So you’re dreaming of a beachy Southern California… but you have no idea which beach to choose. SoCal is known for its gorgeous coastal beaches, so it’s totally understandable being overwhelmed with all your options. To help you out a little bit, I’m giving you my top 5 picks for best beaches for your Southern California elopement! Plus, the best hotels nearby so you know exactly what your options are.
El Matador // Best beaches for your Southern California elopement
El Matador beach in Malibu, California would be such a beautiful spot for your elopement. Known as Malibu’s best-kept secret, one of the things you’ll love about this beach is the privacy. Beaches in Southern California can get pretty crowded, especially in the summertime. Which can make it a little less than ideal for your elopement! But at El Matador, you’ll hardly see any crowds, even in the summer. There’s super limited parking for this beach, so people usually opt for a more conveniently located one! Also, the sunsets at this beach are unreal. Sunset El Matador Beach elopement, anyone??
To hold a public event on any beach in Malibu, there are no permits required
Hotels near El Matador for your Southern California elopement
Not technically a hotel, but a beautiful 5 bedroom Sea Start home in Malibu! This would be the perfect option for you if you’re having a few guests and want the convenience of everyone staying in the same place. This would also be a beautiful getting ready location!
This hotel is about 8.5 miles from El Matador State Beach and is a stunning, sophisticated, modern hotel option. Their mediterranean style design will have you feeling some type of way when you stay here… in the best way possible. Plus, you can even hold your reception here at one of their outdoor or indoor spaces!
This contemporary Malibu beach hotel is a little more secluded, being 12 miles away from El Matador nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains. They have tons of amenities (ahem, like an outdoor heated pool) that you and your boo can enjoy! They also have an intimate outdoor patio where you can hold a small post-elopement reception!
Point Dume // Best beaches for your Southern California elopement
For rugged coastline and gray whale watching
Believe it or not, Point Dume Beach is a popular spot for films, tv shows, and of course, weddings! It’s tucked right off the Pacific Coast Highway, making it a stunning Southern California elopement location. You can get married right on the beach, or on one of the numerous cliffs that the beach has to offer. And then if you and your partner want to add a bit of adventure? You can also hike one of the trails at Point Dume!
Hotels near Point Dume for your Southern California elopement
If you were to stay at any hotel for your Point Dume elopement, please let it be this one! Hotel June Malibu is a boutique resort filled with mid-century bungalows that used to serve as historic hideaways for writers, musicians, and artists on Point Dume. Staying here is truly a one-of-a-kind experience, one that you’ll never forget!
This resort is the ultimate haven for relaxation. If wedding planning has been stressing you out and you need a major de-stressing moment, Westlake Village will be right up your alley! The spa is top tier, the food is to die for, and the vibes are immaculate.
The Surfrider is a 20 room California beach house-inspired hotel located right off the iconic Pacific Coast Highway. If you and your love are true Californians at heart (or want the authentic California experience), you’re gonna love this hotel.
La Jolla Cove Beach // Best beaches for your Southern California elopement
For the bluest water
Traveling a little more south to San Diego County, we have La Jolla Cove Beach. La Jolla has long since been a popular wedding & elopement destination for couples tying the knot in SoCal. So of course I had to include it on this list! This beach is actually perfect for swimming, because it’s protected by a rocky point that blocks most of the waves rolling in from the west! How perfect is that? So if after you say “I do” you want to change into matching swimsuits and hit the water, I would be totally down for that. Just sayin’.
Since La Jolla is north facing, there are also tons of shady areas. This is great if you don’t want to be in direct sunlight for your ceremony.
To host your wedding ceremony at La Jolla Cove Beach, you must contact the City of San Diego to obtain a permit
Hotels near La Jolla Cove Beach for your Southern California elopement
This hotel is right on La Jolla Cove Beach. So if convenience is your dealbreaker, you can’t get any closer than this. They even have a rooftop venue that you can hang with your friends and family after your elopement, with crazy beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean.
Also steps away from the Pacific Ocean, Pantai Inn is another boutique hotel (we love those). But this time, with a Polynesian twist! You’ll feel super chill and laid back here, while still enjoying the luxury that La Jolla naturally brings to the table. And don’t even get me started on the Ocean View Studios they have available.
La Valencia has held its celebrity status for over 90 years, making it an absolute staple in the La Jolla community. With it’s signature pink exterior and Mediterranean-style charm, you’ll feel like you’re soaking in the iconic history behind this landmark of a hotel.
Santa Monica State Beach // Best beaches for your Southern California elopement
For the boardwalk, piers, and activities nearby
Located just west of Downtown Los Angeles, Santa Monica State Beach is one of the iconic beaches in Southern California. There’s also tons of things to do at this beach, so after your elopement we can head over to the pier & boardwalk to take some super fun & cute wedding portraits! If you elope during the off season (pretty much anytime except the summer time) there will be a lot less crowds, more parking, and an average temp of about 65 degrees fahrenheit.
You do not need a wedding permit to hold a wedding ceremony at any beach in Santa Monica
Hotels near Santa Monica State Beach for your Southern California elopement
The Georgian has been known as Santa Monica’s First Lady since 1933, as if there could be any better introduction. They claim to have the world’s best sunset views from 14 of their ocean-facing suites, so who wouldn’t want to experience that? This spot has undergone a series of multi-million dollar renovations to upgrade, well, pretty much everything about it since it’s opening.
You can literally see the Santa Monica Pier from this hotel if that tells you how conveniently located it is. The decor of the interior, including the rooms, is quite literally screams luxury. Originally built in 1926, Hotel Casa Del Mar has stayed true to its indulgent and relaxing ambiance throughout the years.
Switching gears a bit, this Santa Monica Hotel resembles the quintessential cottages you can find in the coastal city of Cape Cod, MA. Each room has been meticulously designed to feel like your own private beachside residence, which is a feeling that most newlyweds would love!
Catalina Island Beaches // Best beaches for your Southern California elopement
For a true getaway
Wait, did someone say swaying palm trees, caribbean blue waters, and warm, sunny weather? If this sounds like the elopement experience that you and your boo are about, I’ve got you covered. Catalina Island is for you couples who want an elopement & honeymoon destination all in one. The island is only an hour ferry ride away from Long Beach, CA, so it’s still very accessible for your Southern California elopement! The water at these beaches is also the warmest water you’ll find in SoCal, so that paired with the white sandy beaches makes me want to head there ASAP.
Depending on which beach you elope at on Catalina Island, you may need to obtain a permit
Hotels on Catalina Island for your Southern California elopement
Okay first of all – you can book a 15-minute helicopter ride from Long Beach straight to the area of this hotel. How cool is that?? Other than that, this hotel is steps away from the beach and all of their rooms are uniquely designed.
This hotel is centrally located in the heart of Avalon, so you’ll be surrounded by plenty of shops, restaurants, and events going on, on Catalina Island. They’ve got oceanfront VIP suites, rooftop jacuzzis, and champagne to go with it. If you ask me, this would be the perfect romantic getaway for your Southern California elopement!
This hotel has gone through the renovation of the century – it was originally built in 1926 and recently made its debut as Catalina’s most popular hotel. Attracting younger couples while still maintaining it’s historic charm, there are so many beautiful suites and amenities to choose from!
Best Beaches for Your Southern California Elopement
Now that you know all the best beaches for your Southern California elopement, what about all the other aspects of planning a wedding? I have an entire blog post dedicated to How to Elope in Southern California if you want additional tips and tricks to make your life a little easier. And when you’re ready, you can reach out to me via my contact from to inquire about having me photograph your elopement!