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Friday, April 23, 2021

25 Amazing Beaches in Orange County, California, to Visit This Summer

By AndaApril 23, 2021

Living in Southern California has its own perks. We enjoy warm weather, sunny skies, and amazing scenery. We are in close proximity to Los Angeles downtown and its many attractions, and within a short driving distance from some of the most scenic national parks in the U.S. But best of all, we have easy access to an endless string of sunny beaches, the most beautiful of which are located in Orange County.


Orange County beaches are absolutely gorgeous! They look like they came right off of a movie set. Actually, many of them served as filming locations over the years. In terms of diversity, you can find just about any kind of beach here: surfing beaches, kids-friendly beaches, tide pool beaches, dog-friendly, and even hidden beaches.

5 Best Beaches for Surfing

Huntington City Beach

Address: 400 Pacific Coast Hwy., Huntington Beach, CA 92648

Huntington Beach in Orange County, California

This 3.5-mile stretch of pristine shoreline fits the bill for surfing, swimming, sunbathing and many other water activities. However, the huge asset of this beach is the fact that surf is up regularly here. That makes Huntington Beach very popular among surfers and also led to its trademarked name of “Surf City USA.”

Recommended Hotel in Huntington BeachKimpton Shorebreak Huntington Beach Resort 

San Onofre Surfing Beach

Address: 5200 S. Pacific Coast Hwy., San Clemente, CA, 92672 

San Onofre Surf Beach

The huge San Onofre Surfing Beach is located at the north end of the 3,000-acre San Onofre State Park which stretches from San Diego County all the way to Orange County, California. Access to the beach is via the Old Pacific Highway, from San Clemente. This is a great surfing beach, as the name itself suggests it. Among the locals, the beach is also known as ‘San O‘ or ‘Old Man’s.’

Trestles Beach

Address: 5200 S. Pacific Coast Hwy., San Clemente, CA, 92672 

Trestles Beach

Trestles Beach is located near the train trestles (hence the name), in the northernmost part of San Onofre Beach. This sandy place is considered it one of the best surfing spots in Southern California. The beach has 3 surfing spots: the Upper, the Middle and the Lower. Because of the powerful waves, Trestles is recommended for very experienced surfers only. Professional surfing contests are held here every year.

Recommended Hotels in San ClementeSea Horse Resort

The Wedge at West Jetty View Park

Address: 2300 Channel Road, Newport Beach, CA 92661

West Jetty View Park is located at the end of Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach, California. The park is small, but perfect for relaxing in the sun, next to the water. You can just sit and watch the boats going in and out of the bay.

West Jetty View Park in Newport Beach

Next to the park, at the entrance to Newport Bay, there is a long pier that sticks out from the beach creating unusually big waves that sometimes reach up to 30 feet high! This spot is very popular with surfers who hang out here looking for the big wave which they call “The Wedge.”

Boogie boarding at The Wedge beach in Newport

We like to come to this beach as spectators, to watch the daredevils riding the big waves, but don’t find the water very attractive for swimming. There is a point where the waves come in two directions creating a very strong current that is really dangerous for swimmers. But sometimes, when the swell is not very high, you can have fun in the shallow water with the boogie boards.

Recommended Nearby Hotel: Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa

Salt Creek Beach

Address: 33333 South Pacific Coast Hwy., Dana Point, 92629

Surfers on Salt Creek Beach (Photo credit: Claucrasoda)

Located in a beautiful large cove at the northern end of Laguna Niguel, Salt Creek Beach is one of the greatest surfing spots in Orange County. A small, offshore reef creates some of the best swells along the entire coastline. The beach has also a grass area with with picnic tables and is surrounded by walking paths going in all directions.

5 Best Tide Pool Beaches in Orange County

Little Corona Del Mar Beach

Address: Ocean and Poppy St., Corona del Mar, CA 92625

Colorful marine life in a tide pool at Little Corona Del Mar Beach

This nice and secluded beach is a great place for watching dolphins and sea lions. It is also one of the best beaches in Orange County for exploring tide pools, which is why many local schools hold marine biology classes here. Since access to the beach does not involve stair steps, many divers prefer coming here as they can wheel their equipment down.

TIPThis spot can become very crowded during the day, so come early in the morning if you what to have to beach all to yourself and find parking nearby.

Recommended nearby hotelBalboa Inn On the Beach

Shaw’s Cove

Address: 989 Cliff Drive, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Shaw’s Cove Beach in Orange County

Tucked away below the homes in Laguna Beach, Shaw’s Cove is an ideal spot for divers and snorkelers. The beach is exceptionally abundant in marine life and it has tide pools at both ends of the cove. Bright orange Garibaldi, lobsters, octopi, and leopard sharks, are easily visible here.

