When you’re in Santa Ana, California, you’re never far from the allure of the Pacific Ocean.
This vibrant city is a gateway to some of Southern California’s most beautiful and renowned beaches.
From the iconic surf of Huntington Beach to the artistic charm of Laguna Beach, there’s a coastal haven for every type of beachgoer.
Whether you’re a seasoned surfer, a sun worshiper, or simply someone who loves the soothing rhythm of the waves, the beaches near Santa Ana offer an oceanfront paradise that’s sure to captivate.
In this article, we will explore some of the best beaches near Santa Ana, each offering its own unique blend of sun, sand, surf, and seaside culture.
Best Beaches Near Santa Ana 🏖️
1. Huntington Beach
If you’re looking for a beach near Santa Ana that’s perfect for surfing, sunbathing, and soaking up the laid-back Southern California vibe, Huntington Beach should be at the top of your list.
Dubbed “Surf City USA,” Huntington Beach has a long history of attracting surfers from around the world to its pristine shores.
Stretching for miles along the Pacific Ocean, Huntington Beach provides ample space for sunbathing, beach volleyball, and picnicking.
The iconic Huntington Beach Pier serves as a focal point, offering panoramic views of the coastline and serving as a popular spot for fishing and strolling.
Surfing enthusiasts flock to Huntington Beach to ride its famous waves, which are well-known for their consistency and quality.
The city hosts numerous surfing competitions throughout the year, including the prestigious U.S. Open of Surfing.
Novice surfers can also take advantage of surf schools and rental shops for an exhilarating experience in the water.
Beyond the beach, Huntington Beach features a lively downtown area known as Main Street, lined with an eclectic mix of restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues.
Visitors can enjoy delicious seafood, browse unique boutiques, and soak up the vibrant atmosphere of this coastal hub.
Nature lovers can explore the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, a protected wetland habitat that is home to a variety of bird species and offers scenic hiking trails.
Also, Huntington Central Park provides a peaceful retreat with sprawling green spaces, picnic areas, and beautiful gardens.
2. Newport Beach
Renowned for its stunning beaches, Newport Beach boasts miles of golden sands and glistening waters, inviting visitors to involve in sunbathing, swimming, and beach volleyball.
The beachfront is dotted with iconic piers, including the Newport Beach Pier and Balboa Pier, offering breathtaking vistas of the Pacific Ocean and opportunities for leisurely strolls or fishing adventures.
Beyond its enchanting coastline, Newport Beach is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and water sports enthusiasts.
The harbor is a playground for sailing, yachting, and paddleboarding, while the nearby Back Bay Nature Preserve provides a tranquil setting for kayaking and bird-watching amidst the picturesque wetlands.
Newport Beach is not only a destination for outdoor recreation but also a hub of upscale shopping and dining experiences.
Fashion Island, an open-air shopping center, boasts an array of high-end boutiques, fine dining establishments, and entertainment options.
Also, the charming Balboa Village offers a nostalgic atmosphere with its historic Fun Zone, waterfront restaurants, and the iconic Balboa Island Ferry.
For art and culture enthusiasts, the Orange County Museum of Art showcases contemporary masterpieces, while the Balboa Peninsula’s Art Walk allows visitors to explore local galleries and studios.
3. Laguna Beach
Known for its stunning beaches, dramatic cliffs, and quaint downtown area, Laguna Beach is one of the most beautiful places in all of Orange County — and it’s only a few minutes south of Santa Ana.
Head to Main Beach for some volleyball and sunbathing, or explore Thousand Steps Beach, which offers spectacular views of the coastline.
For a real treat, take a stroll along the boardwalk at Heisler Park and admire its beautiful landscaping, oceanfront views, and art installations.
Laguna Beach’s downtown village exudes a charming and sophisticated atmosphere, offering a delightful array of boutique shops, gourmet restaurants, and inviting cafes.
For those seeking outdoor adventures, Laguna Beach offers an array of recreational opportunities.
The Laguna Coast Wilderness Park encompasses miles of pristine wilderness, boasting scenic trails that wind through coastal canyons, lush hillsides, and panoramic overlooks.
Laguna Beach entices visitors with its breathtaking coastal landscapes, vibrant arts scene, and a friendly community that warmly embraces all.
