15 Best Clear Water Beaches in California | Explore Now

best clear water beaches in california

California is known for its stunning beaches, and if you’re looking for crystal clear water and pristine shores, you’re in luck. In this article, I will introduce you to the 15 best clear water beaches in California, each offering its own unique beauty and unforgettable experiences.

From the iconic La Jolla Cove in San Diego to the hidden gems of Big Sur and the enchanting Catalina Island, these beaches will captivate you with their clear blue waters and picturesque surroundings. Whether you’re seeking a peaceful nature getaway or a vibrant coastal destination, California has it all.

So put on your sunscreen, grab your beach towel, and get ready to explore these incredible coastal jewels. Let’s dive in!

Best Clear Water Beaches in California

  • California is home to some of the best clear water beaches in the world.
  • From Southern California to Big Sur, there are plenty of options to choose from.
  • These beaches offer activities such as snorkeling, swimming, hiking, and more.
  • Don’t miss the chance to visit Catalina Island and the stunning Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur.
  • Plan your visit carefully to avoid large crowds and make the most of your beach experience.

La Jolla Cove, San Diego

La Jolla Cove is a well-known beach located in San Diego County. It is the epitome of a Southern California beach, with sparkling clear water, tall palm trees, and a rocky shoreline. La Jolla Cove is famous for its excellent conditions for snorkeling, allowing visitors to catch amazing views of fish and other marine life. In addition to snorkeling, the beach is also great for kayaking, swimming, and simply walking along the shoreline. However, as it is quite popular, it’s important to plan your visit carefully to avoid large crowds. La Jolla Cove offers a quintessential Southern California beach experience with its clear blue water and beautiful surroundings.

La Jolla Cove

With its stunning clear water and picturesque scenery, La Jolla Cove is a must-visit destination for beach lovers in San Diego. Whether you’re looking for an adventurous snorkeling experience or a relaxing day by the water, this beach has it all. Don’t miss the chance to explore the underwater world and soak up the sun at La Jolla Cove, one of the best beaches in San Diego and a true gem of Southern California.

Coronado Beach, San Diego

Coronado Beach, located on Coronado Island in San Diego, is a picturesque destination that offers stunning natural beauty and crystal clear blue water. The beach stretches for approximately 1.5 miles, providing ample space for visitors to relax and enjoy its pristine surroundings.

The white sand of Coronado Beach is ideal for sunbathing, picnicking, or simply taking a leisurely stroll along the shoreline. The beach is divided into different sections, each offering unique experiences.

  • The northern area of the beach is dog-friendly, allowing visitors to bring their furry friends and enjoy a day at the beach together.
  • The southern region of Coronado Beach is known for its perfect conditions for body surfing and longboarding, attracting water sports enthusiasts from near and far.
  • The central part of the beach is ideal for families, with gentle waves and shallow waters that are perfect for swimming and exploring tidal pools.

Coronado Beach is also famous for being home to the historic Hotel Del Coronado, a Victorian-style beachfront resort that adds to the beach’s charm and allure. The hotel provides a stunning backdrop and offers various amenities and dining options for visitors.

Whether you’re looking to soak up the sun, play in the surf, or simply admire the breathtaking views, Coronado Beach is a must-visit destination for beach lovers. Its pristine waters and picturesque setting make it one of the best beaches in San Diego and an unforgettable experience for visitors.

Coronado Beach, San Diego

Crystal Cove State Park, Orange County

Crystal Cove State Park, located in Orange County, is a hidden gem with clear water beaches. The park offers over three miles of coastline, including sandy beaches and rocky coves. The crystal clear water at Crystal Cove State Park is perfect for swimming and snorkeling, offering incredible views of marine life. The park also features hiking trails that meander through the coastal bluffs, providing breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. With its natural beauty and clear water, Crystal Cove State Park is a must-visit destination for nature lovers.

Crystal Cove State Park

Leo Carrillo State Beach, Malibu

Leo Carrillo State Beach, located in Malibu, is one of the best beaches in Malibu known for its clear water and stunning natural beauty. This picturesque beach offers ideal conditions for windsurfing, swimming, and exploring tidal pools, providing endless opportunities for outdoor adventures. Whether you’re looking to catch some waves or simply relax on the sandy shores, Leo Carrillo State Beach has something for everyone.

If you’re planning a family outing, Leo Carrillo State Beach is the perfect destination. Visitors can enjoy picnicking and camping in the designated areas, creating lasting memories in a beautiful coastal setting. Additionally, the beach is known for being a popular spot for spotting dolphins and whales, adding an extra touch of wonder to your beach experience.

With its crystal-clear blue water and abundance of recreational activities, Leo Carrillo State Beach is a must-visit destination for beach lovers in Southern California.

Leo Carrillo State Beach

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, Carmel

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, located in Carmel, is a natural paradise with clear water beaches and rugged coastline. The reserve offers several beaches, each with its own unique beauty. Visitors can explore the coves, tide pools, and rocky cliffs, providing endless opportunities for adventure and discovery. The clear water at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving, allowing visitors to experience the rich marine life up close. With its pristine beaches and breathtaking natural scenery, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts.

