California Beaches

Anyone’s who’s known me for any length of time knows that the ocean is my happy place.

Family Fun & Wildlife Viewing in Southern California beaches, www.marianamcdougall.com. Picture of children looking at seals from a distance.

 

I absolutely love the beach, and one day, I would love to live near the ocean, even if it’s only for part of the year. Especially if that part of the year is winter, and I’m by the ocean in a warm climate. But that’s a story for another day.

While there have been a couple of snags in California, including an interaction with a very mean woman in a book shop, these snags have been more than made up for in the happiness the ocean brings. With over 1,000 kilometers of coastline, California beaches don’t disappoint ocean lovers.

Our first California beach stop was Silver Strand Beach, which offers campsites with full hookups in a parking lot directly behind the beach. Be aware that they don’t play around with the rules. 

 

Two girls walking into the ocean at Silver Strand Beach, California

 

There’s a day use parking lot available for those who wish to spend a few hours at the beach. A few hundred meters past this parking lot is the entrance to the campsites. We arrived at 11:37 a.m., and were advised that there were spots open for booking this evening, but we’d need to return to the parking lot and wait until noon, because that’s when check-ins begin. Several sites were already open at this point, but those are the rules, so we returned to the parking lot and got our things ready for the beach before returning to check in at the appropriate time.

 

Boy walking with two sticks on sand at Silver Strand Beach

 

Once we were checked in and all ready to go, we enjoyed some time at the beach. The kids had a lot of fun running up and down the embankment that separates the beach from the parking lot. An older couple collected sand dollars and gave them to the kids, then left a few for them to find, telling the kids they should “check over there and you’ll probably find more.” The children were delighted and I thought that was really sweet of them. 

 

Silver Strand Beach. Sand, ocean, blue sky with some white clouds

 

I feel so incredibly fortunate to have been able to watch both the sunrise and the sunset over the ocean on this trip. Back in Padre Island, the sky gave us incredible shows of beauty as the day began, and here in California, we had  the pleasure of watching the beauty as the day ended.

 

Sunset over Silver Strand Beach, California

 

Views like this make me happy, and I’m so pleased I’ll always have these pictures to remember this amazing trip.

La Jolla Cove

Another great beach we visited in California was La Jolla Cove. Besides suntanning, playing in the waves, and generally relaxing on the beach, this spot offers wonderful opportunities for seeing wildlife. And in the winter, when it’s not overly warm, the beach isn’t too crowded.

 

La Jolla Cove

 

La Jolla Cove is absolutely beautiful. Be careful with little ones: the sand drops off fairly quickly from the shoreline, and there are some rocks that sometimes get covered by the tide.

 

 

The beach has some beautiful rock formations, and it if you look closely when you’re on the rocks, you’ll see some folks have squeezed into the narrow gaps to carve their names in the stone.

 

La Jolla Cove rocks

 

La Jolla Cove is a lovely place to observe birds. The kids also got a kick out of seeing the Navy airplanes and helicopters that pass by as their pilots conduct training.

 

Three birds flying in a blue sky full of white clouds in La Jolla Cove

 

Two navy airplanes flying above the ocean in La Jolla Cove

 

After enjoying the beach for a while, we made our way to another beach just a few steps away—the Children’s Pool. This stop was so worth it to see all the seals.

 

La Jolla Childrens Pool Lifeguard station as viewed from the bars of the staircase railing.

 

Don’t worry about how close we were to the pups—we kept a safe distance and I used the zoom on my camera.

 

Mama seal and her pup at La Jolla Cove Children's Pool

 

The Children’s Pool in La Jolla Cove is a nice place for the family to hang out, and at this time of year (February), it’s pupping season, so there were a tonne of seals and their babies around. I couldn’t remember what the difference between a sea lion and a seal was, so I looked it up later.

Seals have no ear flaps, have smaller flippers, and move around on their bellies, while sea lions use their large flippers to get around, and have visible ear flaps. I’m fairly certain we only saw seals on this beach.

 

 

It’s really important that if you come to Children’s Pool with young children this time of year, they understand the importance of safe wildlife viewing, and keep a safe distance from the animals. People can observe on the beach at a distance, or walk to the viewing pier. That’s where we were when I took the photo below.

 

Seals lying on grassy rock in La Jolla Cove Children's Pool, California

 

Then again, some of the adult tourists didn’t keep their distance, so the reminder stands for people of all ages. It’s dangerous to get too close to the seals, because the mothers will get apprehensive and abandon their pups. Attempting to rescue an abandoned pup disturbs other seal mamas, potentially causing more abandonment. So be sure to heed the warning signs and the lifeguards’ orders. If a seal is staring at you, fidgeting, or heading towards the water, you’re too close.

We really enjoyed La Jolla, and we were able to find on-street parking near the beach. Having said that, it’s important to note that we were here on a weekday in the middle of winter. Finding a parking spot for a rig this big in the spring or summer probably wouldn’t happen.

RV at La Jolla

 

San Clemente State Beach, California

The most recent beach we visited was San Clemente State Beach. There’s a nice campground,but we were just able to park the rig in one of the campsites, so if your RV is longer than 32 feet, you may not be able to fit it in.

Getting down to the beach on feet that are still recovering from injuries was a little challenging, but doable. This beach didn’t look like the most accessible place, though. The way down is very, very steep. Nevertheless, the rock formations are pretty neat. And if you’re lucky, you’ll see the train coming in, and be in the exact spot for a pretty sweet photo. 

A train passing by in front of mountains at San Clemente State Beach, California

 

The location of the train also means that staying at the campground by the beach will have you hearing the train horn at all hours, but it didn’t bother us. We’re pretty used to sleeping just about anywhere now.

 

San Clemente State Beach, California

 

It was a bit too cold for swimming, but the kids still enjoyed themselves at the beach, digging in the sand and playing catch with the tide.

 

San Clemente State Beach, California

 

We also met a really nice family, and the kids had fun playing together while the adults talked. I was surprised to meet someone who immediately asked if I have Ehler-Danlos Syndrome when I mentioned my dislocating joints. Well, there’s no diagnosis yet, but I will definitely be asking my doctor to investigate it when I get back (maybe even before I get back) home. It’s nice to see that word is getting out and that there’s a bit more awareness out there about EDS.

We’ve had a wonderful time on California beaches so so far, and we look forward to seeing more of the West Coast.

Which California beach is your favourite?

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