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Hendry's Beach - Officially known as Arroyo Burro, this beach has an ideal location, a sense of privacy and plenty of amenities.  The only drawback is the lack of parking.  Go early and linger.  It's worth the extra sunscreen.
East Beach - East Beach is in the middle of everything and has it all.  If you get bored with the sun and volleyball, you can find a restaurant, swing by the zoo, rent some blades or walk along the wharf.  The only drawback is the parking.  Go early and make a day of it or go later and prepare to walk. Either way, this is a wonderful beach for just about any member of your group.
West Beach - Although not the most glamorous, this beach hosts a number of sporting events, including the Hawaiian outrigger lessons.  Nestled between the Wharf and the Breakwater, you can enjoy the boats coming and going, as well as the variety of people walking by.
Goleta Beach - Another favorite of just about everybody.  This beach is for the easily bored.  Between the excellent restaurant, volleyball, picnic and fishing facilities, you could entertain an entire cadre of folks - which is probably why its a local favorite for company picnics.
Gaviota Beach - This is a quirky little beach about 20 minutes north of Goleta.  It has a railway trestle running between the parking lot and the beach and a very long, tall fishing pier.
Butterfly Beach - One of the few west-facing beaching, you can actually catch a sunset here.  Private and in the midst of a very exclusive neighborhood, this beach draws an interesting crowd.
Leadbetter Beach - Centrally located and busy, this beach offers plenty to do.  It is a popular haunt for windsurfers, catamaran pilots, surfers and walkers.  Leadbetter is between Shoreline park and the breakwater.  Each summer this beach hosts weekly sporting events, parties and it's not uncommon to see a radio station hosting something  interesting.
Refugio Beach - Just a bit further out than El Capitan, this beach is truly unique.  It has a charm all its own that makes it worth the extra ten-minute drive up the coast.
El Capitan Beach - Locals love this beach.  It is gorgeous, private, long, and you have an excellent chance of spotting a dolphin or two.  Of course, I love reading, swimming and getting a great tan.  The lack of non-water entertainment is a big plus.  If you're easily bored bring toys.
Jalama Beach - A favorite with locals who want to get away from, well, getting away.  Camping is first come, first served.  It makes getting a space a bit of a challenge but eager campers line up every day.