Find the Right Beach for YOU in Laguna Beach
The definition of a first world problem is "woe is me, there are so many choices, so which beach do I choose"? And while unfortunately, there's no Buzzfeed quiz (yet) to answer the age-old question "Which Laguna Beach are You?", you're stuck with this guide. Don't worry, I'll be your beach sherpa (beach sherpa: a sherpa with salty surf hair and a sandy bikini who hasn't worn shoes in months), and help you determine just which Laguna beach is right for you. It's like finding your spirit animal, just ten times less basic, and with risk for potential sunburn.*
Best for Photographs: Table Rock
Ahh, Table Rock Beach. Everyone's favorite photogenic beach. Some locals say it's overrated, and those who aren't too jaded claim that yeah, it is the prettiest of the bunch. Phototogs from around descend at golden hour to take advantage of the glow that hits the crazy cool rock formations that give this beach its name. Definitely one of the most scenic beaches of the bunch. Be sure to visit at low tide to access a hidden sand beach by venturing through the rock arch at the end of the beach.
Best to Watch the Sunset: Crescent Bay
Crescent Bay is beloved by locals since it's attached to a park up above offering a panoramic view of the sunset. Laguna's northernmost beach (well, almost) is never too crowded, but not far from the action of downtown. Be sure to climb up to the park for the best view of the sunset in Laguna, including Seal Rock. Want to know where else to catch the sunset in Laguna? Click THIS, #nofilter needed.
Best for Tide Pool Exploring: Treasure Island
This beach right in front of the Montage Hotel always hosts a volunteer tide pool docent during low tide (tide chart here!). Talk to them to learn about what creatures you'll be able to see at the beaches multitude of sparkling tide pools - sea stars, anemone, sea crabs, tide pool fish, and more. There are tons of rocky formations in the surrounding area to be explored as well - so bring some beach shoes or sandals to avoid sore feet! Don't miss the public park on top of the beach, which is a great place for a stroll during the day, or better yet, an excellent sunset vantage point. Be sure to explore the other tiny little coves to the north of Treasure Island Beach, including Christmas Cove, Treasure Island, and Goff Cove. If you dare... disregard the no climbing signs at the foot of Goff Island and make your way to the top to what I would consider the best place to watch the sunset in all of Laguna Beach.
Best for a Workout: Thousand Step Beach
No kidding. While it isn't quite a thousand steps, the 223 steps to descend to this beach is well worth it. It's just the right amount of crowded and isolated (home to volleyball courts, restrooms, and tide pools). But there's one thing about this beach that many don't know... It's home to some pretty dope sea caves that reveal themselves at low tide at the southern and northern ends of the beach. To the north, you can walk all the way through the cave (more like a tunnel) to a tiny rocky cove on the other side, leading to a large beach known as Totuava Beach, which is only accessible at low tide. The more exciting tunnel to the south is a big point of controversy. While it's technically illegal to go into the rock cave/tunnel, if you manage to sneak all the way through, you'll find yourself at a tiny, rocky cove, and if you climb around that (not for the faint of heart; you need to be in excellent physical condition to do this), you'll find yourself at a tiny sandy beach, home to Laguna Beach's best kept secret: two private ocean water pools carved into the rock that fill up with the tide. This is the part where I have to tell you how dangerous it is to attempt this - and if you're going to do it - ONLY do it at low tide, and give yourself plenty of time to get back. People have had to be airlifted off the tiny beach... Don't be that person.
Best for a Game of Pick Up Volleyball: Main Beach
Laguna's Main Beach is its most crowded, but that means that it also has the most amenities available. This is the place to go if you're hoping to get in on a pickup game, be it volleyball, basketball, or beach tennis. Families and local Laguna kids flock here all summer and hang till sunset... join in a game and you might make a new friend or two!
Best for Skimboarding: Aliso Beach
Laguna Beach is the official skimboard capital of the world, and host of The VIC Skimboarding World Championships... right at Aliso Beach! Even if you're not around during the mid-August event, you'd be hard-pressed to find a time when this beach isn't filled with tow-headed beach kids and old local pros cutting waves one after the other. Grab a board and try it for yourself, or better yet, sign up for a lesson from one of Laguna's top boarders. And if you're intimidated by the big crew that's always in residence at Aliso, head north to Victoria Beach, which is also a great skimboard destination, but with a little less pressure to perform for a crowd. Another thing to note about Aliso Beach - at night, it's the place to go to mingle with local kids hanging by the communal fire pits. Sure-fire (no pun intended 🔥) place to chill out after the sun sets and make a local friend or two.
Best "Private: Beach: Moss Street Beach
So while it might not technically be "private", it's about as close as it gets. Head down to this tiny beach any time of day, and you're likely to share it with a local or two, if anyone at all. Make sure to plan your visit when the tide is low, because the beach is so small, that it can get completely submerged when the tide is high (but I'm hoooooldin on 🎶).
Best for Snorkeling and Diving: Shaw's Cove, Fisherman's Cove, and Diver's Cove
These three are being lumped into one here to save some word count, since they all adjoin, and are all known for their incredible tide pools, diving, and marine life. Diver's Cove gets its name from the divers who kick around in every morning, taking in the colorful reefs forming the cove. Fisherman's Cove is known as being pretty mellow and serene, perfect for beachgoers looking for some privacy. Shaw's Cove is home to some of the best tide pools in Laguna. Grab your snorkel and do a loop around the whole area, and you're sure to witness some magnificent marine life.
Best for A Tropical Vibe: Pearl Street Beach
One of Laguna's most unique rock formations (there are many, so this is a bold claim) is Arch Rock, which can be found at Pearl Street Beach, a neighborhood beach south of downtown. Photographers (and yes, bloggers, too) flock here to take in the structure, which makes the beach look like it's part of a tropical island paradise. Walk underneath the arch to the tide pools at Cactus Beach when the tide is low. This chill beach is usually pretty chill, with just the right amount of visitors, and is never overwhelmingly crowded.
Most Romantic Beach: Cress Street Beach
The ultra-secluded Cress Street Beach is a local secret, so don't go telling everyone. Bring your partner or Tinder date or whomever here... it's guaranteed to impress. The little beach is never crowded, and is the ultimate place to watch the sun sink together. There's even a little bench located halfway down the steps, so if sandy toes aren't your thing (wait... who invited you?), you can perch yourself there and watch the swirl of pink and orange hues that make up a Laguna sunset.
Best for Novice Surfers: Thalia Street Beach
While this beach might not be the most picturesque, it's the top choice for local surfers, boogie boarders, and body surfers alike. If you do find yourself venturing in to catch some waves, note that this is not a sandy bottom beach - it's essentially a giant rock reef, and has one of the strongest rip currents in Laguna. Whether you're a surfer dude, or just want to watch em in action, Thalia is the go-to surf spot in town.
Best for Surf Pros: Rockpile Beach
The name is literal. There is not beach... it's... a Rock Pile. There are actually some pretty cool steps leading directly down from scenic Heisler Park down into the ocean, and there! You're on the "beach", AKA, in the water surrounded by boulders. Hop in and swim out and join your buds to shred Laguna's best waves. Experienced surfers only, due to the massive waves and rocky conditions. If your surf game isn't quite there yet, you can still get in on the action by chilling at the outlook at Heisler Park and watch the pros in action.