Top 14 Warm Water California Beaches To Swim And Sunbathe
Golden State’s coast offers plenty of attractive seaside venues for beach enthusiasts who frequent popular swimming and sunbathing spots. You can enjoy many hours of healthy walking, relaxing and fun in the sun year-round in many places, but if your outdoor plans include swimming too, these are the warmest beaches in California you should include in your itinerary.
Warm beaches in Southern California
For the warmest beach weather in California -no surprise- you need to go to the southern shores where you find that sunny and dry weather you want to experience on summer days. During July, August, and September, Southern California beaches offer average daily temperatures ranging from 77 to 84 degrees F (25 to 29 degrees C). At the warmest places like Avila Beach, even during December and January the temps often reaches 67 degrees F (19 degrees C) which is perfect for balmy winter seaside excursions. Here’s what places have the hottest temperatures and warmest ocean water for summer and winter vacations in Southern California!
This spacious beach covers the town waterfront of Avila Beach, CA, and it is a fabulous locale for a California beach vacation. The scenic Avila Pier extends across 1600 feet into San Luis Bay. The older end of the pier is usually closed to visitors due to necessary repairs after repeated rough battering during storms. To the south, the picturesque area reaches into a headland with rocky surfaces.
Although Avila is one of the warmest beaches in California with ideal conditions for swimming when the weather is great, if you still find the ocean temperatures chilly, there is Avila Hot Springs nearby with heated freshwater pools. Within a short drive, a golf course welcomes visitors and there is a pirate-themed playground for kids.
This inviting beach includes areas on both sides of the Newport Beach Pier, from Balboa Pier Beach southward to West Newport Park heading north. The large wooden fishing pier offers spectacular views along the shoreline, and a variety of restaurants and shops are nearby. With fantastic vibes, clean water, and pristine sand, there is nothing not to complain about this place!
Surfers and swimmers especially like this warm beach in Southern California since lifeguards are always watching every movement so you can feel very safe. Should you look for a land activity, the paved Newport-Balboa Bike Trail stretching for miles next to the beach offering a fabulous way to tour the peninsula.
La Jolla Cove
This splendid beach is found at the northeastern tip of La Jolla, CA’s Ellen Browning Scripps Park. The majority of large waves from the west are blocked from rolling into the beach, which makes La Jolla Cove not only one of the warmest beaches in California but a safe place for swimming. Those who love exploring the underwater world also delight in this area since it is perfect for performing diving and snorkeling with 30ft visibility in the water.
Above the beach is a grassy park with steps leading down to the sand below. Near the cove’s south end is a tunnel through a natural rock wall with tide pools at its end where you can wade through with your kids and see anemones, crabs, and other sea creatures. It is also a good place to take pictures of sea lions but note that they do create a smell so prepare yourself!
Located in South Laguna Beach, CA, Aliso Beach County Park is a beautiful and popular sandy spot. It is a perfect example of one of the splendid warm beaches in Southern California, all in all, a fantastic place to take your family.
Nearby is Aliso Creek, flowing over the sand and into the ocean in the center section of the beach. Visitors are instructed to check the water quality before swimming here since the water coming from the creek can be contaminated if it was raining before, but generally, the area is very clean.
For swimming, you can walk north to Treasure Island Beach where rocks safeguard the shore and water. Here you will find surfers and bodysurfers enjoying the waves. Aliso beach has a charming play area for kids, maintained restrooms, and plenty of parking space.
This long and wide expanse of beach within Los Angeles County Park in Malibu is known as one of the warmest beaches in California where various water sport activities can be done including swimming, windsurfing, bodysurfing, bodyboarding and fishing. Although Zuma is known to have some powerful rip tides, there are multiple lifeguard stations to protect swimmers.
The main sandy beach is approximately two miles long with no home properties between it and the scenic Pacific Coast Highway offering fabulous walking along the shore and in the warm surf. There are plenty of picnicking areas and concession booths, volleyball courts, and a play area for children. A great alternative to Malibu beach if you are looking for a less crowded place to relax and unwind!
One can find many quiet beaches in Santa Barbara, but if you are looking for the best place for ocean swimming, go to Leadbetter! This beautiful white sandy area is directly west from the Santa Barbara Harbor. Primarily used by the locals and students from Santa Barbara College just across the street.
On bright days, this is the ideal spot for leisurely sunbathing, kite flying, walking, and jogging as well as for water activities. Nearby is a grassy park with picnic tables and barbecue facilities. In the middle of the beach, you will find Shoreline Cafe, a great spot for lunch. More restaurants are located at the east end near the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum. Leadbetter is an excellent choice for those who seek out swimming beaches in California with a wide range of amenities available.
Manhattan Beach is considered a perfect California beach where the views are fantastic, there are great bars and eateries around and many activities can be done! This picturesque place is popular with photographers due to the spectacular lengthy pier (which is the longest surviving concrete pier on the U.S. west coast) and the roundhouse with a bright red roof at the pier’s end.
Stunning turquoise railings made of steel that stretch to the end of the pier add more colorful character to the scene. Nearby are elegant palm trees that create a charming setting for this stalwart concrete pier built in the 1920s.
There is constant activity near this historic pier, especially since this is among the most popular beach venues on Santa Monica Bay. Plenty of shops and restaurants are located at the pier entrance, and there is an aquarium offering free admission in the red-roofed roundhouse.
