Skip to Content

Crystal Cove State Park

Located along the Newport Coast between Newport Beach and Laguna Beach, California, Crystal Cove State Beach and State Park offers pristine beaches, protected marine conservation areas, and expansive wilderness areas.

Highlights of Crystal Cove include the three main beach access points, the historic beach cottages, the 1100+ acre underwater park for snorkeling and scuba diving, and El Moro Canyon with 18 miles of trails to explore.

Crystal Cove

There is no camping allowed on the beach or near the cottages at Crystal Cove. However, there is a bluff top campground walking distance to the sand, and backcountry campsites located approximately 3 miles from the main parking lot accessible only by foot.

This California State Park has over 3 miles of Southern California’s world famous sandy beaches, 2,400 acres of rolling backcountry hills with views of the shoreline, plus offshore underwater areas for tide pool exploration and more marine life experiences. This Orange County protected area that boasts wide open public spaces and natural, untouched, and undeveloped seashore is truly magical.


Crystal Cove Details

Address: 8471 N. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Phone: 949-494-339
Website: http://www.parks.ca.gov/crystalcove and http://www.crystalcovestatepark.org/
Dogs: Dogs are allowed only on paved areas. They are not allowed on the beach or in the back country.
Hours: Beaches are open 6AM to Sunset, and the Historic District is open until 10PM.
Restrooms: Available on the bluff top near all parking areas.

Parking

To access Crystal Cove, there are four main parking areas: Reef Point, Pelican Point, Los Trancos, and Moro Canyon Day use Area. There are signs along Coast Highway identifying each parking location. Pelican Point is the Northernmost parking lot, followed by Los Trancos, Reef Point, and finally Moro Canyon.

Pelican Point: Use Pelican Point to access multiple parking lots. The blufftop trails offer access to three overlooks. Beach access takes visitors down to Treasure Cove and tide pools to explore.

Los Trancos: The Los Trancos parking area features a tunnel to the beach and access to Crystal Cove’s historic district and beach cottages. Parking in Los Trancos also takes visitors to Crystal Cove Conservancy Headquarters, the Visitor Center and Interpretive Store, cultural center, the Beachcomber Café, the Film and Media Center, the Park and Marine Research Facility, the beach promenade, and Los Trancos Creek. The path from Los Trancos to the Historic District is about a half mile.

Los Trancos Shuttle: There is a shuttle that takes guests to and from the Los Trancos parking area to the historic district for $1.50 each way. Kids 12 and under are free.

Reef Point: Reef Point Parking Area offers three access points to the beach. Here you’ll find a quarter-mile trail that takes visitors down to 3.5 Cove. To access Scotchman’s Cove, you can use the stairway. There is a ramp to Muddy Creek if you’re looking for great body surfing.

There are two large parking lots at reef point, walking paths along the bluff top, tidepools to explore, and an overlook point.

El Moro Day Use Area: Use this entrance to park for Moro Campground, the environmental study loop, access to multiple hiking trails, the beach tunnel, and more.


Crystal Cove State Beach

There are 3.2 miles of beach at Crystal Cove and is a popular spot for swimming, surfing, and tidepooling. The Crystal Cove Beaches can be accessed by parking at any of the designated parking lots and walking down to the sand from the top of the bluffs.

The beaches at Crystal Cove are:

Moro Beach – Park in Moro Day Use lot. Extends from Abalone Point to Muddy Creek.

Reef Point – Three access points from Reef Point Parking Lot take you to 3.5 Cove, Scotchman’s Cove, and Muddy Creek.

Historic District Beach – Park in Los Trancos Lot to access the beach at the Historic District.

Pelican Point – Four lots with beach access points.

The beach can be accessed via ramp or stairs. The water off of Crystal Cove is considered a State Marine Conservation Area.

The State Marine Conservation Area is open to divers to explore the rich coastal habitat and the many marine species that make a home here.


Tide Pools

Crystal Cove State Park has four amazing tide pool areas along its seashore. Tide pools are mostly visible at low tide when the water is less than 1.5 feet high. Due to the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun on the earth there are two high tides and two low tides in California every day. When the water recedes at low tide rocks are revealed with pools of ocean water trapped along the shoreline. Inside of these crevices is a thriving marine world filled with many living organisms such as crabs, anemones, limpets and if you are lucky, even sea stars.

When visiting make sure you do not pick up or bother any of the sea critters. The simple act of handling an animal will cause irreparable damage and stress to these beautiful creatures. Also collecting seashells is prohibited so please take pictures only to share.

There are four tide pool viewing areas in Crystal Cove State Park: Reef Point, Rocky Bight, Pelican Point, and Treasure Cove.


Crystal Cove Cottages

One of Crystal Cove’s most popular features is it’s historic cottages, located in the Historic District. As Crystal Cove became a popular tourist destination during the 1920s and 1930s, beach cottages and tents crowded the shoreline. The Irvine Company eventually capped development at 46 cottages and ended tent camping.

