Don’t Waste your Time at Seal Beach in California

guide to seal beach california

Living in Las Vegas, we head to Southern California quite often, and always go to the beach.  We have been to dozens of beaches from San Diego to Los Angeles and Seal Beach is probably the worst one yet.  While it wasn’t all bad, we think there are better beaches nearby.  So, we will lay out the positives and negatives below for you to hopefully help you decide if you want to go despite our warning.  Before you make your decision though, read about one of our favorite beaches just a short drive south.

Where is Seal Beach?

Seal Beach is located off the Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1) between Long Beach and Huntington Beach.  From the Highway, just turn south on Main Street in Seal Beach and it will take you right into the parking lot at the beach.

Once you are in the parking lot, just pay for parking at one of the machines and walk a couple hundred yards through the sand to reach the water.  The beach runs for 1.5 miles  from 1st Street through Surfside.

What we Liked about Seal Beach

It wasn’t all bad.  There were some good things about Seal Beach, and we actually did enjoy our time there.  It’s just that there are better beaches nearby.

The town looked fun

The town looked like a fun place for a stroll.  While we didn’t actually spend any time in the town of Seal Beach, it looked like a nice little beach town with some fun restaurants and shopping along Main Street.

The Pier

There is a pier at the beach.  Just a plain sandy beach is boring to look at.  A pier at least adds something interesting to the beach and can make for some photography compositions.  This pier doesn’t have anything on it to do, like a restaurant, though like the piers on many other California beaches.  Fun fact, the pier is the second longest wooden pier in the state of California. It was originally built in the early 1900’s, but had to be rebuilt in the 1980’s after a storm destroyed two sections.

guide to seal beach california

Lots of Parking

The parking lot is big and the cost isn’t bad.  A lot of beaches have small parking lots that won’t accommodate everyone at peak times, but this parking lot was fairly big and the cost was $2 per hour, so that part wasn’t bad at all.


You can actually find shells at the beach.  Most beaches in California don’t have many shells left that you can just pick up in the sand.  With each wave that came onto the beach, you could quickly look around and find a shell or two if you were lucky.  My girls had a blast collecting shells.

Shallow water for young kids

The water is pretty shallow.  Even younger kids can play without fear of getting knocked under.

guide to seal beach california

What we Didn’t Like about Seal Beach

While there was enough to like about Seal Beach above, it also had a fair bit of negatives that ultimately lead us to recommend visitors try out one of the other much nicer beaches nearby.

Dirty water

The water was pretty nasty.  We put up with it for as long as we could, but eventually you just didn’t want to be in the water any more.  It was full of stringy plants and blooms that clung to your body every time you got in.  There was also a fair amount of garbage floating in the water.  While I know the beaches in California aren’t pristine, but I usually have a pretty high tolerance for dirty water and this place grossed me out after about 30 minutes of playing in the water.

Small waves

There was really no waves that you could play in.  While this is nice for smaller kids, the older kids were bored pretty quickly.  You had to go out quite a ways to try and play in the waves and they were small even then.  This isn’t a place you want to go for playing in the waves.

Long walk

There was a long walk from the parking lot to the beach.  This is true of most beaches in California, but it is pretty annoying to truck all your stuff through the sand for a couple hundred yards just to get to the water.  It is one of the reasons we love the parking lot at Aliso Beach.

Steep slope

There is a pretty drastic slope down from the beach to the water.  This is also common at a lot of beaches in California, but we like beaches that have a more gentle slope so the adults that aren’t playing in the water can set up closer to the water rather than having to be 30 feet away because there is a steep descent.

guide to seal beach california


Overall, Seal Beach wasn’t that bad.  If it was the only beach around, we would happily go.  However, with so many other beaches nearby that are so much better, we won’t be wasting our time at Seal Beach again.  Just head a little further south and enjoy the much nicer beaches at Huntington Beach or Laguna Beach if you are visiting the area.

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