Santa Barbara Beaches South: Rincon, Carpinteria, Summerland and Butterfly Beaches
South of Santa Barbara, at the Ventura County line, beaches start with surfer territory at Rincon Beach County Park. This beach curves around a headland and draws intermediate and experienced surfers. In summer the waves are gentler, drawing swimmers, too.
Photo Opportunity: Park on the highway above the beach for great surfing shots.
North of the Rincon, the small town of Carpinteria hugs the coast, with Carpinteria City Beach and Carpinteria State Beach (actually just one long, wide beach) very popular with families.
An offshore reef keeps waves here down to gentle swells. Kayaking, surf fishing, birding and tide pooling are also popular here, as are the campgrounds.
North of Carpinteria try Summerland Beach, another great spot for families, thanks to its bluff-top Lookout Park and a playground.
In Montecito, across the road from the Biltmore is Butterfly Beach, named by Travel + Leisure magazine as one of its "20 Great American Beaches." The hotel's manicured grounds just across the roadway give this brief, sandy stretch a private-beach feel.