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A Guide to California's Central Coast Beaches

California's Central Coast Beaches

Quick, name three California beaches. What are they? Odds are that most, if not all of them are Southern California beaches. Mission, Huntington, Coronado, and Malibu are likely to be a few that first come to mind. But what about California's Central Coast beaches? Less developed and with a climate that is cooler than Southern California, the beaches of California's Central Coast often get overlooked. Here are three of the Central Coast's best beaches.

Rincon. As such a narrow, rocky beach, you aren't going to Rincon to catch some rays. Rincon is less a beach and more of a surf spot, having made a name for itself for waves that produce a long ride for the experienced surfer. There are few surf spots on the California coast that compare. Rincon is considered not just one of the best surfing beaches in California, but the entire world, attracting some of the world's best talent, including Kelly Slater. Rincon is located just south of Santa Barbara off Highway 101 and is accessible via a small trail from the nearby public parking lot.

Pismo Beach. Pismo's location serves as a halfway point between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Located just south of San Luis Obispo, Pismo Beach is for the outdoor enthusiast. Unique to Pismo Beach are the miles of nearby sand dunes. There are numerous outfitters that rent ATVs for guests to explore the dunes. Little to no experience is necessary to rent ATVs, as many outfitters provide equipment instruction with the rental. For the person who prefers to ride, rather than drive, there are also hummer tours that'll take you over the dunes and through the water.  Other outdoor activities that Pismo Beach offers includes golf, surfing, kiteboarding, and horseback riding.

Pfeiffer Beach. As one of the most popular destinations in America, California's offbeat beaches are quickly diminishing. However, with its location in Big Sur and a couple miles off the Pacific Coast Highway, Pfeiffer Beach caters to the offbeat traveler with its unique landscape and nuances, such as the purple-colored sand. The dramatic landscape offers sweeping views of the rugged cliffs of Big Sur that rise above the Pacific Ocean. This is also a good beach to bring your special someone, especially at sunset when the sun shines through what is often referred to as the Pfeiffer Beach Arch, a large rock just behind the crashing waves, which has a large opening at the bottom.