Laguna Beach has over 7 miles of coastline and over 20 beaches and coves to explore. How do you choose the best beach for your trip? Most any beach you visit will be satisfactory, but to make the most of your time, read the beach descriptions below to find out which beaches best suit your interests. This is just a small list, mind you. Some beaches are closer to town and near shops and restaurants, while others are a little more out of the way and require driving and more planning. The list below offers information on select Laguna Beach beaches, as well as activities, parking, facilities, and access.
Agate Street Beach
Best for: Surfing, body surfing, body boarding, diving, observing, sun bathing, surfer-admiring
Agate Street Beach is about one block north, or one ultra brief beach stroll north of popular Pearl Street Beach. The main difference between Agate Beach and Pearl Beach is that surfing is allowed at Agate and it's forbidden at Pearl. The same waves that make for good surfing also make for good body boarding and body surfing, but beware, these waters are typically owned by surfers. However, while surfers may dominate they do not have unlimited free reign. June through September surfing is not allowed between the hours of 12pm and 5pm. What does this mean for you non surfers? Have at the waves while the surfers are beached!
Parking: Limited free parking is available for Agate Street Beach on Ocean Way, otherwise there is metered parking on the Coast Highway just a couple blocks walk to the beach.
Access: Agate Street Beach is about a mile from Main Beach downtown. Access to the beach is down cement steps.
Brook's Street Beach
Best for: Observing, surfing
Brook's Street Beach is a highly popular surf spot in Laguna Beach, and is sometimes host to surf competitions. It is a bit secluded and mostly exclusive to surfers. The beach is not recommended for swimming or body boarding, as the beach's entire bottom is a reef (not to mention the danger of flying surf boards). However, it is a great place to witness surfing action or participate in it yourself. The beach tends to be fairly narrow compared to other areas of the Laguna Beach coast, so you may want to be careful with your belongings while keeping an eye on the tide.
Parking: Parking is limited and is coin metered, so be sure to bring some change. Parking is strictly and swiftly enforced.
Access: On Brook's Street in a residential neighborhood. Requires a walk down several concrete steps.
Facilities: There are benches for taking in the scenery, trash cans, but no restrooms.
Crescent Bay Beach
Best for: Skim boarding, wildlife viewing, scuba diving, skin diving, body surfing, body boarding, tide pooling, sunbathing, general beach fun
Crescent Bay beach is one of the best all around beaches in Laguna Beach. Yes, at certain times of the year it can get crowded. But even then it's worth a visit. Not only is it a beautiful setting, it will satisfy a variety of interests. If you just want to sunbathe and even people watch (a lot of locals seem to hang out here), it's an excellent place to catch some rays. There are excellent tide pools to explore at both the north and south ends of the beach that are easy to get to. Divers and snorkelers will find plenty to Crescent Bay as well. And if that wasn't enough, the beach is sometimes a great spot to see wildlife. Seal Rock--although off limits to humans--is aptly named for its seal population. And don't be surprised if you see a dolphin pod hanging out just beyond the surf break on a good day.
Although body boarding, body surfing, and swimming is allowed, the tides here can be strong and dangerous. Don't go too far out in the water unless you're experienced. Otherwise, this beach is popular and generally safe for families with children. You will likely need to drive and park to access Crescent Bay, so be sure to have enough supplies on hand for a day at the beach. There aren't any shops within a convenient walking distance.
Parking: Limited free parking is available for Crescent Bay beach Cliff Drive or other side streets. There is also some coin metered parking on Cliff Street.
Access: There are two access points to the beach - one on Cliff Drive not far from the Coast Highway. This access is down a steep narrow road (with sidewalks). The other entrance is a little further north on Circle Way (after you've entered the neighborhood on Cliff Drive). This access is a little harder to find.
Facilities: Restrooms, rinse shower.
Best for: Beach strolls, observing, general beach play, families, sports & recreation
Main Beach is at the center of Laguna Beach and is the obvious postcard location for visitors. It sits where Laguna Canyon Road meets the Coast Highway, right where the bustling restaurant, shopping, and nightlife district is. It is a well kept, easily accessible beach with several facilities and conveniences.
