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If you have grown up in Southern California like I have, you know there are certain beaches for certain things. Every beach is beautiful, but they’re all built a little differently. Those of us who have been lucky enough to grow up here learn which beaches are best for different occasions over time, but since Summer is here, I thought I’d share my guide to Southern California’s best beaches, based on your need!
If I could live anywhere in California, it would be Laguna Beach. This sleepy, small beach town is equal parts luxurious and quaint. Table Rock beach is one of the best beaches in Laguna, with coastline bordered by sea cliffs and massive mansions overlooking the ocean. Nestled in the back of a neighborhood with 225 steps down to the sand, it’s not necessarily the easiest to find, which is probably why it’s so secluded. This is a great place to chill by the water and listen to music or snap a few photos without a ton of people in the background. It’s quiet, and the volcanic rock in the center (which the beach is named for) makes the entire scene feel like a European hideaway.


Moonlight beach in Encinitas is easily the most social beach in SoCal. Right in the heart of downtown Encinitas, this beach is just steps away from all the town’s best food, shopping, and art, and it’s where I grew up going with my family and friends. In the summer, it’s home to the Switchfoot BRO-AM, a charity event bringing together live music, a surf contest, and delicious food from local vendors. It’s a super fun way to meet people at the beach and spend a day in the sun!
Another Encinitas gem, Pipes is one of my favorite surf spots. Just before you enter Cardiff, and right next to the Encinitas Self-Realization Center, the waves here are typically small, slow, and fun for longboarding. Above the beach, when you enter the parking lot, you’ll typically find people doing everything from yoga to slack-lining, spike ball or hacky-sacking. Bonus: it’s a short walk or drive to Pipes Cafe, where you’ll find delicious breakfast burritos & pancakes.
Just between Oceanside and San Clemente is San Onofre, or San-O as we like to call it. With a campground attached to this beach, it makes for the perfect weekend surf getaway. Don’t let the power plant fool you—this beach is a treasure. The waves here are perfect for longboarding and the water is extra warm.
Cassidy Street beach in Oceanside used to have sand, but now it’s home mostly to surfers unless you wake up super early to catch the sand before the tide rises. Even still, it’s got a great sunset view you can enjoy from the rocks or the benches up above the beach, and on clear nights, you can see all the way to the Oceanside Pier.
When I’m having a hard or overwhelming day, I make it a point to get outside to watch the sunset because it totally improves my mood. If you want a great date night idea, grab Best Pizza and Brew’s two slices and a drink special and take it to go, sit at the benches above the beach and enjoy some delicious food during golden hour. Best date ever.
If you visit any of these beaches this summer, make sure to tag me on Instagram, bonus points if you visit in your Sienna Swim 😉 Happy summer from me to you. <3 
Sienna Mae Gomez