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"Every child should have mud pies, grasshoppers, waterbugs, tadpoles, frogs & turtles, elderberries, wild strawberries, acorns, hickory nuts, trees to climb, animals to pet, hayfields, pine cones, rocks to roll, sand, snakes, huckleberries and hornets – and any child who has been deprived of these has been deprived of the best part of his education." -Luther Burbank 1849 - 1926
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Natural adventures at Southern California beaches

The wilderness offers so many ways to explore your human roots. Urban nature offers more modern ways to explore: diving, yachting, surfing, snorkeling, windsurfing, fishing, hiking, cycling, the desire to face the power of nature seems to be genetic!

Southern California beach communities offer all these oceanside adventures, plus many more.

Here are some ideas to get you and your family started planning for a natural beach experience.

Just a few rules to foster respect for all who love and live in the beach wilderness:

  • No Alcohol on the beach
  • No pets on the beach
  • No fires except at the Dockweiler Beach or Cabrillo Beach fire rings.
  • Do not touch or disturb any marine life on the beach. Animals on the beach are wild and may bite. If you see an injured animal on the beach, ask a lifeguard to call animal rescue.

Beach Hiking

Need leg exercise – walk in the dry sand. Need relaxing stoll – breathe the ocean breezes as you stroll along the surf line. Need serious walking exercise – how about a 20 mile hike along the surf of some of the most fastinating and diverse beaches on the coast.


Lifeguards are usually on the beach during daylight hours. In fact, most beaches are closed at sundown.


Do not touch or disturb any marine life on the beach. Animals on the beach are wild and may bite. If you see an injured animal on the beach, ask a lifeguard to call animal rescue.

Whale Watching

Whales pass by the Southern California beaches within easy viewing from the cliffs of Malibu or whale watching boats. It’s a wonder to behold! The migrations are seasonal, however, so you have to plan this acitivity carefully.

Wetlands Restoration

The wetlands are the nurseries and incubators for life in our bays and ocean. This is where fish and crabs and stingrays and crustaceans are born. Restoration and rescue of our beleagured wetlands in the urban wild of Southern California are being carried out by hundreds if not thousands of volunteers. You can help. Find a local organiation and leng a helping hand or dollar.


California is on the Pacific Flyway and we witness the migrations of hundreds of species of birds. From ducks and geese to hummingbirds, all sizes and colors are represented. Grab a binoculars and enjoy!


The surf tickles your toes and the sand oozes around you as you enjoy the tides ebbing and flowing. Ahhhh! How relaxing is this!

Nature Photography

Some of the best nature photographers in the world call Southern California home and workplace. If it’s good enough for these pros, it’s great for you! Your camera will surely capture some of the glory of Pacific sunsets or misty mountains…and all the miniature miracles in between.

Beach Cleanup

Work is downright fun when you’re with people who love what they’re doing. Every Earthday our beaches are spruced up by enthusiasts of all ages. But you don’t have to wait for Earthday – take a plastic sack with you and pick up the trash along your beach meander. The critters who live here will appreciate you immensely!


Kayaking the waves of a river running to the ocean, or riding the waves in a protected bay or marina can give you an upclose look at the fish and jellyfish swimming along with you. You become one with the majesty of the wet wilderness.


Several magnificent marinas grace the shores of Southern California. If you have the time, you can learn to crew the graceful sailboats found there. You don’t have to own one, just volunteer! Take a class and hook up for one of the best adventures of your life.


Don’t forget the food! Just a warning, though, take food that doesn’t spoil in the heat or dry in the breeze. And be sure it is well secured from those crafty gulls! They can open a sack or even a basket if they are hungry enough! And please take every scrap of trash away with you – you will help make our beaches clean and safe for all us beach loving critters.


Ocean fishing can haul in tiny fish off the piers or huge fish out in the open waters. Fishing in some bays is discouraged because of urban pollution, so be sure to check on conditions when you plan your trip.

Campfire Cooking with Storytelling

Smoke gets in your eyes, that’s true, but so do tears of wonder and joy as you share family stories around a firepit that crackles and pops. Add the glow of the Pacific sunset and who can ask for anything more? (Maybe a few less clichés?)


Camping is found at a number of beaches and near-the-beach state and county beaches. Check the web FAR AHEAD to reserve your spot – these are rare commodities and are hard to come by during busy seasons.

Camping is rare on the beach…but it’s possible. Dockweiler Beach is the only state RV park on the beach – with spaces for 2,000 visitors!


Catalina Island is known for clear waters for both snorkeling and diving. The fish, jellyfish, kelp forests and underwater mammals make this a fascinating world.


The Bay isn’t the best place for diving, because of water quality issues and cloudy water, but some beaches at the outskirts of Los Angeles County offer diving opportunities – like Catalina Island.


Surfing is harder than it looks – but Southern California waves are gentle. Lessons are available for the whole family at some beaches.


Several beach locations offer wind surfing and hang gliding equipment for rental. These windy sports help you develop an intimate relationship with ocean breezes!

Kite Flying

Discover the strength of oceanic breezes – kites from simple designs to ornate will offer a morning or evening of delight!

Want more ideas for activities:

Search Los Angeles beach amenities here

A FEW SoCAL STATE PARKS with natural attractions

Between between Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach.

Crystal Cove State Park

This 2,800-acre park is an undeveloped area of wooded canyons, open bluffs, and more than three miles of Pacific coastline. Crystal Cove is used by mountain bikers inland, scuba and skin divers underwater. Swimmers, surfers, and sunbathers congregate on the beach. Accessible picnicking, restrooms, paved pathway, and boardwalk. The park is located off Pacific Coast Hwy. between Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach. (949) 494-3539. *

In the City of San Pedro


3720 Steven M. White Drive, San Pedro Windsurfing, Volleyball courts, Picnic area, Pier, Barbeque grills, Swimming, Surfing, Tidepools,

White Point

799 Paseo del Mar, San Pedro Tidepools, Swimming, Surfing, Diving, Picnic area, and Children’s playground

In the Los Angeles area

Dockweiler State Beach

Dockweiler State Beach features a three mile long shoreline with a picnic area and concession stand. The wide beach is beneath the takeoff path from Los Angeles International Airport.

Although this is a State Beach, there are no camping sites that are reserved through ReserveAmerica. The park is operated by the Los Angeles County. The beach is located at the western terminus of Imperial Highway in Playa del Rey.

Los Angeles County operates Dockweiler SB-- please visit their website for additional information. Los Angeles Beaches