If you’re planning a seaside trip to one of California’s beautiful beach towns, then be sure to read through this list of the best California coast hotels that are actually on the water before you book!
California has so much to see that aren’t sandy beaches: mountains, desert, forest, and more national parks than any other state. But let’s be honest, it’s the 800 miles of beautiful coastline along the Pacific Ocean that you really came for, right? Everyone wants to experience that iconic California coast vibe at least once in their lives: salty ocean breeze, windows rolled down, Beach Boys playing in the background kind of vibe.
Are we on the same page?
If you fall into that camp, then you’ll want to keep reading because to truly experience the best of the California coast, there’s no better way than waking up in the morning to ocean views outside your bedroom window.
The truth is, so many hotels that are in coastal areas in California or claim to be beach hotels are not actually right on the beach. They’re not trying to trick you, but many hotels can advertise that they’re beach hotels as long as they’re within the beach community or a short walk from the sand. And while walking a few blocks down to the ocean isn’t the worst thing in the world, it doesn’t quite compare to literally seeing an endless ocean horizon out your window.
This is your vacation and your chance to do it up right. Am I right?
In this post, I’ve done the heavy lifting for you and rounded up all the best California coast hotels that are actually on the water, stretching from San Diego all the way to Humboldt Bay, so you can browse by the areas you plan on visiting. Sticking with this guide will ensure you don’t end up disappointed that your hotel is a bit (or a lot) further away from the beach than you thought!
Best Hotels in California on the Beach
San Diego Beach Hotels
Tower 23 Hotel is a luxury, lifestyle hotel located right on Pacific Beach in San Diego. In fact, they market it as “San Diego’s only lifestyle hotel on the beach.” This charming hotel has a modern design and it looks directly onto the ocean, giving guests sweeping Pacific views. Enjoy the rooftop lounge with fire pits and lounge chairs or borrow a beach chair and an umbrella from the hotel and head across the street to dig your feet in the sand.
A landmark in La Jolla known as “The Pink Lady” because of its signature pink exterior, La Valencia Hotel has been welcoming guests for almost 100 years. There are 114 beautifully-appointed rooms, suites, and villas on the property and amenities include panoramic views of the Pacific coastline, an ocean-view pool, and a very short walk to La Jolla Cove Beach.
On a cliff overlooking the ocean, Alila Marea is a high-end resort in Hyatt’s portfolio about half an hour north of San Diego in the surf town of Encinitas. It just recently opened, making it one of the best new luxury beachfront hotels in California. With an on-site restaurant and bar, a spa, daily wellness activities, poolside loungers, cabanas, and e-bikes to rent, this is one of those places you never really have to (nor will you want to!) leave during your stay.
Whether you’re looking to plan a serene surf trip or you simply want to spend some time in a more quirky beach community, Mission Pacific Hotel offers an exclusive experience for guests in the heart of Oceanside. This JdV by Hyatt hotel has a breathtaking pool that offers epic sunset views, and gorgeous interior design with modern bohemian accents that will elevate your relaxation time. When you’re ready to trade the pool for the beach, the sand and Oceanside Pier are literally across the street.
The Seabird is also located in Oceanside right next to the Mission Pacific and is actually their sister property. As part of Destination by Hyatt, this is a great family-friendly beachside hotel that’s ideal if you have hotel loyalty and want to stay somewhere in the Hyatt family. The vibe at Seabird is very coastal California with a mix of retro and preppy accents with that dreamy nautical charm. Come here for the ocean views, but don’t miss a treatment at the stunning Sunny’s Spa and amazing sunset cocktails at The Shore Room that overlooks the local beach.
Located on a private island in Mission Bay in the heart of San Diego, Paradise Point Resort and Spa is a great California coast hotel if you’re looking for a beach getaway that’s also close to the city. The resort has bungalow-style guest rooms, tropical gardens, multiple swimming pools, restaurants, a spa, and most importantly—one mile of sandy beach. If you’re craving a little island life, Paradise Point should tick all the boxes.
