Looking for the best beaches in Laguna Beach, California? We got you. This gorgeous coastal spot is one of the best beach towns in California, boasting over 30 beaches, rocky shoreline, a thriving creative and artist community, and absolutely one of the most special places in the world to us as we called Laguna Beach home.
Beyond checking out the best spots in Laguna Beach for swimming, sunbathing, and seaside exploring, there are also plenty of cool things to do in Laguna Beach to make a whole vacation out of! Whether you’re looking for great stops on your California coast road trip, Southern California road trip, enjoying one of the best day trips from Los Angeles, or just coming here for a few days – there’s plenty to do, reasons to come, and rewarding views!
With over 30 beaches to choose from, many of which feel like their ‘private property’ but aren’t. We’ve used our experience living here and returning any chance we get, to curate what we think are the best of Laguna Beach beaches!
Helpful Tips for Visiting Laguna Beach Beaches
All the beaches mentioned in this guide are open year-round and have lifeguards on duty unless mentioned otherwise. We also cover what facilities they have and your best chance at parking.
Speaking of parking, it can be very competitive in the peak summer months as this is a small, hilly destination. If you’re visiting in the winter, you’ll have no problem you just might not be swimming unless you packed a winter wetsuit.
We did our best to suggest the best parking options, but there’s a good chance you might be having trouble finding a spot close to the beach you’re trying to get to. If that’s the case and you’re impatient AF like me, take advantage of ANY spot in Laguna Beach you can find, even if you’re north of town or south of town and take advantage of the free Laguna Beach trolley! Check their stops and timetable, but this is a really handy service the city of Laguna Beach offers its visitors.
Speaking of having to potentially park in a not so convenient spot – you’ll want to consider ‘how much you pack’ or bring with you for your beach day. Many of the best beaches in Laguna Beach are located below a cliff, so you’ll have to take steps to access them OR you might be lugging your stuff back to a trolley stop. If you can pack light, do it.
Also, check for restaurants and whatnot nearby. Many beaches have something close enough if you need to grab water or snacks. And if you need a full meal, chances are you’re close to a restaurant you can take a break from the beach and enjoy one of the great restaurants available in Laguna Beach.
Another thing to note, especially if you’re not used to this area or are a strong ocean swimmer, is that you’ll want to pay attention to the tides. Use this website to check the tides during your visit. Most beaches recommend you come at low tide to avoid unnecessary dangers.
Also, if you want to explore tide pools, sea caves, and other cool spots at some of the best beaches in Laguna, you’ll need to plan around low tide anyway!
Not to mention, this is a rocky, bluff-filled coastline. Some beaches have rocks that you can’t see during high tide just below the surface. If there are any known dangers or things ‘to know’ about a beach, we did our best to include them below.
Last but not least, almost all the beaches are open from 6 AM to 10 PM with dog-friendly hours before 9 AM and after 6 PM in case you wanted to bring a furry friend!
So without further ado, here are our picks for the best beaches in Laguna Beach!
Our Favorite Laguna Beach Beaches
Crescent Bay Beach
Easily one of the best spots in Laguna Beach, Crescent Bay Beach which is known to be one of the most breathtaking and prettiest Laguna Beach beaches. Only about 1/4 of a mile in length just north of downtown Laguna Beach and Heisler Park, Crescent Bay has a lot to offer its visitors beyond the majestic views here.
The is Laguna Beach beach gets its name from its crescent shape and is surrounded by colossal cliffs with gorgeous homes perched above the bluffs, caves, golden sandy shores, and dramatic rock outcroppings.
While Crescent Bay provides a long list of fun activities, most of these are best done at low tide for your safety. There are two scuba diving areas located just offshore of the beach— Seal Rock and Dead Man’s Reef. Crescent Bay is one of the most popular dive spots of the beaches in Laguna Beach. Seal Rock is also an awesome spot to catch sight of seals and sea lions.
