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Urban Wilderness

Here are L.A.’s Cleanest—and Dirtiest—Beaches, Graded by Heal the Bay   

12:00 PM PDT on June 30, 2020

Looking north on Venice Beach, the popular hangout spot is barren due to the coronavirus outbreak. Saturday, March 28. 12:31PM

[dropcap size=big]I[/dropcap]n what is already proving to be a long, drawn-out pandemic summer, beaches in Los Angeles County will once again be closed over the July 4th weekend. The safety of the city is deemed too difficult to maintain on crowded beach weekends, and we may be dealing with closed beaches all summer. Despite the fact that when properly maintained, our city's beaches can be one of the few respites from the heat and isolation caused by social distancing.

However, if and when we are ever allowed to play that game where scamper away from the breaking waves again, what beach has the cleanest saltwater? Heal the Bay released their annual report card for our county's beaches, letting us know where the water is safe and where it may have more issues. Most of the worst beach water pollution comes when it rains. A beach can easily go from an A rating to an F after a rainstorm, as our storm drains and creeks empty right into the ocean. The grades below are for beaches during dry summer days.

The county has 29 beaches with A+ grades, including popular spots such as Santa Monica beach at Strand Street, and Venice Beach at Topsail Street. The lowest grade for the Summer months is the F given to both Cabrillo Beach and Topanga Beach in front of the creek mouth. Other popular locations with poor grades this summer include Long Beach City Beach, at Granada Avenue, and Paradise Cove Pier at Ramirez Canyon Creek.

The full list of beach grades, in alphabetical order, are below. Some beaches did not receive a letter grade for this season, but all of them have good winter grades so they are likely cleaner than average. You can dig into the full report card of beaches statewide on the Heal the Bay website, where they also discuss COVID-19’s impact on beach water quality as visitorship increases in the summer months.

Beach NameSummer Dry Grade
Escondido State Beach, at Escondido CreekC
Alamitos Bay, at 2nd St. Bridge and BayshoreB
Alamitos Bay, at 56th Place on baysideA+
Alamitos Bay, at shore floatA+
Avalon Beach, 100 feet west of the Green Pleasure PierA
Avalon Beach, 50 feet east of the Green Pleasure PierA
Avalon Beach, 50 feet west of the Green Pleasure PierA
Avalon Beach, east of the Casino Arch at the stepsA+
Back of main channel (at depth)A+
Back of main channel (from surface)A+
Basin D, near first slip outside swim area (at depth)A
Basin D, near first slip outside swim area (from surface)A
Basin E, center of basin (at depth)A
Basin E, center of basin (from surface)A
Basin E, in front of Boone-Olive Pump OutletA
Basin E, in front of tide gate from Oxford BasinA
Basin F, center of basin (at depth)A+
Basin F, center of basin (from surface)A+
Belmont Pier, west sideA
Big Rock Beach, at stairsA
Broad Beach, at Trancas CreekA
Cabrillo Beach, harborside at boat launchB
Cabrillo Beach, harborside at restroomsF
Cabrillo Beach, ocean sideA
Carbon Beach, at Sweetwater CanyonA+
Castle Rock Beach, at storm drainA
Colorado Lagoon, northA
Colorado Lagoon, southA
Dan Blocker County Beach, at Solstice CanyonC
Dockweiler State Beach, at Ballona Creek mouthA
Dockweiler State Beach, at Culver Blvd.A+
Dockweiler State Beach, at Grand Ave.A+
Dockweiler State Beach, at Imperial Highway storm drainA+
Dockweiler State Beach, at North Weschester storm drainA
Dockweiler State Beach, at World WayA+
Hermosa Beach Pier, 50 yards south of pierA
Hermosa City Beach, at 26th StreetA+
Herondo Street (Redondo Breakwater)A
Hyperion Treatment Plant, at One Mile OutfallA+
Las Flores State Beach, at Las Flores CreekA
Las Tunas County Beach, at Pena CreekA
Latigo Canyon Creek mouthA
Leo Carrillo Beach, at Arroyo Sequit CreekC
Long Beach City Beach, at 10th PlaceA
Long Beach City Beach, at 55th PlaceA
Long Beach City Beach, at 5th PlaceB
Long Beach City Beach, at 72nd PlaceA
Long Beach City Beach, at Coronado Ave.B
Long Beach City Beach, at Granada Av.D
Long Beach City Beach, at Molino Av.A
Long Beach City Beach, at Prospect Ave.C
Long Beach Mothers' Beach, north endA
Malibu Pier, 50 yards east of pierA+
Malibu PointA
Manhattan Beach PierA+
Manhattan Beach, at 28th StreetA
Manhattan State Beach, at 40th StreetA+
Marie Canyon storm drain, at Puerco BeachB
Marina del Rey Mothers' Beach, at lifeguard towerA
Marina del Rey Mothers' Beach, at playgroundA
Marina del Rey Mothers' Beach, between Lifeguard Tower and Boat dockC
Will Rogers State Beach, 1/4 mile east of Sunset Blvd. drain
Avalon Beach, 100 feet east of the Green Pleasure Pier
San Pedro, Wilder Annex
Ballona Creek, 50 yards south of creek mouth
Imperial Highway storm drain, 50 yards north
Pulga Canyon, 50 yards east of storm drain
Will Rogers State Beach, Santa Monica Canyon
Santa Monica Pier, 50 yards south of pier
Santa Monica Beach, at Pico-Kenter storm drain
Ashland Ave., 50 yards south of storm drain
Venice City Beach, at Windward Ave.
Tuna Canyon
El Matador State Beach, at Encinal Canyon
Unnamed Creek Mouth, at 24822 Malibu Rd.
Nicholas Beach, at San Nicholas Canyon CreekA
Ocean Park Beach, at Ashland Ave. storm drainA+
Palos Verdes Estates, at Malaga Cove rocksA+
Palos Verdes Estates, at Malaga Cove trail outletA+
Palos Verdes Estates, at Palos Verdes CoveA+
Paradise Cove Pier, at Ramirez Canyon CreekD
Puerco State Beach, at creek mouthB
Rancho Palos Verdes, Abalone Cove Shoreline ParkA+
Rancho Palos Verdes, Long PointA+
Rancho Palos Verdes, Portuguese Bend CoveA+
Redondo Beach Pier, 100 yards south of pierA
Redondo State Beach, at Sapphire StreetA
Redondo State Beach, at Topaz StreetA+
Royal Palms State BeachA
Santa Monica Beach, at Montana Ave.A
Santa Monica Beach, at Pico-Kenter storm drainA
Santa Monica Beach, at Strand St.A+
Santa Monica Beach, at Wilshire Blvd.A
Santa Monica PierB
Surfrider Beach, at lagoon breachB
Topanga Beach, at creek mouthF
Torrance Beach, at Avenue I storm drainA
Unnamed Creek Mouth, at Zumirez Dr.B
Venice Beach, 50 yards south of Fishing PierA+
Venice Beach, at Rose Ave.A
Venice Beach, at Topsail St.A+
Venice Beach, at Windward Ave.B
Venice City Beach, at Brooks Ave. drainA+
Walnut Creek Outlet, at Wildlife RoadA
Will Rogers State Beach, at Pulga Canyon storm drainA+
Will Rogers State Beach, at Santa Monica CanyonA
Will Rogers State Beach, at Temescal CanyonA+
Will Rogers State Beach, Bel Air Bay ClubA
Zuma Beach, at Zuma CreekA
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