore too.

It’s a romantic haven and an ideal spot for budding photographers.

#6 GLASS BEACH – FORT BRAGG 

Glass Beach Fort Bragg
Glass Beach Fort Bragg. Photo Credit: By wollertz – stock.adobe.com

Why This Beach is Romantic: If you’re looking for a romantic beach that will sweep you away into the most spectacular and magical place, then this is it!

Glass Beach is full of beautiful sea glass, a treasure trove of shimmering, sparkling pieces people travel from all over to photograph. It’s a fun thing to do on your own, with friends, or with a loved one!

Just FYI, due to the depletion of sea glass from tourists over the years, it is now illegal to take a piece of sea glass with you as a souvenir.

But it’s still worth going to for the beauty and romance alone. There is a myth that sea glass really is the tears of mermaids tragically in love with sailors, after all!

#7 HALF MOON BAY STATE BEACH

half moon bay state beach
Half Moon Bay State Beach. Photo Credit: By Sundry Photography – stock.adobe.com

Why This Beach is Romantic: Half Moon Bay State Beach is a beautiful, stunning place with four beaches (including Dunes Beach) and is ideal for bike riding. The most romantic time to go is at sunset. It does show the most spectacular colors along nicely paved paths and is even wheelchair-friendly.

Follow along the 3.7 mile Half Moon Bay Coastal Trail for an easy walk to see beautiful scenery.

If you’re into camping, make sure to reserve a campsite at the Half Moon Bay State Beach Campground. You can take RVs and tents there. Just be aware there are no sewer or water hookups.

#8 LA JOLLA & TORREY PINES – SAN DIEGO

La Jolla Beach
La Jolla Beach. Photo Credit: By jonbilous – stock.adobe.com

Why This Beach is Romantic: The warm ocean waters make this a superb California beach for swimming and surfing, as well as snorkeling and scuba diving.

There’s also a lot of sea life to spot too!

Here, a fun activity is to take the beautiful and leisurely hike from La Jolla to Torrey Pines and see the ancient cliffs. They’re breathtaking with a touch of romance to them.

#9 LEO CARRILLO STATE BEACH – MALIBU

Leo Carrillo State Beach; most romantic beaches in California
Leo Carrillo State Beach. Photo Credit: By Tupungato – stock.adobe.com

Why This Beach is Romantic: This particular rocky shoreline has been the perfect picturesque setting for many movies – including the famous opening scene from Grease when Sandy and Danny say goodbye!

It’s hard to get more romantic than with the reminder of young love. Of course, this beach is also known for The Karate Kid – although that is considerably less romantic.

The state park has 1.5 miles of beach, fun coastal caves, and tide pools. The park also has a campground with giant sycamore trees to keep you cool.

#10 MONTEREY BEACHES

The Lone Cypress at Sunset from the 17-mile scenic drive.
The Lone Cypress at Sunset from the 17-mile scenic drive. Photo Credit: By Stephen – stock.adobe.com

Why This Beach is Romantic: It’s impossible to pick just one beach from Monterey and the nearby Pacific Grove! There are numerous picturesque spots to sit and enjoy the beach activities.

The most popular is at Lover’s Point, where sometimes couples gather to watch the sunset and capture memories. It’s a spot known for wedding photos too!

Of course, there are also many fun things to do like kayaking, surfing, or boating.

Overall, Monterey is a top tourist destination (seen in Big Little Lies!) with lots of great restaurants, shopping, hotels, and, of course, the famous 17-mile scenic drive in Pebble Beach along the coastline. It’s one of the most beautiful places in the world, with numerous places to stop and take pictures along the way.

Now, if you want to do something really romantic and unique, you can rent a classic car in Monterey and drive around the gorgeous area like you’re Cary Grant in a classic Hollywood film! Such fun.

Don’t forget to check out Carmel-by-the-Sea too!

#11 PFEIFFER BEACH – BIG SUR

Pfeiffer Beach
Pfeiffer Beach. Photo Credit: By David – stock.adobe.com

Why This Beach is Romantic: Pfeiffer Beach is especially famous for two reasons: The Natural Keyhole Arch and the unique, purple sand.

The most romantic time to go is at sunset, when you can catch the last dregs of sunlight and waves peering through the rock arch. It’s a popular spot for photographers!

Pfeiffer Beach is a secluded location and not the easiest to get to (don’t try and take your RV down the small road), but getting there and seeing the beauty of the Earth here makes the trip feel even more special.

#12 PISMO STATE BEACH – SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY

Purple Wildflowers at Pismo Beach.
Purple Wildflowers at Pismo Beach. Photo Credit: By Matthew – stock.adobe.com

Why This Beach is Romantic: Pismo Beach is most famous for its long stretches of soft, white sand and its perfect climate – making outdoor recreation ideal here.

The serene location is also great for bird-watching, observing Western Monarch Butterflies, and checking out the sand dunes.

