Guide to Laws for Beachgoers in California

If you’re having a beach day in California, here’s what you need to know to have fun and stay out of trouble. Many rules are local, so if you are in the Los Angeles area, see here.

Am I allowed to go on any beach I want?

Throughout California, the public has the right to be on any wet sand beach, generally up to the edge of the wet sand (there may be a few exceptions for national security, like near military bases, etc.). Also many dry sand beaches (though not all) are designated for public access.1CA Constitution, Article X, Section 4; CA Coastal Act 

Great! How can I access all this beach?

There are designated public access ways (technically “easements”) to the beach throughout the state. However, some of these are famously blocked by nearby homeowners who put up signs like “private property” or “no trespassing.” Any such obstacles to the designated public access ways are illegal, and could result in a fine of up to $11,250/day.2CA Const. Art X, Sec 4. See also Carstens v. California Coastal Comm. (1986) 182 Cal.App.3d 277; CA Coastal Act; SB 861

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