7 Can’t-Miss Santa Barbara Beaches

One of the simple pleasures of Santa Barbara is its proximity to the ocean. With miles of sun-drenched and sandy coastline, you’ll have trouble picking which of its pristine beaches to visit first. From surf-friendly waves to gentle ocean waters, a day spent at any of these Santa Barbara beaches makes even a perfect day that much better.

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Soak up the sun and sand with these seven can’t-miss Santa Barbara beaches (and a few insider tips):

Arroyo Burro Beach

Visitors and dog-lovers jump for joy over Arroyo Burro Beach, better known to locals as Hendry’s Beach. Load up your pooch and head to this flat, dog-friendly spot for a game of fetch along the coastline. Hungry after a day of beach play? Make time to grab a seaside meal at Boathouse, a local and visitor favorite. (Please note that while the beach is dog-friendly, dogs are, unfortunately, not allowed at the restaurant.)

Insider tip: Afterwards, give Fido a bubble bath at the self-serve dog-washing station in the parking lot!

Photo credit: @lainnarv via Instagram

Butterfly Beach

Before hitting this crowd-favorite beach, go shopping along Coast Village Road or grab a craft cocktail at Honor Bar. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a famous celeb. Once your thirst has been quenched, sunbathe at Butterfly Beach while you catch up on your favorite novel. This long stretch of sand also makes for a serene beach stroll setting at any time of day.

Insider tip: Make sure to get there early or stay late. Located in Montecito, Butterfly Beach faces west, making it the perfect place to watch a stunning sunrise or sunset.

Photo credit: @rollie2three via Instagram

East Beach

Adventure-seeking visitors can enjoy a competitive game of volleyball at the numerous courts available along East Beach. If two wheels are more your style, rent a bike at Wheel Fun Rentals and cruise along Cabrillo Boulevard, complete with cool coastal breezes and scenic beachfront views. Grab a bite to eat and a cocktail at beachfront Reunion Kitchen + Drink or Costa Restaurant and admire the sailboats on the horizon on a delightfully sunny day on this iconic Santa Barbara beach.

Insider tip: Family-friendly East Beach is located next to Stearns Wharf and makes your stay a breeze with lifeguard stations, a playground and cafés.

Photo credit: @amazing_lui.photography via Instagram

Goleta Beach Park

Make the most of your beach time with a visit to this “Good Land” beach. Cast a line off the Goleta Pier, or kick-start your weekend with a good ol’ beachside barbecue. Goleta Beach Park also boasts a paved trail system that is popular for both avid cyclists and casual riders. On weekends between Memorial and Labor Day, take to the sea and rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard right on the sand from Paddle Sports Center.

Insider tip: Plan to stay the entire day! This playful beachfront location has both picnic and grill areas, volleyball courts and horseshoe pits.

Photo credit: Blake Bronstad

Haskell's Beach

Just below The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara is a long, beautiful stretch of sand known as Haskell’s Beach—and you don’t have to be staying at the resort to access it. When you arrive, park in the designated beach parking lot and take the public access trail down to the beach for a day of fun in the sun along Goleta’s coastline. The waters along the Gaviota coast also make for great kayaking with help from Santa Barbara Adventure Company.

Insider tip: During low tide, keep your eyes out for native critters living inside of the tide pools scattered along the beach. You might find animals and organisms like sea anemone, starfish, octopus and more.

Photo credit: @my_california_weekend via Instagram

Leadbetter Beach

Near the Santa Barbara Harbor and the breakwater, Leadbetter Beach is a popular location for longboard surfing, boogie boarding and stand-up paddleboarding. Known for its rather mild shorebreak, this beach is perfect for anyone looking to take a leisurely dip in the ocean. Need a midday snack break? Head to Shoreline Café for an order of fresh fish and chips or a beach burger to-go.

Insider tip: Before leaving, take an extra few minutes to walk up to Shoreline Park, where you’ll be treated to a bird’s-eye view of the surfers below and get the best views of the Channel Islands. Editor’s note: The grassy areas of Leadbetter Beach will be temporarily closed through January 2024 for turf renovation.

