California is basically a beach lover's paradise. The western U.S. state is home to 3,500 miles of coastline brimming with stunning beaches. However, most travelers only think about those found in the city of Los Angeles. There are many things tourists to Los Angeles should know while planning their trip including that the area is filled with awesome attractions, but seldom do they consider the quiet, virtually unknown beaches found just outside of the city or around the state.

Travelers almost always expect to find hidden beaches in places like Brazil that they know they have to visit, but the same can be said about California from the Redwood Coast to Santa Barbara County and San Diego.

Without a doubt, these lesser-known beaches in California are so much better than Santa Monica or Venice.

10 Cowell Ranch Beach In Half Moon Bay Is Right Under Our Noses

Planning the perfect weekend in San Francisco should include visits to La Taqueria and wine country, but also a trip down south to Half Moon Bay which is home to Cowell Ranch Beach. The beach is virtually untouched by tourists and is ideal for spectacular sunsets. It can be accessed just off the trailhead for Cowell Ranch when driving south of Half Moon Bay State Beach on California 1. A little jaunt down a bluff trail and some wooden stairs is all it takes to get to this superb destination that happens to be right by a seal preserve.

9 El Matador Beach In Malibu Is A Photographer's Dream

There are many resources you can find on how to visit El Matador Beach in Malibu which is one of three beaches within Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach. The beach is regarded as one of the best in California and can be found just a few minute's drive from Malibu. The beach is quite narrow and has many shaded spots due to the presence of huge cliffs with interesting rock formations. Due to this, it's basically a photographer's dream and is often the location of photoshoots. However, it's not nearly as popular as other beaches in the area making it a wonderful place to unwind.

8 The Beach At Alamere Falls In Point Reyes National Seashore Has A Waterfall That Pours Into The Ocean

The coast trail to Alamere Falls and the adjoining Wildcat Beach in Point Reyes National Seashore extends for 16.5 miles on the edge of the Point Reyes Peninsula just north of San Fransisco and therefore is a favorite among hikers from the city. An 8-mile roundtrip hike is the only way to get to this beach other than via the water, but the trip is more than worth it. The main attraction is the waterfall that falls directly into the ocean and is very accessible at low tide.

7 South Ponto Beach In Carlsbad Has Tons Of Room For Beach Sports And Picnics

San Diego has some of the nicest year-round weather in all of California which has made it a prime destination for travelers. Therefore, most of the beaches are pretty crowded, even those in the resort town of Carlsbad or Encinitas. This is with the exception of South Ponto Beach, according to jetsetter. It's one of the widest beaches in the county with plenty of space for volleyball, picnics, and other beach activities. While it's relatively secluded, it can be accessed via a free parking lot along Coast Highway near the Westin Carlsbad Resort and Spa and Legoland.

6 The Misty And Magical Gold Bluffs Beach In Orick In Northern California Is So Worth Seeing

Gold Bluffs Beach is accessed through a dirt-road through Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park in Orick near the northernmost part of California. All the driftwood and the gorgeous mist that rolls in the winter and fall months really make it look like some of the best beaches in the neighboring state of Oregon. Reviewers on TripAdvisor claim that stumbling across this beach was one of the most magical experiences of their lives, especially since grazing elk can be seen nearby.

5 Seal Beach Is Your Less Snobby Alternative In Orange County

Everyone knows that Newport Beach, Laguna, and half of the other beaches in Orange County are as snobby as it gets. But you can't say that about the beach in the coastal town of Seal Beach in the O.C. According to jetsetter, the beach in the westernmost corner of the county is superb for avoiding big crowds and connecting with nature. The spectacular views from the longest wooden piers in the state are also totally worth seeing. The icing on the cake is that the shops and hotels in the area are of the caliber of Newport but without all the snobbery.

Related: Looking For Beautiful Beaches? These Islands Are Practically Un-Touched

4 Black Sands Beach In Whitethorn Is Insta-Worthy

There's no question that Black Sands Beach looks great on Instagram. The 3.5-mile beach with the stunning black sands is ideal for photoshoots and selfies. According to Californiabeaches, this Humboldt County beach is located on the far north coast of the state and is a wildlife lover's dream due to the numerous native fish and bird species that dwell in the area. People planning a longer trip in the area can stay at boutique hotels like Lost Coast in Shelter Cove that boast some truly superb views of their own.

Related: 20 Most Breathtaking Black Sand Beaches

3 Pfeiffer Beach Is The Ideal Monterey County Experience Without The Crowds

Monterey County has some of the best beaches in the state of California due to the gorgeous mountain scenery that frames these little paradises. Most notable is Big Sur, but the area tends to be far too busy for those looking to unwind. According to Californiabeaches, Pfeiffer Beach offers the quintessential Monterey experience with far fewer people. Visitors can sit on the sand and enjoy the natural arch of Keyhole Rock as well as catch glimpses of the iconic Bixby Bridge that's often featured in HBO's Big Little Lies.

2 You Can Watch Whales From Cooks Beach In Gualala

Spotting whales and sea lions are one of the highlights of visiting this tiny cove in Gualala north of San Francisco. According to Jetsetter, this small sandy beach is ideal for picnics and watching a sunset. If you stroll through the epic wind-beaten redwoods and bull pines near Glennen Gluch, you're sure to find this little paradise. Various species of whales are often seen there during the winter and sea lions love to hunt fish in the area so this is truly one of the best places to see wildlife in California.

Related: 10 Best Places To Go Whale Watching

1 Leo Carillo State Beach In Malibu Has Two Sections That Suit An Assortment Of Beach Activities

Leo Carrillo State Park in Malibu has a ton of hidden gems that aren't where the tourists flock to. After all, access to the beach is only accessed via parking lots on the Pacific Coast Highway or from inside the Leo Carrillo State Park Campground. The north part of the beach is family and dog-friendly, even though they have to be on a leash. This is where you can get some sun and play in the surf, according to jetsetter. The south part of the beach has the coves, offshore reefs, and tide pools for exploration. It's also a great place for kayaking, wind, and body surfing.

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