Heal the Bay 2021 Report Card: California’s Cleanest and Dirtiest Beaches

California’s drought has had one silver lining. Thanks in large part to a lack of rainfall, California beaches had “excellent” water quality in summer 2021, according to the newly-released 2020-2021 report card from Heal the Bay. 

Heal the Bay examined bacterial pollution levels for 500 beaches in the Golden State. An impressive 94% received an A or B grade.

There were 10 beaches that seriously underperformed. These “Beach Bummers” are ranked every year by Heal the Bay.

Beach Bummers – California’s Most Polluted Beaches

  • Playa Blanca (Baja California, Mexico)
  • Erckenbrack Park (San Mateo County)
  • Marlin Park (San Mateo County)
  • Santa Monica Pier (Los Angeles County)
  • Marina del Rey Mother’s Beach, at lifeguard tower (Los Angeles County)
  • Moonstone County Park (Humboldt County)
  • Newport Bay, Vaughn’s Launch (Orange County)
  • Lakeshore Park (San Mateo County)
  • Marina del Rey Mother’s Beach, between lifeguard tower and boat dock (Los Angeles County)
  • Tijuana Slough, North of Tijuana River Mouth (San Diego County)

Heal the Bay also provided an Honor Roll list of the 51 cleanest California beaches:

  • Venice City Beach, at Brooks Ave. drain (Los Angeles County)
  • Rancho Palos Verdes, Long Point (Los Angeles County)
  • Royal Palms State Beach (Los Angeles County)
  • Palos Verdes Estates, at Malaga Cove trail outlet (Los Angeles County)
  • Las Tunas County Beach, at Pena Creek (Los Angeles County)
  • Nicholas Beach, at San Nicholas Canyon Creek (Los Angeles County)
  • Dana Point Harbor Youth Dock (Orange County)
  • Dana Point Harbor Guest Dock (Orange County)
  • Poche Beach (Orange County)
  • Doheny Beach (Orange County)
  • Doheny State Beach, end of the park (Orange County)
  • Doheny State Beach, at last campground (Orange County)
  • Corona Del Mar (Orange County)
  • Crystal Cove (Orange County)
  • Marine Science Institute Beach (Orange County)
  • Dana Point, Capistrano County Beach (Orange County)
  • Doheny State Beach, Pedestrian Bridge (Orange County)
  • Dana Strands Beach (Orange County)
  • Huntington City Beach, at 17th Street (Orange County)
  • Bolsa Chica Reserve, at Flood Gates (Orange County)
  • Surfside Beach, at Sea Way (Orange County)
  • San Clemente, at Avenida Calafia (Orange County)
  • Salt Creek Beach (Orange County)
  • Laguna Lido (Orange County)
  • Treasure Island Beach (Orange County)
  • Del Mar, at 15th Street (San Diego County)
  • Carlsbad, at Tamarack Ave. (San Diego County)
  • Carlsbad, at Poinsettia Lane (San Diego County)
  • Carlsbad, at Encina Creek (San Diego County)
  • Carlsbad, at Palomar Airport Rd. (San Diego County)
  • Carlsbad, at Cerezo Drive (San Diego County)
  • Oceanside, at Forster Street (San Diego County)
  • Oceanside, Harbor Beach at Harbor Drive (San Diego County)
  • Point Loma, Lighthouse (San Diego County)
  • Point Loma, Point Loma Treatment Plant (San Diego County)
  • Sunset Cliffs, at Ladera Street (San Diego County)
  • Mission Beach, Belmont Park (San Diego County)
  • La Jolla Shores Beach, 1000 ft south of Scripps Pier (San Diego County)
  • La Jolla Shores Beach, 250 feet south of Scripps Pier (San Diego County)
  • La Jolla Shores Beach, 500 feet north of Scripps Pier (San Diego County)
  • Guadalupe Dunes (Santa Barbara County)
  • East Beach, at Sycamore Creek (Santa Barbara County)
  • El Capitan State Beach (Santa Barbara County)
  • Sands, at Coal Oil Point (Santa Barbara County)
  • Cayucos State Beach, downcoast of the pier (San Luis Obispo County)
  • Pismo Beach, at Ocean View (San Luis Obispo County)
  • Pismo Beach, at Wadsworth Street (San Luis Obispo County)
  • San Simeon State Beach, at Pico Ave. (San Luis Obispo County)
  • Morro Strand State Beach, at Beachcomber Drive (San Luis Obispo County)
  • Pismo State Beach, 571 yards south of Pier Ave. (San Luis Obispo County)
  • Pismo State Beach, 330 yards north of Pier Ave. (San Luis Obispo County

Headed to the beach this weekend? Heal the Bay has some tips to stay healthy. Don’t swim in the ocean 72 hours after a rain, stay away from enclosed beaches with poor water circulation, and keep 100 yards from storm drains, creeks and piers. 

Happy swimming!


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