Photo credit: JessyLynn Perkins

Summerland Beach

For those wanting a relaxing, laid-back beach day, escape to Summerland Beach. Sit back and simply enjoy the surrounding beauty at this unassuming, south-facing Santa Barbara beach. Bring your pup along for a picturesque walk on the beach, as Summerland Beach is one of the few dog-friendly beaches in Santa Barbara.

Insider tip: Not only is Summerland Beach dog-friendly, it’s horse-friendly, too. Book a sunset horseback riding tour with Los Padres Outfitters for an unbeatable experience touring the beaches and backgrounds of Summerland.

Plan This Itinerary

Arroyo Burro Beach

Located just ten minutes from downtown Santa Barbara, Arroyo Burro Beach is often referred to by locals as Hendry’s Beach. This beach is known for its winding coastline and light surf. Arroyo Burro Beach is also surrounded by tall bluffs that…

costa Kitchen & Bar

Drawing inspiration from Old World coastal Italian cuisine with a garnish of Middle Eastern influence, costa Kitchen & Bar is a celebration of worldly flair and California charm: light, clean and fresh menus, with fare strong in substance and…

Butterfly Beach

Located in the chic and laid-back village of Montecito, Butterfly Beach is a favorite among Santa Barbara locals. The beach’s pristine shoreline is ideal for swimming, surfing and sunbathing, and its unique east-west orientation makes for…

East Beach

East Beach in Santa Barbara provides the ideal atmosphere for fun in the sun. Its spacious, sandy coastline is bordered by a grassy park that’s lined with large palm trees which makes it a popular area for outdoor activities both on and off…

Goleta Beach Park

Goleta Beach County Park offers visitors a little bit of everything, including beautiful beaches, a 1,500 ft. fishing pier and miles of paved biking trails. The beach’s coastline sits next to 29 acres of grassy park space. At the park,…

Leadbetter Beach

Located along Shoreline Drive and directly adjacent to the Santa Barbara Harbor, sits Leadbetter Beach, one of the most popular beaches in Santa Barbara. The beach is flanked by green grass and showcases an expansive strip of sand lining the…

Los Padres Outfitters

Get off the beaten path, and explore the beautiful beaches and trails of Santa Barbara on horseback! Imagine starting your day with a pastel colored, morning beach ride, taking a journey through tree lined trails of our…

Paddle Sports Center

Kayak and SUP Rentals and Tours - Ocean Fun Since '91 Santa Barbara's Only 90 minute rental and best "All-Day" rates! Explore the Santa Barbara Waterfront and get to paddle with Sea Lions and Dolphins! Paddle Sports Center is your gateway to ocean…

Reunion Kitchen

At its core, Reunion Kitchen + Drink was designed from end-to-end to be the ideal dining establishment for locals, visitors, families, and friends to gather and reconnect in Santa Barbara.  Located just steps from the sand at the historic…

Santa Barbara Adventure Company

Experience an unforgettable adventure in Santa Barbara with the city's premier outfitter, providing exciting experiences to thousands of visitors yearly. CHANNEL ISLANDS TOURS Sea Cave Kayaking Tour at Channel Islands National ParkExplore Channel…

Shoreline Cafe

Meet us at the Beach!  Put your toes in the sand or relax on our shaded deck while enjoying their casual beach fare.  Located just North of the Santa Barbara Harbor on Leadbetter Beach they serve Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner seven days a…

Stearns Wharf

Enjoy the seaside sights and sounds of Stearns Wharf, one of Santa Barbara’s most iconic landmarks. Named for builder John P. Stearns and located at the end of State Street, it is California’s oldest working wharf and the perfect spot…

Summerland Beach

Located just 6 miles south of Santa Barbara is Summerland Beach at Lookout Park. Known for its laidback vibes, Summerland Beach is the perfect oceanfront venue for rest and relaxation. Its proximity to the park also makes it an ideal location for…

Wheel Fun Rentals

There's no better way to explore Santa Barbara than with Wheel Fun Rentals. We have two locations to serve you. Our flagship store at 24 E Mason Street is stocked with our iconic surreys, city bikes and other pedal powered fun, while our Electric…

In this Itinerary...