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Monday, September 21, 2015


We live in beach country. No, we don’t live on the water or even particularly close but a half hour drive down the freeway and there we are.

So what are our favorite beaches in Southern California? Not too many that tourists come to see. Santa Monica is OK, Venice is a bit too weird for us, Malibu’s just too hard to get to…especially in a wheelchair.

Watch the Video!

Some of you are scratching your heads and wondering just what’s left. Plenty.  Read on, watch the video above, and you’ll find our choices for the best beaches in Southern California.

Starting at the south end of Orange County, one very well-known and popular beach starts us off. Laguna Beach is an artsy town full of coves popular with snorkelers and scuba divers. The main beach is a people watcher’s paradise.

Nearby, artist Robert Wyland…the famous painter of whale murals around the world…lives on the waterfront. On the lower floor of the house is his office, a shop, and a hallway leading out to his terrace on the sand. You’re welcome to spend some time relaxing there, looking through his telescope, and just drinking in the view.

As with most area beaches, parking is tough but you should be able to find something.

Up the coast is ritzy Newport Beach. Waterfront mansions abut expensive shopping malls and high end restaurants. In the middle of all this is Balboa Peninsula which protects Newport’s harbor.

In from the peninsula is tiny Balboa Island reachable by bridge from Pacific Coast Highway. That’s the boring way. Instead we launch from the Fun Zone amusement park on the little Balboa Island Auto Ferry, a barge-like boat that has been floating cars…three at a time…across the channel for almost a century.

Huntington Beach, incorporated in 1909, struck oil…literally.  Pumps are sprinkled through the town, which has now grown into a city with a population approaching 200,000. World renowned for its surf, it is not uncommon for major surfing championships to draw over 100,000 spectators.

The wheelchair friendly concrete pier allows good, close-up views of the local surfers tackling the swells.

Beginning surfers find the gentler swells and small town atmosphere of Seal Beach more welcoming than its big neighbor to the south. We like it for the number of great restaurants and laid-back ambiance. A winter’s night dinner by the fireplace at O’Malley’s Pub on Main Street, followed by an evening stroll to the pier is about as good as it gets.

Across the county line from Seal Beach, Long Beach is the largest waterfront city in California except for San Francisco. It’s also the 7th largest city in the state, just ahead of Oakland and just behind Sacramento with around half a million people living there.

There truly is a long beach here but the port’s breakwater kills any ideas of waves. While not popular with the surf culture, families with kids flock here for uncrowded beaches with safe waters. At the sailing center in Alamitos Bay, the sand on the beach is packed hard enough for wheelchairs to roll on.

We like to take in a dinner in Belmont Shore or Naples Island and stroll along the waterfront mansions nearby.

Palos Verdes Peninsula is one of the last wild stretches of coastline here.  From San Pedro to Torrance, the road hugs the coastal cliffs as it winds through cove after cove. In the middle, the Point Vicente visitor’s center provides a nice place to whale watch, have a picnic, and even access to a small beach nearby.

The views of Catalina and the neighboring lighthouse are spectacular on clear days.

Our tour ends just to the north at Tim’s favorite beach, Redondo. Along with a nice stretch of sand, we like it for the pier which is loaded with shops, restaurants, bars, and attractions.

After buying Letty a pearl at the oyster shop, we’ll have dinner at one of our favorite restaurants…either Kincaid’s on the pier or Gambrinus in the neighboring marina. Our food is digested with a lingering stroll around the pier before going home.

Next time you’re in the area, take some time to explore one of these great ocean side destinations away from the usual tourist trail…maybe we’ll see you there.

Copyright 2011 – Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved


  1. Wow! Sounds like you're as spoilt for beach choice as I am downunder here in OZ!! But I bet I could more easily find a beach without crowds ... especially in South Australia!!

    Have a great weekend!!

    1. I think Tim should go further north into Malibu and Ventura County beaches. Some awesome surf up here too.

    2. Tim used to spend a week each summer at a camp in Malibu, right next to the fire station behind Neptune's Net.