The presence of lifeguards and warm waters make this spot an excellent swimming beach, but you can go fishing and surfing too at this lively Southern California beach! Parking is easy to find and usually, this location is not too crowded.
Warmest beaches in Northern California
Most people don’t really consider the cooler northern coastline as a typical beach vacation destination, because it is rocky with huge crashing waves, but there are still a few seaside venues that offer ideal conditions for water activities, especially during September when the air temperatures often rise above 70 degrees F (21 degrees). If you look for the warmest swimmable beaches in Northern California, these are the 7 best spots to visit!
Crown Memorial Beach
Named for State Assemblyman Robert W. Crown, who worked to preserve this site as a public park, Robert W. Crown Memorial Beach was formerly an amusement center. It is a model of superb engineering and landscaping, and beach erosion here is continuously restored.
This popular place is located in the city of Alameda and offers multiple attractions for a splendid beach vacation in California. The large park offers spacious lawns, picnicking areas with barbecue pits, a bike trail, and a 2.5 miles long shallow coast that makes it one of the best swimmable beaches in Northern California.
Attractions include the Crab Cove Visitor Center displaying exhibits of the colorful history of this region with hot-air balloon rides and carnivals. Exhibits of native plants and ocean wildlife provide engaging visits as well. Every June, the park sponsors a sand sculpture and sandcastle building contest for locals and visitors.
Seacliff State Beach
Located in Aptos, CA, Seacliff State Beach is both long and wide and offers various activities including sunbathing, swimming, picnicking, fishing and strolling. A welcoming promenade provides a beautiful ocean view and stairways down to the ocean to enjoy one of the warmest beaches in Northern California.
Anglers can enjoy the fishing pier, and there are plenty of benches for relaxing and basking in the sun while taking in the beautiful coastline view. There is even a sunken ship at the end of the pier: The SS Palo Alto was intentionally grounded off here to become an entertainment complex. Make sure to stop by at this interesting attraction when at Seacliff State Beach!
South Beach – Crescent City
South Beach is located directly south of Crescent City Harbor at the entrance to the city via Highway 101. This sandy and wide beach is known as one of the warmest beaches in Northern California, therefore is especially popular with the residents who come to swim here during summer.
Crescent City South Beach truly has something to offer for all types of beachgoers! If you are a pro surfer, you can enjoy riding the waves that encircle the harbor. Adjacent to the beach is South Beach Outfitters renting surfboards and offering advice for beginners. Kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding are also popular since this place is partly protected by harbor jetties to the west.
SeaSpiration Tip: we like this area a lot since there is a handicap accessible beach nearby (Beach Front Park) so even people using a wheelchair will have a great time here.
Hearts Desire Beach
Located in Tomales Bay State Park, Hearts Desire is a fantastic family beach in Northern California where activities are plentiful. There are plenty of grassy areas adjoining the beach as well for relaxing and picnicking. Both north and south there are pleasant hiking trails to other nearby beaches. One trail leads to a stunning grove filled with bishop pine trees called Jepson Memorial Grove.
This seaside haven is also one of the ideal swimming beaches in California because it is protected from winds, so the water is not too cold. Popular activities include kayaking, boating, clam digging, bird watching, and hiking on this fine location that you can reach by driving on Pierce Point Road to the entrance of Tomales Bay State Park.
Coyote Point Beach
If you are looking for warm beaches in Northern California where there are plentiful outdoor activities to do, visit Coyote Point! This active beach is on a point in San Francisco Bay midway between San Francisco International Airport and the San Mateo Bridge. It is a recreation area with an enormous playground for kids and with lots of things to do for adults.
Here you can enjoy playing 18 holes of golf at Poplar Creek Golf Course. You can also tour the marina and yacht club and enjoy viewing exhibits at the CuriOdyssey nature museum. Nearby are walking trails, a large playground, and a grassy park along with the beachside promenade.
You can bike around San Mateo on the San Francisco Bay Trail, which you can access right in the park. Beach activities include windsurfing, kiteboarding, boating, fishing, golfing, walking, birdwatching, biking, and picnicking, but swimming is also fantastic here since the water at Coyote Point is much warmer than on the ocean coast.
This less-crowded Bay Area beach is located at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It is not only one of the warmest beaches in California, but with picnic areas, grills, restaurants, and snacks bars around, it is an ideal spot to spend a fun day in the sun with your family or friends.
This place is perfect for beachcombing during low tide in the mornings when the area is the least populated. Near the far southward end, there are some sandy pockets of hidden beach where wearing clothing is optional. When going for a swim, check with the lifeguard on duty the ocean conditions since Rip currents are common here!
Big River Beach – Mendocino Headlands State Park
This scenic beach in the small California beach town of Mendocino begins at the point where Big River enters the Pacific Ocean. Here you can enjoy launching kayaks and canoes into Big River Estuary’s protected waters. The sandy beach is large and ideal for sunbathing and shoreline walks. During calm conditions, you can safely swim in the river.
If you are looking for warm beaches in Northern California to bring your family for a fun summer trip, Big River an excellent place to go! Should you plan a longer getaway, campgrounds are available at nearby Russian Gulch State Park and Van Damme State Park.
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When it comes to a beach vacation, Vic 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 where she wanders now? Follow her adventures on IG too!