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The Six Best Beaches in Santa Barbara

The Six Best Beaches in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara has earned a reputation as the “California Riviera,” thanks to its sparkling beaches, and it's laid back Mediterranean charm. Whether you are looking for a place to catch a wave, soak up a few rays, play some volleyball, or exercise your pup, the list below covers some of Santa Barbara’s must see beaches

Pro-Tip:  Because Santa Barbara area beaches have natural oil seepage, before you hit the sand and surf, stop by one of these convenient locations and pick up a bottle of Oil Slick Beach Tar Remover or Oil Slick wipes. This all natural, eco-friendly solution made from citrus and plants will quickly take tar off your skin, shoes, surfboards, etc.  


Arroyo Burro Beach (aka Hendry’s Beach)

This beach is a favorite of locals and visitors alike. To the left of the main parking lot is a beach break that is fun for surfers. The shore to the left of the parking lot is also an off-leash area for well behaved dogs to run free. To the right of the parking lot is a long stretch of shore perfect for long walks, and at certain times of the year, you may see dolphins swimming just off shore. Arroyo Burro Beach is also home to the Boathouse Restaurant with good food and drink and fabulous ocean views.


Butterfly Beach

Gentle waves, great sunsets and a family friendly atmosphere, Butterfly Beach located just south of downtown Santa Barbara, is one of Montecito’s favorite relaxation spots. Spread out a towel, bring a good book and enjoy a serene day on Butterfly Beach. In the evening, walk or drive a few blocks to Montecito’s main street (Coast Village Road) for a delicious meal or refreshing cocktail.


East Beach

This is one of downtown Santa Barbara’s most popular beaches. The broad sandy beach offers numerous sand volleyball courts and has a bike path that skirts the sand perfect for bike rides. There are also playgrounds for kids and the Stearns Wharf offers plenty of dining and sightseeing options for all ages.


West Beach

East Beach's smaller little sister is only a quarter of a mile long. But this little gem sits right across the street from Santa Barbara’s busiest hotels. It extends west from Stearns Wharf and offers rentals for kayaking, paddle boarding and more. It’s a great place to lay out and people watch. There is a surf spot right off the breakwater and plenty of walking paths to check out all that the area has to offer.


Leadbetter Beach

Continuing north, just beyond West Beach, is Leadbetter Beach. This beach is right across from Santa Barbara City College, so it is no surprise that it is a favorite of college students as well as locals and tourists. There is a great surf spot here with a long right break. There are also some barbecue grills located just off the sand and a few well-placed tables and a grassy area, great for a relaxed picnic. There is also a café right on the sand serving breakfast, lunch or dinner.


Goleta Beach

About 15 minutes' drive from Santa Barbara, near the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), Goleta Beach features a 1,500-foot pier, with beautiful views of the Pacific Coast. This is one of the area’s top kid-friendly beaches with generally mild waves and a fun playground. There are plenty of tables and grills for get-togethers, (reserve one in advance because they do fill up). The pier is a great spot to cast a line and do some fishing, or just stroll and enjoy the magnificent views. The waters are ideal for kayaking and paddle boarding. There are also sand volleyball courts and the nearby campus point, is a great spot for surfing. On small wave days, it’s perfect for beginners and in big swells, it’s a fun ride for more experienced surfers. Goleta Beach has lifeguards that patrol in season, there are convenient restrooms and added bonus here, is the abundance of free parking. 


Santa Barbara area beaches offer relaxation and recreation most of the year. In late spring and early summer you may encounter some morning fog that usually clears to a perfectly mild beach day. So check the weather forecast, grab a towel, make sure you have some Oil Slick Beach Tar Remover (to handle any oil and tar you may encounter) and have a great time.

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