22 Best Beaches in Santa Barbara (2023)

Santa Barbara is known for its tall green palm trees, sunny weather, blue skies, and of course, beaches! Located between Los Angeles and San Francisco, this beautiful city has long stretches of pristine beaches. With so many beaches to choose from, we have put together a guide to the top 22 best beaches in Santa Barbara. Here, we break down which beaches are best for surfing, picnics, or sunbathing. Read on to learn more!

Santa Barbara Beaches

1. East Beach

Address: 118 East Cabrillo Blvd, Santa Barbara, CA

Amenities: Accessibility Features, Lifeguard, Paved Bike Path, Pier, Restrooms, Showers, Skate Park, Volleyball Courts

Parking: You’ll find parking for East Beach scattered along Cabrillo Boulevard. Free parking goes fast, so expect to park in a paid spot. 

With a premium location next to the Cabrillo Inn, Santa Barbara Inn, and Eagle Inn, East Beach is easily one of the best beaches in Santa Barbara. Sandy, sunny, and bordered by a grassy park, East Beach offers many fun activities such as biking, picnicking, skating, paddle boarding, and volleyball. Due to its proximity to Santa Barbara’s tourist hub, East Beach is also a prime location for metal detecting (you might be especially lucky near the volleyball courts and sidewalks). It is also just a short 5-minute drive from the Santa Barbara Zoo, Santa Barbara Museum, and Stearns Wharf. East Beach does not allow dogs. 

2. One Thousand Steps Beach

Address: 1429 Shoreline Dr, Santa Barbara, CA

Amenities: One Thousand Steps Beach does not have any public amenities

Parking: You’ll find parking for this beach along Shoreline Drive. The best parking is at the top of the stairs–but these spots are limited. 

If you’re seeking out a less commercial beach with some fascinating history, consider One Thousand Steps Beach. The eroding concrete stairs at One Thousand Steps Beach were originally constructed almost 100 years ago, in 1925! Despite the name, there are actually only about 150 stairs. Going down the stairs may be a bit scary–but it’s worth exploring the tide pools and enjoying some of the best views Santa Barbara has to offer. Dogs are allowed off-leash on this beach, though only in a specific area.

3. Leadbetter Beach

Address: 801 Shoreline Dr, Santa Barbara, CA

Amenities: BBQ Grills, Grass Park, Picnic Tables, Restrooms, Showers, Lifeguards

Parking: Most parking near Leadbetter Beach is paid, though there are a few free 90-minute spots. The parking lot for Leadbetter Beach is located just past Santa Barbara Harbor. 

Close to Santa Barbara City College, the Santa Barbara Harbor, and downtown Santa Barbara–Leadbetter Beach is one of Santa Barbara’s most popular tourist spots. Where this beach lacks exclusivity, it makes up for in activities. Enjoy kiteboarding, surfing, windsurfing, swimming, and more at Shoreline Park, which overlooks the beach and harbor.

Shoreline Park is one of the most popular parks in Santa Barbar County, and it includes miles of paths used for walking, biking, and skating. After a fun day at the beach, you can also stop for a seafood lunch or dinner at Shoreline Beach Cafe. This cafe serves the best charcoal-smoked cheeseburgers, fried calamari, and fish tacos – all with a stunning ocean view.

Unfortunately, if you choose to go to this beach, you’ll have to leave your furry friends home–Leadbetter Beach has a strict no-dog policy. 

4. Arroyo Burro Beach County Park (Hendry’s Beach)

Address: 2981 Cliff Dr, Santa Barbara, CA

Amenities: BBQ Grills, Picnic Tables, Equestrian Trails, Restrooms, Restaurants, Seasonal Lifeguards

Parking: Parking is on-site. Parking is plentiful and free, but you might want to secure a spot early in the day, regardless. 

Just 5 miles west of the heart of Santa Barbara, Arroyo Burro Beach is one of the best beaches for families, dining, and even horse riding! Also known as Hendry’s Beach, this sunny tourist spot is also a great spot for foodies, as it is located next to the amazing Boathouse Restaurant and Snackbar. If you’re a surfing, swimming, or hiking fan, you might want to put Arroyo Burro Beach on your bucket list. Dogs are allowed on leash throughout the beach, and there is also a designated off-leash area for your pup to run free. This beach is also located below the beautiful Douglas family preserve, which is a public park with walking trails and a view of the coast.

5. More Mesa Beach

Address: 1095 Mockingbird Lane, Santa Barbara, CA

Amenities: More Mesa Beach does not have any public amenities. 

Parking: The best parking for More Mesa Beach is on Vieja Drive. 

Hidden and remote, More Mesa Beach is a clothing-optional beach and a hot spot for nude sunbathing. Here, you’ll have the pleasure of beach walking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and tanning without the risk of tan lines. While this is one of the most popular beaches for nude sunbathing, remember that the city of Santa Barbara prohibits nudity, so you may still receive a citation.