Those 46 cottages are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and are operated by the Crystal Cove Conservancy. The Crystal Cove Cottages are most well know for Cottage #13, the beach cottage where the movie Beaches was filmed. The Film History and Media Center is currently located inside cottage 13.

The Crystal Cove Cottages are a popular getaway spot for locals and out-of-towners, and can be rented for overnight stays.

Learn More About Crystal Cove Cottages

Reserve A Cottage

See A Map Of the Historic District and Crystal Cove Cottages

The Crystal Cove Conservancy Headquarters and Park Interpretive Center are located in the historic district, as well as the exhibit cottage, Park & Marine Research Center, and Crystal Cove Visitor Center. The store is open daily from 9AM to 7PM.


Trails & Hiking

Crystal Cove State Park is a popular hiking area for locals. The 2,400 acres that comprise the park have over 18 miles of designated trails spanning the coastline and into the mountains. As you climb into the hill-filled backcountry, you’re rewarded with views of the Pacific Ocean. The trails weave around endangered coastal sagebrush plants, so when trekking make sure to stay on the trails and off the plant life. Also please note our four legged friends, AKA dogs, are not permitted in the park.

Crystal Cove Trails To Hike

  • Moro Canyon Trail: Take the Moro Canyon Trail for an easy 3 mile out and back. Find the trail head near the dirt trail by the campground, cross the bridge and continue along the trail. Turn around and head back when you reach the junction with Poles and West Cut Across.
  • Bluff Top Trail: This easy paved trail is a great path along the bluff with views of the beach below. Highlights include Pelican Point where you can explore some caves right on the shoreline and the last historic cottage from the 1988 film starring Bette Milder and John Heard.
  • Crystal Cove State Park Historic District: Not really a hike but more a relaxing stroll through history. This easy trail will take you around the 12-acre historic Irvine Ranch Lands. Here you can see the 46 cottages built between 1920-1930 which you can still rent out today.
  • No Dogs, Poles, & Moro Canyon Trails: The rating is moderate as you make your way up and down the rolling hills. The length of the entire loop is about 3 miles and promises great views at the higher points in the trail.
  • Park Perimeter: This is a great backcountry trail that will take you right along the boundaries of the State Park. The trail length is about 9 miles and rated strenuous for a great workout. Find a full description of the hike details here.

Crystal Cove State Park Hiking Trails Map

Observation Platforms & Viewpoints

There are a number of viewpoint and observation platforms along the bluff top trail to take in the beautiful ocean views.

  • At the northernmost end of the Bluff Top Trail at the end of Viewpoint Path
  • At Pelican Point at the end of the Boardwalk
  • At Pelican Point at the end of an unnamed trail
  • Two At Reef Point, one overlooking 3.5 Cove and one off Starpath trail overlooking Scotchman’s Cove
  • Moro Cove Overlook is at the southernmost end of the Bluff Top Trail at Reef Point

Camping

Crystal Cove State Park has multiple campground options within the park. One developed campground is RV friendly, while three backcountry primitive camps offer a “roughing it” experience.

Each campground requires reservations and a permit fee to use. To reserve a campground visit www.reservecalifornia.com, or call (800) 444-7275. Remember, there is no camping allowed on the beach or near the cottages at Crystal Cove.

Campground Details

  • Moro Campground: This campground is large with 57 family picnic table campsites. If you have an RV or trailer there are 27 sites specifically for you, while the remaining 30 are for what is described as “low impact” soft sided trailers, van conversions, and tents. Restrooms, hook ups, and coin operated showers are available. And the best part? Pups are allowed in the developed campground area! Max length for RVs is 38′ in hookup sites and 25′ in non-hookup sites.
  • Primitive Camping: Although Crystal Cove is a gorgeous beach you can not actually camp on its sandy shores. All three of the primitive campgrounds require at least a 3 mile hike up into the hills from the parking area. Other things to remember when camping is there is no water available and any fires are limited to only backpack stoves. You can not beat the sites and privacy of these campgrounds. That alone makes the hike worth it. The three sites are:
    • Lower Moro
    • Upper Moro
    • Deer Canyon Campsites

See a Map of Crystal Cove Moro Campground


Dining at Crystal Cove

The Beachcomber Café: 15 Crystal Cove, Newport Coast, CA 92657
Open daily 7AM to 9:30PM

Inside one of the restored beach cottages, Beachcomber Café offers a relaxed atmosphere with ocean views serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Just looking for a place to grab a few drinks and appetizers after a day at the beach? The Bootlegger Bar is open until 9:30PM every night.

