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Best Beaches on the California Central Coast
About 3 year(s) ago by MediaConnect

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


If you crave untamed natural beauty, get lost in Point Lobos State Natural Reserve – a spectacular destination for hiking, photography, scuba diving, and whale watching. Walk a scenic path through this magnificent coastal park to a dramatic, limestone point to look down into turquoise-blue waves. Bring binoculars to look for sea otters, harbor seals, sea lions, and gray blue whales in summer.
Explore hiking trails that follow the jagged shoreline to hidden coves, or dive into the ocean from the rocky beach at Whalers and Bluefish Coves. The reserve is an amazing scuba diving destination, protecting diverse fish, sea stars, and anemones. You’ll find several guided dive trips in neighboring Monterey Bay. 


Santa Cruz Beaches – Classic California


From a classic boardwalk to treasured surf spots, Santa Cruz boasts 15 miles of breathtaking coastline and beautiful beaches with stunning sunsets, playful Pacific waves and endless adventure. The popular Cowell Beach is a cool place to lounge in the sand, take a dip in the bay, learn to surf, or play volleyball. Experience that classic California feel at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk with games, rides and a famous wooden coaster overlooking the ocean.

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


Nestled along the Big Sur coastline, this incredible state park features a quiet beach in a little cove. Walk a path through the forest and meadows down to the beach and McWay Falls, which drops 80 feet from the cliffs. The park offers many scenic hiking and nature trails


Pismo Beach – Swimming, Strolling and Sunsets


You’ll find a relaxing vibe in this classic beach town on the Central Coast. Pismo offers long white beaches for strolling, lounging, surfing and enjoying spectacular sunsets. Walk along the boardwalk or go fishing from the 1,200-foot pier. This gorgeous seaside destination offers old-school serenity away from the fast pace. And, there’s a wonderful wine country just seven miles from the coast.


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.

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