Top Orange County Beaches

From beach casual to fine dining, Crystal Cove features some of the finest dining experiences in Orange County.

Crystal Cove State Beach (Newport Beach)

Below The Resort at Pelican Hill sits one of the top Orange County beaches the West Coast has to offer. Distinguished as a Natural National Landmark, this beach is excellent for strolling the sandy shores and exploring the many tide pools while soaking in the wonderful view. If you’re a guest at The Resort at Pelican Hill, allow their complimentary coaches to transport you along with a courtesy beach bag equipped with all the essentials: towels, water, complimentary umbrella and beach chairs. Or join the Spa for a guided morning walk of Crystal Cove Beach and take in the fresh coastal air as you watch the morning rays glistening on the water. Crystal Cove also features the Historic District, a unique community of vintage cottages, where guests may visit rotating exhibits to learn about the rich history and view the wide range of art on display. For an afternoon treat, swing by bluff-top Ruby’s Shake Shack for snacks and panoramic ocean views, or stop by Beachcomber Café and The Bootlegger Bar for a quick meal to toast the end of a great day at the beach.

Location: East Coast Highway across from Pelican Hill.®
Hours: 6 am – 10 pm.
Parking: Available inside Crystal Cove Park, $15 per day.

Little Corona (Corona del Mar)

Little Corona is a secluded inlet that allows for a relaxing and quiet day at the beach. Nearby jetties ensure that the surf is mostly calm—perfect for swimming or walking along the water. Dramatic rock formations line the shore and create tide pools to explore. Jutting coastal cliffs form the backdrop, and the popular Inspiration Point Park atop the bluffs provides excellent views of the coastline.

Location: Bottom of Poppy Avenue, across Ocean Boulevard.
Hours: 6 am – 10 pm.
Parking: Available along Ocean Boulevard and Poppy Avenue; no fee or permit required.
Lifeguards: During the summer months only.

Balboa Beach Pier (Newport Beach)

Torn from the pages of your favorite vintage magazine, Balboa Pier offers an old-fashioned charm to its beach. Stroll the short pier and admire the blue ocean water while soaking in the sea’s breezes or grab a shake at Ruby’s on the pier and just enjoy the sunset. For those who wish to stay the day, take the ferry to the famed Balboa Island and rent bikes and ride along the boardwalk, soaking in the charm.

Location: Balboa Boulevard and Balboa Pier.
Hours: 6 am – 10 pm.
Parking: Metered street parking.
Lifeguards: During the summer months only.

Big Corona (Corona del Mar)

Corona del Mar Beach, also known as “Big Corona Beach,” is one of the top Orange County beaches. Corona del Mar is framed by cliffs and a rock jetty perfect for families seeking a place to swim, play volleyball or warm up by the fire pits. This beach offers a snack bar, picnic tables, restrooms and showers with a lookout point in the hills to enjoy spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island. Cozy up by the fire to watch the sun set over the horizon and the stars start to brighten the darkened sky in a peaceful setting as the waves gently crash on the shore.

Location: Marguerite Avenue and Ocean Boulevard.
Hours: 8 am – 8 pm.
Parking: Paid parking available.
Lifeguards: During the summer months only.

Newport Beach Pier (Newport Beach)

Newport Beach Pier is the hub of the city’s beach scene. Extending more than 1,000 feet over the ocean, the pier is a California Historical Landmark and one of the liveliest places to enjoy the water or dine with clear views of the Pacific Ocean as your backdrop. The surrounding beach is ideal for lying out in the warm sunshine during the day and watching the surfers.

Location: End of 21st Avenue, across Balboa Boulevard.
Hours: 6 am – 10 pm (beach).
6 am – midnight (pier).
Parking: Metered parking available in parking lot adjacent to beach and along Balboa Boulevard.
Lifeguards: During the summer months only.

Blackies Beach (Newport Beach)

A popular surf spot for longboarders, Blackies is less crowded than the beach adjacent to the pier. It’s a great spot to sunbathe, watch surfers ride the breaks and stroll the busy walkway along the shore exploring local restaurants and stores.

Location: Between the 28th street jetty and Newport Beach Pier.
Hours: 6 am – 10 pm.
Parking: Metered street parking.
Lifeguards: During the summer months only.

Crescent Bay (Laguna Beach)

This small park at the top of the bluff overlooks some of the most gorgeous views imaginable. Considered one of the top Orange County beaches it features a lookout of the ocean complete with floral landscaping attracts locals and visitors alike as well as hummingbirds to this spot where you can hear waves crash below and sea lions sing nearby at Seal Rock, a popular spot for Laguna Beach’s sunbathing sea lions. This is a peaceful place to enjoy nature at its finest with an unparalleled view of the coast.

Location: End of Crescent Bay Drive, Laguna Beach.
Hours: 6 am – 10 pm.
Parking: Metered street parking.

The Wedge (Newport Beach)

A popular beach for experienced body surfers, The Wedge in Newport Beach, located at the end of the Balboa Peninsula, is a great place to watch as body surfers test their skills against immense waves reaching up to 10 feet high as the incoming current bounces off the jetty walls.

Location: Ocean Boulevard and Channel Road, Newport Beach.
Hours: 6 am – 10 pm.
Parking: Metered parking available along Ocean Boulevard.
Lifeguards: During the summer months only

Laguna Main Beach (Laguna Beach)

Located in the heart of downtown Laguna, Main Beach’s long boardwalk serves as a popular walking, running and biking route. Complete with basketball and volleyball courts, a playground, picnic tables and water ideal for swimming and bodysurfing, Main Beach is a short walk to all that Laguna is famous for.

Location: Broadway and South Coast Highway.
Hours: 8 am – 10 pm.
Parking: Metered parking along downtown streets.
Lifeguards: During the summer months only.

Emerald Bay (Laguna Beach)

If you don’t own a home in Emerald Bay, then access is limited to swimming in from a boat!

Irvine Cove (Laguna Beach)

If you don’t own a home in Irvine Cove, then access is limited to swimming in from a boat!

Salt Creek (Dana Point)

33333 S. Pacific Coast Hwy.
Dana Point, CA 92629

Salt Creek Beach Park is a popular surfing location. A small, offshore reef creates some of the best left swells along the entire coastline. Swimming, body surfing, sunbathing and tidepool exploration (all tidepool inhabitants are protected) are other beach activities.  Convenience structures include restroom facilities with outside showers and a paved parking area. A beach concession building, open in the spring and summer, offers quick food and beach supplies.

Strands Beach (Dana Point)

34199 Selva Rd
Dana Point, CA 92629

Strands Beach in Dana Point goes by many names. I’ve heard it called: The Strand, Salt Creek Beach Park, and Strand Vista Park. I call it “pure bliss.” It’s just a beautiful spot beneath the Dana Point Headlands. If you can imagine the coastline here, it’s squeezed in the small cove between the point of the headland and Salt Creek Beach.