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GURU guide to the BEST BEACHES in SANTA BARBARA Based on Your VIBE.

In a world full of beaches, each one caters to a specific type of vibe. We may all love the sun, sand, and surf, but it’s how you like to spend your beach time that matters most. If you’re looking to find the best spot-in-the-sand or switch up your go-to spots for something new and exciting, we’ve got just the guide for you. From low-key beaches perfect for an intimate getaway to adrenaline pumping beach sports activities and everything in between, Santa Barbara has got you covered. Here are our top picks for the best beaches in SB depending on your vibe..

Santa Barbara Beaches Map, Best Beaches
Santa Barbara Beaches Map

Best Santa Barbara Sunsets

If you’re looking for an easy and obvious one, then East Beach is where you want to be. This is where you’ll find some of the most stunning views of the sun going down over the water and islands. This is also the most crowded of the beaches during the day, so be sure to arrive early in order to get the perfect spot for your sunset photos. If you want to keep things intimate, drive a bit further south to Butterfly Beach for a great sunset stroll. You won’t want to miss out on the sunset-makes-the-moment view!

Santa Barbara Sunset Best Beaches
Santa Barbara Sunset Party

Best Low Key Beaches

If you’re looking for a beach that’s a little bit more secluded and low key, then look no further than Miramar or Butterfly Beach. Located just south of Santa Barbara in Montecito, these hidden gems are open to the public. You’ll get a real sense of locals life and relaxation here, away from the crowds. Parking, food and bathrooms can be a be tricky at these locales. Parking on a nearby residential street and walking in is always an option. Calm waters and celebrity sightings are the norm here.

Big Group Beach Activities

If you’re looking for a big group beach activity, then you’re going to want to check out East and West Beach bisected by Stearns Wharf right on the waterfront. Within walking distance to downtown State St. and the harbor, this is a popular choice for tourists with easy parking and an easy walk to hotels, dining and transportation hubs. Volleyball, SUP, water sports, beach yoga and all manner or excercise on the long, scenic, winding bike path can be enjoyed. This is a great way to spend a few hours on the cheap with a big group, and you won’t want to miss out on the stunning views of the Santa Barbara Harbor, The Channel Islands and Stearns Wharf!

East Beach Volleyball Santa Barbara
East Beach Volleyball Santa Barbara

For the Nature & Dog Lovers

If you’re more of a nature lover, then Arroyo Burro (Hendry's Beach) is the place where you’ll want to be. This beach is a locals beach with an amazing off-leash dog beach, great surf, and a restaurant on the sand. If you’re lucky, you’ll even see a dolphin or two! There are lots of great walking trails surrounding this area, so don’t be afraid to get a little bit off the beaten path. This is also a great place for bird watchers and people who want to get a closer look at local sea life.

Henry's Off-Leash Dog Beach
Henry's Off-Leash Dog Beach

Easy Going, Calm Waters and Great For Kids

If you’re just looking for something easy to get to, then you can’t go wrong with Leadbetter Beach. This is one of the most popular beaches in SB for surf and SUP lessons. There's plenty of parking and picnic tables and you can easily walk the beach to get to the Harbor or West Beach.

This is a great place to spend a day with the family, and you’ll be able to get everything you need in one spot with restrooms and a restaurant with snack bar nearby.

What is YOUR Vibe?

When it comes to Santa Barbara’s beaches, you’ll find that there are plenty of options, depending on your vibe. No matter what type of beach experience you’re looking for, you’re sure to find it here. We hope this guide has helped to narrow down your choices and that you’ve found the perfect spot for your next beach adventure.


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