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

30 iconic beach experiences

Ignite your love for the shore with these classic beach icons. From boardwalks to bonfires, here are our favorite ways to dive in

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Sea kayaking
Steve MacAulay

Sea kayaking

No phones. No Wi-Fi. Consider these epic trips your QT with the ocean.

Island hop. Explore the San Juans, a 500-island archipelago north of Seattle, by island hopping the little guys on an Outdoor Odysseys tour (pictured) with pit stops for beaching and lunch. Trip routes vary, but uninhabited Jones Island is state park as private kingdom. From $95; trips depart from San Juan Island; outdoorodysseys.com  

Scope out a sea cave. Two-hour trips with San Diego’s OEX Dive & Kayak will take you inside the Clam—a La Jolla cave you can enter (at high tide, you can go all the way through). See if you can spot any leopard shark silhouettes below. From $50; oeexpress.com  

Paddle through wine country. Glide along the famed Russian River where it meets the ocean at Jenner, California. On this lesser-visited sliver of the Sonoma Coast, the biggest crowd might very well be a gaggle of harbor seals right near the mouth. Rent kayaks from Lotus. $20/day; 707/865-9604. 

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