By Steve Jermanok
A favorite activity on my beach vacations, I’m jogging on a sublime stretch of California coastline that “Dr. Beach,” Stephen Leatherman, just named one of the top 10 beaches in America, Coronado Beach. Straight ahead, the white crescent of sand curves to the left, leading to the bluffs of Point Loma and the thrashing waters of the Pacific. Behind me is one of the most famous hotels in America, Hotel del Coronado, looking like a multi-tiered wedding cake with its red-shingled roof and turrets. As I breathe in big gulps of salty air, I realize this has to be the image most people think of when they dream about California beaches.
Coronado is just the first of many magical spots you encounter as you make your way north on the state’s 840-mile stretch of shoreline. It’s nearly sacrilege to try to describe this natural wonder succinctly, but I’ll do my best to quickly touch on my favorite California vacation locales along the coast.
- Don’t miss the rocky shores of La Jolla, north of San Diego and the hard bods playing beach volleyball at Laguna Beach.
- Become one more speck in the mass of humanity rollerblading, biking, and walking their dogs on the boardwalk along Venice Beach in Los Angeles.
- Pick up a momento from the artists selling their wares at the Santa Barbara Pier.
- Marvel at the hundreds of large elephant seals lounging, grunting, wrestling, and diving into the Pacific at Piedres Blancas, four miles north of Hearst Castle.
- Check out the precipitous rock, waterfalls, and wildflowers at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park near the hairpin turns of Big Sur. Stop for lunch at Nepenthe to dine on nachos while overlooking the stunning surroundings.
- Enjoy the bounty of sealife at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and as you move north, the remote beaches of California’s “Lost Coast,” south of Eureka.
Lather on the lotion, put the top down, savor the moment.
Steve Jermanok has explored more than 75 countries and written over 1,000 articles on subjects ranging from art to adventure. He has worked as a columnist for National Geographic Adventure, contributing editor for Budget Travel, guest editor for The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine and writes regularly for Away.com, Health, Men’s Journal, Outside, and Yankee.