The West Coast of the United States boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the country, offering miles of pristine coastlines, beautiful ocean scapes, and stunning sunsets. From the sunny beaches of California to the rugged coastlines of Washington, there’s something for everyone on a West Coast road trip. Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, or both, we’ve found 10 best West Coast beaches that are sure to delight you. In this guide, we’ll cover the type of beach, the best time to visit, top things to do, recommended visits, and SIXT pick-up/drop-off locations that may be near each beach. So pack your sunscreen, grab your shades, and get ready to hit the road!
1. Cannon Beach, Oregon
Cannon Beach, Oregon, located just 80 miles from Portland, is a stunning natural wonder that draws visitors from far and wide. Known for its unique geological features, including the iconic Haystack Rock that rises from the ocean’s edge, and its abundance of wildlife, including puffins and seals, Cannon Beach is a nature lover’s paradise. Visitors can explore the tide pools that occur near Haystack Rock and observe the many species of marine life that call this area home.
For a more immersive nature experience, nearby Ecola State Park offers hiking trails and stunning viewpoints that offer breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. When visitors are ready to take a break from nature, they can stroll through Cannon Beach’s charming downtown area, which offers a variety of shopping and dining options, including local art galleries and unique boutiques.
If you need to rent a car for your West Coast road trip, you can conveniently pick it up and drop it off at SIXT’s location in nearby Portland.
2. La Jolla Cove, California
La Jolla Cove in California is a beach that offers some of the most stunning scenery on the West Coast. With its clear blue waters and rich marine life, it’s a haven for snorkelers and divers. La Jolla Cove is home to the La Jolla Underwater Park, which spans 6,000 acres and is a prime location for observing the rich marine life, including leopard sharks, sea turtles, and colorful fish. Visitors can also enjoy a leisurely stroll along the La Jolla Coast Walk, which offers breathtaking views of the coastline and the Pacific Ocean.
Interested in learning more about the marine life in the area? The nearby Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography offers a fascinating glimpse into the world of oceanography.
When planning your West Coast road trip, you can conveniently rent a car from SIXT’s San Diego Airport location, which is located just a short drive from La Jolla Cove.
3. Ruby Beach, Washington
Ruby Beach, located in Washington, is a picturesque destination that offers rugged beauty and dramatic coastal landscapes. With its sea stacks, driftwood-strewn shores, and tide pools, it’s a perfect destination for nature enthusiasts. During low tide, visitors can explore the rocky areas and discover the marine life that inhabits the tide pools. Photographers will love capturing the scenic sea stacks and driftwood on the beach.
For those looking for a more active experience, nearby Olympic National Park offers a range of coastal trails that offer stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and the surrounding landscape. The 1.5-mile hike to the Hoh River is particularly breathtaking, with views of sea stacks and driftwood logs as well as the chance to spot eagles and other wildlife. Visitors can also take a leisurely stroll along the beach and soak in the natural beauty of this incredible destination.
If you’re planning a West Coast road trip and want to visit Ruby Beach, you can easily rent a car from SIXT’s Seattle-Tacoma Airport location which is just a few hours away.
4. Monastery Beach, California
Monastery Beach is a unique destination for anyone embarking on a West Coast beach road trip. This stunning sandy beach, located in Carmel-by-the-Sea, offers panoramic views of the ocean and rugged coastline. However, visitors should be aware that swimming is not recommended due to the cove’s dangerous undertow and rip currents, which have earned the beach the nickname “Mortuary Beach.”
Despite this, experienced scuba divers frequently explore the area’s underwater world. The beach is also situated near the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, a popular spot for hiking and wildlife viewing. So if you’re looking for breathtaking scenery and unique outdoor experiences, Monastery Beach should definitely be on your list of must-visit West Coast beaches.
To make your West Coast road trip easier, you can rent a car from SIXT’s San Jose location.
5. Santa Monica Beach, California
Santa Monica Beach in California is a lively and iconic destination that offers something for everyone. With its bustling atmosphere and range of attractions, it’s a must-visit destination for any West Coast road trip. The Santa Monica Pier is a particularly popular attraction, offering plenty of fun activities, including the Ferris wheel and the aquarium.
If you’re looking to get some exercise while you’re there, the Marvin Braude Beach Trail offers a great opportunity to rent a bike and take a leisurely ride along the beachfront. Visitors can also check out the nearby Third Street Promenade, which offers a range of shopping, dining, and entertainment options, including local art galleries and unique boutiques.
