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Santa Monica Beach

The Best Time of Day to Go to the Beach in California (And USA)

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The answer to this question depends on many factors.

The primary is the area, season, and what you’re planning to do on the beach.

But despite whatever these factors are, I’ll provide you with all the relevant information you need to take the best choice for yourself.

I’ll also show you the free tool I use to check how busy any beach in California is using live data – or any other given time on a specific day of the week.

Seasons: The Most Important Factor

The season you’re visiting has the most significant impact on what time of day it’s best to visit the beaches in California.

Lifeguard beach tower (USA)

Summer: The Most Popular Time of the Year

If you’re going during the summer, early to mid-morning, or late evening is the best time to visit.

Here the beaches will be less crowded, and the weather more tolerable, but warm enough for most people.

You’ll also avoid the worst UV radiation of the day between 10 am and 4 pm. Which is harmful and known to cause cancer.

πŸ“Œ TIP: If you visit anyways, don't forget the sunscreen. With the right one, high protection on +50 doesn't feel greasy, even if you sweat.

Special Note: If You’re Going in May or June

If you’re visiting in May be aware of the possibility of May Grey.

This phenomenon is a marine layer that’s often covering the California coast with clouds during the month.

It sometimes clears up by midday, so the best chance for you would be to go in the afternoon.

And if you’re visiting in June, there’s even also what’s called June Gloom.

This is an extension of May Grey mostly appearing in the first half of June.

At his time there’s a better chance of it wearing off by noon compared to May, but the best chance of sun is still going in the afternoon.

Spring and Autumn: A Little Bit of Both

If you’re going during Spring or Autumn, early to late afternoon is the best time to visit.

Here you’ll often find it warm enough to only wear your swimwear, but without the sun being too hot.

Winter: When the Water Is at Its Coldest

With the summer being furthest away, mid-day to early afternoon is the best time to visit.

This is the time when you’ll have the biggest chance of sunshine.

πŸ“Œ TIP: But as you already know, seasons aren't a guarantee that the weather is gonna be a certain way.

Always check the weather forecast if you want the best way of predicting things.

And don't forget that the later you check it, the higher the chances are of being correct.

Areas: Northern California vs Southern California

Let’s start with covering what time it’s best to visit the beach depending on the area you’re going to.

I’m referring to either Northern- or Southern California. Separating the two around San Luis Obispo (also known as central California).

If you’re in Northern California, you should notice that winds tend to pick up in the afternoon.

This applies to areas from Monterey city and up.

If you’re thinking about going around this time, the best way to be sure is simply by checking the weather forecast in case wind is a concern, like if you’re planning on surfing, etc.

How you Avoid an Overcrowded Beach

The reasons why you might want to avoid the busy hours of the day are many:

Less Parking and More Traffic

The busiest time of day usually goes along with the hottest hours as well. This is worth considering if you have to go on a long walk from the only available parking spots closest to the beach.

Fewer Beach Spots

If you’re going to a smaller beach, this importance increases with it. Arriving during busy hours often means that all the best spots are taken.

Longer Lines

Obviously with more people comes longer lines. Getting or doing whatever you need can take a while.

Crowds: Potential individuals that have – or are about to steal your scoop of ice cream

Check How Busy Any Beach Is Right Now

Sometimes it surprises me how many I meet that are not familiar with this option.

Especially when it’s the best way to see or forecast how busy a certain place is.

Chances are you might already know it though. And if the people you’re with don’t, now you have a shot of convincing them that you’re psychic πŸ˜‰

Let’s take Santa Monica Beach as an example.

This is how you do it:

  1. Open Google Maps

  2. Search for the beach you’re intending on going to, in this case, we’ll go with “Santa Monica Beach

  3. Now it’s time to do a bit of “detective” work.

    We want to find the nearest and biggest place that has opening hours. This could be an attraction, shop, or restaurant. The bigger the better.

  4. For this example, the best choice would be to choose “Santa Monica Pier” on the map.

    Since it’s the most popular attraction not only close to the beach but more or less on the beach.

  5. Now you just have to scroll down a bit to have revealed what we’re looking for:
Source: Google Maps
Source: Google Maps
  1. As the image indicates, you can now see live data on how busy it is at this very moment or hourly relative to other times during the day.

    You can also change it to another day of the week, and see specific estimates for that day.

The Best Time To Go to the Beach (And the Worst)

There can’t possibly be a single right answer to this.

It all depends on what you want to do. But for most people, the best time would be the previous hours mentioned under the different seasons – depending on when you’re visiting. Where chances of sunny and warm weather, but fewer crowds, are highest.

But if you like a crowded beach full of life, you might prefer the peak times.

Or if you’re looking into getting some exercise done, clouds and a bit of wind are probably what you prefer.

What Is the Best Day of the Week To Go to the Beach?

This also depends on what you like.

If you prefer the beaches to be less crowded you should go on weekdays.

Saturdays and Sundays are often the busiest days of the week due to the weekend.

But if you’re using Google Maps as I previously demonstrated you can also check which day of the week that’s usually the busiest for a specific beach.

Global Dane

Hey, my friend! I’m the guy behind this website. I was born in Denmark in 1991. My love for traveling started at an early age when the occasional family trips meant ice cream, french fries, and sea water were indulged in an equal amount. Later in life, I found my true source of happiness in exploring unknown lands, turning strangers into friends, and challenging my view of the world through traveling.

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