While you’re at it, make sure to explore the tide pools! They are located at both ends of the cove. Keep in mind that Crescent Bay is not known to be a great beach for swimming— it can be considered dangerous because of the intense riptides. If you do choose to swim, scuba, or snorkel at this beach, it is recommended to wear fins!
For those who feel bold enough to partake in some skimboarding or surfing, make sure to use good judgment beforehand! If that’s not your style, feel free to bask in the sun or check out Crescent Bay Point Park, located above the west side of the beach. You may even catch a glimpse of whales out in the water. This beach is hands down one of the best beaches in Laguna Beach for its wide array of activities at your disposal.
Enjoy the smaller crowds, public restrooms, showers, and lifeguards. Parking at this beach may be challenging as this is mainly a residential area, but metered parking along PCH is available. Guests can also find some spots in the surrounding neighborhoods or find parking elsewhere and take advantage of the Laguna Beach trolley.
Building off of the diving opportunities at Crescent Bay Beach, Shaws Cove is also one of the best spots in Laguna Beach for scuba diving and snorkeling.
For those in awe of sea life, this is the place to be. Divers have raved about the kelp beds being swarmed by gorgeous fish and lobster, which can all be viewed with even a snorkel and some goggles if you’re not a certified scuba. If you are inexperienced in scuba diving, Shaws Cove is an incredible place to learn. This is one of the Laguna Beach beaches that actually offers scuba diving classes.
One of the other greatest appeals to this beach is how wide and expansive the sand is even though it is considered to be a “small and locals beach.” This makes it one of the best beaches in Laguna for families because you can often find the beach less crowded, even in the busy summer months. Most guests enjoy swimming, bodyboarding, kayaking, and even stand-up paddle boarding here.
Not only can you often find yourselves being the only ones on the beach, but Shaw’s Cove also has so much to explore. In addition to the climbable flat rock at the south end of the beach, there are also excellent opportunities to see some tide pools at both ends of the cove when the tide is low.
The tide pools happen to be a part of the State Marine Conservation Area, meaning visitors mustn’t touch or take anything from these pools. Overall, it’s best to use caution when exploring Shaw’s Cove when swells are present, most would advise avoiding these areas altogether in that scenario!
Since this is known to be one of the locals’ spots, parking is very limited. Sometimes you may strike it lucky with a spot in surrounding neighborhoods, but also be courteous of those who live near the beach when finding a spot. If you find yourself struggling, there is metered parking available along PCH. Or take advantage of the Laguna Beach trolley and get dropped off.
Staying along the lines of smaller and more private beaches, Fisherman’s Cove is also known to be one of the best beaches in Laguna to give you that locals-only feeling. Located to the north of Heisler Park, this quiet beach is closer to downtown but still remains in a more residential area and is quieter.
The tide can be intense here at Fisherman’s Cove, but when it’s just right, guests can enjoy the caves, sandstone cliffs, bodyboarding, paddle boarding, and everything in between. When the tide is high, most of the beach disappears, so it’s best to visit around low tide so you can enjoy the cave exploring here too. The bluffs are especially popular for their photo opportunities.
Because this beach is small, amenities are limited. Luckily, Fisherman’s Cove is incredibly close to Heisler Park, which is equipped with everything you need for a perfect day at all the Laguna Beach beaches, not to mention stellar views of the coastline!
You can find parking along the PCH or limited metered parking on Cliff Drive.
Heisler Park Beaches— Diver’s Cove, Picnic Cove
If you haven’t already noticed, Laguna Beach beaches are the absolute best for scuba diving and snorkeling. Hence the name here, Diver’s Cove. The reason Heisler Park is known to be one of the best beaches in Laguna Beach for snorkeling and scuba diving is that it is protected from most of the swells.
Another relatively small beach, Diver’s Cove is popular among families, particularly with young children for its tight-knit atmosphere and smaller crowds. At the north end, you will find Picnic Cove, and as you can imagine, it is one of the best spots in Laguna Beach for a picnic and grassy lounging overlooking the beach. With its wide-open grass areas and tons of picnic tables, why go anywhere else?
