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Santa Barbara County Beaches


Santa Barbara County has a long south-facing stretch of the Central California coastline with a Mediterranean feel. It’s no wonder that the city of Santa Barbara is known as The American Riviera. There are several great beaches along this stretch and some get few visitors compared to others.

Arroyo Burro Beach County Park

2981 Cliff Dr, West of Las Positas Santa Barbara (805) 568-2465

Website: http://www.santabarbaraca.gov

Arroyo Burro goes by another name with locals, Hendry’s Beach. Nestled beneath bluffs and about ten minutes from downtown, the beach has an intoxicating combination of sand and surf. Restaurant, restrooms, a picnicking area, and limited free parking.

Carpinteria State Beach

5361 6th St, Carpinteria (805) 684-281

Website: http://www.parks.ca.gov

Twelve miles south of Santa Barbara, Carpinteria State Beach offers a mile of beach for swimming, surfing, fishing, tidepool exploring and camping. Seals and sea lions can be seen in the area December through May, as well as an occasional gray whale. Tidepools contain starfish, sea anemones, crabs, snails, octopi and sea urchins.

East Beach

1400 E Cabrillo Blvd & Milpas St Santa Barbara (805) 564-5418

Website: http://www.santabarbaraca.gov

A picturesque, long, sandy beach bordered by a grassy, tree-lined Santa Barbara Park. It has all the amenities: a full beach house, snack bar, volleyball courts, play area for children, and a bike/rollerblading path.

El Capitan State Beach

10 Refugio Beach Rd, Goleta(805) 968-1033

Website: http://www.parks.ca.gov

A sandy beach, rocky tidepools, and stands of sycamore and oaks along El Capitán Creek. It’s a perfect setting for swimming, fishing, surfing, picnicking and camping. A stairway provides access from the bluffs to the beach area. The beach is located off Highway 101 seventeen miles west of Santa Barbara.

Jalama Beach County Park

9999 Jalama Rd, Lompoc (805) 736-3504

Website: http://www.jalamabeach.com

98 campsites, all overlooking the ocean or beachfront. Each site has a picnic table and BBQ pit, with hot showers, restrooms and water nearby. 29 sites offer electrical hookups, and dump stations are available. From Santa Barbara take the 101 freeway north approximately 30 miles to PCH 1 (exit sign says “Lompoc & Vandenberg AFB”), then exit north on PCH 1. Travel approximately 15 miles to Jalama Road. Take Jalama road, and 14 miles later, you’re here.

Leadbetter Beach Shoreline

Dr & Loma Alta Dr Santa Barbara (805) 564-5418

Website: http://www.santabarbaraca.gov

Leadbetter is an artificial beach, built by accident. When Santa Barbara Harbor was built, it blocked the downshore current, holding up the natural sand flow. One of the best beaches for swimming and family fun is Leadbetter Beach, just west of the Santa Barbara Marina. The beach is lined with a grassy picnic area with numerous barbecue pits.

Lookout Beach County Park

Hwy 101 Summerland (805) 568-2465

Website: http://www.santabarbaraca.gov

Panoramic views from bluffs, great surfing and sunbathing, barbecue areas and hiking trails. It’s a beautiful area to spend the day and relax with friends and family.

Point Sal State Beach Santa Maria

Website: http://www.parks.ca.gov

Recreational activities at Point Sal SB include fishing, beach combing, hiking, nature study, photography, picnicking and sunbathing. Because of extremely dangerous rip currents, occasional shark sightings, and the absence of Lifeguard service, swimming is not recommended. The park has no picnic tables, toilets or other recreational facilities.

Refugio State Beach

10 Refugio Beach Rd, Goleta (805) 968-1033

Website: http://www.parks.ca.gov

Excellent coastal fishing as well as trails and picnic sites. 1.5 miles of beach that offers plenty of sand and surf. This is a great beach for diving and snorkeling, hiking and biking. A bike trail along the beach bluff connects the beach with El Capitán State Beach 2.5 miles east. Restrooms, a general store on the weekends, and camping.

Rincon Beach County Park

Website: http://www.santabarbaraca.gov

Some of the Central Coast’s best surfing. Visitors who want to take in the wonderful ocean views, have a picnic, take photographs, or stroll the beach will want to visit Rincon. Features: beach access, benches or picnic tables, bird watching, restrooms, surfing, swimming.

West Beach

Website: http://www.santabarbaraca.gov

West Cabrillo Blvd, between Stearn’s Wharf and the harbor.

A great beach for skating, playing volleyball and watching the boats come in. Not a good beach for swimming.