If you’re into camping, Pismo State Beach has nice campgrounds. Or if you prefer something more modern, then you can stay in a hotel in one of the charming beach towns (like Pismo Beach or Cambria) nearby.

#13 POINT REYES NATIONAL SEASHORE – 40 MILES NW OF SAN FRANCISCO

Point Reyes National Seashore
Point Reyes National Seashore. Photo Credit: By Alisha – stock.adobe.com

Why This Beach is Romantic: You can spend an entire weekend exploring the Point Reyes National Seashore with its 150 miles of trails and 80 miles of shoreline, not to mention a lighthouse!

More than one beach is here – although perhaps the best spot for romantics is Kehoe Beach. It’s a secluded sanctuary with rugged cliffs, granite rocks, cool weather, and thunderous crashing waves. It’s like stepping inside a Bronte novel but in California!

Swimming is not recommended in Point Reyes due to rip currents and the icy waters. However, you can go whale watching, kayaking, bird-watching, hiking, and more.

#14 SANTA MONICA STATE BEACH

The Santa Monica Pier
The Santa Monica Pier. Photo Credit: By aiisha – stock.adobe.com

Why This Beach is Romantic: Our list wouldn’t be complete without the famous Santa Monica Beach (near downtown Los Angeles)! The iconic location (seen in numerous movies and TV shows) is ideal for a fun date or having a good time!

Its most famous landmark is the historic Santa Monica Pier, which has an amusement park, an aquarium, lots of shopping, restaurants, and more.

The beach is 3.5 miles with soft sand and is a top location for tourists since it’s close to restaurants, hotels, and shopping.

While it can get crowded, it’s an exciting place to be.

#15 VICTORIA BEACH – LAGUNA BEACH (ORANGE COUNTY)

Victoria Beach Pirate Tower
The Pirate Tower at Victoria Beach. Photo Credit: By jonbilous – stock.adobe.com

Why This Beach is Romantic: Victoria Beach looks like something directly out of a fairy tale with its castle-like Rapunzel tower, La Tour, nicknamed the “Pirate Tower.”

While you can’t go inside, seeing the castle up close with the waves crashing next to it is a majestic, romantic sight! Although, you can only get to the tower at low tide.

Besides seeing the fairytale tower, you can also check out the “swimming pool” or even head on over to other Laguna Beach locations like the Thousand Steps Beach!

At Laguna Beach, you can swim, kayak, snorkel, and more.

The city itself is a gorgeous place to visit and is perfect for art lovers and romantics.

More of the Best Beaches in California to Visit:

Carpinteria State Beach
Carpinteria State Beach. Photo Credit: By DavidMSchrader -stock.adobe.com
  • Baker Beach: Good view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • Capitola Beach – the picturesque scenery and colorful houses make this quite the romantic location!
  • Cardiff State Beach – Encinitas, California
  • Carlsbad State Beach
  • Carpinteria State Beach – Considered one of the safest beaches!
  • Catalina Island Beaches
  • Channel Islands National Park
  • East Beach – Santa Barbara
  • Gaviota Beach – It has a hot spring, a ghost story, and a train you have to pass under to reach the sandy beach.
  • Hermosa Beach – Visit the famous Hermosa Beach Pier!
  • Huntington Beach – fantastic surfer spot!
  • Main Beach – Santa Cruz – It has a boardwalk and rides
  • Manhattan Beach
  • McWay Cove – Big Sur – There is even a waterfall!
  • Mission Beach – San Diego – A fun beach for the entire family
  • Moonstone Beach – Cambria
  • Moss Beach Beaches
  • Palos Verdes Peninsula, Los Angeles
  • Royal Palms Beach
  • Venice Beach
  • Will Rogers State Park

And so many more! For even more beaches to visit, check out this extensive list of beaches in California.

What do you think is the most romantic beach in California? Share your recommendation in the comments below!


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15 Most Romantic Beaches in California; pinterest image
Victoria Beach photo by jonbilous – stock.adobe.com

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By on February 17th, 2022

About Amber Topping

Amber works as a blogger/writer full-time and fell in love with stories and imagination at an early age. She has a Humanities and Film Degree from BYU, co-created The Silver Petticoat Review, contributed as a writer to various magazines, and has an MS in Publishing from Pace University, where she received the Publishing Award of Excellence and wrote her thesis on transmedia, Jane Austen, and the romance genre. Her ultimate dreams are publishing books, writing and producing movies, traveling around the world, and forming a creative village of talented storytellers trying to change the world through art.

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2 thoughts on “The 15 Best and Most Romantic Beaches in California You Need to Visit”

  1. Lovely list! Even this lifelong Californian found a few new places to add to my to-visit list. 🙂 I’d add a North Coast/the Lost Coast beach like those in Crescent City or Bodega Bay or Mendocino (the stand-in for Maine in Murder, She Wrote).

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