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Butterfly, Hammonds & Miramar Beaches

Creating one of the premier swaths of sand on the entire West Coast, the continuous span of Butterfly, Hammonds and Miramar beaches is, and has been for decades, a surfside playground of celebrities and the international elite. Those privileged beachgoers are permanent or part-time residents of Montecito, the exclusive enclave hosting the beaches, or are guests at the world-renowned Four Seasons Santa Barbara Biltmore overlooking the surf and sand. Extending from the Biltmore down-coast to Fernald Point, this strip of beaches is mere steps from the world-class resort and multi-million-dollar beachfront estates.

At low tide, strollers amble from the Butterfly cliffs, past the exclusive Coral Casino Beach Club, then on to Hammonds and Miramar Beaches. An extended walk takes them to Fernald Point, a coveted few hundred yards of beachfront lined with $20-30 million oceanfront manors.

Excellent waves at Hammonds make it a Mecca for surfers, young Montecito beach lovers – looking perfect for an Abercrombie & Fitch catalogue – frolic on Butterfly, vacationers enjoy Miramar in front of their holiday beach bungalows, and joggers and strollers welcome the safety and serenity of the long and unimpeded ribbon of sand.
If it is magnificent sunsets that turn you on, there is no better place to enjoy them than Butterfly Beach. It is the Santa Barbara area’s most west-facing beach, so is perfectly situated to capture the visual delights and romantic allure of what is, for many locals and visitors alike, the ultimate twilight ritual. Quite often, dolphins add their playful yet graceful presence just offshore.


Location: Butterfly Beach: Coast Village Rd. or Hwy 101 to Olive Mill Rd. Turn away from the mountains on Olive Mill Rd.; Hammonds & Miramar Beaches: Hwy. 101 to San Ysidro Rd. Turn toward the beach and continue to the end of Eucalyptus Ln.


Summerland Beach

One of the Santa Barbara area’s most easily accessible beaches, Summerland’s inviting stretch of sand is not just convenient; it is user-friendly and enjoyable for all ages. The beach spreads out below Lookout Park, a green oasis of lawn hosting picnic tables, barbecues, and playground equipment. The mile-long ribbon of beach is reached via a paved walkway and, at low tide, it connects with Fernald Point and the exquisite Montecito beaches up-coast. Down-coast, it extends to Loon Point. Surprisingly, a century ago Summerland Beach hosted a forest of wooden oil derricks during a mini oil boom.


Location: Hwy. 101 to Summerland’s Evans St. exit. Turn toward the beach and immediately enter Lookout Park.


Carpinteria (State & City) Beaches

Over one mile of broad, safe, well-cared-for contiguous beach running along the shoreline of a charming California town seems like something unattainable in today’s world. But that is exactly the scene Carpinteria City Beach and adjacent Carpinteria State Beach Park offer. The City beach is conveniently located at the ocean end of Linden Avenue, a delightful street of small shops and restaurants. The State beach features camping, RV hook-ups, skate and bicycle rentals, and an informative visitor’s center with a model tide pool.

Natural tidepools abound as well and offer glimpses of sea urchins, anemones, starfish, snails and crabs, to name just a few of the marine critters present. Offshore, seals, sea lions and an occasional gray whale are known to glide by. Expanses of sand and grass are available for beachside activities such as volleyball and Frisbee, and public amenities including restrooms, barbecue grills and picnic tables are also plentiful.

For more information:


Location: City Beach: Hwy. 101 to the Linden Ave. exit. Follow Linden Ave. through town to the beach; State Beach: Hwy. 101 to the Casitas Pass Rd. exit. Casitas Pass Rd. to right on Carpinteria Ave., then left on Palm Ave. Follow Palm Ave. to the beach.


Rincon Beach

Rincon Beach is a pleasant location for a swim or relaxing stroll on the sand, while the small day-use park above it is a nice venue for a picnic. There are restrooms, picnic tables and a relatively easy path down the cliff to the shore.

On the other hand, “The Rincon” next door is an entirely different story. It is internationally recognized as one of the West Coast’s finest (and sometimes dangerous) expert surfing spots, and a training ground for some of the surfing scene’s finest professionals and amateurs. The trek to the water’s edge there can be a bit treacherous, but, if one is content to keep a bit of distance, the reward can be watching some of the best surfers and surfing in California.

For more information:


Location: Take Hwy 101 to the Bates Rd. exit. Take Bates Rd. to the beach parking lot.


