Northern San Diego County has a string of great beach towns with great beaches—Del Mar, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Solana Beach. But Encinitas may be the best of them all. There are a half dozen beaches along the Encinitas coastline, and they range from great-for-everybody Moonlight and Beacon’s to Swami’s, one of Southern California’s best surfing beaches. All this and the beautiful seaside gardens of the Self-Realization Hermitage Grounds, and good restaurants along South Coast Highway 101.
Carmel City Beach, Carmel, CA
No town in the West loves its dogs more than Carmel, the tasteful vacation retreat on the Monterey Peninsula. Dogs in restaurants? Sure! Dogs in hotels! Why not? Best of all, dogs are welcome to roam and romp on Carmel’s City Beach. This curving, white-sand beach is one of the prettiest anywhere. Doesn’t your dog deserve the best? Of course he/she does.
Waikiki, Honolulu, HI
Have you ever dreamed of being Bodhi in Point Break? Sure you have. Honolulu’s Waikiki is where you can make that dream a reality. Waikiki waves are surprisingly forgiving, even for beginners. And Waikiki surf instructors have been teaching, um, balanced-challenged visitors like us how to stand up on a board for over a century. Added bonus: celebrating your first ride with a mai tai and a view of Diamond Head at the Royal Hawaiian’s Mai Tai Bar.
Banzai Pipeline, North Shore, Oahu, HI
Stand on the sand and watch the best surfers in the world challenge themselves on the world’s biggest waves. Come winter, storms a thousand miles away in the Gulf of Alaska generate swells that travel south to strike the north shore of Oahu, forming waves thirty feet tall and drawing the world’s best surfers for competititions like the fabled Triple Crown. You don’t want to be out in the water then. But—here’s a secret—in summer, waves at this same beach are perfectly well-behaved and suitable for pretty much anyone. So tell your friends you’ve surfed Banzai. Just don’t tell them when.
Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, OR
The star of the show at Cannon Beach is Haystack Rock—a magnificent chunk of basalt that rises regally from the sand and the surf. But Haystack isn’t the only reason to visit this beautiful beach on the northern Oregon Coast. There’s prime tide-pooling and bird-watching, and the town itself is rich in restaurants and inns—the Stephanie Inn, with views of Haystack, is one of the best.
Even experienced Northern California beachgoers often ignore little Davenport as they zip up and down the Santa Cruz County coast. They are missing a lot. What’s here? Swanton Berry Farm, with luscious strawberries (and strawberry pies) in season and jams most of the year. Good food at Whale City Bakery and Davenport Roadhouse. And, best of all, the dramatic cliffs and coves of Davenport Landing, off Davenport Landing Road.
Crystal Cove State Park, north of Laguna Beach, CA
Some people go to the beach to grab some sun. Others go to the beach to have long meaningful talks and maybe cry a lot. That second group of people, of course, love the Bette Midler-Barbara Hershey flick, Beaches. And where was the beach in Beaches? Crystal Cove State Park. So go on, stroll along the sand and sing “Wind Beneath My Wings” to yourself and feel all the feelings.
Santa Barbara, CA
Santa Barbara’s Cabrillo Bike Path runs for miles along the city’s waterfront from East Beach to Stearns Wharf. And there are spots to rent bikes (including at many hotels) if you haven’t brought yours. All this means you can pedal a bike along the American Riviera then decide it’s time to take a break, lock up, and take a quick plunge into the Pacific. Summer days don’t get much better.
Beards Hollow Beach, Long Beach Peninsula, WA
Beards Hollow Beach, on Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula, is gem: a beautifully curving stretch of sand backed by picturesque cliffs and forest. And it makes for first-rate beachcombing, too. There are plenty of tide pools to observe, ample pieces of driftwood to admire, and even North Head Lighthouse to serve as a suitably impressive destination for a beach walk.
How much beach is there in Manzanita? Seven miles of beach—how could anybody want any more? And it’s a beautiful beach, too, picturesquely strewn with driftwood and famous for its glorious sunsets. And dog-friendly, too.