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Beaches of Los Angeles County, California

Los Angeles, California's accessible golden beaches Malibu, Venice Beach, Santa Monica, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach these famous golden beaches are at the oceanside of greater Los Angeles -- accessible from hotels all over town with a short drive.

Los Angeles is one of the largest cities located on popular tourist beaches. There are many factors that you can use to select the best beach to visit. Here are a few to consider:

Vacation Activities

Some people like peace and quiet at the beach. Some like video games and boat tours. Los Angeles beaches offer the full range. On the north end of Los Angeles County, you find remote beaches with wilderness camping such as Leo carillo Beach. Around Marina del Rey, you have sailing and boating options. Redondo Beach has a vibrant dock community that includes restaurants, video games and boat rides. Venice Beach is a people-watching beach with a boardwalk frequented by free spirits. And Mothers Beach offers wide sandy beaches and shallow water, perfect for young children. Here are a couple directories of LA Beaches

GoCalifornia at About

But if you plan to enter the water, or play in the is the next item to research.

Beach Quality

Sand as far as the eye can see. Mountains dipping into the water. People, birds, seals and sand fleas. They are all part of nature. Urban beaches are usually highly maintained with raking and sand replenishment, etc, but all beaches are wilderness. And wilderness isn't a natural habitat for most people. That's sometimes hard to remember at the big city beaches, but wild animals, wild plants, and wild weather forces are always at work, even on urban beaches.

Sunshine is both a blessing and a wilderness factor. California's sunshine is beautiful, but it is also strong. Plan to protect yourself, and especially children, with hats, umbrellas, and/or sunscreen. Limiting your time in the sun is the best protection. Plan to enjoy the beach before 10 am and after 4 pm to protect yourself from the most harmful UV rays.

Critters on the beach. California beaches are home to wildlife that you need to respect. At times, the beaches receive poisonous jellyfish. Sand fleas can cause itching. Mammals such as seals and sealions are dangerous when approached too close. Birds, especially gulls, like to steal food, even from closed containers. Think ahead about your activities. Keep your distance from wildlife that you are not well educated about. Take photos from a distance. Do NOT touch living wildlife -- the trauma you cause or receive is not a good part of a relaxing vacation.

Pollution on the sand can be caused by oil or tar that is natural ooze from the depths, or a pollutant from small boats or the oil transports that frequent the LA Harbor and Long Beach harbor. But pollutants also include debris washed onto the beach from urban runoff and dumping in the water. Sharp items can be found, as well as broken glass, plastic, fish line and hooks, etc. Wearing SANDALS or SHOES is always wise.

Water Quality

Priority one is safety. Exposure to water pollution can bring a quick end to your beach vacation! Because of SoCal's unique wet season and dry season, water pollution is an ongoing concern. When it rains during our winter wet season, all the accumulated pollution from the miles of upland urban communities rush into the ocean!

Here are the safety facts:

  • A rain advisory is issued anytime there is significant rainfall that may affect bacteria levels in ocean waters. Levels of bacteria can rise significantly in ocean waters especially adjacent to storm drains, creeks and rivers during and after rainstorms.
  • Elevated levels of bacteria may continue for a period of up to 3 days depending upon the intensity of the rain and the volume of runoff.
  • Elevated bacteria levels in ocean water may cause people to become ill.
  • The Department of Health Services recommends that beach users avoid contact with ocean water, especially near flowing storm drains, creeks and rivers for a period of 3 days after rainfall ends.

Each of the nearly 70 beaches in LA County are tested regularly (some less regularly than others) for water quality. This link takes you to an interactive map that shows you the quality of the beach you want to visit.

Los Angeles Public Health Beach MAP with links to warnings.

Beach Advisories (Letter grade of "A" to "F") are found here:

Los Angeles Beach Advisories

Beach Closures

A beach is closed anytime there is a known sewage or chemical spill impacting ocean waters. Water contact may cause people to become ill. When a beach is closed, the Department of Health Services advises beach users to avoid all contact with ocean water in the closure area and where closure signs are posted.

Check the SIGNS at life guard stations

A warning sign is posted anytime State ocean water bacteriological standards are exceeded.

Internet information can be as much as a week old -- so always check in at the Life Guard station on the beach before you enter the water.

30 Day Grades -- General Trends

General trends of beach quality are posted on the LA Public Healthe website.

"30 Day Grade" Indicates a 30 day average grade, "A - F," for each sampling site. The grade indicates the trend of bacteriological levels at each sampling site over the past 30 days.

For example: For June 2006, the following general trends indicate that some beaches get an "A" and at the bottom of the heap, some get an "F". It pays to research your beach location!

Be aware that an "A" beach location can be right next to a "D" or "F" beach. Specific locations matter!

Here is the short list of the "A" beaches on the JUNE 2006 list:

  • Trancas Beach , Malibu [In front of Trancas Creek]
  • Big Rock Beach 19948 Pacific Coast Hwy. , Malibu [off point]
  • Will Rogers State Beach Temescal Canyon storm drain , Pacific Palisades [In front of storm drain]
  • Santa Monica Beach Montana Ave. storm drain, Santa Monica [in front of storm drain]
  • Santa Monica Beach Wilshire Blvd. storm drain , Santa Monica [in front of storm drain]
  • Santa Monica Beach Pico-Kenter storm drain , Santa Monica [In front of storm drain]
  • Santa Monica Beach Ashland storm drain , Santa Monica [In front of storm drain]
  • Venice Beach Brooks Ave. storm drain , Los Angeles [in front of storm drain]
  • Venice Beach Venice Pier , Venice [50 yards south of pier]
  • Venice Beach Topsail Street extended , Venice
  • Marina del Rey Beach (Mother's Beach) , Marina del Rey [at lifeguard tower]
  • Dockweiler Beach World Way extended , Playa del Rey [.15 miles south of maintenance building, south of jetty]
  • Hermosa Beach Herondo Street storm drain , Hermosa Beach [in front of storm drain]
  • Malaga Cove Arroyo Circle extended , Palos Verdes Estates
  • Bluff Cove , Palos Verdes Estates [at the end of the access trail]
  • Long Point , Rancho Palos Verdes
  • Abalone Cove , Rancho Palos Verdes
  • Portuguese Bend , Rancho Palos Verdes
  • Royal Palms State Beach White Point , San Pedro [Western Avenue extended]
  • Wilder Addition Park , San Pedro
  • Outer Cabrillo Beach , San Pedro
  • Avalon Beach , [half-way between the Busy Bee Restaurant and the Tuna Club]