BEST BEACH FOR: Young children and the SCUBA/snorkel set.
If you’re keen to try SUP (Stand Up Paddle boarding), Laguna Beach is an ideal city to give it a go.
Laguna Beach is full of excellent instructors, plenty of rental shops, and it was here that local environmentalist Rich German paddle boarded with a grey whale in February 2018. Footage of the encounter went viral and was seen around the world:
Even if you don’t get to hang with a whale, there are always dolphins feeding in the kelp beds.
The Best Beaches for SUP
For first timers, you’re going to want a beach that’s flat and relatively protected from the swell. At the same time, it’s nice to have a little extra elbowroom. Beaches like Diver’s Cove don’t leave the newbie with many choices for avoiding swimmers when returning to shore. Consider launching from Shaw’s Cove in the north, at Cleo Street in the Laguna Village, or at Pearl Street Beach further south.
There’s no point in trying SUP for the first time if the waves are big. But even on good days, waves that crash heavily onto shore can make it hard to come back in after your session. Avoid the sorts of steep beaches that skim boarders love (Crescent Bay, Aliso Beach, etc.) and be wary of paddling back in where there are swimmers.
For more advanced SUPers, the waves at Thalia and Brooks Street beaches are both long enough for a good ride, though considering the advantage you have over surfers (a paddle!), etiquette dictates that you take a few waves and make your way to the next break.