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Rincon Beach

This relatively secluded beach and the small day-use park above it create a relaxing venue for a picnic, swim or casual stroll on the sand. There are restrooms, picnic tables and relatively easy access down the cliff to the shore.

Next door, “The Rincon” as it is known to locals as well as in the international surfing world, is a different story. One of the West Coast’s premier (and sometimes dangerous) expert surfing spots, this is a training ground for some of the finest surfers in the world. It’s a bit of a challenge just getting from the small parking lot, over rocks and driftwood, to the water’s edge. Once there, however, keep your distance and watch West Coast surfing at its finest.

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Location:        Hwy 101 to Bates Rd. exit. Take Bates Rd. to the beach parking lot.

Carpinteria (State & City) Beaches

Combine a favorite California State Parks system beach with a second well-cared-for and user-friendly stretch of sand and you have over a mile of broad, well-groomed, gently-sloping pleasure.

Resting at the end of Carpinteria’s charming Linden Avenue, and, therefore, convenient to restaurants, shops and other amenities, Carpinteria City Beach is an ideal oceanfront destination via automobile, foot or pedal power, or waterfront shuttle.

Adjacent Carpinteria State Beach Park offers camping and RV hook-ups, skate and bicycle rentals and a visitor’s center with a model tide pool and interesting facts about the area’s rich history.

There are expanses of sand and grass, restrooms, picnic tables, barbecue grills, and more. Seals and sea lions make frequent visits just off shore, and gray whales glide by occasionally. Dozens of tide pools make excellent seaside classrooms, with inhabitants including sea urchins and anemones, starfish, snails, crabs and other marine critters.

These are popular beaches, although the amenities and pleasant, festive atmosphere minimize the effects of any possible crowd.

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Location:        City Beach: Hwy. 101 to Linden Ave. exit. Follow Linden Ave. through town to the beach; State Beach: Hwy. 101 to Casitas Pass Rd. exit. Casitas Pass Rd. to right on Carpinteria Ave., then left on Palm Ave. Follow Palm Ave. to the beach.

Summerland Beach

Not only is this beach one of the area’s most convenient and easily accessible, it is also user-friendly, versatile and fun. Just one block off of Highway 101, it rests below Lookout Park — an oasis of lawn dotted with picnic tables, barbecues and playground equipment. At low tide this mile-long expanse of beach connects with Fernald Point and the beautiful Montecito beaches to the north, and extends to Loon Point on the south. It’s difficult to imagine that Summerland Beach was home to a forest of wooden oil derricks a century ago.

Location:        Hwy. 101 to Summerland (Evans St.) exit. Turn toward the beach and enter Lookout Park.

Butterfly, Hammonds & Miramar Beaches

These three contiguous beaches comprise one of the most prestigious expanses of sand on the entire West Coast. Its beauty stretches from the luxurious Four Seasons Biltmore Hotel, past the exclusive Coral Casino Beach Club, on to Hammonds and Miramar Beaches and beyond to the multi-million dollar beachfront estates of Fernald Point.

As a playground of the rich and famous since the 1920’s, these beaches have hosted countless romantic rendezvous, marriage proposals and weddings; international film and photo shoots; and an endless array of surfers and international sun worshipers. On just about any day, handsome young locals toss Frisbees, footballs and flirty glances, while everyone appreciates this clean, safe, spectacular venue.

As Santa Barbara’s most west-facing sand, Butterfly Beach is known for its spectacular sunsets. Perfectly situated to capture this daily visual reward and romantic ambiance, and often hosting a dolphin display just offshore, Butterfly is the venue for Santa Barbara’s ultimate twilight ritual.

Location:        Butterfly Beach: Coast Village Rd. or Hwy 101 to Olive Mill Rd. Turn away from the mountains on Olive Mill Rd.; Hammonds & Miramar Beaches: Hwy. 101 to San Ysidro Rd. Turn toward the beach and continue to end (Eucalyptus Ln.).