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

Explore the clear water beaches and majestic coastline of Point Lobos State Natural Reserve in Carmel. Witness the rich marine life up close as you snorkel or scuba dive in the crystal-clear waters. Discover hidden coves, tide pools, and rocky cliffs, and immerse yourself in the beauty and tranquility of this natural paradise. Whether you’re an adventure seeker or a nature lover, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is sure to leave you in awe of its pristine beaches and breathtaking scenery.

  • Crystal-clear waters perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving
  • Explore coves, tide pools, and rocky cliffs
  • Discover the rich marine life
  • Unforgettable experiences for adventure seekers and nature lovers

Plan your trip to Point Lobos State Natural Reserve in Carmel and experience the beauty of one of California’s best beaches. Explore the clear water, immerse yourself in nature, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Anacapa Island, Channel Islands National Park

Anacapa Island is a breathtaking oasis situated within Channel Islands National Park. This remote island, accessible by boat, is a hidden gem with its crystal clear water beaches. The pristine beaches of Anacapa Island offer a unique and secluded beach experience, away from the hustle and bustle of the mainland.

California islands with clear water

Visitors to Anacapa Island can indulge in a variety of aquatic adventures, including snorkeling and diving. The clear waters surrounding the island provide a window into the mesmerizing underwater world, where vibrant marine life thrives. Explore the underwater caves and kelp forests for an unforgettable experience.

For those who prefer to stay dry, Anacapa Island also offers hiking trails with breathtaking views. Embark on a scenic hike and immerse yourself in the untouched natural beauty of the island. You may even spot unique bird species along the way, making it a haven for bird-watching enthusiasts.

Anacapa Island stands as one of the best islands in California, offering unparalleled beauty and tranquility. Visit this hidden gem within Channel Islands National Park and experience the magic of its clear blue waters and untouched landscapes.

Catalina Island

Catalina Island is a paradise located off the coast of Southern California. With its crystal clear water beaches and breathtaking scenery, it is a must-visit destination for beach lovers. The island offers a variety of stunning beaches, each with its own unique charm.

best beaches in Catalina Island

Visitors to Catalina Island can indulge in a range of water activities such as snorkeling, kayaking, and swimming in the clear blue water. The island’s diverse marine life and vibrant underwater world make it a haven for adventure seekers. With the pristine beaches and calm waves, it’s the perfect place to unwind and enjoy the beauty of nature.

For those seeking a more active experience, Catalina Island offers hiking trails that wind through its picturesque landscape. From scenic coastal paths to thrilling zip-lining adventures, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. The island’s natural beauty and panoramic views provide a truly immersive experience.

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach getaway or an exciting adventure, Catalina Island has it all. So pack your sunscreen and get ready to explore this hidden gem with its crystal clear water beaches and unforgettable experiences.

Emerald Bay State Park, Lake Tahoe

Emerald Bay State Park, located in Lake Tahoe, is a hidden gem with clear water beaches and stunning natural beauty. The park offers a picturesque bay with crystal clear water, perfect for swimming and kayaking. Visitors can also enjoy hiking trails that offer breathtaking views of the lake and surrounding mountains. The park is home to the historic Vikingsholm Castle, which adds to its allure. With its clear blue water and serene atmosphere, Emerald Bay State Park is a must-visit destination for nature lovers.

clear water beach in Emerald Bay State Park, Lake Tahoe

Glass Beach, Fort Bragg

Glass Beach, Fort Bragg

Glass Beach, located in Fort Bragg, is a unique beach filled with colorful sea glass. The beach is a result of years of dumping trash into the ocean, which has been transformed into smooth, polished glass pieces. Visitors can enjoy the beauty of the glass pebbles while exploring the beach and its clear water. Glass Beach offers a one-of-a-kind beach experience with its unique natural treasures and clear blue water.

Shark Fin Cove, Davenport

Shark Fin Cove, located in Davenport, is a hidden gem with its unique rock formation resembling a shark fin. The beach offers clear water and breathtaking coastal scenery.

Visitors can enjoy exploring the rock formations, caves, and tide pools, creating a sense of adventure and discovery. Shark Fin Cove is a secluded and picturesque beach that offers a unique beach experience with its clear blue water and iconic rock formation.

Shark Fin Cove

Diver’s Cove, Laguna Beach

Diver’s Cove, located in Laguna Beach, is a popular beach known for its clear water and abundant marine life. The beach offers excellent conditions for snorkeling and diving, allowing visitors to explore the underwater world filled with colorful fish and kelp forests. Diver’s Cove is also a great spot for tide pooling and sunbathing on the sandy beach.

Diver's Cove, Laguna Beach

With its clear blue water and diverse marine ecosystem, Diver’s Cove is a must-visit beach in Southern California.

