There are a lot of great beaches in America yet many argue that the California coast offers the most famous, the most beautiful and the most enchanting beaches for its residents and tourists to enjoy. The greatest luxury is to actually live on or near the sand in sunny California but that comes at a very high price at nearly all of the beaches up and down the coast of the Golden State. But if you have the money, you are in for a treat as the weather, views, architecture and lifestyle are second to none.
Malibu is likely California's most famous beach. This 27 mile long beach community is like The Hamptons west in the summer but unlike The Hamptons – offers year-round perfect weather, water sports, incredible views and more. Pacific Coast Highway slices along the beach in ways that allows for one of America's most fantastic Sunday drives. If you can't make it there in person – trust me you've seen it before be it on Baywatch, in a TV commercial or in a Cheech and Chong Movie. Some of the nicest neighborhoods in Malibu include Broad Beach, Carbon Beach AKA "billionaire's Beach" Malibu Colony which is the closest thing to a master planned community like Beverly Park in BeverlyHills but is right on the water. Point Dume is another neighborhood that you likely know from dozens of commercials that have been shot there. A more private neighborhood that hosts $5,000,000 to $35,000,000 homes is Serra Retreat. Tucked right around the corner from one of the world's most famous surf spots, Serra Retreat is where Hollywood icons like Mel Gibson and others hide from the view of prying cameras and that pesky TMZ.
Malibu isn't the only amazing beach communities in California its only the most famous. San Diego has some pretty amazing beaches with luxury estates to match. Look to places like Del Mar, La Jolla and parts of Oceanside for some of the most sweeping beaches in California. With views to Catalina Island and seemingly to Maui, San Diego beaches are simply a spectacular place to buy a home no matter if its your primary residence or a second home. Slightly inland from Encinitas, which is another hip beach town, is Rancho Sante Fe. Lined with Eucalyptus trees and large estate lots this is the home to people like golfer Phil Mickelson and a second home for Microsoft founder, Bill Gates. The Bridges of Rancho Sante Fe is a master planned community with a wonderful golf course and stunning homes. While Rancho Sante Fe isn't right on the beach, its close enough for a short drive but offers equestrian, golf and other amenities that don't always come with a beach community.
Anyone that watches The Real Housewives of Orange County know how beautiful the setting is. The OC offers the modern conveniences of wide streets, lots of shopping and easy freeway access with direct access to some of the most amazing beach communities that you will ever see. Newport Beach and Newport Coast are possibly the most famous as people like Kobe Bryant now live there and commute to Los Angeles for their "day job". Dana Point is a sleepy little beach town with stunning home locations. Laguna Beach is possibly the best location in Orange Country as its artist community meshes beautifully with its cliffside beaches. While parking is hard to come by, Laguna Beach makes up for that in pure California beach drama.
Santa Barbara's relaxed style is hard to beat. From cozy beach coves to the hills just above the ocean, you could make an argument that Santa Barbara has the best weather of any location in America. Architecturally, Santa Barbara has some of the best looking Spanish or Mediterranean designs anywhere in California or in the country. There are stunning ocean front homes in Santa Barbara but the best neighborhood in Santa Barbara is Montecito which is one town south of downtown Santa Barbara on the 101 Freeway which bisects the city. Montecito isn't just one of the most magical seaside towns in California – it could be the single most beautiful neighborhood in America period. Expect real estate prices to match the hype as $5,000,000 doesn't buy you what you might expect in Montecito. You might want to come packing $10,000,000 or $20,000,000 to get a real estate. And as for the local country club, it was designed by Alistair MacKensize (Cypress Point, Augusta etc…) and its extremely difficult to get into. You have to be approved by each and every member of the club before being admitted. Now that's exclusive.
There are other enchanted beaches around the country. Miami's South Beach is no slouch. East Hampton has some of the biggest homes right on the water that money can buy. Martha's Vineyard and Cape Cod offer east coast style that is so very different than California. Despite the cliché, the New Jersey "shore" has some amazing locations including Long Beach Island, Avalon and parts of Cape May. Depending on your budget, location and willingness to travel – you can find a home on an enchanted beach near you be it for purchase or summer rental.