According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a resort is "a place providing recreation and entertainment especially to vacationers." According to us, it's not a beach resort unless it's on the beach. Not across the street or somewhere with an ocean view, but right on the beach. These recommended California beach resorts are either on the beach or so close you can almost get sand in your shoes just by looking out the window. All of these resorts are not just fancy hotels, but have a spa, pool, recreation activities and a restaurant on the premises. They may be surrounded by beautiful, landscaped grounds and might even have a golf course.
And that's not all. Even after you figure out which places really qualify as California beach resorts, you still have to figure out if you'll have a good time. Again, you'll have no worries here. All our recommended hotels meet rigorous standards and are well-rated by their guests
Places with all the amenities to get on this list of California beach resorts aren't cheap. Our $-ratings will help you find the ones that best fit your budget: $$$ = less than $299 | $$$$ = $300 to $499 | $$$$$ = $500 and up.
All of the links below will take you to Tripadvisor, where you can read reviews, see guest photos and compare prices through several sources.
California Beach Resorts in San Diego County
- City of San Diego: There are quite a few beach resorts in San Diego, Coronado and on Mission Bay. However, none of them made it through our screening. Several are on the beach and have the required amenities, but they don't pass the test for guest satisfaction. If you're looking for a nice beach resort in southern California, we suggest you head a little further north to Carlsbad or up to Orange County instead.
Carlsbad: Seapointe Resort $$$
California Beach Resorts in Orange County
- Dana Point: Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel $$$$ Situated on a beautiful spot overlooking a beach with easy access.
- Laguna Beach: Laguna Riviera Resort on the Beach $$$, Surf and Sand Resort $$$$, Montage Resort and Spa $$$$$
- Newport Beach: Balboa Bay Resort $$$$
- Huntington Beach: The beach resorts in Huntington Beach are nice, but you have to cross a busy, four-lane, divided highway to get to the sand.