A SIXT rental location is right near Santa Monica Beach and offers easy access to renting a car for your West Coast road trip.
6. Zuma Beach, California
California’s Zuma Beach is a laid-back destination that offers excellent surf and a relaxed beach vibe. The beach’s consistent waves make it a popular destination for surfers, boogie boarders, and body surfers alike. For those interested in wildlife watching, Zuma Beach is a prime location to spot dolphins and whales during migration seasons.
Visitors can also explore nearby Point Dume State Beach, which offers stunning views of the coastline and the Santa Monica Mountains. The hike to the Point Dume Headlands is particularly breathtaking and offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
If you’re planning a West Coast road trip, you can easily rent a car from SIXT’s Los Angeles International Airport location, which is just an hour’s drive from Zuma Beach. This beach is a must-visit spot for anyone who loves the beach, as it has a laid-back atmosphere and a variety of activities to enjoy.
7. Baker Beach, California
Baker Beach in California is a unique destination that offers stunning views of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. It’s a perfect destination for anyone looking for a relaxing beach day with breathtaking scenery. Visitors can capture incredible photographs of the bridge from the beach, particularly during sunset when the light creates a magical ambiance.
If you want to check out the area more, you can take a walk on the Batteries to Bluffs Trail nearby. This trail offers equally breathtaking views of the coastline and the bridge, as well as a moderate hike that takes visitors through a variety of terrains, including woodlands and coastal bluffs. Visitors can also take advantage of the many scenic spots along the beach to watch the sunset over the Pacific Ocean.
A convenient option for renting a car during a West Coast road trip is picking it up at SIXT’s San Francisco Airport location, which is just a quick drive away from Baker Beach.
8. Coronado Beach, California
Coronado Beach in California is the ideal family-friendly beach destination that offers a relaxed atmosphere with gentle waves. It’s perfect for visitors of all ages, whether they’re looking to relax on the beach or explore the island’s many attractions. Visitors can indulge in a historical tour of the iconic Hotel del Coronado, which has been an integral part of the island’s landscape for over 130 years.
For more active pursuits, stand-up paddleboarding or kayaking in Glorietta Bay are great ways to explore the island’s natural beauty. Visitors can also rent bikes and explore the charming Coronado Island, which offers a plethora of attractions, including shops, galleries, and restaurants.
If you are planning a road trip on the West Coast and want to visit Coronado Beach, you can rent a car from SIXT’s San Diego Airport near the beach.
9. Manzanita Beach, Oregon
Manzanita Beach in Oregon is a perfect destination for those looking for a peaceful and charming beach experience. The stunning views of Neahkahnie Mountain and the tranquillity of the beach provide visitors with a much-needed escape from their busy lives. Beachcombing is a popular activity here, allowing visitors to discover agates and other treasures along the shoreline.
Hiking up Neahkahnie Mountain is also a must-do activity that offers panoramic views of the coastline. In addition, visitors can explore Manzanita’s quaint downtown area that offers a range of unique shops and restaurants catering to various tastes.
When planning a West Coast road trip, visitors can easily rent a car from SIXT’s Portland International Airport location, which is about two hours from Manzanita Beach. Manzanita Beach is an excellent destination for anyone looking to rejuvenate and unwind thanks to its charming atmosphere and range of activities
10. Rialto Beach, Washington
Rialto Beach in Washington is a west coast beach that will leave you breathless. This beautiful beach offers stunning natural features such as sea stacks. Be sure to hike to Hole-in-the-Wall, a magnificent natural arch carved by the Pacific Ocean. And during low tide, explore the tide pools and spot a variety of marine life. Don’t forget to watch out for bald eagles and other wildlife in the surrounding coastal forests. The coastal hikes in the Olympic National Park area are perfect for those looking for some adventure.
If you’re planning a West Coast road trip, SIXT’s Seattle-Tacoma Airport location is about an hour and a half away from Rialto Beach. So rent a car and come experience the scenic beauty and natural wonders of Rialto Beach. It’s an excellent destination for anyone who loves the outdoors and wants to immerse themselves in the beauty of the West Coast beaches.
Bonus: A List Of Hidden Gems To Visit
In addition to the popular West Coast beaches, there are also some hidden gems that are worth exploring on a road trip. These beaches may not be as well-known as the others, but they offer great opportunities for those looking for a more off-the-beaten-path experience. From secluded coves to rugged coastlines, these hidden gems offer stunning natural beauty and unique experiences that can’t be found elsewhere. So, for those looking to escape the crowds and discover something new in a SIXT car rental, these hidden gem beaches are definitely worth a visit.