East Beach

Santa Barbara’s premier beach offers over a mile of sand and ocean access, parking galore, social and recreational facilities and convenience to Santa Barbara’s beachfront hotels. A large stretch of safe, clean and easily accessible East Beach is bordered by a grassy, palm tree-lined park that hosts a festive Sunday open-air arts and crafts show and sale and a paved path that comfortably accommodates joggers, bicyclists and skaters.

The popular 1920’s vintage Cabrillo Pavilion and Bathhouse sits proudly near the south end of this beach. The historic building provides a restaurant and snack bar, showers, lockers, a weight room, children’s play area and even a banquet and meeting facility overlooking the ocean and Channel Islands. Nearby, a dozen beach volleyball courts as well as picnic tables and grills are always ready for use.

More information about East Beach and its facilities is available at, or by calling (805) 564-5418.

Location:        Take State Street to Cabrillo Blvd. Left on Cabrillo Blvd. The beach is on the right beyond the entire stretch of grassy, park-like frontage and extends all the way down Cabrillo Blvd. to the volleyball courts.

West Beach

The broad expanse of sand resting between the Santa Barbara Harbor and Stearn’s Wharf along Cabrillo Boulevard offers a convenient beach experience for guests at several beachfront hotels. Meeting the ocean near the mouth of the harbor, it is not really a swimming beach, but it offers a good vantage point for watching boats come and go. It also provides a front-row seat for the city’s spectacular fireworks display on the Fourth of July.

Location:        Take State Street to Cabrillo Blvd. Turn right on Cabrillo Blvd. The beach is on the left.

Leadbetter Beach

The beach created in the 1920’s when Santa Barbara’s breakwater was built to stem the flow of sand into the boat basin is now one of the most popular stretches of sand in the city. The beach’s point break attracts beginner and intermediate surfers to its usually gentle swell. A large parking lot serves the beach, Shoreline Beach Cafe and a park-like grassy area offering picnic facilities, restrooms and outdoor showers.

Location:        Take Cabrillo Blvd. (along the Santa Barbara waterfront) just past the Santa Barbara Harbor.

Arroyo Burro (“Hendry’s”) Beach


Definitely a local favorite, this beach is centrally located at the intersection of Cliff Drive and Las Positas Road. This oceanfront real estate attracts couples seeking a sandy sojourn, surfers, families, and dog lovers and their pets who enjoy the canine camaraderie at the beach’s off-leash area. In fact, four-legged beachgoers here luxuriate at their own washing and grooming station while their human companions take advantage of outdoor showers, barbecue pits and picnic tables. The Boathouse, a popular restaurant right on the sand, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.


Officially termed Arroyo Burro Beach, this expanse of sand is known locally as “Hendry’s” after Anne Hendry, a Scottish immigrant whose family farmed nearby land from 1890 to 1919 or so. The exclusive Hope Ranch residential enclave and its private beach are nearby, as is the Douglas Family Preserve, a public area offering acres of public trails, fields and woodlands.


Location:        One block past intersection of Las Positas Rd. and Cliff Dr. OR HWY 101 to Las Positas Rd. (away from mountains), to Cliff Dr. Turn right on Cliff Dr.

Goleta Beach

Goleta Beach County Park, nearly 30 acres resting between Santa Barbara and the University of California’s Santa Barbara campus, offers something for just about everyone. In addition to the sand, there are expanses of grass as well as picnic facilities and paved trails, children’s playgrounds, restrooms and a boat and jet ski ramp. There is also a restaurant and snack bar, and Goleta’s is the only beach in the area with a non-commercial fishing pier. Popular with families and university students, the spot comes with plenty of free parking.

Location:        Hollister Ave. to Sandspit Rd. OR Hwy 101 to Hwy 217 (to airport), then exit at Sandspit Rd.

El Capitan

Imagine being shipwrecked on a tranquil remote island, yet having access to civilized facilities such as showers, restrooms, picnic tables and grills, and even a small general store on weekends. That’s the feeling one has at this beach. And since it is part of a State Park, there is also overnight camping and plenty of parking, although visiting the area costs $5, whether you stay for a few minutes or a few hours.

Location:        17 miles north of Santa Barbara on Hwy. 101. Look for the signs for El Capitan State Park.