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The beautiful and diverse terrain along the California coast offers a wealth of activities to enjoy, many of which are readily accessible from California’s Pacific Coast Highway, or California State Highway 1.

To the north, the water and weather can be rough, giving the coastline a rugged character. To the south, the water is calmer, the beaches are wider and the climate is more temperate.

Big Sur - Bixby Creek Bridge, Edwards Air Force Base Southern California and Beyond

Big Sur, Monterey and Morro Bay


Big Sur is a favorite stretch of California coastline, between the towns of Carmel and Lucia. For approximately 50 miles, Pacific Coast Highway 1 winds between the Pacific Ocean and a redwood forest. The Santa Lucia Mountains rise steeply from the ocean, and the canyons contain groves of trees. Summer fogs can linger most of the day; the best time to experience the route is in the afternoon.


Cannery Row in Monterey Bay, CA; Edwards Air Force Base Southern California and Beyond

Ocean life — whales, dolphins, sea lions and frolicking sea otters — stems off the coast and is a common sight to see. Sea otters are found in great numbers from Monterey Bay to Morro Bay, while sea lions are commonly seen near the shore or on the rocks. Whale watching is a popular pastime during the winter. Many seaside communities offer excursions to catch a close-up view of the California gray whales’ annual 6,000-mile migration.

Catalina Island
Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau
P.O. Box 217
Avalon, CA 90704

Twenty-two miles across the ocean from mainland Los Angeles is Catalina Island. Discovered more than 400 years ago as a hideout for smugglers and pirates, the island is one of Southern California’s most popular resorts. Avalon is the island’s only city, and Avalon Bay is the site of the island’s most famous landmark, Catalina Casino. The island can be reached by sea or air, and there are a variety of express services available.

Los Angeles County

Popular Los Angeles area beaches include Malibu, Venice, Manhattan, Hermosa, Redondo and Zuma. Los Angeles County beaches offer swimming, surfing, sand volleyball, bike and inline skate paths, piers, fishing and numerous concessions. Public restrooms and showers are usually available.

Huntington Beach Surfers, Edwards Air Force Base Southern California and Beyond

Orange County

Orange County boasts 42 miles of coastline, featuring lively beach towns, family fun and vibrant boardwalks. Popular beaches in the area include Seal Beach, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna, Dana Point and San Clemente.

San Diego

San Diego has 70 miles of Pacific Ocean coastline and is known nationwide for its beautiful beaches. Popular beaches in the area include La Jolla, Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, San Onofre and Coronado on Coronado Island. Recreational water activities such as surfing, boogie boarding, snorkeling, scuba diving and swimming are common at area beaches.

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara County offers miles of beautiful beaches that are popular for swimming, surfing and stand-up paddleboarding. Arroyo Burro Beach Park, Butterfly Beach, Carpinteria, Goleta and West Beach are just a few of the public beaches in the area.


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