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Bolsa Chica State Beach

Bolsa Chica State Beach, 8/16/12

Bolsa Chica State Beach
…not just any day at the beach

Whether you enjoy just lounging on the sand, swimming, surfing or other beach activities Bolsa Chica has a lot to offer.  A 2.9 mile promenade stretches the length of the beach, connecting to Huntington City Beach and continuing to Huntington State Beach to the South—great for bicycling or walking.  Firepits line the beach end to end, perfect for an evening picnic and “bonfire” with family and friends.  Shorebirds glide overhead, passing from the adjacent Bolsa Chica Wetlands to the shoreline in search of food.  Large groups of the once endangered California Brown Pelicans are often seen flying in formation along the coastline.  Sunset views can be easily seen from any point on the narrow sandy beach.  Santa Catalina Island is visible on a clear day. The openness of the large Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve wetlands just across PCH stretching the length of  Bolsa Chica SB, gives this state beach a sort of “remote feel” as there is no development along this stretch of the coast.  Often clear inland views of the Santa Ana Mountains are seen in the distance; at times a full moon rises from this general direction with the “open space” providing a good view. 

Bolsa Chica became a state beach in the early 1960’s, formerly known by locals as “tin can beach” because it was littered with tins cans and other trash.  It was an undeveloped beach with no facilities, the only parking was along PCH.  During those days the wetlands opposite the beach were heavily used for oil operations.  Since then Bolsa Chica has narrowly escaped development plans such as loss of the beach for a harbor inlet, housing and a man-made island with a nuclear power/water desalination plant. 

But today a beautiful state beach and adjacent restored wetland preserve is enjoyed by up to tens of thousands of people in a single day.  At Bolsa Chica State Beach you will find ample parking, group facilities, snack bars, camping (RV only see pics at http://www.campsitephotos.com/campground/Bolsa-Chica-State-Beach) and more.  See the official California State Park webpage for additional park information.  Click any pic on this page to enlarge.

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Lifeguard Tower #21, 4/25/12

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Beautiful Winter Day at the beach, 2/11/12


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Willets, 9/4/12

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Full moon on 8/1/12


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View of Bolsa Chica Wetlands from Bolsa Chica SB parking lot near Lifeguard Tower #21

Above, Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve on the opposite side of PCH from the beach, Santa Ana Mtns "Saddleback Mountain" seen in the distance. 


Shorebirds along the surfline

Terns & Gulls resting on the beach

California Brown Pelicans

April flowers, Beach Primrose, a native plant that grows on beach sand & dunes

Firepits with excellent views line the beach, 5/25/12

Another beautiful sunset, on 2/22/12


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1970 Bolsa Chica SB draft general plan
The first few acres of the beach from Warner Ave to the Huntington bluffs was acquired in 1961 and in subsequent years additional land was purchased until the entire 3 mile stretch of the beach from the water to PCH was in public hands.  In 1967 some parking and access roads were completed providing access to the upper half of the beach.  Then in 1970 again the state beach improvements began covering the entire 3 miles and eventually became the developed state beach you see today.  The original plan is still found on California State Parks website at:

Tin Can Beach
In the 1940’s and 1950’s the land was privately owned and known as a very common type of litter found on the beach…tin cans.   

Water desalination plant
Nuclear based desalination on a man-made off-shore island.  From the Huntington Beach historians, an article describing this proposal that thankfully never came to pass. 

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View of Catalina Island from Bolsa Chica SB 2-4-2012-001.jpg
Santa Catalina Island on a clear evening

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Maps & Info

Bolsa Chica SB map

Campground Map

Campsite Pictures

Official State Parks Bolsa Chica State Beach page with online camping reservation link:

Google Satellite Map of Bolsa Chica SB is shown below.

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