So, experience a captivating destination where natural beauty and cultural richness harmoniously coexist, captivating both the senses and the soul.
4. Bolsa Chica State Beach
If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, Bolsa Chica State Beach is a great spot to relax and enjoy some peaceful beach time.
Located just south of Huntington Beach, Bolsa Chica offers 9 miles of wide sands stretching along the Pacific Coast — perfect for long walks, volleyball games, or just soaking up the sun.
The beach is also great for bird watching, with over 200 species of birds that call the wetlands here home.
And if you’re a fisherman looking to make an easy catch, Bolsa Chica is also one of the best spots in Orange County to cast a line.
What sets Bolsa Chica State Beach apart is its ecological significance.
The beach is surrounded by the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, a protected wetland habitat that provides a sanctuary for a variety of bird species and other wildlife.
Bolsa Chica State Beach also provides convenient amenities to enhance visitors’ experience. Picnic tables, fire rings, and barbecue pits are available for public use, making it a popular spot for gatherings and beachside cookouts.
Lastly, there are restroom facilities, outdoor showers, and ample parking available.
5. Corona Del Mar State Beach
Nestled in the idyllic Orange County community of Corona Del Mar lies one of the most picturesque and enjoyable stretches of coastline in Southern California.
Corona Del Mar State Beach is an absolute must-visit destination for anyone who is seeking sun, sea, and sand near the city of Santa Ana.
The beach boasts crystal-clear waters, gentle waves, and a long stretch of white sand that is perfect for sunbathing, beachcombing, and exploring.
The area is surrounded by rocky cliffs and coves, providing the perfect backdrop for a peaceful and serene day spent outdoors.
Corona Del Mar State Beach is also a popular spot for surfers and boogie boarders who are looking to catch some waves.
The beach is known for its consistent waves that are ideal for all levels of surfers. Visitors can rent boards and wetsuits right on the sand, making it easy to get in the water and enjoy some fun in the sun.
In addition to its stunning natural beauty and surf-friendly waves, Corona Del Mar State Beach offers visitors a host of amenities and facilities to make their day in the sun as comfortable as possible.
There are plenty of picnic benches, grills, and shaded areas to relax in, as well as clean and well-maintained restrooms and showers for visitors to freshen up in after a day spent in the sand.
6. Crystal Cove State Park
Anther true gem Crystal Cove State Park and is considered best beach near Santa Ana, with its stunning scenery, crystal-clear waters, and wide range of recreational activities, there’s no shortage of enjoyment to be had at this breathtaking natural treasure.
Located just south of Newport Beach, Crystal Cove State Park is a pristine coastal paradise known for its lush hiking trails, serene tidepools, and unobstructed ocean views.
The park’s miles of shoreline are a popular destination for surfers, swimmers, and sunbathers alike, and its cleaner waters are home to a variety of marine life, making it a great spot for snorkeling and diving.
Away from the water, visitors can explore miles of stunning nature trails, meandering through the park’s verdant canyons and towering coastal bluffs.
The views from the numerous viewpoints are simply spectacular, and it’s not uncommon to spot a wide range of wildlife, such as deer, coyotes, and a host of migratory birds.
Crystal Cove State Park is also a great place to learn about local history and culture, with the historic district featuring immaculately preserved beach cottages that date back to the 1920s and 1930s.
These charming cottages offer a glimpse into a bygone era, and visitors can even rent them for overnight stays, providing a unique and unforgettable coastal experience.
7. Doheny State Beach
Located along the coast of Dana Point, just a stone’s throw away from Santa Ana, lies Doheny State Beach – a picturesque stretch of sand and sea that has been captivating visitors for decades.
With its warm, inviting waters and stunning natural beauty, this beach truly is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and bask in the simple pleasures of nature.
But that’s not all Doheny State Beach has to offer. Visitors can also take advantage of the onsite camping facilities, which feature over 100 campsites and picnic areas with stunning ocean views.
The beach also has multiple volleyball courts, a basketball court, and a year-round calendar of events and activities that includes everything from concerts to educational programs.
Beyond its recreational offerings, Doheny State Beach is also an important ecological resource.
The beach is home to a variety of plants and animals, including the endangered beach bird known as the Western Snowy Plover.
