This beach is also called Hendry's Beach. He used to own land there. When I first moved to Santa Barbara, I thought it was Henry's Beach. I wonder if my friends were actually saying 'Henry's' rather than 'Hendry's.' An interesting, though unimportant point to ponder. At any rate, it now has the official name of Arroyo Burro beach with a sign and everything. To me though, it shall always be Henry's Beach.
One of the singular features of this beach is that there is an off-leash dog section. Your dog needs to stay on the leash until you cross a small (depending on the tide not-so-small) slough, though really no deeper than ankle to calf deep. There are signs indicating to you where the off-leash section is. The dogs have a fabulous time running about, some in the surf, some in the sand, all sniffing each others' privates--enthusiastic to shy. We have met some of the best people there--all animal lovers with such a variety of accompanying canines; many of the dogs are rescues. All are wonderful! People throw tennis balls for their dogs, there is chasing and running about, with lots of waste-oriented dog interludes and further sniffing, all amidst the intoxicating salt air and steady roar of the ocean.
Years ago, we took our dog, Annie. Having taken her once to the beach in Topanga (Woodland Hills area in LA), we were uncertain as to how she would respond. She vehemently disliked Topanga; the waves terrified her. To our delight, she took to Henry's immediately, larking about the wet sand. The waves in that area are not generally big, so was non-threatning to her. And she was excited beyond belief to be off-leash and able to say hello to so many kindred spirits!
Be sure to bring bags with you to pick up their offerings. There is a bag dispenser at the beach, but sometimes they run out.
Many people do not want to carry their used bags for the whole hike, and leave them on rocks. That is fine, as long as one remembers to pick them up on the way back; the 'feces fairy' does not come by to retrieve them!
Sometimes the dogs do not fetch the tennis balls, as they are distracted by other dogs, smells, messages from the home planet, whatever. The tide comes in and out and will wash these balls away, which, technically, is a form of littering, so be prudent about the game of fetch and be sure the tennis ball doesn't wash out to sea and do harm to some hapless creature who may swallow it.
For those who would like the convenience, there are doggie showers in the far parking lot. You can pay with cash (better value), or use a credit card. You pay by the minute, so you have to move fast. We have never used these facilities for our dog (we kept a towel in the car), but some dogs run in the surf and get very sandy, so a rinse off or a soap down for the pet is helpful to many owners.
On the opposite side of the slough is the dog-on-leash section. There are hikes both ways; you just have to know what the tide will be. Adventurous types will just go and start walking. You can also check out this website for hiking data: http://www.santabarbarahikes.com. Be sure to have plenty of water, sunscreen, snacks and possibly a hat. Then it's just you and the raw elements, maybe a friend or two.
Low tide is wonderful, as you can hike further. Sometimes the tide is all the way to the cliffs, which makes a dog excursion fairly untenable. A couple good websites for checking tides are: http://www.weatherforyou.com/weather/California/Santa+barbara.html and http://www.surf-forecast.com/breaks/Campus-Point/tides/latest
An added dimension to Hendry's is a delightful restaurant called The Boathouse. You can read a review on that under the section 'Restauants.'
To the right of the restaurant is a grassy park area. Dogs need to be on leashes. Wonderful picnic spot.
Behind the restaurant is a man-made scupture of rocks, which is a stairway to a hike overlooking the beach. It was roped off when we first discovered it in June. The tours are seasonal. We will post more here when we have full information. The sculpture, though is fun and pleasing to look at.
What to bring: Sunscreen, hat, water, possibly dog water dish, sweatshirt on cooler days, snacks.
Parking is in the lots only. We've never had a problem, though probably certain times of year it gets very busy. We have noted an ebb and flow of cars coming and going. There is no street parking.
Time for Hendry's: 15 min-3 hours+ depending on whether you're having a short respite or making an afternoon of it.