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10 Hidden Beaches In Southern California – Secluded Places Without Crowds

One of the best parts about going to Southern California is the beaches. Home to more than 3000 miles of wonderful coastline, this state is ocean lovers’ paradise where all kinds of beachgoers will find places that meet their needs. However, sometimes the popular places get way too crowded. That is why we recommend now hidden beaches in Southern California where you can unwind and enjoy yourself without the crowds!

Anett Victoria - Author of SeaSpiration

Written by Anett Victoria

When it comes to a beach vacation, Anett is the person who certainly has tips on where to go and what to do no matter it is a luxury tropical holiday, a romantic seaside getaway, or a fun family trip to the ocean. As a world traveler with years of experience in exploring tropical countries and a water sports fan, she creates this inspiring site where she writes travel guides, reviews and recommends beach gear, and gives travel tips to make planning your trip quicker and easier! Are you curious about where She wanders now? Follow her adventures on IG too!

Seal Beach

Seal Beach is a charming beach community located about 28 miles from Los Angeles. Although it is very popular with local residents because of the prime surfing, but is still one of the least crowded beaches in Southern California.

Seal beach - California

It is home to the second-longest pier in the state and has many small shops and restaurants near the ocean that make it perfect for a nice afternoon walk or beachside dinner. Seal Beach covers 4.2 miles of coastline and is very wide. Its large size ensures that it never feels crowded. If you are lucky, you may also see the seals out in the water for which the beach was named.

Crystal Cove

Crystal Cove is a very small beach area located near Laguna Beach. This magnificent state park is carefully tucked away from the public. Here you can enjoy your time without the crowds you would find at Laguna Beach, so it has definitely to be mentioned among Southern California secret beaches.

Crystal cove beach

The place covers about 3 miles of coastline and is known for being a perfect place to bodysurf in Southern California. The beach area is also home to four tide pools that are brimming with ocean life.

Visitors can also take a short hike to the Crystal Cove Cottages, a national historical landmark of turn-of-the-century cottages that were frequented by the Hollywood elite. Crystal Cove is also famous for being the home of the characters from Scooby-Doo.

Emerald Bay

Emerald Bay Laguna Beach in Orange County is the only private beach in the state, and therefore one of the prettiest secret beaches in Southern California. Residents that live in Emerald Bay gated community are the only people that have access to it. However, if you receive an invitation to go to this beach, take it! It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Emerald bay

If your beach vacation in California takes you to this area, here are vacation rentals that may provide you with access to the beach. You may find that the best and only way to see this place is by driving down the Pacific Coast Highway.

SeaSpiration Tip: Check out more Secluded Beaches in Orange County!

Ponto State Beach

When looking for secluded beaches in California near San Diego, add Ponto State Beach to your list! The beach itself is divided into North Ponto and South Ponto and is located on each side of Carlsbad National Park.

Ponto state beach

South Ponto is one of the widest beaches in the area and has a lot of high dunes for kids to enjoy. It is a great place for sunbathing, playing volleyball, and having a great day at the beach. The water is warm, and the waves are manageable for children.

The much narrower North Ponto beach is one of those hidden beaches in Southern California that locals like to keep secret. It is frequented by surfers and families living in the area like to come here more than South Ponto Beach because it is less crowded than any other beaches.

Imperial Beach

Imperial Beach in San Diego is often considered the most southwestern city in the United States because of its location only 5 miles north of Mexico. The location is what makes it one of the most secluded beaches in Southern California.

Imperial beach pier Southern California

Many people do not realize that the beach is there and miss out on the warm waters, gorgeous pier, and perfect sand for building castles. In fact, the national sandcastle building competition has been held at Imperial beach for the last 32 years.

While you are here make sure that you enjoy some of the little shops and dining establishments nearby. Take a walk on the southernmost pier, and visit the Surfboard Museum.

Fletcher Cove

The wide but not too long Fletcher Cove is another one of the hidden beaches in Southern California in Solana Beach. However, when other beaches in the area are underwater due to high tide, Fletcher Cove usually will still have a beach area to enjoy. The cliffs around the cove are simply breathtaking providing a dramatic setup to watch the sunset.

Sunset at Fletcher Cove

Although it is a small, tucked away beach, it does have a lifeguard on duty so you can feel safe in the water. There are a lot of grassy areas and a playground for children, and a basketball court and picnic area as well. On top of this, the packed sand makes it a great place for running too!

SeaSpiration Tip: Find here more Secluded Beaches in San Diego!

El Matador State Beach

When it comes to unknown yet still famous California beaches, the only spot to come to mind is El Matador Beach. This beautiful, secluded place has amazing rock structures; therefore, this place is most used by photographers for swimsuit modeling and California sunset pictures. However, somehow it remains incredibly relaxed despite being so famous and mostly only locals know about.

Girl at El Matador

El Matador has a picnic area located at the top of the cliffs and you can descend to the beach via a staircase. Surfing, snorkeling, and sunbathing are the three most popular activities here. Many people also like to walk to the south end of the beach where they can explore the caves at low tide.

Leo Carrillo State Beach

Leo Carillo State Beach near Malibu that is part of a large state park. This place is most famous for its craggy rock formations, caves, and tide pools. Some people with a lot of experience can surf this area, but the rock formations make it hazardous for inexperienced ones.

Leo Carrillo is divided into two areas, north beach and south beach. The northern side is perfect for families to relax and play in the surf. This section is dog-friendly too. The southern part is where you find tidepools, caves and reefs. This area is a great place for watersports such as kayaking and bodysurfing.

Quiet Leo Carrillo State Beach - California

If you want to search the caves or tide pools at the beach, it is best to do so when it is low tide. Should you love hiking, there are several trails here leading to viewpoints from where you can see even the Channel Islands!

Leo Carillo is connected to a state park that has camping areas, trails, picnic areas and wide boardwalks that are wheelchair-friendly and make it one of the best accessible beaches in California.

Abalone Cove

Although this is one of the most beautiful beaches near Los Angeles, Abalone Cove is among the least crowded beaches in Southern California too. Getting down to the water can be a challenge for many people, this explains why it remains not too crowded. You can expect it to take about 15 minutes to get from the top to the beach area when you arrive.

Abalone Cove beach - California - USA

Abalone Cove has magnificent tide pools, caves, and rock formations. It is not a good place to surf, but it is an excellent place to go diving. The sea life here is amazing. Abalone Cove also connects to Sacred Cove, an even more remote beach that is believed to be a preferred spot for pirates in the past.

SeaSpiration Tip: See our tips on more Secret Beaches in Los Angeles area!

Butterfly Beach

When talking about hidden beaches in Southern California, we cannot leave Butterfly Beach out! This is a Santa Barbara secret beach that most people consider Central California, but in fact it belongs to SoCal.

Butterfly beach

The beach is very thin but extends all the way through Montecito. During high tide, there may be areas that you cannot access. However, during low tide, you can walk the entire beach to Santa Barbara.

The pretty and secluded beach is the perfect place to relax and take in some sun. There are no lifeguards or amenities, including no restrooms. You can, however, cross the street and find everything that you could need in Montecito.

If you found this article helpful, why not check our hidden beaches in Northern California top list!?

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Secret beaches in Southern California