The 7 Most Disgusting L.A. Beaches

Avalon Beach: Bathe if you dare.
Avalon Beach: Bathe if you dare.

See also: "Dirty Beaches? Not in L.A. (Well, for the Most Part)"

Were you chin-deep in scary ocean bacteria all summer long, without ever realizing it? Now, thanks to local environmental org Heal the Bay, your blissful summertime ignorance shall be briskly swiped clean by the hard facts of fall!

Every year, at summer's end, Heal the Bay releases a "Beach Report Card"...

... for almost 500 sites along the California coast. The good news in 2012:

Heal the Bay reports, "Water quality data collected at California beaches this past summer improved, with 4% more A and B grades over last summer, and this summer was one of the cleanest years on record." And locally, in the land of Angels, "Water quality grades improved 2%." (Also: "There were no known sewage spills in Los Angeles County that resulted in beach closures this summer." Phew.)

The bad news: The seven beaches below all flunked out of summer school -- including Avalon Beach on Catalina Island, world-famous for its crystal-clear snorkeling waters. How's that for paradise?

7. Castle Rock Beach near the Pacific Palisades: C

A big ugly drainpipe jutting out from beneath the PCH sullies up this roadside swim spot. But it's kind of rocky and gross anyway -- so just stay east of the storm drain, and you should be good.

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6. "Walnut Creek outlet" in Malibu: F

This popular surfing nook, located just east of Paradise Cove, unfortunately absorbs all the human nastiness that gets dumped into Walnut Creek -- a small, trickling stream that winds through Malibu's mansiontropolis. Blame the Los Angeles Environmental Monitoring Division for this summer's surge in bacteria. Blech.

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5. Malibu Pier: F

Malibu's heavily peopled pier (where a bum was caught strangling a pelican this summer, because, uh, he was hungry and the fish weren't biting) has long been a problem spot for Heal the Bay. Even worse, its filthiness is a total mystery to environmentalists: "Despite numerous site visits by Heal the Bay staff, a pollution source has yet to be identified," the org reports.

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4. Long Beach City Beach: D, F

Four separate spots along the massive stretch of sand that is Long Beach City Beach have been tagged with D and F grades. The worst offenders? Granada Avenue, Prospect Avenue, Coronado Avenue and 10th Place.

Still, says Heal the Bay, this summer's slip "is still a drastic improvement from Long Beach's extensive history of chronic beach pollution." And what do you expect from a coastline subjected to the runoff horrors of the Los Angeles Drain Pipe River?

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3. Belmont Pier in Long Beach: F

Again, thanks to the swarm of humans who traverse Long Beach's pier (particularly around sunset), the surrounding waters have suffered greatly. Combine that with the L.A. River problems at the nearby city beach, and you've got a bona fide bacteria water park.

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2. Avalon Beach on Catalina Island: F

Don't be fooled by Avalon's status as a world-class snorkel spot: All five sites tested this summer on this exotic strip of Catalina Island coast scored an F grade. The situation has actually gotten so bad, says Heal the Bay, that the City of Avalon was issued a "cease and desist order" in February for "illegally discharging polluted water." Doesn't make for the finest brochure text.

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1. Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro: F

Unsurprisingly, the small plot of sand on the far west end of the Port of Los Angeles (busiest sea port in the nation) is a total cesspool for germs. Year after year, it earns an F, despite the reported "replacement of beach sand in the intertidal zone, removal of the rock jetty, installation of water circulation pumps, and installation of bird exclusion devices." Guess countless shiploads of counterfeit Chinese goods -- plus an eternal thunderstorm of bird crap -- haven't been kind to sad little Cabrillo Beach.

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Keep tabs on Heal the Bay's oft-updated Beach Report Card for all the latest on scary ocean bacteria. Or don't, and keep right on bathing in blissful ignorance.


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