Heisler Park in its entirety is an incredible place to visit if you just can’t decide on which Laguna Beach beaches you should check out. Partake in surfing, scuba diving, bodyboarding, swimming, picnicking, tide pools, sightseeing, and so much more. And be sure to take a stroll through Heisler Park, this is one of the most beautiful places in Southern California let alone Laguna Beach!
When parking, find limited spots on Cliff Drive or metered parking along PCH.
Main Beach is hands down one of the must-see Laguna Beach beaches and one of the most popular beaches in Orange County. In relation to its name, Main Beach is centrally located right in downtown Laguna Beach, making it the perfect spot to spend some time on the sand or check out the local stores, coffee shops, or restaurants.
Out of all of the best beaches in Laguna Beach, Main Beach takes the cake as far as amenities and activities. In addition to your usual beach-going, find yourself exploring the boardwalk or taking on some competition at the basketball courts or beach volleyball courts here.
There is also a large grassy park perfect for picnicking and often beautiful public art installations. Although the crowds here are usually bigger, justifiably so, it’s worth it to have a little less space on the sand in order to experience the energy and activities here at Main Beach. Some even say that a visit to Main Beach is an absolute must for everyone at least once in their lives.
If you’re traveling with children, they will love the playgrounds and you’ll love the accessible restrooms, showers, and easily identifiable lifeguards!
What’s even better is that you have tons of options for dining or plenty of opportunities to take a break from the beach down here with all the downtown Laguna Beach amenities. You can find parking in downtown Laguna Beach, which gets absolutely packed in the summer, or you can find parking elsewhere along the Laguna Beach coast and PCH and take advantage of the trolley.
Sleepy Hollow Beach
Not far from Main Beach, Sleepy Hollow Beach definitely lives up to its name. If you’re looking for a quiet and secluded spot, this is one of the Laguna Beach beaches that locals love. Locals look to Sleepy Hollow as one of the best beaches in Laguna for surfing because they can keep the big swells to themselves.
While the surfers and bodyboarders love this beach, especially closer to the south end of the beach, swimmers should use caution as there are many submerged rocks and rough reefs.
One of the most attractive reasons to visit Sleepy Hollow is that it is located directly below The Pacific Edge Hotel and its two beachside restaurants, easily making it one of the best beaches in Laguna Beach. Enjoy incredible oceanfront views and sunsets while dining at either The Deck or Driftwood Kitchen, The Deck is awesome for sunset cocktails.
Another oceanview dining experience can be had at The Cliff Restaurant for breakfast, lunch, and especially a romantic dinner perched up above the beach on the cliffs, one of my personal favorite spots for a drink with a view. You definitely won’t want to miss their Happy Hour every Monday-Friday from 3 PM-6 PM and they have little shops you can check out too.
As mentioned, Sleepy Hollow is a short walk from the Main Beach area in downtown, meaning all facilities and amenities you may need can be located there, as there are no restrooms at Sleepy Hollow Beach.
When planning for parking at this beach, you can look to the hotel and the restaurants for valet parking or snag a spot along PCH or walk here from downtown.
Thalia Street Beach
Among Laguna Beach beaches, Thalia Street is most famously known for having a gentle surf break, being the perfect spot for surfing beginners. Because of the intense swell in Laguna, most say that Thalia Street Beach is really the only spot visitors are given the opportunity to learn how to surf.
Because of the surf break, the beach is also popular amongst people looking to skimboard and stand-up paddle board, but it’s important to keep in mind that swimming and bodyboarding are not prohibited.
At high tide, it’s nearly impossible to find a dry sandy spot to lounge but when the tide is low, it’s a lovely comfortable spot to sunbathe. During the winter months, the beach is mostly rocky as the storms usually wash away the sand.
