9 Best Laguna Beach Coves and Beaches

Highlighting where the locals go

By Jessica Lynn Gomes

Luring artists, beachgoers and water sports enthusiasts, Laguna Beach is known for its diverse beauty and culture. The city's beaches draw six million visitors annually, with each of them having their own personality and specializing in its own activities. Check out these nine coves and beaches along Laguna's seven miles of coastline, which offers 30 to explore. Soak up the sun, kayak, venture out on a whale watching or dolphin excursion, and discover native habitats of sea life that call Laguna Beach home.

Where to find adventure: Wood's Cove Beach
Wood's Cove is a local favorite, lined with beach houses and rich in history. It's tucked away below the cliffs and hard to find when the tide is high. A great beach to get in tune with the Laguna Beach lifestyle, this stretch of sand is cozy, and can be completely covered in ocean water during high tide. When the tide is low, the magic of the cove reveals tide pools, tunnels and caves to explore. Find free parking off Diamond Street, carry in your picnic, and bring some water shoes for venturing over the rocks and wading until the tide comes in.

Best chance to see a seal by kayak: Crescent Bay
If you are looking for a good launching site to go kayaking, Crescent Beach provides mostly calm waters for an easy send-off. On the water is where action is found: the likelihood of seeing seals, sea lions and dolphins up close is high. Put your phone in a waterproof case to capture the action, but make sure you keep a little distance to avoid disturbing the animals' natural habitat.

Best place to snorkel: Shaw's Cove
Shaw's Cove is one of the most secluded coves in Laguna Beach. Round up your snorkel gear and take a dive in this oceanic pool to take in the beauty of colorful creatures living under the sea. Locals know that the north side is the place for underwater structures and beautiful plant and sea life. Expect to see garibaldi (the most common), perch, rockfish, and sandbass. Take note that this beach is very rocky and sand is limited for the sunbathers.

When you want to learn how to surf: Thalia Street Beach
If you are a newbie when it comes to surfing or want a good lesson to teach you the fundamentals, Thalia Street Beach is for you. Just off Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), find surf shops that offer rentals and lessons. You can partake in a group or private lesson to learn the ropes and enjoy a day spent out in the water. There is plenty of beach to dry off on post-wave catching.

When you already know how to surf and are looking for killer waves: Rockpile Beach
Closer to Kelly Slater surfing skills? Head to Rockpile. Be mindful, this is typically a "surf only" beach with rocks lining the break and hiding underneath the waves. If you are in the water, make sure you are experienced with this sport, as the waves pop up and curl fast. If you are a spectator, grab a beach chair, but be watchful for incoming waves that can sneak up and soak you. If you want to stay dry and get a great view, head up to The Deck, a casual beachfront restaurant and bar, to grab a drink and watch the action. The swells vary per day; you won't always see monster waves come crashing in, but when they do, they are a treat.

Where to skimboard: Victoria Beach
Victoria Beach is hidden down a long staircase, which lies under a canopy of trees in a small neighborhood that can easily be missed as you are cruising down PCH. At the north end of the beach, find one of the most mysterious structures in Southern California: La Tour (also referred to as Victoria Tower), a castle-style tower built at the base of a cliff. The tower houses an enclosed staircase to the beach from a private residence up on the bluff. Needless to say, the tower is a favorite spot for professional and amateur photographers as well as locals and visitors. HINT: Be sure to check the tide tables before your visit as the tower can only be accessed at low tide, and proceed with caution.

At the south end of this beautiful stretch of beach, there is one of the best places around for skimboarding. Grab your board and head to this hidden gem, to slip, slide and hang with the locals.

Best place to bring a cooler and have a bonfire: Aliso Beach
Who doesn't love a good beach bonfire? Head to Aliso Beach-fire pits set up along the sand are perfect for a hangout with your closest friends or family, just steps from the waves. Bring a cooler, some blankets and don't forget the s'mores! Make sure you claim a pit early, as they are first-come, first serve, and fill up fast. If you don't, join in on someone else's fun. It's a great way to meet new people and party together!

Best place for a pick-up game of basketball or beach volleyball: Main Beach
When cruising down the canyon into Laguna Beach, the most active beach you hit is Main Beach. It's located in the center of downtown! Filled with people walking along the boardwalk eating ice cream or gelato, sunbathers marking their spot in the sand, kids playing on the jungle gym and splashing in the waves, beach volleyball games hitting the sand and basketball players jumping on the court for a pickup game, this is the place to people watch. Don't be shy, join in ... but bring your A game!

Best place to end the night by watching the sunset: Cress Street Beach
You won't want to miss a Laguna Beach sunset. Cress Street Beach is one of the best places to sit and watch as day turns to night. The colors and patterns that fill the sky are simply stunning-pink, orange, purple and more. Cress Street Beach also happens to be a romantic spot, with a bench located halfway down the stairs that's the perfect place to watch the waves come in. Afterward, head up to The Rooftop Lounge for a cocktail atop the hotel La Casa Del Camino.

There are endless possibilities for fun in Laguna Beach. Take a weekend to explore these picturesque spots and submerge yourself in this magical beach town.

Find your beach bliss at Laguna Beach.