Los Angeles County’s diverse beaches offer many ways to enjoy family playtime in the sun and surf. Whether you prefer wide, sandy beaches or rocky shores for tide pooling, there’s a beach for you. Keep in mind that some beaches are cleaner than others. Heal the Bay’s annual Beach Report Card measures the level of bacterial pollution at more than 500 California beaches. L.A.’s top 5 cleanest family beaches consistently rank high on the list for water quality.
The best part about going to the beach is getting in the water, right? Heal the Bay’s annual beach report card graded California beaches for 2019-2020 based on water quality. Beaches are assigned grades A to F. The better the grade, the lower the risk of contracting an illness from water at that location. Most beaches on the Honor Roll are in Southern California, including several in Los Angeles County.
Overall, 42 out of more than 500 monitored California beaches made it on Heal the Bay’s coveted Honor Roll. To make it on the Honor Roll, the beach must be monitored year-round and score perfect A+ water quality grades each week in all seasons and weather conditions.
L.A.’s top five cleanest family beaches range in size and amenities. See which of these beautiful beaches fit your family best.
LA’s Cleanest Beaches
1. Manhattan Beach
Pick any spot along The Strand to swim and play on 40 acres of recreational beach space. If you love volleyball, then this beach is for you. With more than 50 volleyball courts, Manhattan Beach is considered the volleyball capital of southern California.
Things to do with family include swimming and boogie boarding or surfing at El Porto. There’s also a children’s play area, restrooms, and showers.
Feeling adventurous? There’s a 22-mile beachfront bike path that travels from this South Bay beach to Will Rogers State Beach in Pacific Palisades. A walk along the scenic 928-foot-long pier leads to the Roundhouse Marine Studies Lab and Aquarium. Fishing along the pier is allowed year-round. A rental shop provides all the gear you need
Nearby Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach also got A+ ratings in 2021 from Heal the Bay. Beach amenities include volleyball nets, volleyball courts, showers and restrooms.
2. Venice Beach
Los Angeles’ top five cleanest family beaches always include Venice Beach. Portions of Venice Beach get an A+ from Heal the Bay, so feel good about swimming here.
More things to do include boogie boarding and surfing. Watch or join surfers at the Venice Breakwater. It’s a popular surf spot located north of the Venice Pier. Lifeguards are on hand during daylight hours.
3. Santa Monica Beach
Although Santa Monica beaches get an overall “A” rating, it’s best to avoid swimming near the pier, according to the beach report. In fact, the report gives it a “D.” But don’t let that stop you from visiting Pacific Park’s rides and restaurants on the Santa Monica Pier.
If you’re looking for a super-sized, action-packed beach, this is the place. The sound of the waves is somewhat muffled from music and people shrieking from the nearby Ferris wheel and roller coasters. But there’s a definite festive ambiance at this iconic California beach. Salty ocean air mixes pleasantly with aromas of grilled burgers and hot dogs.
Things to do on the Santa Monica Pier include riding on the carousel and visiting the aquarium. It’s also fun to go biking on the boardwalk or along a paved coastal bike path. Bring your own bike or rent from the pier or shops on Ocean Front Walk. Unlike many southern California beaches, Santa Monica Beach has several large parking lots.
4. Zuma, Malibu
L.A’s top five cleanest family beaches aren’t complete without Zuma, popular with beach-goers of all ages.This quintessential California beach also gets an A+ for water quality. Make sure you find a place 100 yards away from the Zuma creek outfall.
With open space and good waves for surfing, Zuma is among Los Angeles’ best beaches. Body surfing, windsurfing, beach volleyball, and lifeguards make this a popular beach with families.
To park in the larger lots and get close to food huts, turn right from Pacific Coast Highway (PCH).
Amenities at Zuma include two food huts serving tasty grilled burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, salads, chips, candy, and drinks. There are also restrooms and outdoor showers (with cold water). In addition, there are eight parking lots with approximately 2,000 parking spaces.
TravelingMom Tip: In spring, you get great views of migrating whales at nearby Point Dume.
5. Royal Palms State Beach, San Pedro
Located at the base of a cliff, this hidden gem in San Pedro also gets an A+. The rocky shoreline and tide pools are teeming with marine life at this Palos Verdes Peninsula spot.
Although Royal Palms State Beach is not a swim beach, the adjacent White Point area is good for fishing and scuba.
Amenities include a picnic area, restrooms, and showers. A children’s play area and a small park are nestled at the top of the bluff. Check out the view of Catalina Island.
Covid-19 Pandemic Protocols
During the pandemic, Los Angeles beaches have been great getaways for sunbathing, fresh air and exercise. Or to just watch the sun melt in the Pacific Ocean. Wear a mask when not in the water and remain at least six-feet away from people who are not from your household.
In addition, some attractions are temporarily closed or have limited hours during the pandemic. For example, while the Santa Monica Pier is open, rides are closed. For the latest information about coronavirus-related updates, go to Visit California.
To Get the Cleanest Water
Heal the Bay recommends:
- Staying 100 yards away from storm drains, creeks and piers.
- Avoiding enclosed beaches with names like Mother’s Beach in Long Beach (on Heal the Bay’s Beach Bummer list). The lack of waves may be reassuring but the lack of circulation creates a breeding ground for bacteria,
- Check Heal the Bay’s beach report card before you hit the sand. Grades are updated weekly (available on iOS & Android).
- Staying out of the water for at least 72-hours after rain.
- Following all local health and safety regulations, and checking in with the lifeguard on duty for more information about the best places to swim.
What’s your favorite family beach in L.A.?