Orange County Beach Hotels
If hearing the waves crashing out your window at night is your idea of heaven, then the Surf and Sand Resort might as well be the pearly gates. Located directly on the sand in Laguna Beach, every single room here has an ocean view with a private balcony, making it one of the best beach hotels in California, in my opinion. Stay here if you’re looking for a luxury experience with Mediterranean vibes and top-notch amenities.
Laid-back luxury with all the bells and whistles you’d expect from the Waldorf Astoria name, the Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club is a 5-star hotel perched atop a seaside bluff in Dana Point, CA.
I hesitated to include this one on the list because since it’s such a large resort, there is a golf course that separates the main hub of the resort to the beach. This requires a bit more walking and the ocean view isn’t possible from every vantage point, but still, walking to the beach from here is very doable. Plus, their beach club literally sits on the sand. Just make sure to book an ocean view room if that horizon line is a priority!
Perched on a cliff overlooking the sand, the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel is an idyllic resort in Dana Point, known as being a hot spot for dolphin and whale sightings. This is one hotel that can literally do it all, from hosting romantic couple’s getaways and girls trips to work events and even weddings. With an ocean backdrop like this one, you can’t go wrong.
The Montage Laguna Beach is a luxe spa resort just a few miles from Laguna Beach, and it features craftsman-style architecture, sprawling views of the ocean, and an impressive art collection. Here, guests have access to the 20,000 square-foot Spa Montage, two outdoor pool decks, three restaurants, and super-friendly, five-star service. Plus, it looks like a pretty epic spot to catch a California sunset.
If you’re looking for old-school, California surf culture vibes at an affordable price, the Laguna Beach House is it. A former motel that was renovated not too long ago into a modern seaside retreat, this hotel is no fuss but still provides that classic California beach feel.
Keep in mind that while Laguna Beach House does have plenty of ocean views (make sure to reserve a “coastal view” room), parts of the hotel are slightly obstructed by other structures. That might be a dealbreaker for you, but either way you can still walk to the beach in under 5 minutes!
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Los Angeles Beach Hotels
Shutters on the Beach has a classic, East Coast beach resort feel to it, but is located in the heart of Santa Monica within walking distance to the iconic Santa Monica Pier. Spend your time here lounging at the pool or the beach, biking along the coast, or shopping your days away in downtown Santa Monica.
Who wouldn’t want to stay in a boutique hotel located on a strip of coastline nicknamed “Billionaire’s Beach”? With views overlooking the Malibu Pier and a locale just 10 minutes from Santa Monica, Malibu Beach Inn is the perfect place to call home along LA’s northern coastline.
All 47 guest rooms have private balconies and an in-room California wine selection (which is reason enough to visit if you ask me), and the private stretch of beach in front of the hotel has lounge chairs, umbrellas, and food and beverage service.
For those who want the ultimate luxury spa-style experience, Nobu Ryokan Malibu is a sophisticated Asian-inspired hotel overlooking Carbon Beach that only has 16 guestrooms. But it will cost you a pretty penny—we’re talking a month’s rent dropped on a single night. But if money is no object, this adult-oriented retreat (AKA: no kids) will impress you with its unique amenities like teak soaking tubs, indoor/outdoor fireplaces, and an elegant ipe wood deck. Plus, you’re more than likely to brush shoulders here with the who’s who of Malibu.
For the kind of resort weekend where you don’t need to depart the hotel grounds, head to Terranea, located on California’s secluded Palos Verdes Peninsula. This 5-star hotel is of course right on the water and features posh guest rooms, bungalows, casitas, and villas with ocean views, as well as on-site restaurants, a stunning pool, boutiques, walking trails, and more. Though it’s worth noting that the coastline is rocky here and not sandy, so you’re better off sunbathing at the pool.