To protect this sensitive habitat, the beach has implemented a number of conservation measures, such as limiting visitor access to certain areas and conducting regular restoration projects.
8. Seal Beach
Seal Beach, situated a mere 20 miles south of Santa Ana, is a true hidden gem among the nearby beaches.
This charming coastal town presents visitors with an authentic California experience, boasting expansive sandy shores, pristine waters, and awe-inspiring vistas of the ocean.
Seal Beach boasts an extraordinary attraction – its historic pier, steeped in rich history since the early 1900s.
This magnificent wooden structure presents breathtaking vistas of the coastline and stands as a cherished gathering place for both locals and visitors.
Seal Beach is also known for its great surf conditions, drawing surfers from all over Southern California.
Its consistent waves make it a popular spot for both beginners and experienced surfers, with a number of surf schools and rental shops in the area.
For those who prefer to stay on dry land, Seal Beach offers plenty of other activities to enjoy.
Take a stroll down Main Street and browse the boutique shops, grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants, or simply relax and soak up the sun on the beach.
In terms of accommodations, Seal Beach has a wide variety of options to choose from.
Whether you’re looking for a budget-friendly hotel or a luxurious beachfront resort, you’re sure to find something that suits your needs and budget.
9. Sunset Beach
Sunset Beach is aptly named, as it provides a front-row seat to some of the most mesmerizing sunsets in the region.
The expansive stretch of soft sand, coupled with unobstructed views of the horizon, creates the perfect backdrop for witnessing nature’s dazzling display of colors as the sun dips below the Pacific Ocean.
The beach itself is a haven for relaxation and leisurely activities. Visitors can enjoy sunbathing, building sandcastles, or taking refreshing dips in the ocean.
The uncrowded nature of Sunset Beach lends itself to a peaceful and unhurried beach experience, allowing visitors to unwind and soak up the coastal serenity.
Surfing enthusiasts are drawn to Sunset Beach for its consistent waves and favorable surfing conditions.
The beach offers various breaks that cater to surfers of all skill levels, from beginners looking to catch their first wave to seasoned riders seeking the thrill of a challenging ride.
In addition to its natural beauty, Sunset Beach is home to a close-knit community that exudes a friendly and welcoming vibe.
The neighborhood features quaint beach cottages, local shops, and a selection of dining establishments offering fresh seafood and other coastal delights.
10. San Clemente State Beach
Another popular beach among locals and visitors, San Clemente State Beach. This beautiful beach is located just 30 miles south of Santa Ana and is a favorite destination for both locals and visitors.
San Clemente State Beach is nestled between two towering bluffs, offering stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.
You can enjoy a peaceful stroll along the beach, take a dip in the crystal clear waters, or soak up the sun on the pristine sand.
The beach is also a popular spot for surfing and swimming, so bring your board or water gear along.
Apart from its picturesque scenery, San Clemente State Beach boasts several amenities to ensure a comfortable stay.
The beach offers picnic areas, restrooms, showers, and plenty of parking space.
The campgrounds at the beach allow visitors to extend their stay, and there’s nothing more peaceful than sleeping to the soothing sounds of the ocean.
Wildlife enthusiasts can also catch a glimpse of San Clemente’s marine life, including dolphins and whales.
During the winter months, you can see majestic gray whales on their migration route.
San Clemente State Beach is truly a gem of Southern California. Booking a day trip to the beach is a perfect way to unwind, rejuvenate, and appreciate the great outdoors.
11. Trestles Beach
Trestles Beach is one of the most popular surf spots in California and a top destination for beachgoers looking for an unforgettable beach experience.
Nestled between two bluffs, this stunning beach provides spectacular views of the coastline and mesmerizing sunsets over the horizon.
Not only is Trestles Beach a surfer’s paradise, but it’s also a popular spot for sunbathing, beachcombing, and nature walks.
The beach is part of the San Onofre State Beach, which means that visitors can enjoy a wide range of outdoor recreational activities, including hiking, biking, and camping.
Trestles Beach has a unique feature that sets it apart from other beaches in the area – its scattered rock formations.
These rocks, which are a result of volcanic activity millions of years ago, create breathtaking natural pools and tide pools, where visitors can explore a diverse range of marine life, including starfish, crabs, and sea anemones.
