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BEST BEACH FOR: People who are willing to put a little effort in for extra space.
It’s not really a thousand steps (more like 218), but you'll feel every one of those when you're lugging your stuff back up to Pacific Coast Highway. This stunning beach – bordered to the north and south by sandstone cliffs that jut into the water – isn't for the faint of heart. But for those intrepid few who do brave the steep steps (found just north of 9th Street with metered street parking nearby), the reward is immense.
Compared to Laguna's other beaches, this spot is sure to be sparsely populated at most. Even in the summer, when the Main Beach crowds are thick and the smell of sunscreen fills the air, Thousand Steps Beach is like a refuge. Forget finding space to lay a towel out, you could have a full on soccer game without getting in anyone's way.
This beach is one of Laguna's classic shore break spots, where the summer waves smash right on the sand. This makes it beloved by body surfers and skim boarders alike. If the swell is up, use caution and ask lifeguards about where there might be submerged rocks.
If you head south along the shoreline, you'll come to Laguna's most famous sea cave. It actually has a full walkthrough -- sure to make even the most serious adults feel like pirates searching for treasure. Keep an eye on the tides if you're planning to explore the cave or walk north to Totuava, at high tide both are inaccessible.
The burn you feel in your legs after climbing the steps at the end of a long beach day.
People who are willing to put a little effort in for extra space.