Montaña de Oro State Park, Los Osos

Montaña de Oro State Park, located in Los Osos, is a hidden gem with pristine clear water beaches and dramatic coastal cliffs. The park offers several stunning beaches, each with its own unique beauty.

Visitors can explore the tidal pools, hike along the coastal trails, and enjoy picnicking and sunbathing on the sandy beaches. Montaña de Oro State Park offers a secluded and untouched natural beauty with its clear blue water and rugged coastline.

Montaña de Oro State Park

Santa Barbara Beaches

Santa Barbara, known for its beautiful beaches with clear blue water, offers a variety of stunning coastal destinations. Each beach in the city has its own unique charm, providing visitors with unforgettable experiences. Whether you’re looking to swim, sunbathe, play beach volleyball, or indulge in water sports, Santa Barbara has the perfect beach for you.

Santa Barbara Beaches
  • East Beach: Located near Stearns Wharf, East Beach is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. With its wide sandy shore, it’s ideal for sunbathing, picnicking, and playing beach volleyball. The clear blue water beckons swimmers to take a refreshing dip.
  • Butterfly Beach: Known for its stunning views and tranquil atmosphere, Butterfly Beach is a favorite spot for relaxation. It’s a great place to take a leisurely stroll, enjoy a picnic, or simply sit back and appreciate the beauty of the ocean.
  • Leadbetter Beach: If you’re a surfing enthusiast or looking to try your hand at water sports, Leadbetter Beach is the place to be. Its consistent waves make it a surfer’s paradise. Additionally, visitors can enjoy activities such as paddleboarding and kayaking.

Whether you’re a nature lover, adventure seeker, or simply looking for a peaceful beach getaway, Santa Barbara’s beaches have something for everyone. With their clear water and picturesque settings, these beaches are among the best in Santa Barbara and offer a true California coastal experience.

Malibu Lagoon State Beach

Malibu Lagoon State Beach, located in Malibu, is a scenic beach with clear water and beautiful coastal surroundings. The beach is situated at the mouth of Malibu Creek, offering a unique ecosystem with a lagoon and bird-watching opportunities. Visitors can enjoy swimming, sunbathing, and exploring the tidal pools at Malibu Lagoon State Beach. The beach’s scenic beauty and clear blue water make it a must-visit destination in Southern California.

Malibu Lagoon State Beach

Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur

Pfeiffer Beach, located in Big Sur, is a hidden gem that showcases the natural beauty of California’s coast. With its unique purple sand and clear blue water, the beach offers a truly mesmerizing experience. As you walk along the shoreline, you’ll be captivated by the stunning rock formations that jut out of the water. These formations create a picturesque backdrop for the incredible sunsets that paint the sky in vibrant hues.

One of the highlights of Pfeiffer Beach is the opportunity to explore the tide pools. These natural pools are home to a diverse range of marine life, offering an up-close encounter with fascinating creatures. Whether you’re a seasoned beachcomber or simply seeking a place to relax, the sandy beach at Pfeiffer Beach is the perfect spot to unwind and soak up the tranquil atmosphere. As you take in the beauty of the coastal scenery, you’ll feel a sense of peace and awe.

Pfeiffer Beach is truly one of the hidden clear water gems in California. It offers a serene beach experience that is unmatched in its beauty and tranquility. If you’re planning a trip to Big Sur, make sure to include Pfeiffer Beach on your itinerary. It’s a must-visit destination for those seeking natural wonders and a peaceful retreat.

FAQ

What are the best clear water beaches in Southern California?

The best clear water beaches in Southern California include La Jolla Cove in San Diego, Coronado Beach in San Diego, Crystal Cove State Park in Orange County, Leo Carrillo State Beach in Malibu, and Diver’s Cove in Laguna Beach.

Where can I find crystal clear water beaches in California?

Crystal clear water beaches can be found at locations such as Crystal Cove State Park in Orange County, Leo Carrillo State Beach in Malibu, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve in Carmel, Anacapa Island in Channel Islands National Park, and Catalina Island.

Are there any hidden clear water gems in California?

Yes, some hidden clear water gems in California include Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, Shark Fin Cove in Davenport, Montaña de Oro State Park in Los Osos, and Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur.

Which are the best beaches for snorkeling and diving in California?

Some of the best beaches for snorkeling and diving in California are La Jolla Cove in San Diego, Crystal Cove State Park in Orange County, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve in Carmel, Anacapa Island in Channel Islands National Park, and Diver’s Cove in Laguna Beach.

What are the must-visit clear water beaches in California?

The must-visit clear water beaches in California include La Jolla Cove in San Diego, Coronado Beach in San Diego, Crystal Cove State Park in Orange County, Leo Carrillo State Beach in Malibu, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve in Carmel, Anacapa Island in Channel Islands National Park, Catalina Island, Emerald Bay State Park in Lake Tahoe, Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, Shark Fin Cove in Davenport, Diver’s Cove in Laguna Beach, Montaña de Oro State Park in Los Osos, Santa Barbara Beaches, Malibu Lagoon State Beach, and Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur.