Butterfly beach along Channel Drive in Santa Barbara, California.

Santa Barbara is largely touted for being an extraordinary oceanside destination. The lush Santa Ynez Mountains running alongside the Pacific Coast make for the dynamic local climate that countless travelers desire. With all of this variety and beauty also comes a lack of consistency, which can be jarring for newcomers. Some beaches and waterfronts in Santa Barbara are more accommodating of picnics and sunsets, while others provide the proper terrain and access for a nice day of swimming around. To help our oceanbound guests, here are some of the best swimming beaches in and around Santa Barbara.

Santa Claus Beach


Located in nearby Carpinteria, California, Santa Claus Beach is one of Southern California’s best kept secrets. Gorgeous white sand and uninterrupted shores highlight this awe-inspiring spot. With moderate temperatures in the spring and summer, as well as an active surfer following, Santa Claus Beach is a proven spot for swimmers to take a satisfying dip.

Butterfly Beach

abandoned on the beach

Right here in Santa Barbara, Butterfly Beach endures as one of those destinations that’s emblematic of the area’s reputable beauty. The narrow stretch of sand that makes up Butterfly Beach offers visitors a unique and atmospheric place to lounge, except at high tide where places to sit are quickly overcome by water. Besides high tide, Butterfly Beach offers visitors a great place to hang out, walk their dogs, and, yes, take a nice swim.

East Beach

Stormy California Sunrise

image via flickr

East Beach is a public beach park in Santa Barbara with quintessential Southern California sunsets and impeccable surroundings. From a park with watersport rentals to the quiet, peaceful coast, there’s everything to enjoy and seemingly nothing to be concerned with at East Beach. This outdoor destination’s mellow waves make a delightful swimming environment for everyone in the family.

Arroyo Burro Beach

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image via flickr

Also known as Hendry’s Beach, Arroyo Burro Beach is one of the most well known and popular beaches in Santa Barbara. A popular dog park, the scene at Arroyo is constantly vibrant with happy families and adventurous pooches. Scenic cliffs along the sand and tide pools scattered about the ocean’s edge are just a few of Arroyo’s many atmospheric attractions. With an open shore, this also one of Santa Barbara’s best swimming beaches.