Shell Beach, California is a small beach community along HWY 101 in San Louis Obispo county near Pismo Beach. Click here for a map. Although Shell Beach is small, it does hold many photographic subjects. The rocky coastline of California and the vistas of the Pacific make this a great place for photographers to visit. I ended up parking my car near a small community park and did some exploring. First thing I noticed was the amount of sea gulls. There is a "rocky platform" that the gulls all hang out on. It's funny and amusing just to watch the birds interact with each other and their behavior in general.
When walking along the coast in Shell Beach you are walking from an elevated position. I would say you are some 30-40 feet above the ocean. It's a good vantage point to see the rocky coast, and the endless pacific horizon. I did notice several bed and breakfast places along the Shell Beach coast, which provides wonderful views, and would make a lovely weekend getaway.
Keep walking down the coast you will come to some concrete stairs that will lead you to the water. Down at the water's edge you will run into fisherman, kayakers, and even swimmers. After navigating through a couple of people you are then able to walk a short distance down the shoreline for some privacy. If you come down the stairs and take a left, navigate over some rocks, it will lead you to where the sea lions hang out.
The sea lions for the most part are perched on some of California's rocky coast line just making noise. The only action I got is when a group of kayakers came paddling by then some of the sea lions jumped off the rocks into the water.
When visiting Shell beach, I recommend a wide-angle and a telephoto lens. The wide-angle will offer excellent landscape shots, and the telephoto will allow you to concentrate on the many details the coast has to offer. The picture in this post was taken from the higher vantage point using a 70-200 telephoto lens, and if you look closely you will see a couple kayaks in the water.
All in all Shell beach is a small cozy coastal community offering great views and peace and quiet from the city. If you wanted a coastal getaway at one of the bed and breakfasts the view alone would be worth it. It's a good day trip for anyone here on the central coast.