LOS ANGELES BEACHES
El Matador: Gorgeous, secluded, difficult walk to beach. Sometimes littered with naked old men who think it is a nude beach.
Malibu Beach: Surfrider territory, lagoon, small pier. Checkout the Adamson House while you're there!!
Marina Del Rey: More industrial, smoggy, Venice fishing pier. Great if you like looking at boats.
Point Dume State Beach: Clean, diagonal, not free. You pay to park here but can go to Zuma (literally 50 ft away) for free.
Santa Monica State Beach: Tourists, dirty, pier. Awesome bike and walking paths. Please note these paths are SEPARATE so I can ride my bike without dodging you.
Venice Beach: Eclectic, graffiti wall, plethora of bums. Sometimes smells like urine.
Zuma: Flat, volley ball, large parking lot. A popular spot in Malibu.
SAN DIEGO BEACHES
Coronado: Lovely, fighter jets, gold sand. The Hotel Del is A-MAZING.
La Jolla: Scenic, beautiful, cliffs. Sea caves and kayaking galore.
Ocean Beach: Dirty, hippies, bikers. The pier there is the longest concrete pier on the west coast... it's also full of beatnik/hippie/alternative folk.
Mission Beach: Popular, drunken college town, kid friendly. Here boardwalk = concrete area near ocean, not on a pier. And the roller coaster costs $6-7 a pop to ride.
Pacific Beach: Surfer haven, scenic, Crysal pier. Area is full of shops, bars and night clubs. Parking is a bitch.
VENTURA /SANTA BARBARA COUNTY BEACHES
Leo Carillo: Rocky, clean, tide pools. People from L.A. like to go here on the weekends so they can forget they live in L.A. for the day.
East Beach: Sporty, college crowd, volleyball heaven. Look for starfish hanging onto nearby Stearn's Wharf pier. Sea lions are also common.
Oxnard Beach: Dog beach, kid friendly, playground. I wouldn't swim in the water here, but the bike/walking paths are nice!!
Ventura Pier beach area: Scenic areas, lots of pebbles, chilly. Santa Monica feel, only less populated, no rides and more clean.