If you want to be close to the action of Venice Beach, the Venice V Hotel is right in the heart of it all. A completely reimagined and renovated 1915 landmark building that just opened as Venice’s newest hotel offering in 2021, Venice V offers ocean views from every room and is in the perfect location to walk down to the beach or hit up some of the local shops and bars.
Santa Barbara Beach Hotels
If you’ve got the budget and are looking to splurge on a next-level, seaside resort experience, Rosewood Miramar Beach is one of the most luxurious California coast hotels there is. You really can’t beat the location, the amenities, or the service. Miramar means “to behold the sea,” and there’s no better place to do so than on the “American Riviera,” where you’ll enjoy Rosewood Mirimar’s exclusive coastline, impeccable grounds, guest rooms and suites, top-notch restaurants and bars, and of course the spa.
You can’t go wrong with the Ritz, and the Santa Barbara location is no exception. The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara is a Mediterranean-style resort overlooking the Pacific with access to two beaches, three saltwater infinity pools, and pretty much every amenity under the sun—quite literally.
The 121-room Hotel Californian is located in the center of the Santa Barbara waterfront and the fun and vibrant “Funk Zone” neighborhood. This beautiful Spanish Colonial-style hotel is within walking distance of downtown, the beach, and the pier. The rooms are beautifully designed with Moroccan accents and there’s a rooftop pool and hot tub with amazing views of the ocean.
Though you do have to cross the street to reach the beach, the hotel views are unobstructed, making it one of the best waterfront hotels in the area.
Central Coast Beach Hotels
Heading to the quaint coastal town of Morro Bay? The Inn at Rose’s Landing is a laid-back place to stay on California’s Central Coast that offers casual rooms (with bay or patio views), an outdoor fireplace, an on-site restaurant, and great views of Morro Rock. Central Coast wineries are only a short drive away and there’s easy access to water activities like boating, kayaking, and paddle boarding.
Looking for a hip little beach hotel across the street from Moonstone Beach in Cambria? The Cambria Beach Lodge features bright, newly designed rooms with a retro beachy vibe, continental breakfast, loaner bikes, and a rooftop deck with views of the coastline. Come here for a classic California road trip experience.
A luxury, boutique hotel on Cambria’s Moonstone Beach, the design at White Water is absolutely swoon-worthy! From the guest rooms to the lobby lounge and everything in between, this place is a design-lover’s dream.
The rooms are warm and casual with fireplaces and ocean or mountain views, and hotel amenities include small bites, craft beer, wine, and spirits in the lobby lounge, complimentary bikes to use for exploring, and a curated in-room mini bar. And across the street, you’ll find the perfect boardwalk for morning strolls overlooking the ocean.
Big Sur Coastal Hotels
Big Sur is arguably one of the most beautiful places in California, and if you’re looking to stay for a few nights to soak in the serenity of the area, Post Ranch Inn is a must-stay. An upscale, rustic-chic hotel immersed in nature with panoramic views of the Pacific, this is the ultimate bucket list California coast hotel. Think ocean-view dining, a spa with cliff-top infinity pools, and wellness activities like yoga and meditation, and even star-gazing classes too.
Carmel Beach Hotels
In between Big Sur and Monterey, the Hyatt Carmel Highlands is perched on the Carmel Highlands hillside overlooking the Pacific. With only 48 guest rooms, you’ll get the feel of a boutique hotel but with the amenities of a larger resort, like a heated outdoor pool, an on-site restaurant, mountain bike rentals, and more. When browsing through California coast hotels, you’ll find that this one is definitely on the more intimate and low-key side.
Bay Area Beach Hotels
If you’re looking for a more unique place to stay, Nick’s Cove is a cluster of 12 coastal cottages in Tomales Bay that combine rustic charm with modern luxury. Each cottage is beautifully appointed with views of the water, a cozy wood-burning stove, and a soaking tub. You can even have oysters delivered to your door upon check-in! Don’t miss the destination-worthy Nick’s Cove Restaurant and Oyster Bar while you’re there.