There is a pleasant boardwalk area featuring public art that winds up to the Heisler Park on the northwest end, and connects to a children's playground and several restaurants and shops on the southeast end. Tidepool areas are located at the northwest end of the beach. Main beach is a centrally located, attractive public beach ideal for strolling, sunbathing, and for families with little ones.
Parking: Parking is available on Cliff Drive, up the hill northwest of the beach. It is metered so be sure to bring plenty of coins.
Access: From Cliff Drive there is a stairway along a paved pathway. Otherwise you can easily access the southeast end of the beach if you're coming from the restaurants and shops in town.
Facilities: Sand volleyball courts, two half-court basketball courts, children's playground, benches, picnic tables, and public showers and restrooms.
Pearl Street Beach
Best for: Body surfing, snorkeling, body boarding, diving, tide pooling, observing. Surfing is not allowed
Pearl Street Beach is famous for the "blow hole" and arch rock that make for ever interesting observation. The contrasted colors of the rocks, cliffs, and ocean make it a photogenic, and lend a rather otherworldly feel that some describe as a mini Galapagos. You're not allowed to surf here due to strong rip currents and rocky hazards (although you can surf at adjacent Agate Street Beach). However, body surfing, body boarding, diving, tide pooling, snorkeling, fishing, sunbathing, and generally having-an-awesome-time are all free game--with one more caveat: you may be tempted to cliff jump off Arch Rock, but be ye forewarned it is forbidden.
Parking: Limited free parking is available for Pearl Street Beach is available on Ocean Way, otherwise there is metered parking on the Coast Highway just a couple blocks walk to the beach.
Access: Pearl Street Beach is about a mile from Main Beach downtown. Access to the beach is down cement steps.
Best for: Surfing, observing, tidepooling, (swimming / body boarding prohibited)
Rockpile Beach is a small cove beach only 700 feet wide, found at the south end of Heisler Park. It is popular for exploring tide pools, and for local surfers who are familiar with the reefs and currents. Rockpile Beach is one of only three beaches in Laguna Beach that has officially designated surf waters. Swimming and body boarding are prohibited here due to the dangerous reef and rocks that dominate the cove. You also run the chance of stepping on sea urchins and other hazards if you attempt to swim. So really, just stick to exploring the tide pools and watching the local surfers do their thing.
The best time of year for tide pooling is in the winter, when the tides get especially low. Bird Rock, a bird sanctuary, is also located in the cove. It may be tempting to explore Bird Rock at low tide, but this is prohibited due to the protected bird sanctuary and other dangers involved.
Parking: Street parking is available on Cliff Drive all along Heisler Park. Parking is mixed in with residential neighborhoods. You may need to bring change for metered parking.
Access: There is an initial paved trail down to the beach, and then a stairway. This can be difficult to climb back up with a lot of gear. The beach is rocky, so be careful.
Facilities: No facilities on the beach.
Thousand Steps Beach
Best for: Swimming, tide pooling, snorkeling, diving, skim boarding, sunbathing, general beach fun
Named for the not-quite-1000-steps-stairway access, this beach is worth the effort (although most of the hard work will be left at the end of the day on your way back up). The stairs and the distance from downtown Laguna (about 4 miles) make this beach somewhat off the beaten path, which means less crowds on some days. The beach is not as picturesque as some others (such as Crescent Bay) but it is beautiful nonetheless and an ideal spot for swimming, sunbathing, playing in the waves, and otherwise hanging out. You'll encounter locals here who prefer the beach for activities like skim boarding and beach volleyball - yes, there is a volleyball net on the beach. There are also tide pools to explore.
Unbeknownst to many visitors, there is a cave at the southern end of Thousand Steps Beach. The cave is wide and well lit, and is open on both ends. Walking through will land you on a private beach that has small tide pools. Be sure to bring everything you need for a day at the beach while visiting Thousand Steps Beach, as you probably wont want to make several trips up the stairs.
Parking: The stairs to the beach are just off the Coast Highway, where there is very limited parking. Across the coast highway on 9th Avenue and other streets there is parking in residential neighborhoods. Be thoughtful about where you park here.
Access: The steep, cement staircase access is located at the intersection of the Coast Highway and 9th Avenue.
Facilities: Restrooms, showers, beach volleyball court. Restroom and showers located near the stairs access.