Some places take time to grow on you; others feel like home in minutes. The latter being the effect Venice Beach had on me. We picked the perfect day for it, top off in the mustang and sunshine music playing we let the satnav guide us there (unfortunately it does not advise of the free car park; it likes to direct us to overpriced valet!). Quirky homes and an artist creatively decorating a fridge was when I knew we had arrived. As soon as I stepped out of the rental car I could feel this was a place for me.

First stop breakfast at a beach side café, a very American fruit pancake for me (with multiple free coffee refills) and the breakfast burrito for the other half (he was a big fan!). Our introduction started with some people watching, how better to get a feel for a place? There were the fitness fanatics, hipsters, rollerblading dog walkers, the flawless Californian beauties all mixing together.There was a real sense of knowing, belonging, everyone seemed to be familiar with each other. Oh to live the life of a regular on Venice Beach, now that is what dreams are made of.

The street vendors started to set up on the boardwalk as we left the café, fortune tellers, artists and performers bringing life to the day. Taking in the scene of the vibrant graffiti on the walls, flamboyant and unique clothing for sale in the little shops. A place filled with expression, creativity, portraying a great sense of freedom. After a quick wander I was drawn towards the sea, flip flops off, sand in my toes, finding the perfect spot along the three miles of manicured beach. Out of season there was plenty space, no sellers on the beach itself meant I could soak in the rays and catch up on some reading time. The lifeguards regularly drive round in their Baywatch style buggy but the water was a bit lively for me to venture in beyond a toe dip. I could have easily stayed till sunset but we had another beach to explore.

Walking back to the car I saw clear signs of the life here by night in the grubby blankets and semi hidden sacred belongings of many a street seller who call this place home. Their positive attitude, creativity and unforceful nature of selling seem now more honourable under their living conditions.

Passing the Santa Monica pier we were on route to our second beach stop of the day. The need for refreshments called us into ‘Dukes’ a Hawaiian themed restaurant, my travel companion creating a buzz in his pineapple t-shirt design. We managed to get an outdoor table where we could watch the skilled surfers tackle those famous waves and enjoy a happy hour cocktail (well for me, the perks of not driving that day). Feeling sun kissed and thinking more sunbathing might be an overload we took our time, ordering food and decided an early evening Malibu beach stroll would be a good plan.

As we made our way onto Malibu beach and the temperature gradually dropped, the late afternoon surfers advanced to the waves. Pondering on my day and our inevitable departure for Vegas tomorrow, I knew I would be back at some point. A day had not been long enough to explore these beaches fully and some places just have that power over you, the need to return.

After watching the sun set in this lively yet serene setting and I had captured a few more incredible surf moves with my camera, it was time to head back to Santa Monica for my last night of sleep in LA…well for this trip anyway!

What California beaches do you enjoy? Where is your bucket list beach?

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