If you’re in SoCal for the first time, it’s almost a given that one of your destinations is a genuine California beach. You’ve got plenty to choose from in the L.A. area. From north of Malibu down to Manhattan and Hermosa Beach, you’ll find a seemingly endless stretch of public beaches. Most of these have lots of visitor amenities (unlike their Northern California brethren), such as snack bars, boardwalks, showers, beach toy rental shacks, surf schools, and permanent sports courts.
Believe it or not, those listed here are just a drop in the bucket; if none of these beaches do it for you, you can choose from dozens of others that stretch in a nearly unbroken line from one end of the county to the other.
Not all L.A. beaches are created equal. With a very few exceptions, you won’t find clean, clear water to swim in, since pollution is a major issue on the L.A. coast. Also keep in mind that Los Angeles County is not a tropical zone.
The water does warm up in the summer, but not into the 80s like you find in Hawaii. (Happily, it’s also not in the icy 50s and 60s, as in the northern reaches of the state.) Expect to cool off significantly when you dive into the surf, and if you plan to be out in the water for an extended period, get yourself a wetsuit to prevent chills that can turn into hypothermia.