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Tourists Favorite Beaches in Orange County


The beaches in Orange County are almost as famous in California as Disneyland. As there are a large number of beaches in the area which are each known for different characteristics it can be hard to narrow it down to just a few to visit. Sometimes it is easiest to decide where to go based on the activities and facilities offered at the location. Some of the best beaches in Orange County that are tourist favorites are listed below along with activities, facilities, and services available.

Huntington Beach PierBalboa Beach

Best Beach for Family Fun

This beach is one of the best in Orange County for kids. Families can enjoy the Balboa Fun Zone, a family friendly amusement park with many games and other types of entertainment. There is a pier almost 950 feet long, which has been voted best pier in Orange County several years in a row. At the end of the pier is a restaurant with one of the best views around. This beach is a great choice for children’s swimming lessons during the summer. The beach has showers and restrooms. If you decide not to bring food along there are several options nearby. Some of the activity options at Balboa Beach is known for include:

• Biking
• Surfing (limited hours during the summer)
• Volleyball
• Walking path
• Fishing
• Bonfires
• Swimming with lifeguard on duty during daytime hours
• Skimboarding.
• Bodyboarding

Bolsa Chica State Park

Best Beach for Bird Watching and Beginner Surfers

In addition to almost two miles of coastline, this park boasts a 350-acre Marine Sanctuary. This beach is considered to be one of the best surfing beaches in Orange County especially for beginners in search of surfing lessons. The beach has restrooms, showers and a snack bar. Along with surfing, Bolsa Chica is known for:

• Birdwatching
• Walking path
• Volleyball
• Bodyboarding
• Windsurfing
• Biking
• Bonfires
• Swimming, lifeguard on duty during daytime hours
• Surf fishing

Huntington Beach State Park

Best Beach for Beach Volleyball, Bonfires, and Surfing

This beach encompasses a long strip of soft white sand that extends for several miles. It is considered one of the best beaches in Orange County for surfing and visitors can watch experienced surfers who are usually around the pier. At the southern tip is a preserve dedicated as a nesting area for the California Least Tern. Although the area is kept fenced off to prevent anyone from disturbing the nesting birds you can still see a number of them with binoculars. Along the beach are restrooms, showers, concession stands and areas to rent beach paraphernalia. Other activities and features of Huntington Beach State Park include:

• Bike path
• Volleyball
• Basketball
• Walking path
• Fire rings for bonfires. The bonfires are very popular so it’s a good idea to get there early.
• Swimming, (lifeguard during daytime hours)
• Surfing - (banned in summer for safety)
• Bodyboarding

Main Beach, Laguna

Best Beach for People Watching and Most Romantic Beach

Although this is a small, urban beach, it is ideal for people watching. On weekends, visitors can enjoy street musicians and shop for a variety of items from local artists. This beach is considered one of the most romantic in Orange County, and the pier is a favorite place for couples to stroll after dark. The beach has showers, restrooms, numerous benches for relaxing, and restaurants nearby. Pets are allowed except on days during the busy season, which lasts from the beginning of June until mid-September. Other benefits of Main Beach, Laguna include:

• Bike path
• Walking path
• Volleyball
• Basketball courts
• Playground
• Surfing
• Skimboarding
• Swimming - lifeguard on duty during daytime hours.
• Tide pools
• Beach equipment rentals close-by

Salt Creek Beach, Dana Point

Best Beach for Trails

One of the most popular surfing spots in Orange County, this long, sandy beach is located across from the Ritz Carlton, which provides a gate for pedestrians that allows access to the grassy bluff above the beach. This bluff has benches, barbeque grills, and picnic tables. In addition to Catalina Island, the bluff overlooks the major whale migration route. There are several parking lots along the beach that can be used from 6:00 am until midnight. Showers, changing rooms and restrooms including some that are wheel chair accessible are available. Other features of the beach include:

• Numerous trails along the sea wall, bluffs, and shoreline as well as along the edge of a golf course
• Multi-use trails
• Fire pits
• Snack bar
• Picnic tables
• Barbeque pits
• Picturesque trail which passes through a number of small parks

Crescent Beach

Best Beach for Scuba Diving and Seal and Sea Lion Watching

This sandy stretch of beach is rounded into a cove measuring about a quarter mile long. It is somewhat rocky at both ends but most of the beach consists of soft sand. The beach is popular due to a large rock at the North end, which is around 120 yards out in the water. It is called Seal Island due to the large numbers of seals and sea lions that can be found there. While approaching the island is prohibited to prevent disturbing these social mammals, visitors can get a great view of them from shore. The loud barking of the sea lion can be heard up and down the entire beach. Crescent Beach is one of the best diving spots in Laguna. There are restrooms and showers. A telephone is located at the top of the path leading to the beach. Popular activities along the beach, services and facilities include:

• Tide pooling
• Scuba Diving
• Snorkeling
• Skin Diving
• Skim boarding
• Body surfing
• Body boarding
• Life Guard on duty during daylight hours

Seal Beach

Best Beach for Site Seeing and Access to Local Community

Located on the northern border of Orange County, this picturesque seaside community sits at the point where the Alamitos Bay opens out into the Pacific. Visitors to Old Town Seal Beach can relax on the pristine sand and watch the boats and yachts that pass by on their way to the open water. The pier also offers a nice place to stroll and view the beauty of the harbor. For those who like to mix time on the beach with other activities this is the perfect place. The beach backs to tree lined streets, and visitors can wander down shop filled boulevards, indulge at one of the charming restaurants including an old-world tea room or view a foreign film. The ability to go from the beach to the town in minutes is one of the best features of this area. Those who prefer to spend the day at the beach can enjoy a number of activities and amenities including:

• Bike paths
• Walking paths
• Kite flying
• Surfing
• Body Boarding
• Volleyball
• Well-maintained pier
• Food and drink
• Lifeguard on Duty
• Restrooms
• Showers
• Surf, bicycle, and kite shops nearby
• Easy access to shopping and restaurants

Newport Beach, Municipal Beach

Best Beach in Orange County

Long considered the best beach in the area, Newport Beach is actually a collection of beaches, all of which are popular. Additionally, visitors can enjoy some small community beaches, back bays, dunes, cliffs, rocky points and tide pools. The settings and natural features that make up Newport Beach have some of the most scenic areas and stunning beaches anywhere. The area has two piers, a jetty that’s perfect for surfing, and numerous shops where visitors can rent surfboards, skates and bicycles. Most beaches have restrooms, showers, and changing rooms. Though different beaches provide different facilities, services and activities, in general Newport has a variety of entertainment and interesting areas including:

• Surfing
• Bodybording
• Skin diving
• Sight seeing
• Tide Pools
• Sand Dunes
• Cliffs
• Scuba diving
• Snorkling
• Bike/skating paths
• Walking paths
• Fire rings
• Lifeguards (in most areas)
• Food and drink
• Access to many shopping areas and local restaurants

Visit Orange County

Come and Enjoy Some of the Most Beautiful Beaches in the World

While this listing represents only a percentage of the many scenic beaches in Orange County, it provides a cross section of beaches that offer a variety of activities, services, and facilities. A complete listing of beaches in the area can be found at the Orange County Visitor’s Center Site. [Top]

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Map BEACHES near Orange, CA

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