Explore the Caves and Tidepools of Crystal Cove State Park
Crystal Cove State Park in Laguna Beach is a wonderland with several hiking trails, and a beautiful beachside trail that overlooks its gorgeous coastline. Once you park, you can follow the trail down the beachside to explore the tide pools and really interesting caves and rock formations.
You can park at Los Trancos Parking Lot to start, which is $5/hour (max $15). This money goes towards the conservation of the State Park, so it’s money well spent. From the parking lot take the trail (near the bathrooms) down to a tunnel that leads you to the Crystal Cove State Park Historical District. You can see some great old beach cottages along the way to the beach.
You can also park at the Reef Point Entrance which is further south if you want to do a longer walk with more tidepools. Parking here is a flat $15 rate.
When to go
The best time of year to go is December and January to view the tide pools while the water is at low tide.
If you decide to walk along the beach, there are four viewing areas you can go to see the tidepools: Reef Point, Rocky Bight, Pelican Point, and Treasure Cove.
We headed north from Reef Point towards Treasure Cove.
The tide pools are filled with creatures so watch your step! There are sea anemones, hermit crabs, sea stars, sea urchins and more. The water is crystal clear and sits in glistening pools over the rocky rugged coastline. These rocks have been shaped over millions of years by the sea, sand and magma.
You can see below how colorful the tide pools can be.
There are beautiful rock formations all along this coastline like the one you see below.
There are some sea caves you can walk through like the one below.
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One of things I love most about living in California is all the different landscapes you can explore. As you can see, this coastline is incredibly interesting with the layers of rock that most likely formed as the water levels got lower over millions of years.
As you walk along the beach you’ll past the historic district of Laguna Beach, where there are beach cottages that were first built by the Irvine Company and owned by movie directors and producers. Treasure Island (1918) and Beaches (1988) were both filmed here. Some of the cottages are now public vacation rentals, and some are dilapidated from decades of neglect. Thankfully, these old cottages are being prepped for restoration.
There is a restaurant and a bar in the Historic District, The Beachcomber Cafe and Bootlegger Bar. Head there after a hike for some appetizers and delicious bloody mary’s. On weekends expect a long wait time!
If you want to do a longer more ambitious trail hike, park at El Moro Canyon and check out the El Moro Canyon Loop Trail.
You can also take a trip to go whale watching in this area. Here are a few trip options.
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