East Beach

One of the premier beaches not only in Santa Barbara but also on the entire California Central Coast, East Beach hosts many acres of sand, more than a mile of ocean access, social and recreational facilities, plentiful parking and convenience to Santa Barbara’s and Montecito’s hotels. Easily accessible along Cabrillo Boulevard and just about as safe and clean as any public beach can be, in the summer months it receives scheduled grooming and is staffed by experienced lifeguards. The popular recreation venue is paralleled by a palm tree-lined park that is home to a traditional Sunday open-air arts, and the site of frequent, impromptu soccer games and lively drum circles. There is a paved path accommodating joggers, bicyclists and skaters.

The historic Cabrillo Pavilion and Bathhouse, built in the 1920s, holds a place of honor near the south end of the beach. Ever popular and quite versatile, it houses a restaurant and snack bar, showers, lockers, a weight room, childrens’ play area and even a lovely banquet and meeting facility overlooking the ocean and Channel Islands. A dozen beach volleyball courts, picnic tables and grills are nearby.
More information about East Beach and its facilities is available at, or by calling (805) 564-5418.

Location: Running along Cabrillo Blvd. east of Stearn’s Wharf and extending all the way down the boulevard to the volleyball courts.


West Beach

Convenient to several hotels along Santa Barbara’s Cabrillo Boulevard, West Beach is a broad expanse of sand resting between Stearn’s Wharf and the Santa Barbara Harbor. Its proximity to the mouth of the harbor eliminates its prudent use as a swimming beach, but it offers plenty of sand for sunbathing and a good vantage point for boat watching. It also provides front-row seating for the city’s awesome Fourth of July fireworks display.


Location: State Street to Cabrillo Blvd., then right on Cabrillo Blvd. The beach is on the left.


Leadbetter Beach

Just up-beach from the Santa Barbara Harbor and its breakwater, Leadbetter Beach is another of the city’s most popular beaches. It was created when the 1920s-era breakwater was constructed and slowed the natural north-south movement of sand along Santa Barbara’s coastline. The mostly gentle swell at the beach’s point break attracts beginning and intermediate surfers, as well as windsurfers and kite surfers.


There is a large parking lot convenient to the beach and to a park-like expanse of grass where picnic facilities, restrooms and outdoor showers are available, as is the Shoreline Beach Cafe.


Location: On Cabrillo Blvd. along the Santa Barbara waterfront, just past the Santa Barbara Harbor.


Arroyo Burro (“Hendry’s”) Beach

One of the most popular area beaches with locals, “Hendry’s” is centrally located and appealing to a wide range of beachgoers – from couples seeking a romantic stroll, to families, surfers, dog lovers and their canines who love the beach’s off-leash area. Dogs not only get to run free and frolic with canine comrades, they have their own washing and grooming station. Human amenities include restroom, outdoor showers, and a lawn area with barbecue grills and picnic tables. The Boathouse, a popular restaurant offering breakfast, lunch and dinner, rests just a few yards from the sand and surf.


Officially named “Arroyo Burro Beach,” this expanse of shoreline has been dubbed “Hendry’s” in reference to Anne Hendry, a member of a Scottish immigrant family who farmed nearby land from 1890 to 1919. Adjacent to the exclusive residential enclave Hope Ranch, the beach is cliffside of the Douglas Family Preserve, a pristine plot of publicly-accessible fields, woodlands and trails.


Location: One block west of the intersection of Las Positas Rd. and Cliff Dr. OR take Hwy 101 to Las Positas Rd. (away from mountains), to Cliff Dr. Turn right on Cliff Dr.


Goleta Beach

Goleta Beach, part of 30 acre Goleta Beach County Park, rests between the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara and the city of Santa Barbara. Expanses of sand, manicured lawn, picnic facilities, and paved walking and bicycling trails make it impossible to be bored here, considering as well that there are playgrounds, volleyball and horseshoe areas, and a boat and jet ski ramp. If you are into fishing, you will want to know that Goleta Beach is the only beach in the Santa Barbara area with a non-commercial fishing pier, and is one of the few with a full-service restaurant and snack bar. It is easy to see why Goleta Beach is so popular with families and university students.


Location: Hollister Ave. to Sandspit Rd. OR Hwy 101 to Hwy 217 (to airport), then exit at Sandspit Rd.



El Capitan

Beachgoers to El Capitan are treated to a host of great services since this stretch of sand, surf and amenities are part of a State Park. Opportunities include overnight camping, restrooms and showers, picnic tables and grills, small general store on weekends and plenty of parking. While the many services bring a civilized touch, there is an overall ambiance of remoteness, privacy and serenity. The modest entry and day use fee is $5.


Location: Off of Hwy. 101 approximately 17 miles north of Santa Barbara.


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