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Friday, May 27, 2022

21 Best Beaches in Orange County, CA — The Top Beach Spots!

By David Reeve

Sun-drenched and idyllic, Orange County is an absolute paradise for beach bums.

Home to 42 miles of spectacular coastline, the O.C. amazes visitors with a seemingly endless series of seaside treasures.

And, we’re helping you experience a glamorous and epic seaside break here by highlighting the best beaches in Orange County.

1. Main Beach In Laguna Beach

S Coast Highway and Broadway St
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Set right in the heart of Laguna Beach, this iconic strip is a hive of seaside activity in the O.C.

Why We Recommend This Beach

Main Beach is action packed. Not only does it offer a fine sandy stretch, but it’s also filled with amenities, including a playground and volleyball courts.

What’s more, it features several notable sights and sights, including the famed lifeguard tower that often appears in movies and TV.

Expert Tip

Spice up your beach escape by visiting the nearby Heisler Park.

With magnificent sculptures, grassy spaces and stately trees, this waterfront park will reward you with tons of tantalizing sights.

Recommended Hotel Nearby:
 Montage Laguna Beach

2. Huntington City Beach

E Pacific Coast Hwy and Main St
Huntington Beach, CA 92648

From surfing to sightseeing, this 3.5-mile-long strip offers a variety of seaside activities that will satisfy travelers of all stripes.

Why We Recommend This Beach

Huntington City Beach is a surfing mecca, drawing tons of wave riders daily, thanks to its world-class swells.

But, there’s more to this beach than its infectious surfing culture.

With its 1,850-foot-long pier and numerous facilities, the beach will entertain you in so many ways.

And, did we mention that it’s one of the most popular beaches in Orange County?

Expert Tip

Take a break from the salty and sandy fun by strolling along the Main Street.

With gourmet food choices and hipster boutiques, it’s the place to go if you need a little retail therapy.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa

3. Trestles Beach

3929 S El Camino Real
San Clemente, CA 92672
(949) 492-4872

Sandwiched between San Clemente and San Onofre State Beach, this hideaway lures surfers with its first-rate swells.

Why We Recommend This Beach

Trestles Beach beckons surfing aficionados from all over the world who want to ride the perfect waves.

For non-surfers, this beach also offers ample opportunities for hiking, camping and wildlife spotting.

Expert Tip

Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the San Clemente Pier, and watch surfers and sea creatures.

Then, stop by Fisherman’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar, to savor delicious food and tantalizing views.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Casablanca Inn

4. Bolsa Chica State Beach

18331 E Pacific Coast Hwy
Huntington Beach, CA 92649
(714) 377-5691

Established in 1960, this 3-mile-long public beach overflows with salty and sunny fun.

Why We Recommend This Beach

With its fresh breeze and laid-back feel, Bolsa Chica is the perfect antidote to your frenzied lifestyle.

Since it sees fewer tourists than the other top beaches, you’ll have more elbow room when sunbathing, bird-watching and surf fishing.

Expert Tip

Stop by Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, and experience a ton of nature-based activities, like biking, hiking and wildlife watching.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Best Western – Harbour Inn & Suites

5. Dana Point Harbor Beach

24300 Dana Point Harbor Drive
Dana Point, CA 92629

Aptly nicknamed “Baby Beach”, this kid-approved seaside spot features gentle waters and numerous seasonal events.

Why We Recommend This Beach

Looking for child-friendly Orange County beaches?

Then, don’t forget to include this waterfront to your list of the best things to do in Orange County.

With lifeguards on duty and a protected swimming area, it’s even the safest beach for kids in the area.

Expert Tip

Free street parking is pretty limited here.

So, arrive early to snag a nice spot. Alternatively, there additional parking slots available in a lot behind the beach and next to the park.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach

Related: Things to Do with Kids in Orange County

6. Newport Municipal Beach

Balboa Blvd at Oceanfront & 21st St
Newport Beach, CA 92661
(949) 644-3309

Newport Municipal Beach, set on Balboa Boulevard, is 5 miles of splashy and sunbathing perfection.

Why We Recommend This Beach

Newport Municipal Beach has the perfect backdrop for a wide range of activities, from surfing to skateboarding.

Furthermore, it’s home to the 920-foot-long Balboa Pier that provides a terrific platform for catching fresh ocean bounties, like flounder.

Expert Tip

Don’t forget to visit the famous Rudy’s Diner at the edge of the pier, to savor mouthwatering goodies.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Balboa Bay Resort

7. West Jetty View Park

2300 Channel Rd
Newport Beach, CA
(949) 644-3151

Nestled at the edge of Balboa Peninsula, this park is ideal for wave-riding adventure seekers.

