Did you know there are 42 miles of quintessential shoreline in Orange County?
From coves to private beaches and everything in between.
Here’s your guide to the best beaches in Orange County:
A relaxed community and a quiet beach for those who don’t like crowds.
Seal Beach is the northern most beach town in Orange County. This is a popular beach for surfers and families alike. Walking the pier right before pre-dusk is a must for that perfect sunset view. Eisenhower Park is a lovely park with an ocean view that is located in a central area where there are restrooms and a small playground for young children.
These beaches have surfing all year long and are the host to surfing and volleyball competitions.
Sunset beach also know as Sunset County Beach. It is located in-between Surfside beach (a private beach) to the north and Bolsa Chics State Beach to the south. If you are looking to relax, read a book, or just sunbathe this is by far the quietest beach in Huntington. On breezy days this is also the perfect spot to watch kiteboarder’s ride the waves.
Bolsa Chica State Beach
This 3 mile long beach has ample parking and an RV campground (50 campsites). It is the perfect beach to be active. Bolsa China activities include surfing, volleyball, biking, and surf fishing(as long as you have a permit). This beach is also known as a Ecological Reserve. Wildlife and bird watching make this beach one of the top bird destinations in California.
Huntington Dog Beach
Doggy heaven by most dog owners consider this beach. This 1.5 mile beach is the only beach in Huntington where dogs are permitted. There is a picnic area, restrooms, and doggy waste bags for your convenience. Huntington Dog Beach is located between Seapoint St. and 21st. St.
Huntington City Beach
This beach is in the center of all the beaches that stretch along the Huntington Beach coast. Trademarked as “Surf City USA” you can always find surfers early in the morning riding the waves at this iconic beach. You can also find Huntington Beach pier in the center of the 3.5 mile beach. Volleyball courts are set up close to the pier and there is a paved walking and bike trail that runs along the back of the beach. Several restaurants are available and a few on the pier itself.
Huntington State Beach
Huntington State Beach hours are from 6am to 10pm daily. This 2 mile long beach provides picnic tables, 200 fire rings (arrive early they go fast), lifeguards, restrooms, outdoor showers, and beach volleyball courts. Three snack shacks are open daily during peak season and on the weekends during the off season. This is a popular beach for swimmers, body surfers, and boogie boarders.
There are eight miles of beach front along the beautiful coast of Newport Beach. These beaches are my top picks for this city:
China Cove Beach
China Cove is the site of and got it’s name from an old China House that was torn down in the ’80’s. The small beach is surrounded by homes and the William G. Kerckoff Marine Laboratory. The beach has volleyball posts but you must provide the net and abide by their restricted hours.
Corona Del Mar State Beach
This half mile long beach is also known as Big Corona Beach, it is perfect for families and a popular beach for swimmers, surfers, divers, and volleyball players. Gilligan’s Island, the popular TV series in the mid 60’s was filmed on this beach and also current TV productions for Disney. This beach is the site of the first major surf competition in Mainland America; The Pacific Coast Riding Championship in 1928.
Crystal Cove State Park/ Beach
There are 4 beach areas which include:
Reef Point – This beach is located at the bottom of the bluff. You can walk down the trail or you can bike ride to the beach. This pristine beach has access to 2 coves and a great place to whale watch. Reef point is a wonderful place for tide pooling.
Moro Beach – This beach opens at 6am and closes at sunset. Once you park your car you will walk under Pacific Coast Highway to get to the beach. You can use your California State Parks annual pass for parking. Great beach for walking.
Pelican Point – There are 4 bluff top parking lots all with access to the beach. There is an archway on the way down to the beach that protects walkers from the stray ball that come from Pelican Hill Golf Course. This beach has a ton of rocks which make it a great spot for tide pools and exploring. Watch out for the possible rattlesnakes in the heat of the summer while walking to the beach.
Historic District – Crystal Cove is popular because of it’s beach front rental cottages (which are available at www.reservecalifornia.com), the Beachcomber Cafe, and the Shake Shack that sits on the bluff. I love the walk from the parking lot to the beach that meanders through sycamores and brings you through a mural painted tunnel. This beach also has an educational area called the Education Commons where they have sea glass jewelry making classes, beachside chats and guided tide pool walks.
There are 37 beaches located across the coastline in the artist community of Laguna Beach. Here are my favorites:
Aliso Beach is very popular because of it’s large parking area, fire rings, and family friendly Aliso Beach Park. This beach attracts families as well as body surfers & skim borders.
