California beaches range from raggedy cliffs to sprawling wide sands, enough variety for every type of beachgoer. Huntington Beach we found very attractive because has the allure of the original California hotspot: vast stretches of white sand, excellent surfing waves and a massive pier for fishing, sports facilities and panoramic views.
Arriving and Parking:
Over 8 million visitors explore this almost four-mile stretch of California shores annually. Huntington Beach is located just around an hour South of Los Angeles and a couple hours North of San Diego. It makes a great daytrip whether one is driving up or down the coast. John Wayne Airport in Orange County is the closest way to fly in and Long Beach Airport is a good connection with low cost carriers. Many visitors choose to drive of course and free parking can be found in the residential streets near the beach, but it will be tough to find any. City lots right at the beachfront charge $15 for a day, less for hourly rates. These are especially good if offloading coolers and lots of beach equipment. One can park at the Pier Plaza, Main Promenade and the Municipal Lot between First Street and Beach Boulevard.
The beach itself is huge, people watching is certainly trendy as there will be thousands of other guests around at any given time. The Pier is the central part of the beach which can be seen from either end. Alongside the pier sit several beach volleyball courts which have leagues and pick up games active all day long. Surfing is of course the main event with locals and visitors taking advantage of the great waves. There are many rental shops right along the main boardwalk entrance.
Besides the water activities there is plenty to do on land, sunbathing of course, but a wide paved trail snakes along the back end of the beach, it is filled with runners and cyclists from sun up to sun down. The trail runs eight miles and it is more scenic on the South end of the pier.
The beach can host up to half a million visitors when season is in full swing, so it is no wonder that concerts, sports exhibitions and competitions of every level are constantly ongoing. Even on a slow day one can catch an impromptu performance on the central walkway near the pier. There are US Pro surfing championships, Pro Beach Volleyball, Marathons, BMX, X games and even film and commercial productions from time to time.
Overall Huntington Beach was a place we found to be really inviting for tourists. While the sheer number of people might be a downside from time to time, there are adequate shower, bathroom and restaurant facilities just off the beach in order to handle such large numbers smoothly and it is a lovely stretch of sand in a pleasant town.