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Exploring a Pristine Coastal Environment

The 11-kilometer Laguna Beach coastline consists of more than 30 coves and beaches, all part of a California marine reserve that protects this ecosystem. At the heart of the city is Main Beach, with its iconic lifeguard tower and shallow, calm waters ideal for swimming and paddleboarding. Victoria Beach has several claims to fame: its historic Pirate Tower, a manmade swimming pool that’s filled by the ocean water and as a hot spot for skimboarding (a water sport that was invented here in the early 1920s). Treasure Island Beach’s clear waters make for stunning snorkeling, while the moon-shaped Crescent Bay Beach is popular for bodysurfing or admiring sea stars and anemones in tide pools.

For an offshore adventure, head out on a whale-watching cruise to spot blue whales in the summer and fall; gray whales in winter and spring; and finback whales, minke whales, humpback whales and dolphins year-round. Animal lovers should also tour the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, a wildlife center focused on the rescue, rehabilitation and release of marine animals. On your visit, you might see California sea lions, Northern elephant seals, Pacific harbor seals or Northern fur seals. You’ll also learn more about conservation through interactive exhibits and artifacts.

 

Nature Beyond the Beach

More than 8,000 hectares of protected wilderness welcome hikers and mountain bikers to explore the city’s inland landscape of craggy canyons, dramatic hills and lush valleys. Find one of Laguna Beach’s most spectacular vista points, Top of the World, near Alta Laguna Park and marvel at 360-degree views of rolling hills leading out to the Pacific Ocean. From here, head out on a trailhead leading into the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, a wildlife sanctuary that also protects native flora. Other popular hiking and mountain biking destinations include Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, where you can also take a mountain biking lesson at Nix Nature Center, and Crystal Cove State Park, home to an incredible undeveloped coastal woodland.

 

A City of Arts, Culture and Creativity

As you stroll the charming streets of Laguna Beach’s downtown village, it’s easy to appreciate the city’s legacy as an artist’s colony and hippie enclave. Visitors can connect with that spirit along the Pathway to Zen Wellness Trail, a series of spas, health-conscious eateries and stores, yoga classes, and more soul-quenching activities and locales. The city’s creative atmosphere is evident in more than 100 pieces of public art and just as many art galleries, as well as its array of locally owned shops and restaurants. Plan to explore during festive monthly First Thursdays Art Walks, when galleries keep their doors open late and free admission is also offered to the Laguna Art Museum. One of the oldest museums in California, it still maintains its focus on California art. Free trolley service is provided during art walks and year-round (hours and days vary by season). Complete your Laguna Beach experience with a stay at one of seven unique oceanfront hotels.

Fun Fact

A skimboarder catching air in Laguna Beach, California
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Skimboarding was invented by Laguna Beach lifeguards in the early 1920s. The original skimboarders used rounded pieces of wood to surf the shallow wave breaks.

Aerial view of a surfer in Shaws Cove in Laguna Beach, California
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More than just a beach: Laguna Beach’s coastline consists of more than 30 unique coves and beaches.

Photo: Seth Willingham

Spotting dolphins off the coast of Laguna Beach, California, on a Newport Landing Whale Watching tour
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Laguna Beach has one of the USA’s largest dolphin populations. A video from the city went viral in May 2020 when a "superpod" of more than 1,000 dolphins was filmed off the coast.

Photo: Newport Landing Whale Watching

A manmade pool at Victoria Beach Park in Laguna Beach, California
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