Photographer and filmmaker Columbine Goldsmith grew up in Topanga, a section of Los Angeles County nestled in the mountains between Hollywood and the Pacific Ocean. After years of living in Paris and New York, shooting for the likes of Dazed & Confused, Jalouse and NOWNESS, Columbine moved back to California, once again calling it home. We asked her, while she’s still rediscovering her native state, which beaches are her all-time favorites. None is quite like the other—different micro-climates, scenery and ways to spend the day—but each of her descriptions have us swept away.
Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur
Almost everyone who drives through Big Sur stops at Julia Pfeiffer Beach to see the famous waterfall debouche into the ocean. This beach is accessed a few miles further north and has surreal rock formations that buttress the turquoise water. It's not always safe for swimming, but it's easily the most beautiful beach I've ever been to.
Staircase Beach, Malibu
A classic beach for surfing, sunning, and swimming. This is my go-to beach in Malibu. The beaches nearby are often packed with tourists (El Matador, El Pescador, Leo Carillo), but Staircase is off the beaten path and reached by a long winding trail that edges down a cliff. Once you get down to the beach, you have your own private spot that is perfect for surfing and swimming. There are some huge reefs that are close to the shore, which also make the beach great for snorkeling in the warmer waters during summer. I always hang out at this beach for a few hours, and them pop over to nearby Neptune's Net for fresh (and fried) seafood.
Gold Bluffs Beach, Orick
This beach stretches along Redwood State Park in Northern California, and feels gorgeously prehistoric—like a pterodactyl could fly by at any moment. The best way to get there is to hike through Redwood State Park, which is filled with 3-foot high ferns and fauna. After a few hours, you come out directly onto a vast and beautiful beach that stretches up and down the coast. It's often misty and chilly and windy, but I love it. I feel like not all beaches are made for sunning and tanning. Some should be used for making forts and hanging out in the wind all bundled up in a blanket. Gold Bluffs Beach is for curling up with a thermos and thinking about dinosaurs.