Trojan Postcards: L.A. Beach Guide
Los Angeles is perhaps one of the best cities to experience the quintessential endless summer in Southern California. With miles of picturesque coastline from Malibu to the South Bay, it has some of the best oceanfront getaways for beach bums. Beaches in Los Angeles are for those who enjoy sun-bathing, surfing, swimming, water skiing, beach volleyball, drinking beer with your toes in the sand or anything else by the water. Each one has its own unique character and charm.
Santa Monica State Beach for a Summer Carnival feel:
This huge beach, which effectively runs the length of Santa Monica itself, is usually packed and has a festive, summer holiday feel to it. With the iconic Santa Monica Pier that is considered the focal point of the beach and the mountains in the backdrop, the view is quite stunning. Musicians and performers on the Pier, food stands, Pacific Park with the traditional setup of Ferris wheel and other fairground games add a carnival charm to the place. The beach itself is a long walk from the Promenade and is usually bustling with people engaged in beach volleyball or just merry sun soaking, which makes it the place to be!
Venice Beach for people-watching:
This is one beach where it’s almost as much about the people as it is about the surf or the sand.
There’s a lot to do — the winding Venice Boardwalk lined with Palm trees, where you can skate or cycle, watch or play volleyball or basketball, check out the pumped-up gym bunnies who work out at Muscle Beach or the skating pros showcasing a trick or two at the skating rink adjacent to the boardwalk. And not to miss, the Venice Canal walkway not too far from the beach makes a perfect place for a leisurely stroll on a nice evening. I was in awe of it so much that I wrote an entire column on it last semester!
Manhattan Beach for the classic stretch of sand:
Manhattan Beach is known to be a hotspot for beach volleyball and surfing. Unfortunately the two times I’ve been there was after nightfall. First time, we hung out on the beach, watching the moonlight dance on the waves while the waters lapped gently against the pillars supporting the Pier. The second time around we landed up there during pre-Christmas week to witness the Manhattan Beach’s signature annual holiday event: Manhattan Beach Fireworks. I think perhaps the entire town had turned up to kick-off the holiday season. Lying on the cool beach sand, wrapped in blankets, we gazed into the night sky as it exploded in a multitude of colors and squealed in delight as the lit up sky looked as if it were showering a thousand falling stars on us.
I found that the beach in general, not being as horrifically over-commercialized as the Santa Monica Pier or as no-frills as the one in Venice, offers a more refined scenery and makes for a perfect leisurely hangout.
El Matador State beach for the hopeless romantic:
Tucked away in a secluded pocket along the Pacific Coast Highway, this stunning beach is a utopia for photographers and nature lovers. With its ridged cliffs, rocky outcrops and hidden coves, it makes a perfect destination for dream photoshoots. The drive to the beach in itself is quite enjoyable as the crisp ocean breeze welcomes you as you hit the PCH. The beach is accessible via a steep gravelly path. And true to its fame, you’ll find at least a handful of photographers with their tripods trying to get that perfect shot of the wave crashing along the rocks or of couples posing for their wedding photos against the idyllic backdrop of the ocean waves with the sunlight peeking in through the arch made by the coves. We reached there during sunset and were rewarded with one of the most spectacular sunsets we’d ever witnessed. If you’re with someone, you’d want to walk the length of the beautiful shore hand-in-hand and wish you could fade away into the sunset. If you’re single, well, you could watch the couples do it and melt away into your own dreams!
The L.A. coastline is dotted with many other such pristine beaches. No matter whether you’re a beach volleyball person, a water skier, a surfer or a just beach bum who loves an evening with a beer in hand and sand between the toes, there’s one out there, waiting for you!
Shruthi Hiriyuru is a junior majoring in computer science. Her column, Trojan Postcards, runs every other week on Tuesdays.