The Northern California coastline is among the most beautiful and awe inspiring. These idyllic beaches are great for exploring, outdoor fun, and sweeping views. Although beaches are not the first thing that comes in mind when visiting San Francisco, you might be surprised by the beautiful and dramatic coastline, a perfect setting for many leisure activities. Here are some of the best beaches that can be found near San Francisco.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Rockaway Beach is in Pacifica, just outside south San Francisco. Its beautiful sands are a striking dark brown, and it is perfect for sinking your feet into. Hiking trails wind through the outer rocks of the beach, as well as paved bike paths.
This white-sand beach is arguably one of the most uniquely gorgeous seashores in the whole area. Sheltering cliffs give Rodeo Beach a feeling of seclusion and create an idyllic lagoon on one side of the sands with Rodeo Cove on the other. Going to Rodeo Beach also means basking in the beauty of the unique red and green pebbles and finding pieces of carnelian, jade, jasper, and black agate.
Stinson Beach is one of the most popular and loved swimming beaches in Northern California. San Franciscans cross the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County to escape busy city life on this beautiful beach. Stinson is amazing for surfing, boogie boarding, kayaking, windsurfing, and beach volleyball and is wedged between Bolinas Bay and Bolinas Lagoon, which means that once you’re on that white sand, you have two exhilarating bodies of water to frolic in.
Fitzgerald Marine Reserve
If just lying on beach isn’t enough for your shoreline excursion, make sure to check out Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. Visitors will find a plethora of coastal wildlife here, including crabs, seastars, sponges, mollusks, and a variety of fish species. It’s an amazing place to explore and discover the alluring complexity of beach ecosystems.
Natural Bridges State Beach
Farther south from San Francisco, in the awesome beach town of Santa Cruz, visitors will find natural beachy wonder. You can probably guess that Natural Bridges State Beach got its name from the magnificent rock formation in the shape of a bridge. This sight, paired with the teeming tide pools and the jaw-dropping view from the bridge, makes it a perfect spot for any beach activity or to just take in the scenery.
For a salt-air oasis that’s perfect for contemplation, head to Carmel Beach. Carmel-by-the-Sea is said to be one of America’s top beach towns, full of cultural opportunities and outdoor activities, and Carmel Beach is a part of the iconic Central California Coast. The sweeping views here are an absolute treasure.
Pomponio State Beach
An afternoon at Pomponio State Beach is next to magical with its charming lagoon, sloping sands, and blissful cliff views. Picnic tables and barbecue grills are scattered about the shore, so having a lovely beachside lunch with family and friends is picture perfect. Fishing, swimming, and surfing are among the most popular activities at Pomponio. Interestingly, the beach is also a local hotspot for geocaching, a modern tech treasure hunt.
San Gregorio State Beach
The driftwood strewn about on this beach create a romanticized coastal landscape. The history buffs out there will appreciate that San Gregorio Beach is home to California Historical Landmark 26, which is better known as the site commemorating the 1769 passage of Spanish explorer Captain Gáspar de Portolá.
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I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
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Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.