In addition to its natural beauty, Trestles Beach is also home to some of the best waves and surf breaks in Southern California, making it a must-visit destination for surfers from all over the world.
The beach boasts consistent, high-quality waves throughout the year, with perfect conditions for both longboarding and shortboarding.
12. Salt Creek Beach
Nestled in the serene community of Dana Point, Salt Creek Beach is a hidden gem among the best beaches near Santa Ana.
The secluded stretch of coastline is a perfect retreat for those seeking solitude and peace away from the bustling city life.
With its pristine sandy shores and crystal-clear blue waters, Salt Creek Beach offers a perfect landscape for beachgoers to soak up the sun, enjoy a swim, or partake in recreational activities such as surfing and bodyboarding.
Ideal for all ages, with safe and shallow areas for kids and extensive stretches of beach for leisurely strolls and sunbathing.
Amenities at Salt Creek Beach include showers, picnic tables, and barbecues for those who want to enjoy a meal with their loved ones with stunning ocean views as the backdrop.
Whether you prefer to have a romantic picnic or organize a big family outing, the beach has everything you need to create memorable moments.
Salt Creek Beach is an excellent spot for nature-lovers to observe marine life, migratory birds, and enjoy the breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.
With over a mile of sandy shoreline, salt creek offers an ideal location to take a stroll, go for a jog, or take part in beach activities.
13. Dana Point Harbor
Boasting both scenic views and plentiful activities, it is no wonder that this beach has remained a local favorite for decades.
What makes Dana Point Harbor unique is the versatility of experiences available to visitors. Water enthusiasts will feel at home here, as the beach offers an array of water activities including kayaking, surfing, and whale watching tours.
The harbor is also an excellent spot for fishing, with plenty of options for charters and opportunities to catch local seafood such as halibut and yellowtail.
Beyond just the water activities, Dana Point Harbor is also an ideal place to relax and take in the beauty of the beach.
With its white sand and greenery lining the shore, it is a picturesque location for picnics, sunbathing, and walks.
Visitors can also enjoy the harbor’s local shops and restaurants, which provide an authentic taste of Southern California culture.
For those interested in exploring the area further, Dana Point Harbor is situated in close proximity to other beaches like Salt Creek and Capistrano, as well as Laguna Beach, home of the famous Pageant of the Masters.
14. Thousand Steps Beach
Located just a few miles away from Santa Ana, Thousand Steps Beach is one of the most stunning beaches in Orange County.
This picturesque stretch of coastline is a hidden gem that is sure to impress visitors who crave natural beauty and serenity.
Despite its name, Thousand Steps Beach actually has only around two hundred steps to climb down, which is still quite a workout but well worth it once you reach the bottom.
The steps lead down a steep cliff face that parts through the dense vegetation and drops you straight onto the sheltered beach.
The beach is a beautiful crescent of soft, white sand, bordered by towering cliffs on both sides.
The crystal-clear water is perfect for a refreshing swim, bodyboarding, or surfing. Thousand Steps Beach is also nestled in a small cove, which makes it a great spot for snorkeling.
Additionally, Thousand Steps Beach is surrounded by some of the best tide pools in the county.
These pools hold a vast array of marine life, including hermit crabs, sea stars, octopuses, and small fish.
The best times to explore the tide pools are during low tide and when the water is clear.
If the beauty of nature isn’t enough, then Thousand Steps Beach also accommodates a handful of amenities.
The beach includes outdoor showers, restrooms, and parking spaces for beach-goers. The beach is also leash-free for your favorite furry friends.
15. Victoria Beach
If you’re looking for a beach that boasts both natural beauty and a rich history, Victoria Beach is the perfect destination for you.
Located just a short drive from Santa Ana, Victoria Beach has everything a beach enthusiast could want. With its pristine white sands and emerald waters, the beach is sure to leave you in awe of its beauty.
Victoria Beach boasts a truly distinctive attraction: the iconic Pirate Tower. Majestically positioned at the northern tip of the beach, this towering structure, standing at a remarkable height of 60 feet, was meticulously crafted in the 1920s, serving as an opulent private staircase for a prosperous entrepreneur.
