Photos of the best beaches in the Bay Area

The Best Beaches Near Us

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As the summer comes to a close and the school work comes crashing in, it may feel as though the fun is over. However, beach days still offer the perfect excursion to take your mind off the incoming piles of schoolwork and stress.

Autumn is actually the best time to visit Bay Area beaches because California has an “Indian summer”—in the fall, northwesterly winds transition into easterly winds, warming up the air and clearing up the sky.

In the next few months, the combination of warm weather, clear skies, and easterly winds with south swells will create the perfect opportunity for surfing, tanning, swimming, or any other beach activity that tickles your fancy. Here is a review of the most popular and underrated beaches you should visit in our area.

Santa Cruz locals know Panther Beach as a hidden gem on the California coastline. Although the entrance is scattered with broken glass and trash, it opens to a gorgeous beach.

Photo Credit: Peter Thoeny on

There are tide pools filled with various marine species, such as sand dollars, crabs, and sea anemones. The beach is surrounded by an arch carved into the cliff, earning it the nickname, “Hole in the Wall Beach.”

Panther Beach has lots of room to hangout, play fun games like Spikeball and football, picnic, and more. 

Along with a relaxing place to sink into the sand, Panther Beach has superb surf and hefty waves. Freshman Connor Heinz said, “I like boogie boarding in the waves because they are big and smooth.” The waves can swell to giant heights and the current is very strong, so be careful!

Photo Credit: Avery Galles

Montara State Beach features beautiful cliffs and sand for miles. When the sky isn’t too foggy, the view also offers breath-taking sunsets. The fall and water also make Montara one of the best beaches for surfing.

Senior Rowan Kelly said, “I love to surf at Montara Beach. The break off of the cliff makes wonderful, big, and smooth waves.”

Though the tide can get rough for swimming at any Half Moon Bay beach, Montara is perfect for surfers, while the shore is usable for everyone!

Photo Credit: Kevin Rohrbaugh on

Located roughly 20 minutes south of Montara, Poplar Beach is a great place to spend time with friends, family, and even pets. The beach often attracts large crowds of visitors, but the shore is wide enough for everyone to get their own space. 

Poplar is also pet-friendly, so your furry friends can join you in the fun!

The views are also spectacular. Junior Claire Gong said, “I love going to Poplar with my friends to watch the sunset!”

Pleasure Point Beach, located in Santa Cruz, is one of the most popular NorCal surf spots. There is a variety of sea life, such as dolphins, otters, sea lions, and there have even been multiple shark sightings!

Photo Credit: Ivan Blanco Vilar on The World is a Handkerchief

The town of Pleasure Point is charming and full of ice cream shops, boutiques, and surf stores.

The surf at Pleasure Point Beach is consistent, with steady waves breaking all year round. Senior Luke Lessard said, “I love surfing in Santa Cruz because of the environment you are surrounded in; the beach culture and smooth waves make it a lot of fun.” 

Although the waves are ideal for surfing, there aren’t many spots to hang out on the shore. Instead of the spacious, warm sand you can find at a majority of other beaches in Santa Cruz, Pleasure Point Beach has small plots of bleak sand that submerge beneath high tide.

Ocean Beach lies adjacent to Golden Gate Park, but it feels like a world away. If you are looking for a long, quiet shoreline with the intimacy of just you and the sea, this is the perfect destination for some coastal contemplation. 

Photo Credit: Ernest McGray, Jr. on

Ocean Beach has a beautiful view of the Golden Gate Bridge and typically very few tourists.

However, the beach has unpredictable tides and undertows, making it incredibly unsafe for swimming but splendid for advanced surfing.

Ocean Beach is a great place to party or wander your thoughts, but it brings an unwanted friend too: pollution.

“There was a lot of trash lying around when I went there last time,” sophomore Daniel Matloub said. All of the gatherings at the beach have filled it with laughter and litter, one of the other main drawbacks of being located in the City.

Avery is a senior in her first year of writing for the Chronicle. She seeks out stories that highlight student life on campus and runs the Galles Guide. In her free time, she likes to spend time with family and friends, often at the beach!

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