Regardless of what time of year you visit Thalia Street Beach, you can count on Thalia Surf Shop to meet all your beachy needs. Find all the surf equipment, graphic tees, beanies, hats, souvenirs, and more. This surf shop is definitely one of the best spots in Laguna Beach.
Check out the metered parking along PCH when planning a visit to Thalia Street or park a few blocks up in the residential areas and walk down, Glenneyre Street usually you can find a spot.
Oak Street Beach
Another one of the best spots in Laguna Beach and similar to Thalia Street, Oak Street (with only Anita Street Beach between the two) is known for its low-key surf break and is often slightly less crowded than its neighboring beach, Thalia Street Beach. This Laguna Beach beach is popular among surfers and skimboarders.
During peak season in the summer months, Oak Street is reserved just for swimmers, but surfing can be enjoyed nearby. Oak Street Beach is also known to be one of the Laguna Beach beaches that is quite narrow, meaning it leaves less space on the sand for lounging when the tide is high because of the rocks that extend toward the ocean.
If you go swimming, something to be aware of is that the reef can be dangerous here as it’s a rock shelf and if you don’t know that in advance or aren’t careful you can be seriously injured.
If you’re looking for a great spot to relax at Oak Street Beach, there is a lovely park located at Gaviota Drive with benches where guests can overlook the ocean and watch surfers at nearby beaches. From this park, there is also an access stairway to the beach. If you really want to have an amazing afternoon here, grab some takeout at Wahoo’s Fish Tacos or grab a Banzai Bowl and bring them down here.
Parking is very limited on Oak Street but always make sure to check along Highway 1!
Another one of the best Laguna Beach beaches, Victoria Beach is located just south of downtown Laguna and is widely known for its Pirate Tower, which quickly became a famous spot for photos.
Built in 1926, the tower was originally an enclosed staircase down to the beach for Los Angeles Senator William E. Brown. Although the tower can only be visited and really seen at low tide, it has still helped Victoria Beach become unanimously known to be one of the best beaches in Laguna.
While this beach has some fame because of its tower, it is still shockingly a very reserved and less crowded beach. Beyond the Pirate Tower, Victoria Beach has volleyball courts, caves, and some of the best tide pools out of the Laguna Beach beaches.
It’s also another one of the best spots in Laguna Beach for skimboarding, snorkeling, swimming, stand-up paddle boarding, and scuba diving.
Parking in this area can be a challenge. There is free and metered parking available along PCH and you can sometimes find free parking in the surrounding neighborhoods. If you happen to strike out with free or metered parking, you can still access the beach via the free trolley.
Upon arriving, be prepared to take multiple flights of stairs down to the sand and because there are no restrooms at Victoria Beach, be sure to make a pit stop before arrival. The staircase is off of Sunset Terrace, it almost looks like it’s connected to the home nextdoor, but it leads directly down to the beach.
While Victoria Beach is easily one of the best beaches in Laguna, it’s incredibly important to check the tide before visiting. When the tide is high, this beach can be unsafe in certain areas including the Instagram famous tide pool and limiting the number of activities you can take advantage of since the waves break right on the shore.
Lastly, note that the City of Laguna Beach prohibits guests from taking or collecting any rocks, shells, or marine life from this beach and there are also no lifeguards here.
Aliso Beach is one of the most well-known Laguna Beach beaches, as well as one of the most popular Southern California beaches in Orange County— especially amongst skimboarders. Aliso Beach’s claim to fame is hosting the annual world championship of skimboarding, known as The Vic.
Every day of the year, you can find some of the world’s best skimboarders mastering their craft on the heavy shore break. Beyond the skimboarders, Aliso Beach is easily one of the best beaches in Laguna Beach as it’s equipped with facilities like restrooms and one of the rare beaches that has its own designated parking lot located in South Laguna Beach.