Second Beach, Washington
For a more secluded experience, Second Beach in Washington is a hidden gem worth visiting on your West Coast road trip. This beach offers a lush forest trail that leads to a pristine stretch of shoreline. Enjoy the beach’s peaceful atmosphere and take in the stunning natural beauty of the surrounding area. Wildlife spotting is also a popular activity at Second Beach. Keep an eye out for starfish and sea anemones in the tide pools. And as the sun goes down, enjoy beach bonfires in the designated fire pits. Second Beach is located in Olympic National Park, so be sure to check out the other nearby attractions while you’re in the area.
El Matador State Beach, California
El Matador State Beach is a hidden gem along the California coast that is perfect for nature lovers and photographers. The beach is known for its dramatic rock formations and sea caves, which provide stunning photo opportunities. For the best experience, plan your visit around sunset and watch the colors of the sky and sea change before your eyes. El Matador State Beach is also a great spot for whale watching during migration seasons. And for a romantic outing, pack a picnic basket and enjoy the sunset on the beach. This secluded beach is located in Malibu, California, and is definitely worth a visit on your West Coast road trip.
Cape Perpetua, Oregon
Cape Perpetua is a hidden gem on the Oregon coast that offers a unique and diverse coastal landscape. With its tide pools, Spouting Horn, and Thor’s Well — the latter of which is a natural fountain in the ocean that shoots water up from seemingly out of nowhere — it’s no wonder that nature lovers flock to this area. The best way to experience this region is by hiking the many trails around Cape Perpetua, such as the Captain Cook Trail or the St. Perpetua Trail. The Cape Perpetua Visitor Center is another must-visit location to learn about the area’s natural and cultural history. Don’t miss exploring the tide pools and watching the Spouting Horn and Thor’s Well, which are best viewed during high tide.
Cape Disappointment, Washington
Cape Disappointment in Washington offers an incredible mix of history and natural beauty. Visitors can tour the historic Cape Disappointment Lighthouse, which has guided mariners along the coast since 1856, and learn about the area’s maritime heritage at the nearby Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. The Cape Disappointment Trail is a must-see for hiking enthusiasts, offering stunning views of the coastline and nearby lighthouses. And with its miles of beaches and coves, Cape Disappointment State Park is an ideal spot for beachcombing, wildlife viewing, and exploring the rugged Pacific Northwest coastline. Don’t miss the chance to visit Dead Man’s Cove, an eerie but entrancing cove with a fascinating history.
West Coast Beaches FAQs
What is the nicest beach on the West Coast?
There are numerous beautiful beaches on the West Coast, making it hard to pick just one. However, some of the most popular and picturesque options include Cannon Beach and Ruby Beach in Oregon, Coronado Beach and La Jolla Cove in California, and Second Beach and Rialto Beach in Washington. Each of these beaches offers something unique, such as stunning rock formations, tide pools, and wildlife spotting opportunities. Whether you are seeking relaxation, adventure, or breathtaking views, the West Coast has plenty of beach options to explore. Ultimately, the nicest beach on the West Coast depends on your personal preferences and what you hope to experience during your visit.
Which west coast beaches are warm?
The west coast of the United States is known for its rugged coastline and cooler temperatures, especially in the northern areas. However, there are still several west coast beaches that are warm enough for swimming and sunbathing during certain times of the year. In Southern California, popular beaches such as Santa Monica Beach, Venice Beach, and Newport Beach often have warm water temperatures during the summer months, averaging around 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the warmer summer months. Long Beach has one of the highest water temperatures year-round. It’s important to note that water temperatures can vary depending on the season, time of day, and weather conditions, so it’s always best to check local weather and beach reports before planning a trip to the beach.
What is the best beach on the California coast? (100-125 words)
California has a wide range of beaches, from long sandy stretches to rocky coves, making it difficult to choose just one as the “best.” However, some of the most popular beaches among visitors and locals alike include Santa Monica Beach, Venice Beach, and Malibu Beach. Santa Monica Beach offers a lively atmosphere and iconic attractions such as the Santa Monica Pier and the Marvin Braude Beach Trail, while Venice Beach is known for its colorful boardwalk and unique street performers. Malibu Beach, on the other hand, is a more laid-back option with excellent surf and stunning coastal scenery. Other top contenders for the best beach in California include Coronado Beach, Laguna Beach, and La Jolla Cove.