TIP: If you want to explore the tide pools, you should come during low tidesKeep in mind that Shaw’s Cove is a State Marine Conservation Area, so don’t take anything when exploring the tide pools.

Treasure Island Beach

Address: 30801 S Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Treasure Island Beach in Orange County, California

This is one of my favorite beaches in Orange County: it’s clean, it has exquisite views, a protected swimming area, and plenty of parking (although it’s paid!) Access to Treasure Island Beach is down a long graded concrete ramp on the southwest side of the Montage Resort. You can find tide pools all around in this area when the tide is low.

Recommended Hotel in Laguna BeachInn at Laguna Beach

Crystal Cove State Park

Address: 8471 N Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Tide pools at Crystal Cove State Park

This 3.5-mile long beach is located on the PCH, just south of Corona Del Mar and North of Laguna Beach. We are huge fans of Crystal Cove because it’s many activities, like tide pooling, snorkeling, diving and hiking. There are four main areas for tide pooling within this park: Pelican Point (our favorite), Reef Point, Rocky Bright and Treasure Cove. They also offer very informative tide pool walks for families with children.

TIP: The Park has a large day-use parking area at Reef Point Drive and Pacific Coast Highway.

Recommended Hotel in Laguna BeachInn at Laguna Beach

Crescent Bay Beach

Address: Cliff Drive, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Crescent Bay Beach

Crescent Bay is a large, sandy cove with rocky areas at its north and south ends. The beach is located in the north end of Laguna, where Cliff Drive meets North Pacific Coast Highway. Towards the north end of the cove there is a large rock (about 120 yards off shore) called Seal Rock because of the seals and sea lions that take refuge there. 

Next to the beach, up on a very high bluff, there is a beautiful view point at Crescent Bay Point Park. Although there is no beach access from the park, this is a great place for whale-watching. Parking can be a problem in this neighborhood (our car was once towed, so be careful !) You can try parking on the PCH or find a paid parking and walk to the beach.

Recommended Hotel in Laguna BeachInn at Laguna Beach

5 Best Hidden Beaches

Table Rock Beach

Address: 31561 Table Rock Drive, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Table Rock Beach in Orange County

This beautiful cove – also known as Rebel Beach – is very private and secluded. If you want to swim you should be aware of the strong currents at this beach. Also, the ocean floor has a steep drop off which creates the conditions for huge waves. If you are not a strong swimmer you can easily find yourself wiped out by these crashing waves. This beach is definitely not a safe place for children.

Victoria Beach

Address: 2713 Victoria Drive, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

The Pirate Tower at Victoria Beach

Victoria Beach is one of Orange County’s most secluded beaches. Firstly because it is not easy to find, and secondly because there is very limited parking around it. The beach is quite small and very rocky, so it’s not a friendly place for swimming or other water sports. It is however a very iconic place because of the 60-foot concrete tower that sits on it.

The castle-like structure – known to the locals as the Pirate Tower – was built in the 1920s for William E. Brown, a state senator. Inside the tower there is a spiral staircase that leads to the top of the cliff. The senator, who also owned the house at the top of the bluff, used the tower as a gateway to the beach.

Recommended Hotel in Laguna BeachInn at Laguna Beach

Pirates Cove Beach

Address: Ocean Blvd. & Goldenrod Ave., Corona del Mar, CA 92625

Pirate’s Cove in Newport Beach

Pirate’s Cove Beach is a very special place for those who can find it. Its location – inside the Newport Bay channel, where the water is calm – makes it an ideal place for swimming. Unfortunately, at high tide the beach completely disappears under the water. Therefore, if you want to visit Pirate’s Cove you should get here early in the morning.

Recommended nearby hotelBalboa Inn On the Beach

Thousand Steps Beach

Address: 31972 Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Thousand Steps Beach in Orange County

Thousand Steps Beach has just about anything you’d imagine in a perfect beach: caves, tide pools, a large sandy shore with a rocky coastline to explore, BUT it also has a thousand steps! Or so it seems, although I never counted them. If you want to loose 10 pounds in one day, just come here. Just kidding! The beach is absolutely perfect, but you shouldn’t carry heavy stuff with you when you come here.

Totuava Beach

Address: 31972 Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, CA 92651

The tunnel that leads to Totuava Beach

Totuava Beach is at the north end of Thousand Steps Beach, so the two share the same location. To access it you have to go through a rock tunnel that leads to the beach, or go around a rocky point. But that can only be done when the tide is low. At high tide the water around the point is too deep and the tunnel closes off.