While skimboarding is more popular here than any other of the beaches in Laguna Beach, it is also a spot for surfers, especially during the winter. Other visitors usually enjoy swimming, bodysurfing, body boarding, and stand-up paddle boarding.
Need a snack? Aliso Beach is one of the Laguna Beach beaches that also offers food concessions in the summer months. In addition to the bathrooms, guests will be able to find access outdoor showers, fire rings, and even a playground if you’re visiting with kids. What more could you need?
Plus you can walk to other beaches from here if you’re up for an adventure. Beat the crowds by checking out West Street Beach— located near the south end of Aliso Beach. This is a reserved and less crowded beach, even during the peak season that may be just a little trickier to get to but has a lot to offer.
West Street Beach has wide-open sand and a variety of tide pools, it is also known to have an incredibly welcoming atmosphere. It was known to help create a welcoming environment for the LGBTQ community.
There is a parking lot located at this beach and out of all the Laguna Beach beaches, it’s the only one to offer on-site metered parking for $1/hour.
Table Rock Beach
Located in South Laguna Beach, Table Rock Beach is one of the most beautiful and best beaches in Laguna Beach. This is actually one of our favorite beaches ever as my old apartment used to be right up the street and this was our ‘go to beach’. In fact, this beach was so special to us we did a quick flash mob-style wedding here with our parents and siblings.
Table Rock has much appeal, such as the fancy mansions hovering over the beach, the incredible skimboarding scene, and the feeling of exclusivity but having enough room to spread out.
The beach gets its name from the flat rock that divides the sand at the center of the beach, and when the tide is low these rocks can be climbed and explored. But when the tide is high, it’s best to avoid the rocky terrain and the lifeguards will yell at you anyway.
Additionally, on the south end of the beach, just over the rocks, guests can find a small hidden beach known as Secret Cove. If you’re a strong swimmer you can swim over to it pretty easily or access it via the rocks carefully during low tide.
Because Table Rock is not as easily accessible as some of the other Laguna Beach beaches, it is best to park along PCH and then walk to the north side of Bluff Drive. Visitors will find the entrance on West Street Beach.
Thousand Steps Beach
One of the largest beaches in Laguna Beach, Thousand Steps Beach is almost exactly what it sounds like— guests must overcome the 223 steps to get down to the expansive and gorgeous sand. The feat is definitely worth it to experience one of the widest beaches in Laguna Beach.
If you intend on visiting this beach, plan to pack light to make the grueling steps not so grueling on your way back up. We’ve witnessed people lugging children, wagons, and coolers back up the steps and it’s hard enough with just a small backpack!
This beach is known to be one of the best spots in Laguna Beach for its breathtaking sandstone cliffs that border the sand, as well as its famous caves and tide pools that adventurous visitors can explore. Because swimming to these tide pools and checking out the caves can be dangerous, it is best experienced when the tide is low.
In addition to those activities, Thousand Steps Beach is also popular for body surfing because of its shore break. Waves crashing right on the sand can be incredible but are also best suited for experienced swimmers.
On the south end of the beach is where you can access the caves at low tide. Do not attempt as the tide is coming in!
Because people are usually intimidated by the set of steps, the sand space is usually very open— leaving plenty of room for you and your group. Thousand Steps Beach also has volleyball courts, public restrooms, and an outdoor shower.
While there is parking available along PCH and in nearby residential areas, just like most of the best beaches in Laguna Beach, it can be difficult to come by a parking spot here. Also, be sure to double-check the legality of your parking job, people have been known to receive parking tickets while trying to enjoy their day at the beach.
It’s easy to get here using the trolley though!
It may sound like a lot of work and caution goes into a visit to Thousand Steps Beach, but it’s absolutely worth the trip. This can be one of the least crowded spots and easily one of the best spots in Laguna Beach to check out while in Southern California.
Laguna Beach Beaches Map:
Hope you enjoyed this guide for our favorite beaches in Laguna Beach, California! Bookmark for later or share the love below on Pinterest.