Favorite Beaches in the West

Find your ideal escape, with choices from hidden tropical oases to shorelines perfect for a stroll.

A couple walk on Asilomar Beach in Pacific Grove, California on a gray day.
Asilomar Beach in Pacific Grove, California.
David A Litman / Shutterstock

July/August 2021 Issue

“My husband and I discovered Asilomar Beach by accident when we were visiting Monterey, California. It’s very beautiful and peaceful. The day we were there was a clear sunny day, but it would still be wonderful in any kind of weather.” —Selma Sala 

“My favorite beach is Kee Beach on Kauai, Hawaii. The snorkeling is amazing and the beach lovely.” —Chris Maston 

Pismo Beach in California is a nice quiet beach near San Luis Obispo—and it’s the clam capital of the world! You can also find sand dollars along the beach there.” —Jim Mineo

“Our favorite beach is Hearts Desire on Tomales Bay in Northern California. This is an out-of-the-way beach near Point Reyes National Seashore. The Tomales Bay side has warmer water and the beach is great for launching kayaks into the bay. It’s very family friendly and well worth the drive along windy roads.” —The Kinzel Family

Waves crash on Avila Beach.

Waves crash on Avila Beach.

HannaTor / Shutterstock

“The perfect coastal spot is Avila Beach along California’s central coast. Not only is it a beautiful and tranquil little town, the views are breathtaking with perfect weather and gorgeous sunsets.” —Denise Parker

“Hands down, Bandon, Oregon—the beaches are not crowded, perfect for a quiet walk or for family fun. The off shore rocks make the area stunningly picturesque and always present a photo opportunity.” —Nancy Streets 

Limantour Beach in the Point Reyes, California, area is my favorite beach of all time. The view is expansive, the beach is long and curved, and the hills above just glow from the sunlight all day long.” —Mary Martin

“In 1969, my second year of college at the University of Portland, several of my friends and I headed to Oswald West State Park, south of Cannon Beach. We had an incredible time there, exploring Cape Falcon, hiking out on the trail leading to the end of the cape. Over 50 years later, now with my family including our granddaughter, we continue to visit this incredible beach! I feel blessed to have found this place, and I never tire of the wonder of the area.” —Dick Dudley

Pelicans flying over Seacliff State Beach at sundown in Aptos, Santa Cruz County, California.

Sunset at Seacliff State Beach in Aptos, California.

yhelfman / Shutterstock

“Our favorite beach in the West is Seacliff State Beach in Aptos, California. With the SS Palo Alto—a decomposing WWI-era oil tanker grounded here—and a 1.5-mile walk from the campground at New Brighton State Beach, the area offers something for everyone. Plus nearby Capitola offers shops, fine dining, and more. Close parking, handicap access, and showers at the beach are an added plus.” —Mike Ritchie

“My favorite beach in the West is Searose Beach near Yachats, Oregon. A stroll on the large, sandy beach will clear your mind of any troubles, and you’ll sleep like a baby at night as the waves in the distance serenade you into slumber. The warm sun tickles your skin, and the fresh air is like rehab for the lungs. The rolling waves at sunset are like giant colorful postcards being flashed in front of your eyes, and the marine mist in the morning lifts by the time breakfast is over.” —Karen Hartman

“As native Oregonians who have a lot of choices for the best beach, we have fallen in love with the secluded beaches and coastline of southern Oregon along the Samuel H Boardman Scenic Corridor, between Gold Beach and Brookings. Almost all the beaches are accessible by a short hike, and are usually free of crowds. Because this part of Oregon is in some sort of rain shadow, we have had sunny, 70-degree weather in late October and early February” —Lori and Jeff Sweeney

“The black sand beach at Waianapanapa State Park on Maui is my favorite in the West. The park is a short drive off the Hana Highway (make sure you make a reservation), just before you reach Hana. The white waves crashing against coal black cliffs with verdant green vegetation, under a cloudless blue sky, are a photographer’s delight. The beach consists of small black pebbles, and the receding waves create a soothing sound as the pebbles tumble towards the ocean. There is a trail that continues past the beach where you can get additional amazing views.” —Dave Taube

Cannon beach on a sunny day.

Cannon Beach on the Oregon Coast.

Dancestrokes / Shutterstock

“My favorite beach is Cannon Beach in Oregon. There are miles of beach to walk along, and it’s so hard that you don’t sink into the sand. Plus, Haystack Rock is an Oregon icon and a favorite for picture taking.” —Gregory Elden 

“The best beach in the West by far is Neskowin, Oregon, north of Lincoln City. The beach is long and walkable, the rock formations are simply beautiful, and the local café is fantastic!” —Joe Conrad

“The beach at Penrose State Park in Washington constantly amazes me. Walking the spit at low tide reveals saltwater creatures such as crab, sand dollars, and even fish. High tide provides a semi-protected bay that’s perfect for SUP, kayaking, or swimming. If you’re on the water, paddle just beyond Penrose Point for an ideal view of Mt. Rainier.” —Mieka Nichols

“Our family always loves the Puget Sound beaches in Washington. There’s always so much to view: ferry crossings, the snow-capped Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges, tide pools, and sea life such as sea lions, otters, and whales. We love to visit Mukilteo, Picnic Point, and especially Edmonds Beaches. Most folks will flock to ocean beaches, and there are many wonderful ones, but these Puget beaches seem to offer more to explore for a family.” —Sharon Smith