Because Long Beach, CA has so many different beaches with different amenities, they wouldn't all fit in my guide to LA Beaches, so this is a separate guide to the beaches in Long Beach, CA. Each page includes photos and descriptions of the beach as well as information on parking and a list of amenities and activities available. Beach restrictions for all beaches are listed on the last page.
Long Beach beaches have some different characteristics from many other Southern California beaches. First, they are protected by the breakwater that protects the harbor, so there are no surfable waves. This makes them safer for kids and people who can't swim and great for activities like windsurfing, kiteboarding, kayaking and fishing from small boats.
It also means that there's no wave action to clean out contaminants that pour down the LA River. The contamination problem has decreased significantly since they added booms and filters at the mouth of the river, but it still makes sense to check the water quality reports before swimming.
In addition to the river runoff, you can sometimes see a black film of petroleum on the sand from the oil drilling on the three oil islands off the coast. They are somewhat camouflaged with concrete towers and fountains, but they are still pumping oil.
Beyond the oil islands, on a clear day you can see Catalina Island, which is reachable by ferry.
Another distinguishing factor of the ocean-front beaches in Long Beach is that they are south-facing instead of west-facing. This means that you have to head south to get to the beach. Heading west will take you to the Port of Long Beach.
The southern orientation also means that the sun doesn't set over the beach in summer. If you're on the beach, the sun will set over downtown. However, in the winter, when the sun sets further to the south, the beach, and the bluff above the beach is a great place to watch the sun set behind the Queen Mary.
Not all of the beaches in Long Beach are on the ocean. Some are on inland waterways that are even more calm.
The beaches are listed here from Downtown Long Beach in the west, east to the Orange County line and following the water inland.