15 Beautiful West Coast Beaches Perfect For A Dream Vacation

These gorgeous beaches along the Pacific coast are a bucket list dream!

Last updated on Jun 07, 2024

woman relaxing on the beach Rido / Shutterstock

There are many places on the West Coast in the United States that are home to stunning beaches.

Even though Pacific Coast beaches are significantly colder than other beaches located along the Gulf Coast or Atlantic Coast, there's still much to see and experience.

For those who don't want to venture outside of the U.S., these West Coast beaches make it extremely convenient, whether it's for a family vacation, a girls' trip, or having a solo beach day in the sun.


These beaches are great to engage in fun activities or simply lounging on the sand, and are definitely worth a visit for the summer!

Here are 15 of the best beaches along the West Coast, perfect for any vacation

1. Coronado Beach, San Diego, California

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Coronado Beach is known to attract hordes of people that are captivated by its pristine aesthetic. The beach stretches on for almost two miles, and the sand, which contains mineral mica, quite literally sparkles in the sunlight.

RELATED: 25 Of The Best, Most Picturesque Beaches In The World


2. Cannon Beach, Oregon

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Although swimming at Cannon Beach isn’t too popular of an activity, the beach is known for its trails and vibrant nature explorations. There’s also diverse wildlife and the Haystack Rock, one of Oregon Coast's most recognizable attractions. But even if you don’t swim in the water, this beach is sure to offer breathtaking views and fun times.


3. Rialto Beach, Washington

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Rialto Beach is well known for its massive sea stacks, as well as Hole-In-The Wall, a sea-carved arch about 1.5 miles north of the beach itself. There are also wildlife on the beach, including otters, whales, and seals, which can be seen regularly. Rialto Beach is also an amazing place to go camping, and the area is just an hour’s drive from the Hoh Rain Forest.


4. Ka'anapali Beach, Hawaii

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Hawaii is gorgeous, there’s no doubt about that. And Maui’s Ka’anapali Beach is truly an oceanfront retreat. The beach offers a three-mile-long path of golden sand, as well as some activities to do, including snorkeling, whale-watching, surfing, sunbathing and, if you’re feeling really adventurous, cliff diving!

5. La Jolla Beach, San Diego, California

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La Jolla Beach, also known as the Jewel of San Diego, features some of the best swimming beaches in the country. The secluded sea caves are accessible by kayak, and snorkelers can even spot gorgeous fish in the waters. Within walking distance from the La Jolla Cove is the Children’s Pool, which is perfect for families with small kids.

RELATED: Science Reveals How A Trip To The Beach Actually Changes Your Brain


6. Carmel Beach, Monterey, California

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Carmel Beach is known for its pure white sands and magnificent coves. The beach was even recognized by National Geographic as being one of the best beaches in the world. And it’s no wonder, considering its gorgeous sunsets and amazingly blue water. It's also dog friendly and incredible for surfing.

7. Butterfly Beach, Santa Barbara, California

butterfly beach california David M. Schrader / Shutterstock

Butterfly Beach has a long stretch of sand and sits in front of the iconic Biltmore Hotel. The beach offers fun activities like surfing, kayaking, paddleboarding, and sunbathing, and is dog friendly. Butterfly Beach is also a favorite among locals, who rave about seeing dolphins and whales from the shore.


8. Long Beach Peninsula, Washington

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Long Beach Peninsula is 28 miles long and features different activities, including horseback riding, kite flying, volleyball, clam digging, and fishing. It’s perfect for those who really do love the beach, but want to try something new. Visitors can also paddle through the shallow waters in search of wildlife along the rocky shores.

9. Salmon Creek Beach, Sonoma County, California

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Salmon Creek Beach is a lesser-known location but is still a gem with its rugged coastlines and quiet cove. The beach is divided into two sections: North Beach attracts surfers, while South Beach is known for its two miles of sand, where people sunbathe and have picnics. No matter which side of the beach you choose, it’s bound to be an amazing time.


10. Main Beach, Santa Cruz, California

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Main Beach is well known for its boardwalk and amusement park, much like Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York. The Giant Dipper roller coaster is a must for anyone who decides to go, and being on the coast gives you a great view of Monterey Bay. Spend the day swimming, playing volleyball, or kayaking, and treat yourself to a fun boardwalk stroll afterwards.

RELATED: Why Warm Weather Makes People Fall In Love — And How To Make The Most Of It

11. South Carlsbad State Beach, San Diego, California

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South Carlsbad State Beach is regarded as one of the cleanest and most family-friendly beaches in California! There's plenty to do, including hiking, swimming, fishing, and overnight camping. Further south is South Ponto Beach, which offers the best conditions for surfing.


12. Rockaway Beach, Oregon

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Some of the highlights at this 7-mile beach include exploring tide pools and spotting whales offshore. It's also a popular place for photographers looking to capture the Twin Rocks in all their glory. At nightfall, crowds of people gather around bonfires to watch the starry sky.


13. Doheny State Beach, Dana Point, California

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Doheny State Beach is one of the most popular state beaches in California. On the northern end, surfers can find the perfect waves; on the opposite end, there are campsites available just a few feet from the sand. This beautiful location also offers volleyball courts and aquariums at the visitor center.


14. Manhattan Beach, Los Angeles, California

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Manhattan Beach is a staple for anyone visiting Southern California. Beach volleyball is a must, with courts found up and down the sand. There's also a 22-mile bike trail that leads through many neighboring towns, fishing off the pier, and even surf lessons for those who are new to the sport.

15. Laguna Main Beach Park, Orange County, California

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Though it’s famous for the 2004 reality television show, Laguna Beach draws many people looking to enjoy their summer days under the sun. You can relax in your own tide pool, explore age-old caves, and go hiking. There's even volleyball and a boardwalk!

RELATED: 15 Gorgeous East Coast Beaches For Every Summer Destination Bucket List

Nia Tipton is a Chicago-based entertainment, news, and lifestyle writer whose work delves into modern-day issues and experiences.