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Best Beaches In Orange County

Whether you’re camping in Doheny Beach or looking to catch a wave in Surf City, Orange County has some of the best beaches in California.

From beaches with big waves for world-class surfing to beaches with tidepools and rocky cliffs to explore, beach-goers can choose from a huge selection of beaches to create their ideal beach-day. And in Orange County, the beaches are nearly perfect all year long.

Best Beaches In Orange County

Corona Del Mar State Beach

Corona Del Mar State Beach is located near the intersection of Ocean Boulevard and Iris Street at 3001 Ocean Blvd, Corona Del Mar, CA 92625. The main beach is a half-mile long and is a popular spot for swimmers, surfers, and divers. There is a parking lot here for a fee, with restrooms and outdoor showers available. On less crowded days you can park for free on the streets above the beach, but it extends your walking distance to the sand. Visitors to Corona Del Mar State Beach also enjoy windsurfing and volleyball.

Just south of the main beach, also called Big Corona, is a slightly less accessible beach, but equally as popular, known as Little Corona. Little Corona is accessible via a steep paved path down to the sand. There are no steps here so you can wheel your wagon full of beach supplies right down with you. Little Corona is a popular spot for exploring tidepools, sunbathing, and splashing in the waves. There are restrooms with flush toilets and showers about halfway down the ramp. Occasionally, the mobile aquarium parks near the restrooms to provide educational programs for visitors to help inform people about the importance of protecting the tidepool inhabitants and teach visitors about marine life.

Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach stretches along PCH from Crystal Cove State Park to the area just before Crown Valley Parkway. Along this stretch of coastline, beach-goers can find many different coves to explore, as well as the main stretches of open sandy beaches. The main stretch of beach is near Main Beach Park where PCH meets Broadway. This is also one of the prime destinations for shopping and dining up on the street, as people peruse the art galleries and boutiques here. Main Beach Park offers grassy areas overlooking the sand and sea and the area is especially busy during summer months and events. Main Beach Park also has playground equipment, volleyball courts, basketball courts, restrooms, and benches.

If you’re looking for something more secluded or less accessible, you can find many staircases along PCH offering beach access to the various coves including 1000 Steps Beach, Shaw’s Cove, Woods Cove, Victoria Beach, and more. You can even see the legendary “pirate’s tower of Laguna” at Victoria Beach and be inspired by it’s mystique. It’s actually an enclosed staircase that was built in the 1920s, but it is no longer in use, and it’s more fun to imagine it as a pirate’s lookout. Most of the coves and beach access points require street parking and a walk along PCH to get to the staircases that lead down to the sand.

During migration seasons, these coves and beaches sometimes give visitors views of majestic whales breaching and spy hopping as they make their way along the coast. Laguna offers a free trolley service on the weekends that runs the length of the city along PCH and Downtown allowing visitors to park where parking is available on the streets or in the parking lots, and take the trolley to the destination of their choice. And yes, the trolley stops at most of the beach access points along PCH.

Salt Creek Beach Dana Point

Salt Creek Beach is another popular spot, south of Laguna Beach, located in front of the Monarch Beach Resort and just north of the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel. The official address is 33333 S. Pacific Coast Highway, Dana Point, CA 92629. Salt Creek Beach features a large grassy area on the bluffs overlooking the beach with restrooms, showers, and a snack shack that is open during peak season in the Spring and Summer.

The family picnic areas on the grass feature barbecues, picnic tables, and a basketball court. There is a dedicated area for private parties and group events that is available to reserve in advance. Salt Creek is perfect for surfing, body boarding, group events, volleyball, exploring tidepools, and of course, relaxing. There is a nearby lot for parking at the rate of $1 per hour. The beach is very popular and gets crowded on weekends and during the Spring and Summer months, so plan to arrive early to get a spot.

Doheny State Beach

Doheny State Beach is located at 25300 Harbor Drive, Dana Point, CA, just south of Dana Point Harbor. Like Crystal Cove, Doheny also offers beach camping, but much closer to the sand, with 122 campsites, 33 of them beach front. They are dry campsites with no hookups and offer picnic tables and fire rings with nearby hot showers and restrooms.

Visitors to Doheny will enjoy surfing the waves, shore fishing, volleyball, playing in the sand, exploring tidepools, kayaking, and wind-surfing. There is also a visitors center and an aquarium with a tidepool tank and five additional tanks with local marine species to explore at Doheny State Beach. The visitor’s center offers interpretive programs and Junior Ranger activities. Kids will enjoy the Whale Walk, where they can see life-sized paintings on the asphalt of the whales that migrate off the coast here.

