A layover in LAX can be a drag especially if you’ve got more than 5 hours between flights, which is why a quick trip to the beach after you’ve dropped off your connecting luggage can be a welcome relief from the sights and sounds of a busy airport terminal. Here we discover the closest beaches to LAX airport, as well as our favourites and what each beach is good for.
So what is the closest beach to LAX airport?
The closest beach to LAX airport is Dockweiler Beach. It is a 10-15 minute drive from Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX. It’s actually located at the western end of the airport runways, so you may see the beach as you come into land or take off. The best way to get to the beach is by taxi if you are on a layover and make sure you ask for Dockweiler Picnic Area.
Dockweiler is one of the quieter beaches in Los Angeles, mainly due to the limited cafes and shops in the area, and out of season the beach gets really quiet. Not the preferred choice for everyone, Dockweiler Beach is ideal if you just want to simply spend a couple of hours by the sea in the sunshine. But really, there isn’t a huge amount going on around here.
If you’re planning on visiting a beach between flights, Dockweiler can be a great option for the sheer size of the beach and it’s quietness but personally, there are much better beaches close to LAX that you can enjoy on a layover.
Here are the top 4 beaches near LAX airport
El Porto Beach
A little further down from Dockweiler and still only a 15 minute drive from LAX airport is El Porto Beach. Here the local surfers convene to catch a few waves before and after work. Laid back with soft sand and a little more going on, El Porto is a great option for a beach layover in LA.
Playa del Rey Beach
Head north out of the airport and along Westchester Parkway and after 15 minutes you’ll arrive in Playa del Rey. There’s a little more going on in Playa del Rey vs El Porto and Dockweiler, with a few eateries for lunch or try the Caffe Pinguini for some non-airport food in the evening.
If you’ve never been to LA before, a trip up to Venice Beach is a fun option but just be careful of your timings. The journey usually takes around 20 minutes on a good day but traffic in LA can be notoriously bad. If you head to Venice Beach, you really don’t want to get stuck in traffic coming back to the airport and miss your flight.
That said, Venice is alive with people. A bustling part of the LA coastline, Venice Beach showcases a more bohemian side of Los Angeles. Catch the skateboarders showing off their skills at the skate park, the muscles flexing at Muscle Beach or simply hire a bike and cycle along the boardwalk down to Santa Monica. Make sure you also wander the streets to find the wall murals. For an evening treat, book ahead and devour a sunset drink at the Hotel Erwin’s rooftop bar.
But what is the best beach near LAX?
The best beach near LAX airport is definitely Manhattan Beach. Jump in a taxi for 15-20 minutes and head south. It’s relaxed vibe is ideal for dusting off the airplane smell and getting some fresh air between flights.
Ideal if you want different options, Manhattan Beach offers a cool, local, beachside town feel with a variety of cafes, restaurants and shops to try. You can expect the taxi ride to cost around $30 each way including tip.
Where to eat in Manhattan Beach
Breakfast: if you’re in town early, go for the delicious pancakes at Uncle Bill’s Pancake House
Lunch: if it’s a healthy lunch you’re after, grab a bite to eat at Lemonade or take it down to eat on the pier with spectacular views of the coast
Dinner: if you’re in town for dinner, the two places to try are Rock’n Fish for some great tasting fish with a few drinks, or if you fancy splashing out, try The Strand House which offers a mix of delicious dishes from around the world with incredible views out to the Pacific Ocean.
The best beach near LAX by public transport
Los Angeles is not the best for public transport, particularly getting to and from the airport and around the beach cities. All options from the airport to the beach require a trip on the Greenline Shuttle bus from LAX airport to the Aviation/LAX Metro Station. From hear you can get on the Greenline Metro or take any number of buses that head to the beaches.
You can expect to spend over an hour travelling by public transport between LAX airport and any of the beaches. You are better to take a taxi to whichever beach you want to visit. Uber is available throughout Los Angeles, however there is a handy taxi rank close to Manhattan Beach Pier for when you’re ready to head back to the airport.
What’s a good layover duration to go to the beach?
If you can get through security quickly, five hours or more is a good amount of time for you to travel to one of LA’s beaches during your layover. Longer connections with the Pacific Islands like Hawaii, Cooks Islands or Tahiti will give you a good opportunity for this. Five hours will allow you to take a taxi to Manhattan Beach, get some food and enjoy the sunshine (or sunset and drinks) before traveling back to the airport for your onward flight.
As with all layovers, it’s important you check your onward flight time. LA traffic can be bad so make sure you get back to the airport with enough time to get through security and to your gate. Your insurance may not cover you if you miss your connecting flight because you left the airport.
Do I need a visa to leave LAX airport on a layover?
Yes you do need a visa to leave LAX airport, however, all passengers travelling through the US are required to have one because you essentially go landside during your transit which means you are in the US and can leave the airport, provided you have the correct documentation.