Best West Coast Beach (2016)


Big sand, big waves and big sunsets – welcome to the Pacific Coast! Whether in California, Oregon, Washington or Hawaii, the West Coast boasts some of the best sandy real estate in the nation, no matter what your beach style. 10Best readers have been voting daily for their favorites for the past four weeks, and the results are in.

  • Huntington Beach

    Huntington Beach
    Huntington Beach, Calif.

    Surf City U.S.A. is known for awesome breaks near the famous Huntington Beach Pier as well as great swimming and boogie boarding away from those hanging ten. Flat sand for miles ensures plenty of space to sunbathe even in peak seasons. Amenities include fire rings, lifeguards, beach concessions selling almost anything you’d need for a beach day as well as a bike path, volleyball courts and restrooms.
    Photo courtesy of Visit California/Ryan Killackey

  • Kaanapali Beach

    Kaanapali Beach
    Maui, Hawaii

    A former retreat for Maui royalty, some of the island’s best resorts border this 3.5-mile-long very popular beach. Waves break gently, a beach walk runs parallel to the warm sand and clear water permits snorkeling. Don’t miss the daily cliff diving ceremony at Black Rock held at sunset on the north end of the beach in between enjoying the various restaurants and shopping at the waterfront Whaler’s Village entertainment area.
    Photo courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

  • Hulopoe Bay

    Hulopoe Bay
    Lanai, Hawaii

    Beautiful white sand awaits at this stunning beach in front of Four Seasons Lanai. Crystal clear waters make it the best place on the island for snorkeling and swimming. It’s a public beach with showers, picnic tables, restrooms and barbecues. Tide pools carved out of volcanic rock are located on the eastern side of the bay and home to hermit crabs, sea stars and much more.
    Photo courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Dana Edmunds

  • Crystal Cove State Park

    Crystal Cove State Park
    Laguna Beach, Calif.

    Bustling Orange County still has bits of somewhat undeveloped beach area left. Crystal Cove State Park is known for tide pools heaving with marine life, great trails for hiking and walking as well as the fully-protected offshore underwater marine park for snorkeling and scuba diving. Places to sunbathe, body surf, surf and swim are sprinkled throughout the beach’s 3.5 miles of multiple coves.
    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

  • Cannon Beach

    Cannon Beach
    Cannon Beach, Ore.

    William Clark first visited Cannon Beach in 1806 but it’s a popular vacation destination now. Snap an Instagram in front of the iconic Haystack Rock, the world’s third largest monolith, which sits in an area designated a National Wildlife Refuge for local puffins, crabs and other wildlife. Four miles of beautiful sandy beach is available for swimming, picnicking, sunbathing and bird watching in this special part of the world.
    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

  • Rialto Beach

    Rialto Beach
    Olympic Peninsula, Wash.

    Rialto Beach, a part of Olympic National Park, is best known for offshore sea stacks, driftwood piles, scenic rocky beaches and crashing waves (it’s possible to surf here). Views of otters, whales, seals and even soaring bald eagles entertain. The 1.5 mile walk north to Hole-in-the-Wall, a sea cave arch, perfectly showcases the rugged charm of the Washington coast.
    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

  • Carmel Beach

    Carmel Beach
    Carmel-by-the-Sea, Calif.

    Known for breathtaking sunsets and amazing powdery sand, Carmel Beach is one of California’s most laid back and picturesque beaches with Monterey cypress trees, jagged coast line and epic views. Rip tides and freezing water temperatures make swimming here not the best idea, but that’s O.K. Think more along the lines of picnicking, romantic walks and even kite flying. A not-to-be-missed event is the annual sandcastle contest.
    Photo courtesy of Carmel-by-the-Sea

  • Little Corona del Mar Beach

    Little Corona del Mar Beach
    Corona Del Mar, Calif.

    This small rocky cove at the end of Buck Gully ravine is popular with tide poolers, snorkelers and divers in search of abundant marine life. A boundary prohibits boats and jet skis while reefs shield the area from waves to create an excellent swimming spot. It’s mostly a locals’ hangout as the seclusion and the calm water are big draws, especially to families.
    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

  • La Jolla Cove & Shores

    La Jolla Cove & Shores
    La Jolla, Calif.

    Neighboring La Jolla Shores and La Jolla Cove both border the marine life rich San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park, a unique man-made series of reefs primed for kayaking, snorkeling, swimming and diving. La Jolla Shores is one of the best places in San Diego to learn how to surf and for sunbathing. If you’d like to see La Jolla’s famous seals and sea lions, head to the Cove and walk south to Children’s Pool.
    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

  • Coronado Municipal Beach

    Coronado Municipal Beach
    Coronado, Calif.

    Located in front of the iconic Hotel Del Coronado, this pretty beach literally sparkles because of a mineral called mica found in the sand. An idyllic paradise, the beach is wide and flat with typically gentle waves perfect for families and stunning views. Tide pools reveal themselves at low tides as does a 1930s shipwreck. Keep an eye out for sand dollars and the Sandcastle Man who builds amazing sculptures on in the early mornings.
    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

Huntington Beach, previous winner of the title Best California Beach, took home top honors again, this time, competing against beaches in Oregon, Washington and Hawaii.

The top 10 winners in the category Best West Coast Beach are as follows:

  1. Huntington Beach - Huntington Beach, Calif.
  2. Kaanapali Beach - Maui, Hawaii
  3. Hulopoe Bay - Lanai, Hawaii
  4. Crystal Cove State Park - Laguna Beach, Calif.
  5. Cannon Beach - Cannon Beach, Ore.
  6. Rialto Beach - Olympic Peninsula, Wash.
  7. Carmel Beach - Carmel-by-the-Sea, Calif.
  8. Little Corona del Mar Beach - Corona Del Mar, Calif.
  9. La Jolla Cove & Shores - La Jolla, Calif.
  10. Coronado Municipal Beach - Coronado, Calif.

A panel of experts picked the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. Experts Katie Dillon (La Jolla Mom), Veronica Hill (California Travel Tips) and Walter McLeod (Clean Beaches Coalition,) were chosen based on their extensive beach knowledge and experience.

Other West Coast Beach nominees included East Beach in Santa Barbara, Kaunaoa Beach on the Big Island, Kee Beach in Kauai, Lanikai Beach in Oahu, Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur, Poipu Beach Park in Kauai, Oswald West State Park in Manzanita, Waianapanapa State Park in Maui, Wailea in Maui and Waimanalo Beach in Oahu.

Congratulations to all 10 winning West Coast beaches.

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Katie Dillon

Katie Dillon

Katie Dillon

Veronica Hill

Veronica Hill

Veronica Hill

Walter McLeod

Walter McLeod

Walter McLeod