Surely 50 million people can't be wrong. That's about the number that flocked to Southern California's beaches last year to sunbathe, swim, surf or partake in the most popular sport of all--people watching.
This year, even more are likely to look for fun and games at the seashore, but finding a place in the sun may not be easy. To avoid the crush, leave early and try to use public transportation. RTD buses run every half-hour along the Pacific Coast Highway from the Santa Monica terminal at Colorado Street and Ocean Avenue to Leo Carrillo State Beach. Telephone (213) 636-4455 for information.
Check with county or city health officials regarding water contamination. Known polluted areas are mentioned here, but this information is subject to revision.
To help return the beach to its pristine condition, participate in the California Coastal Commission's clean-up day Sept. 20. For information, call in San Francisco (415) 543-8555.
Here are 10 beaches from Santa Barbara to San Diego with lifeguards and restroom facilities. To check weather and surf conditions, telephone (213) 457-9701 for northern beaches, (213) 451-8761 for central beaches and (213) 379-8471 for southern beaches.
East Beach, Santa Barbara, 1118 E. Cabrillo Blvd. Two parking lots hold more than 300 cars; parking 50 cents per hour, maximum $2. City buses stop at the beach. A scenic three-mile path hugs the Pacific Ocean for biking, jogging and roller skating. Rent boogie boards, umbrellas, chairs and volleyballs at the Cabrillo Pavilion. There are 14 volleyball nets, and nearby concessions rent skates, bikes and wind-surfing equipment. Events include the junior lifeguard championships for 10- to 16-year-olds Wednesday; the volleyball tournament for ages 35 and over ($10 team fee) Aug. 16 and 17; triathlon (running, swimming, biking) Sept. 20--telephone (805) 965-0509 for application and fee information--and the 13th Annual Sand Castle and Sculpting contest Oct. 5. Write to Sand Castle, Drawer P-P, Santa Barbara, Calif. 93102.
Zuma Beach, 30000 block of Pacific Coast Highway. Parking $3. Good body surfing; however, the rough surf dictates caution. There are outdoor showers, food concessions and children's playground equipment. Countywide lifeguard championships scheduled Aug. 17; World Cup Life-Saving Championship will be Aug. 23.
Will Rogers State Beach, Pacific Coast Highway at foot of Temescal Canyon Road, Pacific Palisades. Parking $3. Food concessions and some playground equipment for children are available. Rocky coves and straight beaches provide surfing and swimming sites. At Chautauqua Boulevard, serious volleyball is played.
Santa Monica Beach, from Colorado Avenue to Adelaide Drive. The beach is served by RTD and Santa Monica "blue buses." Lot parking $3. Surfboards, bikes and roller skates can be rented. There are outdoor showers, volleyball courts, children's park that features imaginative "space rides" and the historic Santa Monica Pier. The Twilight Dance series next to the pier takes place Thursdays 7:30-9:30 p.m., through September.
Note: Areas within a 25-yard radius of four storm drains on Santa Monica Beach have been declared unsafe by county health officials due to possible contamination. Avoid posted areas.
For more information, call (213) 974-7707.
Venice Beach, from Crescent Bay Park south to the Marina del Rey harbor entrance, this beach attracts about 300,000 on weekends. Parking $3, lot fills early; RTD buses are recommended. There are picnic tables, children's playground, outdoor showers and bike and skate rentals galore. Besides the renowned "Muscle Beach" outdoor gymnastic display and 19-mile bike path connecting Santa Monica and Redondo beaches, Venice is known for its free-spirited roller skaters, street performers and open-air shops. The Festival of Chariots Aug. 16 and 17 features elephant parades, displays and Hindu cooking. The Muscle Beach Championships for male and female body builders will be Sept. 1.
South Bay Beaches: Manhattan, Hermosa, Redondo. Parking difficult; limited spots on street. Linked by the strand, used for biking, jogging and roller skating, these are three terrific family beaches. The 24th Annual International Surf Festival will be Friday through Sunday; see 54 Hours listing on Page 14 for more information; for event dates, times and sites, call (213) 545-4502.
Note: The beach area near the Avenue I storm drain in Redondo Beach has been declared unsafe within a 25-yard radius due to possible contamination. Avoid posted areas.