Montecito Beaches

6. Miramar Beach

Address: Eucalyptus Lane and Edgecliff Lane, Montecito, CA

Amenities: Miramar Beach does not offer facilities to those not staying at the nearby properties. 

Parking: Public parking for Miramar Beach can be found near Eucalyptus Lane and San Ysidro Road. 

If you’re staying at the famous Rosewood Hotel, you might be able to see this lovely beach from your room. Miramar Beach is slightly less popular than Leadbetter Beach and East Beach, but not because it doesn’t have a lot to offer–it’s just less known to tourists! Miramar Beach offers a host of activities, such as beach combing, swimming, and surfing. Dogs are also welcome at this beach, provided they’re kept on a leash. 

7. Butterfly Beach

Address: 1260 Channel Dr, Montecito, CA

Amenities: Butterfly Beach does not have any commercial amenities 

Parking: Public parking for Butterfly Beach can be found on Channel Drive or Butterfly Lane. 

Ever wanted to see a celebrity? If you go to Butterfly Beach, you might just find your wish granted. Butterfly Beach is a popular yet stylishly simple beach located near Montecito. It’s also one of the few south coast beaches to offer a view of the sunset over the water. Butterfly Beach is a great place for in beach walking, paddle boarding, and biking. It’s also friendly to leashed dogs. 

Goleta Beaches

8. Campus Point Beach

Address: Lagoon Rd, Isla Vista, CA

Amenities: Restrooms, Watersports Rentals for Adventure Pass Holders (Surf boards, SUP Boards, Kayaks, Wetsuits etc.)

Parking: You’ll have the best luck parking at Campus Point Beach anytime on the weekends or after five pm on weekdays. All parking is paid. 

You’ll find Campus Point Beach next to the University of California Santa Barbara. This spot is popular for beginner surfers since it’s only accessible when the tide is low. Campus Point Beach is sandwiched between Goleta Beach and Depressions Beach. Whether you’re there for biking, hiking, kayaking, or the amazing views at the bluffs on Labyrinth Trail–Campus Point Beach is a beautiful beach for families to bond with and college students to hang out. Campus Point is dog-friendly; just make sure you keep your pup on a leash! With a wide variety of things to do at Campus Point, there is no doubt it is one of the best beaches in Santa Barbara.

9. Devereux Beach (West Campus Beach)

Address: Slough Rd, Isla Vista, CA

Amenities: There are no public amenities at Devereux Beach. 

Parking: The best parking can be found on Camino Majorca Rd, near Camino Majorca Beach in Isla Vista. 

Devereux Beach, also known as West Campus Beach, is a relaxed beach just a short drive from the University of California Santa Barbara and the Coal Oil Point Natural Reserve. Devereux Beach is infamous for its amazing whale-watching opportunities–and if you head up to the bluffs above the beach, you’ll find the official spotting location of the Gray Whales Count organization. You can also explore “the jailhouse,” an abandoned historical home built in the 1920s. Other activities popular at Devereux Beach are hiking, surfing, and beach walking. Leashed dogs are permitted. 

10. Haskells Beach

Address: 8301 Hollister Avenue, Goleta, CA

Amenities: Picnic Tables, Restrooms, Showers

Parking: Parking is available at the tennis court facility in the Bacara Resort. 

Formerly known as Tecolote Beach, Haskell’s Beach is in western Goleta. Though Haskell’s calm waters and gentle waves may not appeal to adept or advanced surfers, the location is ideal for beginners! Fairly remote and unknown, this historical beach is perfect if privacy is high on your list of priorities. You can plan to bring your dog–but make sure he’s leashed! 

11. Refugio State Beach

Address: 10 Refugio Beach Rd, Goleta, CA

Amenities: Accessibility Features, Campgrounds, Seasonal Lifeguards, Bike Path, Picnic Tables, Restrooms, Showers, Store

Parking: Refugio State Beach allows camper parking for vehicles up to 35 feet in length. Parking for cars is free and located along Refugio Road.

A unique-yet-popular destination, Refugio State Beach offers many fun activities for families, tourists, and locals alike. Spend your day biking, camping, fishing, kayaking, picnicking, or surfing–or even diving or snorkeling! Unfortunately, Refugio State Beach does not allow dogs. 

12. Goleta Beach Park

Address: 5986 Sandspit Rd, Goleta, CA

Amenities: BBQ Grills, Boat Launch, Horseshoe Pits, Kids Friendly Areas, Bike Path, Picnic Tables, Pier, Restaurant, Restrooms, Volleyball Courts

Parking: Parking is free on-site, but due to Goleta Beach’s popularity, it may be difficult to find an open spot. 

