For an absolutely fun way to start the summer, visit Crystal Cove State Park located in Laguna Beach, California. It encompasses 3.2 miles of Pacific coastline, including 3 miles of beaches and tide pools, a 1,400 acre marine conservation area, an underwater park, 400 acres of bluffs, 2,400 acres of inland chaparral canyons, and the Crystal Cove historic beach cottages. It’s beachfront cove is situated between Pacific Coast Highway and the Pacific Ocean just north of Laguna Beach. The 3,936-acre park was established in 1979 and is a favorite dive beach for scuba divers, a great place to hike and a fun area to explore. It has 17 different trails that branch off of 3 centralized routes. The area is popular with hikers, surfers, swimmers, bicyclists and even horseback riding. The grounds are also available for camping. There are 34 different lots spread across the 3 designated camping areas. None are accessible by car, only by hiking, and are for up to 4 people per site. No pets are allowed. California State Parks Lifeguard service patrol the beach year round. Visitors can explore the tide pools and the beautiful sandy coves.
One of the most unique spots in the vast Crystal Cove is its wonderful 46 small beach cottages built in the 1920s and 1930s by the Irvine Company and which are registered with the National Register of Historic Places. The cottages have been fully renovated and are for rent to the public. The house from the movie Beaches is located in Crystal Cove. Visitors may enjoy the visitors center as they learn the history of the park and the cottages.
Crystal Cove is home of many species of birds and other wildlife. Some of the birds seen regularly include the Turkey Vulture, Mourning Dove, Ring Bullied Gull, the Common Raven, and the House Sparrow. Reptiles are commonly seen by visitors and include Red Diamond rattlesnakes, Gopher snakes, California King snakes, many types of lizards, Arboreal Salamander, and Pacific Tree frogs.
A visit to Crystal Cove to experience its raw beauty is worth seeing. It is largely untouched and one of the most beautiful and historic places around the Newport area. John Irvine worked hard to keep the area free from high end dense development. Dogs are allowed on the trails, but not on the beach. There are bathrooms near the parking area. There is a fee for parking. Certain resorts have a shuttle to the area. There is a Beachcomber café, which can get crowded.
Mailing Address: 8471 N. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Ranger Station: 949-494-3539 (For general park information and to speak to a park supervisor.)
Interpretive line: 949-497-7647 (For field trips, volunteer information and public programs)
Email addresses: Interpreter Special Events/film permits
Moro Campground Information: 949-494-3539
Crystal Cove State Park Cottage Reservations: phone 800-444-7275