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Things To Do on the Beach in Santa Barbara

Beaches worldwide offer a brevity of fun activities, and the beaches in Santa Barbara are no different in that regard. From horseback riding to surfing, here are a few local favorites that set Santa Barbara apart:

Learn To Surf – Experience the waves of the Pacific Ocean with our surf instructors who have over 25 years of experience. Find the best local breaks in the area while mastering the fundamentals of one of Santa Barbara’s favorite past times. Afterwards, relax on the beach, read that book you’ve been meaning to finish and enjoy the views!

Surf boys stretch

Horseback Riding– Ride along the beach on horseback, with majestic mountains on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. Los Padres Outfitters offer guided horseback rides, both daytime and sunset. Their horses are suitable for all skill levels and their guides love to share a totally unique way to experience the beach. They can even prepare a picnic lunch for you to enjoy – you’re welcome to bring your own wine.

Tide Pooling at Coal Oil Point– Just a few minutes north of Santa Barbara, check out several low lying rock formations brimming with sea life for an experience you’ll never forget. Tidepooling in Santa Barbara Take a nice long walk during low tide, spotting barnacles, mussels, anemones, sea hares, crabs & more! Be sure to check when low tide is for the best experience – it could be morning, mid-day or afternoon.

Stand Up Paddle Lessons– Enjoy a unique view of the American Riviera while enjoying an ocean sport quickly becoming a favorite among locals. Most tours see wildlife including sea lions, seals and sea stars.

Beach Art – Take some inspiration from British artist Andy Goldsworthy and challenge yourself to create natural art using only the elements around you, from sand & rocks to shells and seaweed. As the artist said,“It’s just about life and the need to understand that a lot of things in life do not last.”

Beach Art by Andy Goldsworthy

Andy Goldsworthy

Combing for Sea Glass – Grab a re-usable bag and head to the beach nearest you! Comb the surf and surrounding area for weathered glass, a process that takes 20+ years for the signature characteristics of bottles long ago broken & tossed aside to develop. Spring tides and the first low tides after a storm are the best. Sea glass can be used for many fun projects from wall decor to jewelry. Take this opportunity to pick up any miscellaneous trash as well so we can all continue to enjoy pristine beaches.

Refugio State Beach Coastal Kayaking & Beach Day Kayaking at Refugio State Beach

Santa Barbara’s Refugio State Beach is a great spot for a short paddle and super fun beach day. Located on rural and undeveloped coastline, this is a beautiful area rich with marine life. We often see dolphins, sea lions and other marine life while on the water. At mid-day you’ll stop for deli lunch, served on a secluded beach. As the trip progresses, your guide may offer a fun series of kayak challenges and games. This unforgettable trip provides great opportunities to swim, play or just float. It’s perfect for all ages of swimmers.

Bring Your Pet – If you are lucky enough to have a four-legged friend, Hendry’s Beach this the perfect haven for you. Dogs are permitted off leash for a long stretch of perfect coastline. There are several great spots tucked along the cliffs where you can kick back while your dog goes wild in the surf. You can end the day with a nice meal at the Boathouse, a tasty brunch and seafood spot right on the water.

Volunteer for a Beach Cleanup Interested in combining some relaxation and fun with a way of giving back? Consider volunteering for a local beach cleanup. There are many companies in Santa Barbara that have participated in the Adopt-A-Beach program who organize events throughout the year.

Beach clean up in Santa Barbara

What other activities do you do on the beach?

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