Located near the University of California Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara Airport, Goleta Beach Park is a popular spot for tourists and experienced beachgoers alike. Rumored to be one of the most frequented beaches in the county, Goleta Beach Park offers a host of activities and amenities. Expect opportunities for biking, boating, fishing, kayaking, paddle boarding, beach volleyball, and picnicking. This beach is also within walking distance from UCSB, and you can walk or bike to Goleta Beach Park from UCSB, which has a long concrete trail leading to the beach. Be sure to ride down this beachfront bike path at sunset for an unforgettable view.

13. Sands Beach

Address: Slough Rd, Isla Vista, CA

Amenities: Restroom

Parking: The best parking for Sands Beach is at the south end of Camino Majorca Road. There are also a few spots along Slough Road. 

It simply doesn’t get more “local” than Sands Beach. Located near Devereux Beach, Ellwood Beach, and the University of California Santa Barbara, Sands Beach is a perfect spot for novice surfers, body surfing, tide pool explorers, and beach walkers. This beach is most commonly frequented by residents of Isla Vista, who attend UCSB or even Sana Barbara City College. This elusive beach is also a protected area for the endangered Snowy Plover bird.

14. El Capitan State Beach

Address: 10 Refugio Beach Rd, Goleta, CA

Amenities: Accessibility Features, BBQ Grills, Campgrounds, Bike Path, Picnic Tables, Restrooms, Showers

Parking: Paid parking is on-site. If you’re planning to bring your camper, expect accommodations for up to 42 feet in length.

Don’t be turned away by the rocks on this beach–El Capitan State Beach has tons to offer for beachgoers and families. Spend your day at this family-friendly spot biking, camping, fishing, hiking, picnicking, surfing, swimming, and even whale watching! El Capitan State Beach is ideal for large camping groups and offers many amenities for its guests. 

Carpinteria Beaches

15. Rincon Point State Beach

Address: Rincon Point Rd, Carpinteria, CA

Amenities: Restrooms, Lifeguard 

Parking: Paid parking is located on-site in the Rincon Point Beach parking lot. 

Surfers rejoice! Thanks to its righteous waves, Rincon Point State Beach has made a name for itself with local surfers as one of the best surfing spots on the south coast. It even hosts an annual surf competition! If surfing’s not your thing, no worries–this beach is also fantastic for picnicking, bird watching, and swimming. Unfortunately, dogs are not permitted. 

16. Santa Claus Beach (Padaro Beach)

Address: 3611 Padaro Ln, Carpinteria, CA

Amenities: Santa Claus Beach does not have any public amenities. 

Parking: Parking is available anywhere along Santa Claus Lane. 

Though its nickname is inspired by the most wonderful time of the year–Santa Claus Beach is officially called Padaro Beach. Known for its clear waters, Santa Claus Beach is the perfect spot for surfing, beach walking, and viewing the beautiful California mountains. And, if you’re hungry, stop by the Padaro Beach Grill for a delicious bite to eat! This beach is dog-friendly so long as they’re leashed. 

17. San Buenaventura State Beach

Address: 901 San Pedro St, Ventura, CA

Amenities: Restrooms, Showers, Accessibility Features

Parking: San Buenaventura State Beach offers three large parking lots on-site with free parking. 

San Buenaventura State Beach is two miles long, protected by skilled lifeguards year-round, and offers several relaxing picnic sites. It’s a great spot for a low-key day in the sun with your family and friends. Enjoy swimming, surfing, fishing, volleyball, or simply observing the fascinating wildlife. You can also take advantage of food trucks and bike rentals on weekends and holidays. Unfortunately, dogs are not permitted on the beach

18. Carpinteria State Beach

Address: 205 Palm Ave, Carpinteria, CA

The ideal beach for camping enthusiasts, Carpinteria State Beach features four campgrounds and over 191 family sites. Bring your RV, camper, or tent, and enjoy everything from hiking to picnicking. Then, after you’ve had your fill of trees and trails, head down to the beach to bask in the warm sun. Carpinteria Beach is much less crowded than some more commercial beaches in Santa Barbara. Unfortunately, while your leashed dog is permitted on the campgrounds and trails, they are not allowed on the beach. 

Amenities: Picnic Tables, Fire Rings, Running Water, Restrooms, Coin-Operated Hot Showers, RV Hookups (some with full hookups, others with only water and electrical), Lifeguards

Parking: Carpinteria Beach features on-site parking and can accommodate campers up to 35 feet in length

19. Loon Point Beach

Address: 2770 – 2850 Padaro Ln, Carpinteria CA

Amenities: Portable Toilets

Parking: Free parking is available at the west end of Padaro Lane near the 101 freeway.  