Recommended Hotel in Laguna BeachInn at Laguna Beach

5 Best Kid-Friendly Beaches

Dana Point Harbor Beach

Address: Dana Point Harbor Drive, Dana Point, CA 92629

Dana Point Harbor Beach

This beach has been nicknamed “Baby Beach,” for a good reason: the calm waters of the harbor as well as the numerous seasonal events make it one of the most kid-friendly beaches in Orange County. Behind the beach is a beautiful grass park, protected by high bluffs. 

Recommended Kid-Friendly Hotel in Dana PointRiviera Beach & Shores Resort

San Clemente Pier Beach

Address: 615 Avenida Victoria, San Clemente, CA 92672

San Clemente Pier Beach

This is the main city beach of San Clemente, and therefore very popular among the locals. There are many nice shops and restaurants around the beach. The nearby San Clemente Pier is a great attraction also.

San Clemente State Beach

Address: 225 Avenida Calafia, San Clemente, CA 92672

San Clemente State Beach

This beach is huge and therefore is rarely crowded. Great beach for families with children because of the relatively calm water. You have plenty of space and gorgeous views! Although the railroad tracks are right behind the beach, it is a nice setting. The parking lot isn’t big, but we always find spaces when we come here.

Recommended Kid-Friendly Hotel in San ClementeSan Clemente Inn

Seal Beach

Address: Ocean Avenue and Main Street, Seal Beach, CA

Seal Beach

This is a beautiful beach located in the city of Seal Beach, a small community located in the westernmost corner of Orange County. Seal Beach is named for seals that that once frequented its beachfront. However, these days there aren’t very many around. They can only be seen around the pier every now and then, especially in spring and fall.

Recommended Kid-Friendly Hotel in Seal BeachAyres Hotel Seal Beach

Laguna Main Beach

Address: Pacific Coast Hwy. & Broadway St, Laguna Beach, CA 92652

Laguna Main Beach in Orange County

This is one of the most popular beaches in Southern California. That’s in part due to its location, in the middle of the town of Laguna Beach, which hosts the famous Festival of Arts during the summer. It’s not my favorite one in Long Beach because it’s always crowded, but it’s absolutely beautiful!

Recommended Kid-Friendly Hotel in Laguna BeachInn at Laguna Beach

5 Best Dog-Friendly Beaches in Orange County

Huntington Dog Beach

Address: 20211, Huntington Beach Bike Trail, Huntington Beach, CA 92648

My dog, Csilla, at Huntington Dog Beach in Orange County

I am a dog owner and thus I absolutely love Hunting Dog Beach beach! This stretch of sand along the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) is a dogs’ paradise where our pooch gets some play time with other beach-lovin’ dogs while we catch some sun.

Recommended Pet Friendly Hotel in Huntington BeachKimpton Shorebreak Huntington Beach Resort 

Bluffs Beach

Address: Old Pacific Highway, San Clemente, CA 92672

Bluffs Beach

The wide and sandy Bluffs Beach is located to the north of Trestles Beach, between Oceanside and San Clemente. Access to the beach is through six separate trails that descend from the huge parking lot that sits high up on the bluff, above the beaches.

The beach is pretty secluded because of the high bluff behind it, so you may see some naked people around. Dogs are allowed on the beach, but they should be on the leash (technically.) We’ve seen many dogs running freely around near the water though.

Recommended Pet-Friendly Hotel in San ClementeCasablanca Inn

Inspiration Point

Address: 3001 Ocean Blvd, Corona Del Mar, CA 92625

Corona Del Mar Dog Beach

Inspiration Point is one of the OC’s most beautiful beaches to watch the surf, play in the sand, and walk your dog. There is also a beautiful park and view point above the beach from where you can watch the sun set in the evening. The beach is extremely popular among the locals, so it gets pretty crowded in summer.

Recommended Nearby HotelAyres Hotel Costa Mesa

Dana Point Headlands Beach

Address: 34558 Scenic Drive, Dana Point, CA 92629

Dana Point Headlands Beach

Located below the high cliffs of a promontory and covered with rocks and bolders, Dana Point Headlands Beach may not seem like a very appealing beach. It is however ideal for strolling or for dog owners who want to let their dogs run off the leash. The beach is just behind the Ocean Institute in Dana Point Harbor. 

Doheny State Park Beach

Address: 25300 Dana Point Harbor Drive, Dana Point, CA 92629

Doheny Beach in Dana Point

Doheny is one of the most popular beaches in Orange County, drawing about one million visitors each year. The beach is long and wide and just perfect for surfing, camping, sunbathing, swimming and picnicking. During the low tide you can see some beautiful tide pools. Dogs are allowed here, but they have to be on a leash.

Recommended Pet-Friendly Hotel nearbyDana Point Marina Inn


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