Bluebird is a narrow strip of beach located in front of the Surf & Sand Hotel.
Brooks Street Beach
Brooks Street Beach has a cozy sitting area at the top of the steps that provides a wonderful viewing area of the surfers. This beach is not recommended for swimming as there is a rocky bottom under the waves.
Christmas Cove Beach
This beach is located below the bluffs of the Montage Resort. There is a paved pathway which will take you down to a ramp that leads you to the beach. This is a good beach to look at the tide pools.
Cleo Street Beach
This bolder filled beach plays a disappearing act at high tide. Many use this beach for access for scuba diving.
Main beach is the centrally located beach in Laguna. This wide beach is perfect for sunbathing and people watching on the boardwalk. There are also basketball courts located at this beach and a play area for children. It is a short walk to downtown shops.
This small sandy beach is located down a staircase tucked away below homes. The public entrance is located at the intersection of Cliff Drive and Fairview. There are tide pools exposed during low tides. It is the perfect quiet beach to get away from all the crowds.
Thousand Steps Beach
There is a large cave that you can explore at this beach. You can walk through this cave (tunnel) to a small rocky cove on the other end. There is a 2nd cave (only accessible at low tide) at the opposite end of the beach that leads you to the large Totuava Beach. Thousand Steps Beach also has restrooms, volleyball courts, and tide pools.
*Thousand Steps Beach only has 223 steps, although it might feel like a thousand steps when you are walking back up the stairs.
Woods Cove Beach
Movie Star Bette Davis lived in a tutor style home in the cliffs above this beach which is now registered as a historic structure. The southern most part of this beach is known as Lover’s Cove. During low tide there are huge rocks that poke out of the water just off shore. This beach is great for scuba divers, but not for swimmers as the rip tides and the rocky condition under the water make it unsafe.
Capo Beach (aka Capistrano Beach) beach offers may activities such as; beach volleyball, basketball, cycling, as well as other beach activities. Surfing is also very popular at this beach.
Dana Point Harbor Beach
This beach is also known as Baby Beach. There is a roped off area for the kids to swim and a grassy park with picnic benches. Next to the beach is a small fishing pier and a replica of the historic ship by the name of The Pilgrim. Baby Beach is also a popular place to start your kayaking adventure (as rental shops are close by),
Doheny State Beach – North
This State Park has a visitors center with exhibits, an aquarium, a store, and indoor tide pools. There is also a grassy area with shaded picnic tables and sand volleyball. It is a great family beach. The entrance to this beach is located at the intersection of Park Lantern and Dana Point Harbor Drive.
Doheny State Beach – South
If you are looking to go camping on the beach then you have found your place! The southern most area of this beach has a large campground. There are picnic tables and fire rings, along with lifeguards.
This beach is one of the more popular beaches in San Clemente. There is a beach parking lot, but on sunny days it fills up quickly. There is a cafe right on the beach which makes it convenient if you don’t want to lug a cooler with you to the beach.
North Beach is the widest beach in San Clemente and extends all the way to the San Clemente Pier. This is a great family beach, there are fire rings, picnic tables, swings for the kids, and beach volley ball courts. There is a Amtrak stop at this beach and the parking lot is shared by the Amtrak commuters.
Riviera Beach might be a little tough to find, but once you are there you’ll understand why this beach made the list. This is a great beach to enjoy during high tide when there is enough sand to still have a place to sunbathe. There are no facilities at this beach. Find access to this beach by mapping 2300 Plaza A La Playa.
San Clemente Pier City Beach
It is the main beach of San Clemente with sand on both sides of the pier. There is a large parking area and street parking available. Don’t miss walking out to the end of the pier which is 1296 feet long. You will find fishermen on the pier dropping lines to catch the big one and surfers below looking for that perfect wave. This is a great place to people watch.
San Clemente State Beach
This State Beach has a large campground where there is tent and RV camping areas. San Clemente State Beach is a narrow beach in front of the railroad tracks. There are hiking trails above the beach in the high bluffs.
T Street Beach
T Street Beach is located at the end of Esplanade Street which crossed in to Paseo De Cristobal. There is an walking overpass which keeps pedestrians safe away from the railroad tracks. This palm tree lined beach has a beautiful view of the San Clemente Pier. Swimming and surfing are great at this beach, but check the rules for when it is allowed.
Let me know in the comments which Orange County beach is your favorite and why.