Crystal Cove Shake Shack: 7703 East Coast Highway, Newport Coast, CA 92657
Open Daily 7AM – 9PM

The Crystal Cove Shake Shack is the perfect beachside road stop to grab a bite. They’ve got everything from breakfast burritos and burgers to soups and seafood. But their shakes are what the kids (and everyone, really) want. The shake shack has a small parking lot and an outdoor-only seating area, and there’s sometimes a line of cars waiting to get in, proving it’s worth a stop. Not just for the great food, but also for the ocean views.


Crystal Cove History

Long before the Spanish Missionaries arrived at this patch of the California Coast, the Gabrielino and Juaneno indigenous peoples called this territory home. Here they fished the deep waters of the Channel Islands in large, wooden plank vessels for food, gathered acorns to pound into paste with mortar and pestle, and lived in community villages along the coastline. But in 1769 when colonizers came to set roots; this tribal life drastically changed much like the rest of the New World.

Flash forward 200 plus years to the 1920s and you come upon a much different Crystal Cove. When looking out upon the shoreline, movie cameras, actors and actresses, and a sprinkling of tents as the first feature film to be filmed here, Treasure Island, was being captured. Quaint beach cottages would be built as Japanese farmers began planting hundreds of crops on the hillside. The 1950s brought the peak of tourism to the area and the El Moro Beach Trailer Park was established into a permanent mobile home facility in 1956.

Jump forward once more to 1979 when Crystal Cove State Park was officially established. This expansion of recreational paradise remains to this day protected by the Crystal Cove Conservatory from any luxury resort developments. And thanks to this organization Crystal Cove State Park remains a wonderful place to explore for the entire family.

Movies Filmed At Crystal Cove

1918 Treasure Island
1920 The Sea Wolf
1923 Stormswept
1927 The Wreck of The Hesperus
1928 Sadie Thompson, Half A Bride, White Shadows In The South Seas
1929 The Isle of Lost Ships
1932 Rain
1934 Treasure Island
1938 The Great Heart
1944 To Have And Have Not
1951 Two Of A Kind
1974 Herbie Rides Again
1985 Creator
1988 Beaches


Crystal Cove Shopping Center & Restaurants

Address: 7845-8085 East Coast Highway, Newport Beach, CA 92657

At the southern end of Crystal Cove is the Crystal Cove Shopping Center. Here you’ll find a number of retail, service, and dining options including:

Dining:

A Crystal Cove (949) 715-1140
Bear Flag Fish Company (949) 715-8899
Bluefin Restaurant (949) 715-7373
Javier’s (949) 494-1239
Marché Moderne (714) 434-7900
Mastro’s Ocean Club (949) 376-6990
Modo Mio Rustic Italian Kitchen (949) 497-9770
Starbucks Coffee (949) 376-5221
zpizza (949) 715-1117
Pressed (949) 715-9406

Shopping:
Aston Martin (949) 999-9007
Banana Republic (949) 494-4626
The Butchery (949) 715-3383
Casablanca Bridal (949) 715-8228
Coastal Cool (949) 494-4545
COVO (949) 715-6900
Fetneh Blake Concept (949) 494-3787
Gap/Gap Kids/Gap Body (949) 494-0792
Levik’s Jewelers by the Cove (949) 715-3899
Novecento Boutique (949) 715-1700
Piajeh (949) 715-4800
Sonder Living (949) 438-8334
Tidelli Outdoor Living (714) 715-0604
Trader Joe’s (949) 494-7404
Williams-Sonoma (949) 464-2168

Services:
Chase Bank (949) 607-0053
EyeXam Optometry
LaserAway (949) 432-7300


Hotels Near Crystal Cove

The Resort At Pelican Hill
22701 S Pelican Hill Rd., Newport Coast, CA 92657
855-315-8214

Marriott’s Newport Coast Villas
23000 Newport Coast Dr., Newport Coast, CA 92657
949-464-6000

Hyatt Regency Newport Beach
1107 Jamboree Rd., Newport Beach, CA 92660
949-729-1234

VEA Newport Beach
900 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, CA 92660
949-640-4000

Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina
1131 Back Bay Dr., Newport Beach, CA 92660
949-999-3100

Crescent Bay Inn Laguna Beach
1435 N Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
949-494-2508

Hotel Joaquin
985 N Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
949-494-5294

There are so many ways to enjoy Crystal Cove State Park from hiking to camping, tide pools to junior lifeguard programs. Whatever you choose to do you will really, truly enjoy your visit!

Happy adventures!


Related Articles

Campgrounds In Orange CountyBest Beaches In Orange County
Best Hiking and Mountain Biking Trails in OCBest Tidepools in Orange County
Scuba Diving and Snorkeling SpotsBest Surf Spots in Orange County

Kaitlin is a former ballerina who now travels around the country in an 18-foot converted school bus. Her and her husband have welcomed 34 sweet children into their home the past eleven years. Although they would not be a forever home for all of them, they adopted their daughter buckets and are legal guardians to their son monkey. Follow their crazy adventures on Instagram @runawaymusbus