The beach in Isla Vista varies a great deal: crowded or not depending on time of year, time of day and weather; Narrow in some places, wider in others. The entrances are all narrow paths or steps that can make social distancing difficult. But at the right time, you may have the beach to yourself. Unless you know your specific spot well, we recommend checking the tides first. Some beaches are almost inaccessible at high tide.
We have scouted the entrances and walked along most of the beaches as well as having beach days at a couple locations. Near the Camino Majorca entrance, we were mostly by ourselves with walkers coming by, mostly surfers on their way to Coal Oil Point. On our most recent day, we found a spot below Sea Lookout Park and mostly had the beach to ourselves apart from a noise jet skier.
Directions: Take the 101 N to Los Carneros Ave. Turn right onto Los Carneros. Turn left on El Colegio and then right onto Camino Pescadero. Turn left on Del Playa and park on Del Playa wherever there is space close to the entrance you want to visit.
If you time it right, you may have the beach to yourself.
At Sea Look Out Park, we found a cave to explore big enough for us to stand up in.
Parking is always tight in Isla Vista, even in the summer, even during COVID 19.
There are no bathrooms or food for purchase (IV is close by).
All the entrances have steps down to them. it may be hard to socially distance.
The steps can be underwater (sometimes even at low tide). If you are hauling stuff, it might get wet.
There was a lot of seaweed but we encountered little tar on the days we were there.
The beach is wider on this end but also busier. Park along Del Playa near the entrance at El Embarcadero.
|El Embarcadero Path|
|El Embarcadero Steps|
|El Embarcadero East|
|El Embarcadero West|
The path to the beach is along the left side of the park. Park on Del Playa or Camino Pescadero. This section of beach is also wider than Camino del Sur or Sea Lookout Park Beach.
|Camino Pescadero Path|
|Camino Pescadero Steps|
|Camino Pescadero to the West|
|Camino Pescadero to the East|
Camino del Sur
This entrance is on Del Playa at Camino del Sur. These steps can be covered at high tide. This section of beach is very small especially when the tides are wrong.
|Camino del Sur Entrance|
|Camino del Sur Steps|
|Camino del Sur to the East|
|Camino del Sur to the West|
Sea Lookout Park (Isla Vista Park Beach)
The entrance here is on Del Playa near Camino Corto. There is a building between Sea Lookout Park and the path. These steps are almost always underwater. This stretch of beach is narrow. Check the tides if you are headed here.
|Sea Lookout Path|
|Sea Lookout Steps (underwater)|
|Sea Lookout Cave|
|Sea Lookout East|
|Sea Lookout West|
This is the busiest entrance since many surfers going to Coal Oil Point pass through here. Parking is often best on Camino Majorca under the trees. The steps are the hardest place to social distance. One sign indicates that to the left there is a nude beach, but there is no indication of that anywhere else and we didn't encounter anyone less than fully clad.
|Camino Majorca Stairs|
|Nude Beach to the Left of the Stairs|
|West of the Camino Majorca Entrance|
|East of the Camino Majorca Entrance|