While UCSB may be most famous for its… Nobel prize winning faculty… the campus is equally well known for something most everyone can enjoy: the beach. Situated so close to the ocean you could throw a soccer goal into it (see: “UCSB Men’s Soccer NCAA Champions,” Daily Nexus, 2006), students living on or off campus have a myriad of options when it comes to planning a day at the beach.
Although the closest beaches available to students may not be the prettiest or have the best surf, their proximity alone makes them worth the visit. Located, well, on campus, UCSB’s very own Campus Point is an ideal place to get away from your physics homework. You can access this beach by following a short path around the tip of the lagoon. For those incoming freshman not living in Santa Catalina, this beach will be your most convenient option. Surfers can almost always be seen at Campus Point, eager to take advantage of its point break and long rides.
Depressions and I.V. Beaches
Walking from Campus Point towards Isla Vista, you’ll quickly come across Depressions. Essentially located down the steps from the 6500 block of Del Playa Drive, Depressions is the start of a mile-long stretch of sand and beach that residents of I.V. call their own. Legend has it that Depressions gets its name from disappointed surfers who lament Santa Barbara’s lack of choice waves. However, the ocean actually forms a depression in the land there, in between Campus and Coal Oil Points.
Despite its inconsistent surf, this stretch of beach gets packed with raucous crowds on sunny days. It is not unusual to see the entire beach portion of the 6500 block of DP lined with students, 30 packs of beer and an unfortunate amount of flies.
If you’re looking for a more secluded beach that is still accessible by bike or foot, Sands is the place. Follow a dirt path past the homes on the 6800 block of DP, around Coal Oil Point, and you’ll find yourself at Sands. A bit off the beaten path – and home to hoards of adorable little birds – Sands is popular among studiers and sunbathers alike. Surfers beware: While it’s known for some decent peaks, Sands is prone to windy, windy afternoons.
As spoiled as UCSB students are for having a beach at their doorstep, for some, a short car ride down the coast is needed for a truly satisfying beach trip. Closest to campus is Goleta Beach, just off Highway 217 on Sandspit Road. Home to the popular Beachside Café, Goleta Beach offers 29 acres of sand for your pleasure. It’s a great place to picnic or BBQ, and you can also fish off the long pier. Naturally, with all these amenities comes a crowd, so do not look to Goleta beach as a peaceful or secluded beach retreat.
Peace and privacy can be had, however, at the expense of a twenty-minute drive down Highway 101 South. Here you can settle down at Montecito’s Butterfly Beach. Located off Olive Mill Road, in front of the Four Seasons Biltmore Hotel, this beach is the perfect place to get away. It is also one of the only west-facing beaches in all of Santa Barbara, which means you can finally catch that romantic sunset you could not show off to your date in I.V. Plus, if you are lucky, you may run into a celebrity or two, as they tend to frequent the area.