Malibu, Los Angeles
To my mind, there are two main "destination" beaches for those visiting Los Angeles:
I'm partial to the latter. Malibu backs against some stark mountains, and the approach from the Eastern passes is mindblowing. However, it's tough to compare the "highway village" of Malibu to the charming, riviera ambience of Laguna.
An artistic oasis in stoic Orange County, Laguna Beach is a laid back - albeit wealthy - community whose village sidewalks run right to the sand. The beaches are clean and gorgeous and the rolling green hills that slope to the sea frame a glamourous panorama. There are famous art festivals, year-round galleries, reasonable restaurants and a wealth of accomodations. It's a great day or overnight trip.
Laguna is only 55miles from Los Angeles International Airport, though traffic can make the trip grueling, at times.
Lets face it, thats what LA is famous for. It doesnt matter if you go to the South Bay beaches like Manhattan Beach or Hermosa... or Orange County Beaches like Huntington or Newport but you should check our beautiful beaches when you come to LA. Malibu Beaches are great also or try to get to Palos Verdes and check out the cliffs and the surfers.
Southern California is where you go to find lots of sand, beautiful surf, and sunny days almost year round.
Best beaches for surfing: Malibu
Best beaches for diving: Catalina Island
Best beaches for shopping: Newport
Best beaches for nightlife: Santa Monica, Hermosa Beach
Several times a year while driving on Pacific Coast Hwy in Malibu I get to see a pelican feeding frenzy. Up to 50 pelicans, plus assorted seagulls hone in on unsuspecting fish doing their fish thing. It is pretty amazing to watch these gangly birds pull up in midair, and then dive bomb on their dinner. This particular day there was a dolphin in the midst of the pelican dive bombers. It was definitely cool!!!
On Sundays this place is packed with Harley Bikers hanging out and having beer and fish and chips. The food is so-so but the scene is pretty cool. You can drive up the coast and then just stop off for a bite and a beer. (Don't knock over any bikes unless you are very large, very mean, and have lots of friends with you)
Apart from the crappy roads of LA, and the traffic, it is well worth a drive up the coast to Malibu. Malibu is a smaller city on the California Coast, about 20 min north of Santa Monica. From the Cliffs, you can see the blue Pacific Ocean, and it looks very beautiful.
When you are in LA, you can visit places like Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Santa Monica Pier, Venice Beach, Malibu beach....here is a picture of Bo Derek, the gorgeous actress of the 70's i was lucky to catch a glimpse of her....she looks good even today !!!!