Beach vacation guide

From all-to-yourself islands to hidden beach towns to iconic coastal experiences, the West has the beach vacation of a lifetime in store for you

Top 14 unsung beach towns

Enjoy a heaping dose of sand and surf in these quintessential beach towns--but better keep these underrated spots (relatively) secret!

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Capitola, CA
Photo by Thomas J. Story; written by Matt Villano

Capitola, CA

Capitola-by-the-Sea started in the 1860s as a resort town, a place for people from "over the hill" in San Jose to escape the heat. In the 1920s, it took on a Mediterranean feel, sprouting bungalows and stucco shacks reminiscent of those found in Italian fishing villages. But the Mediterranean doesn't have surf like Capitola's. That’s why world-renowned surfboard and wetsuit manufacturer O'Neill is headquartered here, and why marine environmental causes are big. And why even residents like Stephen Hanecak, chef at the Paradise Beach Grille, learn to balance their time between hard work and play. "Four or five days a week," he says, "I’m out there first thing with my surfboard, trying to start my day by catching some waves."

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