On top of a bluff overlooking the ocean, the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay is one of the most beautiful California coast hotels — you’ll feel like you’re staying in a castle on the coast of Ireland.
Just half an hour from San Francisco, you’ll get a true 5-star, luxury resort experience here, complete with wine tasting upon arrival, three on-site restaurants to choose from, a spa, an indoor pool, and an oceanfront lawn with fire pits so you can enjoy the spectacular view. Probably the biggest selling point of the resort though is the golf course that sits directly next to the ocean.
A 33-room, waterfront hotel with panoramic views of San Francisco, The Inn Above Tide is located across the Golden Gate Bridge in Sausalito, close to restaurants, shops, and galleries. There are sweeping bay and city views from every room, and some of the best amenities include the continental breakfast, an evening wine and cheese reception, loaner bikes, and in-room spa treatments.
Sonoma County Coastal Hotels
Sitting atop a hill that overlooks Doran Regional Park with beautiful views of the bay and beyond, The Lodge at Bodega Bay is where you come for peace and quiet. Often rated one of the best California coast hotels in the Sonoma area, this modern lodge features over-sized guest rooms and suites, an ocean-view pool and hot tub, fire pits, miles of sandy beach to walk on, and stunning vineyards within walking distance.
A modern-rustic spot right off Route 1 on the rugged Sonoma Coast, Timber Cove Resort offers 46 recently renovated guest rooms, a number of which include fireplaces and balconies with ocean views—and some fun amenities like a record player, a minibar filled with local goodies, and yoga mats.
The hotel is easily a favorite amongst frequenters to Northern California’s coastline with its outdoor fire pits, ocean-view restaurant, miles of hiking trails, and 23 acres of pristine coastline. When it comes to California coast hotels, Timber Cove Resort blends nature and minimalistic luxury with ease.
With unbeatable views of the Mendocino Coast, Albion River Inn has both guest rooms and cottages, all of which have ocean views and fireplaces and exude the ultimate in cozy, homey comforts. A simple complimentary breakfast is served every morning, there’s a restaurant and bar that’s open for dinner, and you’re only a short drive from the historic village of Mendocino, wineries, State Parks, and beaches.
The Inn at Newport Ranch is an intimate, boutique luxury inn right on the coast in Fort Bragg, and it is the perfect choice for when you want to get away from it all and immerse yourself in the calmness of the coast. The 9 guest rooms and private house-style accommodations are located on over 2,000 acres of land that includes a mile and a half of coastline and 20 miles of maintained trails through the redwoods.
Go for a hike or a horseback ride, take an ATV tour of the property, watch for whales in the spring and fall, or just sit back and enjoy the view. Out of all of the California coast hotels, this one is probably one of the best for outdoorsy types.
The Harbor House Inn is a craftsman-style house that was built in 1916 and recently remodeled. One of the coolest things about this California coast hotel is the fact that it has the redwoods on one side with views of the Pacific Ocean on the other. The rooms are classic with antique furnishings and the property offers guests fireplaces, decks, a private beach, and a Michelin-starred restaurant.
Humboldt County Hotels
A boutique hotel with rustic-chic/hipster vibes, the Humboldt Bay Social Club is a fun low-key spot to stay at on the shores of Humboldt Bay on California’s Wild North Coast. There’s a lobby bar with oysters, picnic baskets and grill kits, a restaurant serving coastal comfort food, and access to the bathhouse at Oyster Beach. Plus, you’re just across the channel from Eureka, which is known for its unique Victorian architecture and easy access to exploring the majestic Redwoods of Northern California.
Did this post inspire you to explore these beautiful California coast hotels? Let me know in the comments below!
Planning a trip right now? Don’t miss my go-to websites for booking everything from flights and tours, to accommodation and more:
- Booking.com for the best hotel deals
- World Nomads for travel insurance
- Airbnb for awesome home rentals
- Skyscanner for finding the best flight deals
- Hostelworld for budget accommodation
- Rentalcars.com for easy car rentals