Every year, Doheny State Beach hosts the Doheny Surf & Art Festival. The two-day event celebrates surf culture and features live music and entertainment, food, vendors, dancing, and activities for the whole family. Doheny State Beach also offers hiking and biking trails and a butterfly garden and is an excellent spot for a day trip or an extended camping trip with friends and family.

Explore Orange County Beaches

Orange County Beaches: Dana Point
Orange County Beaches: Huntington Beach
Orange County Beaches: Laguna Beach
Orange County Beaches: Newport Beach
Orange County Beaches - San Clemente
OC Beaches: Seal Beach

All Beaches, Harbors, Piers in Orange County

  • Aliso Beach Park
  • Bolsa Chica State Beach
  • Capistrano Beach
  • Corona del Mar State Beach aka “Big Corona” or “Main Beach”
  • Crystal Cove State Beach
    • Little Treasure Cove Beach
    • Los Trancos Beach
    • Moro Beach
    • Pelican Point Beach
    • Reef Point Beach
    • Treasure Cove Beach
  • Dana Point Headlands Beach
  • Dana Point Harbor
    • Dana Point Pier
  • Doheny State Beach
    • North Beach
    • South Beach
  • Huntington City Beach
    • Dog Beach
    • Huntington Beach Pier
    • Sunset Beach
    • Surfside Beach
  • Huntington State Beach
    • JG Island Beach
  • Laguna Beach
    • Agate Street Beach
    • Aliso Beach (county owned)
    • Anita Street Beach
    • Bluebird Beach
    • Brooks Street Beach aka “Brooks Beach”
    • Christmas Cove Beach
    • Cleo Street Beach
    • Crescent Bay Beach
    • Cress Street Beach
    • Diver’s Cove
    • Emerald Bay Beach
    • Fisherman’s Cove aka “Boat Canyon”, “Razors”
    • Goff Cove Beach aka “Goff’s Beach”
    • Irvine Cove Beach aka “Cameo Cove’
    • Main Beach
    • Middle Man Cove
    • Moss Street Beach
    • Mountain Road Beach
    • Oak Street Beach
    • Pearl Street Beach aka “Arch Cove Beach”
    • Picnic Beach at Heisler Park
    • Rockpile Beach
    • Shaw’s Cove
    • Sleepy Hollow Beach
    • St. Ann’s Street Beach
    • Table Rock Beach (county owned)
    • Thalia Street Beach
    • Thousand Steps Beach aka “1000 Steps Beach”
    • Three Arch Bay Beach
    • Totuave Beach
    • Treasure Island Beach
    • Victoria Beach aka “Vic Beach”, Victoria Street Beach”
    • West Street Beach aka “Camel Point Beach”, “Aliso Point” (county owned)
    • Woods Cove Beach aka “Lovers Cove”, “Diamond Cove”
  • Newport Beach
    • Balboa Peninsula Beach
    • Balboa Pier
    • Balboa Pier Beach
    • Cameo Shores Beach
    • China Cove Beach
    • Lido Isle Beach
    • Little Corona Del Mar
    • Marina Park
    • Newport Dunes Beach
    • Newport Beach Pier
    • Newport Pier Beach
    • North Star Beach
    • Santa Ana River Beach (county owned)
    • Pirates Cove Beach
    • West Newport Beach
    • West Jetty Beach aka “The wedge”
  • Newport Harbor
    • Newport Harbor Patrol Beach
  • Salt Creek Beach
    • Dana Strand Beach
    • Monarch Bay Beach
  • San Clemente City Beach
    • Boca del Canon Beach aka “The Hole”
    • Dije Court Beach
    • El Portal Beach
    • Linda Lane Park Beach
    • Lost Winds Beach
    • Mariposa Beach
    • North Beach
    • Pier City Beach
    • Riviera Beach
    • San Clemente Pier
    • Poche Beach
    • T Street Beach
  • San Clemente State Beach
    • Calafia Beach
    • Cypress Cove Beach
  • San Onofre State Beach
    • Trestles aka “Uppers”, “Lowers”, “Middles”, “Cottons” (access via San Clemente)
  • Seal Beach
    • Seal Beach Pier
  • Sunset Harbour

Piers in Orange County

  • Balboa Pier
  • Dana Point Pier
  • Huntington Beach Pier
  • Newport Beach Pier
  • San Clemente Pier
  • Seal Beach Pier

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Monique McArthur
Monique McArthur is a mother of two, writer, and creator of delicious recipes. In her spare time she enjoys exploring all that Orange County has to offer, traveling, shopping, running with her dogs and spending time with family.