From the soaring sea cliffs of Big Sur to the Mediterranean feel of Santa Barbara, California’s Central Coast mesmerizes with its epic beauty. Sip a pinot noir in the romantic Santa Ynez Valley, hike a redwood trail and discover gorgeous beaches tucked into rocky cliffs. With springtime rejuvenating your spirit, take a weekend to drive down Highway One to beautiful secret beaches, towering sand dunes, graceful waterfalls, and protected bays and coves for surfing, kayaking, diving, fishing, whale watching and beach bumming. Throw on your Ray Bans and flip flops and discover our favorite Central Coast beaches.
Monterey Beaches – Family Adventure
A sanctuary of sand and surf, Monterey offers beautiful beaches for relaxation or adventure, from surfing and kayaking to finding sea glass. McAbee Beach by Cannery Row is a small sandy hangout for wading in the waves, sightseeing, kayaking and scuba diving. Del Monte Beach is a popular local surfing and beachcombing spot and Carlos Beach at the end of Cannery Row is a haven for water sports and scuba diving in Monterey Bay.
With soft sands that shelf gently into the bay, Monterey State Beach is perfect for swimming and paddling with kids. The Monterey Bay Waterfront Park features sand volleyball courts, tree-shaded picnic tables, barbecue pits, kayak and bike rentals, and a section of Monterey Bay Recreational Trail.
Carmel Beach – Sugary Sands and Serenity
Edged by wind-imprinted cypress trees and bluffs, Carmel Beach is a mile-long crescent with sugary sands and an idyllic ambiance. Carmel Beach is a relaxing place to walk along the shoreline, build a sand castle or toss a ball with your dog. Just south, Carmel River State Beach is a pristine and more secluded stretch with silky sand dunes and diverse shorebirds.
Point Lobos Nature Reserve – Diving and Whale Watching
Santa Cruz Beaches – Classic California
If you want to ride waves, take your boards to legendary surfing spots like Steamer Lane and Pleasure Point. Situated at the foot of bluffs and tall sand dunes, Sunset Beach is a gorgeous, peaceful retreat for a picnic away from the crowds. On the northernmost end of Santa Cruz, New Brighton State Beach is a thin crescent beach on Monterey Bay, edged by forested bluffs with Monterey Pines. Enjoy long romantic walks along Panther Beach to see stunning sandstone formations, or explore Natural Bridges State Beach with an arched rock formation jutting offshore. For the adventurous, Its beach and Bonny Doon are clothing optional.
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park – Beach Hiking and Waterfalls
Pismo Beach – Swimming, Strolling and Sunsets
The Beach Life at Central Coast Hotels
Whether you need a romantic getaway in Monterey, a peaceful escape to Carmel or a spring break with the family in Santa Cruz, the Central Coast is dotted with hotels and resorts with every ambiance you can imagine.
Edging the Monterey coastline on McAbee Beach, the Spindrift Inn is a romantic boutique hotel with European inspired charm and breathtaking ocean views. Sip wine from the rooftop garden, enjoy a relaxing massage in your room, enjoy fresh local seafood at the Sardine Factory or savor a sunset with your toes in the sand.
Less than a mile from Del Monte Beach, Hotel Abrego is a contemporary boutique hotel near downtown Monterey. This is a wonderful place for lounging by the gorgeous outdoor pool, enjoying spa services in your room or suite, and indulging in local, seasonal food at Bistro Abrego.
If you want to experience the beach life and the fairways of Monterey, experience Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa. Located on Pebble Beach’s Del Monte Golf Course in beautiful Monterey, this luxury resort features impeccable rooms and suites, a tranquil spa, outdoor pools, breathtaking landscapes and wonderful eateries like TusCA and Fireplace Lounge.
And when you want to stay on Santa’s Cruz’s famous beach and boardwalk, the Hampton Inn Santa Cruz is a relaxing hotel with comfortable rooms and suites only steps from the sand and shore. Enjoy complimentary hot breakfast every morning, a fitness center and a heated indoor pool.