Saddle up because Loon Point Beach is one of the few south coast beaches that permits horseback riding! Loon Point Beach is ideal for families, equestrians, and surfers. While the free parking and on-site restrooms make Loon Point a decently popular spot, you’ll still find it relatively peaceful compared to Santa Barbara’s more commercial beaches. You can enjoy hiking, paddle boarding, surfing, boogie boarding, and horseback riding at Loon Point. Leashed dogs are also allowed at this beach. 

20. Summerland Beach

Address: Evans Avenue and Wallace Avenue, Summerland, CA

Amenities: BBQ Grills, Dog Wash, Horseshoes, Kid Friendly Area, Picnic Tables, Restrooms, Showers, Volleyball Court

Parking: Parking at Summerland Beach is on-site and free. 

Located in the heart of Summerland, CA, Summerland Beach is a true treasure within Santa Barbara County. The views are stunning, the relaxed and gentle waves are perfect for paddle boarding, and the soft white sand is plentiful. Summerland Beach is a great choice to picnic, paddle board, or play beach volleyball. There are also plenty of adorable coffee shops in Summerland, so make sure to stop and grab an iced coffee before heading over.

Beaches North of Santa Barbara

21. Gaviota Coast (Gaviota State Park Beach)

Address: 17620 Gaviota Beach Rd, Gaviota, CA

Amenities: Accessibility Features, Boat Hoist, Fishing Pier, Picnic Tables, Restrooms, Showers

Parking: Gaviota Coast features on-site parking near the park entrance. 

Gaviota Coast may be your best bet if you want a peaceful, uncrowded beach experience. Gaviota Coast is so elusive that it’s even unknown to many locals! Taking its name from the Spanish word for “seagull,” this stellar beach is 33 miles west of Santa Barbara. This beach is famous for fishing, camping, mountain biking, surfing, and swimming. But the real gem setting Gaviota apart is its hot springs! Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed on the beach or trails. 

22. Jalama Beach County Park

Address: 9999 Jalama Rd, Lompoc, CA

Amenities: Kid Friendly Area, Lifeguard, Restaurant, Restrooms, Showers, Store

Parking: To park at Jalama Beach, you’ll need to pay an entrance fee. You may also need to make a reservation. 

With miles of gorgeous beaches with soft sand to explore–Jalama is a premium destination within Santa Barbara County for beach walking. This spot is popular with campers and tourists due to its plentiful amenities–including the Jalama Beach Store, a general goods shop stocked with everything from groceries to clothes. Jalama Beach is also one of Santa Barbara County’s most kid-friendly beaches. Jalama Beach is an excellent spot for fishing, kiteboarding, surfing, whale watching, and windsurfing. Dogs are allowed on leash, but note that you’ll need to pay an extra fee for your furry friend.


Santa Barbara Beach FAQs

What is the Best Beach for Surfing?

The best beaches for surfers in Santa Barbara are Rincon Point, Leadbetter Point, Campus Point, Jalama Beach County Park, and Gaviota Coast.

Where to Kayak in Santa Barbara?

The University of California Santa Barbara offers an adventure pass that provides access to wet suits, kayaks, surfboards, and stand-up paddleboards. These year-long passes are available for 18+ UCSB students, faculty, and community members. For amazing kayak rentals for tourists in Santa Barbara, check out Channel Islands Expeditions, Paddle Sports Center, and the Santa Barbara Adventure Company.

Does Santa Barbara Have a Nice Beach?

Santa Barbara has many beautiful beaches, such as Leadbetter Beach, East Beach, Santa Claus Beach, Arroyo Burro Beach, Miramar Beach, and Hammond’s Beach. Whether it’s family-friendly amenities, stunning views, or exciting activities, you’ll have a blast planning your beach trip to Santa Barbara.

Do All Santa Barbara Beaches Have Tar?

Beaches in Santa Barbara are unfortunately notorious for having tar. If you want to avoid tar as much as possible, plan to go during the winter and spring. Several beaches in Santa Barbara are also tar-free, such as Rincon Point State Beach and Arroyo Burro Beach. 

Why Do Santa Barbara Beaches Have Tar?

Santa Barbara Beaches have tar due to natural petroleum oil seeps. These seeps occur when oil trapped beneath the earth leaks out of its reserve. This oil degrades into tar over time, and waves carry it onto the shores of many beaches. However, Santa Barbara still has many pristine beaches.

How To Remove Beach Tar From Feet

A pro tip for removing beach tar from your feet is to use baby oil. You can also use any type of oil you might have on hand, including canola oil, olive oil, or avocado oil. Vaseline or baking soda mixed with water will also do the trick.

Are Santa Barbara Beaches Swimmable?

Yes! Out of all the beaches, Santa Barbara’s beaches are great for swimming, snorkeling, diving, and surfing. Some are even considered the world’s safest beaches.

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