Why We Recommend This Beach

Don’t let its size deceive you!

Sure, the park is small, but it has a spacious beach with large waves that are perfect for surfing.

With huge swells that rise up to 30 feet, it’s indeed a terrific spot for bodyboarding, kneeboarding and surfing.

Expert Tip

Not in the mood for thrills? Why not enjoy a stroll on its boardwalk and cherish the views?

There are also skate and bike rentals for those who don’t want to get wet.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Hyatt Regency Newport Beach

8. North Star Beach

498 N Star Ln #200
Newport Beach, CA 92660

You’ll find this sandy and wide strip in front of the Newport Aquatic Center.

Why We Recommend This Beach

Feeling adventurous?

Then, you are sure to have a blast exploring Back Bay in Newport Beach on an SUP or kayak.

Besides Back Bay, you may also paddle your way to Newport Harbor and Upper Newport Bay Ecological Preserve.

Expert Tip

Want to experience something a bit more educational?

Guess what?

The Newport Bay Conservatory provides guided ecological preserve tours that start at North Star Beach.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Ayres Hotel Costa Mesa Newport Beach

9. Seal Beach

Ocean Avenue and Main Street
Seal Beach, CA 90740
(562) 431-2527

Orange County’s northernmost beach is a gateway to the region’s 42-mile coastline.

Why We Recommend This Beach

Known for its hometown appeal and sandy expanse, Seal is truly one of prettiest beaches in Orange County.

A local favorite, this beach also has ideal conditions for building sandcastles, windsurfing and kitesurfing.

Expert Tip

Don’t miss the opportunity to walk the beach’s gorgeous pier.

As you visit this landmark, you’ll be treated to a stunning view of the mountains, Long Beach and Seal Beach.

Additionally, it lets you spot surfers, seals, dolphins and jetties.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: The Pacific Inn

10. San Clemente Pier City Beach

100 S Alameda Ln
San Clemente, CA 92672
(949) 361-8237

Home to a 1,296-foot-long pier, San Clemente’s main beach guarantees a fascinating sandy escape to its visitors.

Why We Recommend This Beach

Thanks to its beautiful ocean waves, visitors of this seaside oasis may enjoy a slew of classic beach activities.

Of course, it also has a pier where you can fish, eat and admire the stunning sunset.

Expert Tip

After a day of non-stop beaching and sightseeing, head to the Fisherman’s Restaurant and Bar.

Afterward, sit on their cozy patio, indulge in a fresh catch and cherish the dramatic sunset view.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Casablanca Inn

11. Victoria Beach

2713 Victoria Dr
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Despite its eye-catching white sand and unique landmark, this secluded stretch in Laguna Beach remains uncrowded and quiet.

Why We Recommend This Beach

There’s nothing quite like Victoria Beach.

As you explore the serene cove, you’ll find a slew of outstanding features, like a natural pool on the sand, tide pools and sea caves.

And, best of all, it’s home to the 60-foot-tall pirate tower.

Expert Tip

Wear a pair of hiking shoes to prevent bruises and cuts while hiking the rocky terrain around the beach and the tower.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Montage Laguna Beach

12. Little Corona Del Mar Beach

Ocean Blvd and Poppy Ave
Newport Beach, CA 92625
(949) 644-3151

Situated at the tip of the Buck Gully ravine, this rocky cove in Newport Beach is ripe for adventure.

Why We Recommend This Beach

Even with its small size, the beach still draws plenty of beach goers and intrepid tourists.

At this beach, you’ll have a ton of opportunities to explore rock formations, tide pools, and scope out sea lions and dolphins.

Expert Tip

Wear sturdy shoes if you’re planning to explore the tide pools and rocks of the beach.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Marriott’s Newport Coast Villas

13. San Clemente State Beach

225 Avenida Calafia
San Clemente, CA 92672
(949) 492-3156

Perched in San Clemente’s southern side, this mile-long strand is arguably California’s most popular state beach.

Why We Recommend This Beach

San Clemente State Beach has a pleasant and first-rate backdrop for your favorite classic seaside activities.

With its sandstone bluffs, cliffs and dazzling sunsets, this beach will also enthrall you with its dramatic views.

Expert Tip

Beach goers are likely to catch a glimpse of orcas and California gray whales from this strip in spring and winter.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Sea Horse Resort

14. Aliso Beach

Coast Highway & Aliso Way
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Aliso is the only oceanfront leisure spot with on-site parking in Laguna Beach.

Why We Recommend This Beach

Aliso Beach offers a bundle of perks to families.