Legend has it that the tower was also once used as a lookout point for ruthless pirates. The tower is now a popular spot for photographers and visitors looking for a great view of the beach.
Aside from the Pirate Tower, Victoria Beach is also home to a variety of sea creatures. Visitors can often catch a glimpse of dolphins playing in the waves or spot sea lions sunning themselves on the rocks.
In addition to its natural beauty and historical attractions, Victoria Beach also offers a range of amenities for visitors.
There are showers and restrooms available, as well as fire pits for those looking to have a cozy beach bonfire. The beach is also a popular spot for surfing and paddleboarding.
With its breathtaking natural beauty, rich history, and range of amenities, it’s no wonder why this beach is considered one of the best in the area.
16. Main Beach
Main Beach is another most popular and best beaches near Santa Ana that is known for its pristine sandy shoreline, crystal clear waters, and abundant sunshine.
It boasts a wide range of exciting activities and amenities, making it an ideal destination for beachgoers of all ages.
Located in the heart of Laguna Beach, Main Beach offers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, surrounding hills, and the iconic Lifeguard Tower, which has become an important landmark in the area.
The beach is perfect for swimming, surfing, sunbathing, and a plethora of other water-based activities. The waves here are gentle and calm, making it ideal for novice swimmers and inexperienced surfers.
If you are looking to take a break from the sun, there are plenty of shaded areas on the beach where you can relax and unwind.
You can rent an umbrella or a beach chair and lay back while enjoying a drink or a snack from one of the many concession stands around the beach.
For those who want to explore the area, Main Beach is home to several hiking trails, including the famous Laguna Beach Trail.
The trail offers spectacular views of the ocean and the surrounding hills and is a must-visit for nature enthusiasts.
The beach also features several picnic areas, volleyball courts, and playgrounds, making it a great place for families with kids.
17. Aliso Beach
With a long stretch of sandy beach, Aliso Beach provides plenty of space for sunbathing, volleyball, and surfing.
Whether you’re an experienced surfer or a beginner looking to catch your first wave, Aliso Beach caters to all skill levels, making it an ideal spot for family fun or solo relaxation in the sun.
But Aliso Beach is more than just sand and surf – it also has an abundance of marine life.
The waters of Aliso Beach are home to a rich and diverse ecosystem of marine life, such as brightly colored fish, sea lions, and playful dolphins.
Its crystal clear waters are ideal for snorkeling, allowing visitors to get up close and personal with the exquisite underwater world below.
In addition to its natural beauty, Aliso Beach also has other amenities that make it the perfect destination for a day out.
The beach park has picnic areas, showers, and restrooms for visitors, as well as a concession stand that offers snacks and refreshments.
Its proximity to the Pacific Coast Highway also makes it a convenient stop for those traveling along the coast.
18. Baby Beach
Baby Beach, located in Dana Point, is a true gem among the best beaches near Santa Ana.
This crescent-shaped beach is known for its calm and shallow waters, making it a popular spot for families with young children.
The beach is also known as Capistrano Bay Community Beach and is under the management of Orange County Parks.
Baby Beach is a man-made beach that was created from the sand dredging of Dana Point Harbor entrance.
Baby Beach boasts a distinctive attribute an enclosed swimming area shielded by a breakwater, thereby providing a secure haven for swimmers to relish.
The shallow depth of the water allows for children to play and learn to swim without fear of deep water.
Additionally, the calm waters provide perfect conditions for stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking and even sailing.
Visitors will find plenty of water amenities available for rent on the beach, so you can try any of these fun water activities for yourself.
For visitors who prefer to stay on shore, Baby Beach offers plenty of amenities. The beach has multiple picnic tables, barbeque grills, and shaded areas throughout.
There are also restrooms and outdoor showers right on the beach, making it very convenient for families on the go.
Lastly, finding the perfect beach destination for a day trip or weekend getaway near Santa Ana is easy.
With 19+ of some of the best beaches in southern California, all at varying distances and offering their own amenities and features, there is sure to be an experience everyone can enjoy.
From swimming, sailing, surfing, kayaking and much more, these coastal-towns each have something special about them that make them unique and desirable locations.
The biggest challenge you may have when deciding which option to choose will be narrowing down your choices.