There’s ample parking, playground equipment, picnic tables, fire pits and rocky promontories.

And, did we mention that it’s known as a skimboarding destination?

Expert Tip

Planning to go for a swim here?

I suggest that you head to the northern end of the beach at Treasure Island, which has safer and cleaner waters.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach

15. Table Rock Beach

31595 Table Rock Drive
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Tucked away in Laguna Beach’s south side, this local secret is a must see in SoCal.

Why We Recommend This Beach

Table Rock is pretty hard to find.

But, once you find it, you’ll uncover a deep cove and a sandy beach adored with stunning rock formations.

And, at the back of this beach, visitors will discover a massive cave begging to be explored.

Expert Tip

Table Rock Beach has strong rip currents, meaning swimming can be a little dangerous.

On the bright side, these wave conditions make it irresistible for adventurous skimboarders.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Surf and Sand Resort

16. North Beach

N El Camino Real and Avenida Estación
San Clemente, CA 92672

North Beach sits about 1,000 feet away from the San Clemente Metrolink station.

Why We Recommend This Beach

North Beach is an entertaining pit stop for families.

On this stretch, you’ll find scores of family-friendly amenities, including kiddie swings, fire rings, picnic tables and volleyball courts.

Expert Tip

Add an element of adventure to your beach getaway by hiking the San Clemente Coastal Trail.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Sea Horse Resort

17. Doheny State Beach

25300 Dana Point Harbor Dr
Dana Point, CA 92629
(949) 496-6171

Inaugurated in 1931, this 254-acre state beach will captivate you in a variety of ways.

Why We Recommend This Beach

Doheny State Beach has everything you need for a rocking SoCal beach escape.

For years, the beach has been a popular destination for surfing and SUPing.

With spotless waters and gentle waves, it’s the best beach for swimming in Orange County as well.

There’s also a scenic grass park here with volleyball courts, an exceptional beach and picnic facilities.

Expert Tip

Drop by the visitor, and see its indoor tide pools, aquarium and interpretive exhibits.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Best Western Plus Marina Shores Hotel

18. Huntington Dog Beach

E Pacific Coast Hwy and Goldenwest St
Huntington Beach, CA 92648
(714) 841-8644

Resting along the Pacific Coast Highway, this dog-friendly beach provides pooch drinking fountains and surf waves.

Why We Recommend This Beach

If you’re searching for the best beach spots in Orange County for canines, look no further than this hideaway.

In fact, this doggy heaven is arguably the best designated off-leash pooch beach in SoCal.

Even better, it’s super clean and packed with facilities for dogs and pet owners alike.

Expert Tip

You may also hit the Huntington Beach Bike Trail, which is suitable for leashed dog running, biking and walking.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Paséa Hotel & Spa

19. San Onofre State Beach

Old Pacific Highway
San Clemente, CA 92672
(949) 492-4872

Opened in 1971, this 3,000-acre park draws around 2.5 million visitors per year.

Why We Recommend This Beach

Whether you’re aching for a relaxing getaway or an exciting escapade, the park has nice beaches to appease your wanderlust.

With trails, surf breaks and campgrounds, the opportunities for fun in this park are limitless.

Expert Tip

Add a hint of educational fun to your beach escape by hiking the Panhe Nature Trail.

Even though it’s short, the trail is filled with educational markers that provide info about the park’s animals and plants.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: San Clemente Inn

20. Crystal Cove State Park

8471 N Coast Hwy
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(949) 494-3539

Sitting in Newport beach, this state park encompasses over 3 miles of the Pacific coastline.

Why We Recommend This Beach

With 2,400 acres of untouched woodland and 3.2 miles of beach, this park teems with adventure.

You can go horseback riding, hiking, camping, swimming and surfing.

Not to mention, you may explore sandy coves and beautiful tide pools.

Expert Tip

Hike the 3-mile-long Moro Canyon Trail, and enjoy Instagram-worthy views of the ocean.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Inn at Laguna Beach

21. Huntington State Beach

21601 Pacific Coast Hwy
Huntington Beach, CA 92646
(714) 536-1454

Sprawling more than 120 acres, this long sandy stretch is a haven of fun for intrepid travelers.

Why We Recommend This Beach

Huntington State Beach is, hands down, one of the best beaches in Orange County for active travelers.

With its exceptional swells, it’s a prime spot for surfing, boogie boarding and bodysurfing.

Plus, the sunsets at this beach are legendary and awe-inspiring.

Expert Tip

Visit the beach at night and claim a beach fire ring.

Then, sit by the fire and relish some s’mores as you admire the glorious sunset.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: The Waterfront Beach Resort, A Hilton Hotel

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