Salt Creek Beach has emerged as one of the top hotspots for beach lovers wanting to spend a beautiful day with the sun and sand in Dana Point, California. It has been particularly popular among surfers ever since its breakwaters and the harbor changed the meaning of surfing here. Surfing tends to be an obvious highlight at Salt Creek Beach, but the area is also home to the largest kelp forest of California and a number of tide pools. Salt Creek presents velvety sands and is located right below the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel Beach Resort. The beach park also presents a wide range of recreational facilities including picnic tables, walking paths, snack shops and barbecue grills.
Salt Creek Beach is a top spot for surfing, particularly if you’re any good at it. You definitely need to be an experienced surfer to surf here. The area tends to get crowded in the area under the Ritz Carlton in the summer, but that never presents a problem for pro surfers who are out in the water very early in the morning. Body surfing takes place a little farther north up the beach, and that is a blast for all ages. It is also considered to be a beautiful spot to enjoy romantic sunsets and invigorating walks.
An offshore reef creates some of the best swells, making surfers fall in love with the breaks. Other activities include body surfing, swimming, tide pool exploration and sunbathing. A paved path located on the west side of the parking lot also leads to the Bluff Park, the ideal spot for picnics and barbecues. A path connects Salt Creek Beach to a multi-use trail which leads to scenic corridors, a picturesque golf course and links the two beautiful Five Star Resorts together – the Ritz Carlton and The St. Regis Monarch Beach. This is considered one of the most beautiful beach paths in the world. Convenience facilities include outdoor showers, restrooms, seasonal restaurants and beach supplies such as umbrellas, beach chairs and boogie boards.
How to Get There
To get to Salt Creek Beach, you need to turn off the Pacific Coast Highway onto Ritz-Carlton Drive. Park your vehicle in the public parking lot across from the hotel entrance and walk down the pedestrian trail and underpass that leads to the beach and the bluff park. There are two parking lots, the lower parking lot and the lot at Ritz-Carlton Drive and both lots charge $1 per hour. To avoid the long walk to the beach, you can choose a shuttle ride for $1.
Doheny State Beach is a popular surf beach located at the mouth of San Juan Creek, which flows southwest from the Santa Ana Mountains and forms a fresh-water lagoon close to the beach. Doheny is a protected beach in California and is located right on the mouth of the Pacific Ocean. Doheny is a two-in-one-beach that lets you enjoy the very best of camping as well as sunbathing. The camping facilities are located in the south with some campsites located steps away from the beach while the northern parts are reserved for day use. Surfing is restricted to the northern parts of the beach and surf fishing is also popular. The beach was donated for public use by Edward L. Doheny, an oil tycoon, in the year 1931 and became the first state beach of California.
Doheny State Beach covers an area of 62 acres, including the park in the north and the campsites of the south. Apart from excellent surfing facilities, the beach also presents a 5-acre lawn full of volleyball courts and picnic tables, campgrounds, tide pools, aquariums and a visitor center. Such is its popularity that it attracts close to one million visitors per year. Doheny is truly gorgeous and the beautiful park right next to the beach makes your journey even more special.
Animal and Plant Life
Doheny State Beach is home to all kinds of animals and plants. Its marine life features several types of sharks and sea bass, anemone, dolphins, sea urchins, octopus, stingrays, harbor seals, kelp, abalone and California morays. The most popular birds that can be found here include the great blue heron, snowy egret and the brown pelican.
The construction of the Dana Point Harbor in the 60s was responsible for changing the wave configurations at Doheny Beach. While board surfing is allowed all along the beach, most of the kayaking and paddleboard surfing is now restricted to a section of the beach located to the south of Thor’s Hammer. The safest spots for wading and swimming are in the north where the bottom slopes out gently for a distance. On the other hand, the south side presents a precipitous drop just beyond the edge.
How to Get There
Doheny State Beach is located about a mile to the north of I-5, at a distance of 3 miles from the San Juan Capistrano Mission. It has two separate areas, the one in the north and the one in the south, and both areas have their own parking lots. Entrance to the beach is off Dana Point Harbor Drive for both areas and the parking charges are $15 per vehicle. You can also park for free down the road in the Harbor parking lot and walk a short block to get to the beach.
Laguna Beach is famous for its nine-mile waterfront that is home to as many as 36 fascinating beaches! The beaches of Irvine Cove, Three Arch Bay and Emerald Bay could easily make the cut, but these beautiful beaches are not open to the public and need to be accessed via private gated communities. So unless you know someone in these communities, these beaches are out of reach. That said, there are a few exceptional cove beaches such as Victoria Beach, Crescent Bay and Thousand Steps that are open to the public.
Most of the beach scene in Laguna Beach can be found at Main Beach, home to all kinds of shops, restaurants, volleyball courts, grass lawns and thousands of people. It is perhaps the best people-watching spot in Laguna Beach. An entire section of the shoreline between Keyhole Rock and Main Beach offers a continuous stretch of sand, but each street has stairwells. This means that you have 12 separate beaches to choose from between the two endpoints. Walking along these sandy shores is an romantic thing to do.
Thousand Steps Beach
Thousand Steps Beach is among the largest beaches in Laguna Beach. It offers tide pools, restrooms and volleyball courts and is an exciting place to visit. There is a huge cave located at the south end of the beach that can be explored when the tide is out. You can walk through the cave to come out on a rocky cove on the other side. There is another tunnel at the north end of the beach which leads to the picturesque Totuava beach.
Crescent Bay Beach
Crescent Bay Beach is an incredibly popular beach that can be accessed from Cliff Drive. Home to one of the best walking paths in Laguna Beach, this is where you go for whale-watching and scuba diving. The main scuba diving area is Seal Rock, clearly visible with seals and birds on top of it. Tide pools are also exposed at both ends of the cove during a low tide.
Fisherman’s Cove Beach
Fisherman’s Cove Beach is a south-facing beach that is particularly famous among divers, but isn’t the best place to go for a swim. The beach is also known as Boat Canyon Beach because of its unique location at the bottom of Boat Canyon. It isn’t easily accessible, and this means that it turns out to be a hidden gem when the tide is out and other beaches in the area are crowded.
Treasure Island Beach
Treasure Island Beach is a sandy beach located to the south of Montage Resort. The beach is basically the north end of the Aliso Beach Park cove, but is a much safer place to swim in because of the protection offered by the huge rocks off the shore. You can also enjoy a beautiful hike through the natural arch located on the route that leads to Middle Man Cove.
San Clemente is home to some of the hottest surf spots in the world and boasts of having some of the most beautiful beaches in this part of the world. San Clemente has been attracting people from all around the world with its lazy lifestyle, 4-mile coastline, outstanding surfing and laid-back charm. Here are some of the most popular beaches to explore while in San Clemente.
San Onofre State Beach
San Onofre State Beach is one of the most popular beaches in California. It hosts cyclists, surfers, sunbathers and swimmers from all over the US and boasts of attracting close to 2.5 million visitors each year. Whales, sea lions and dolphins can also be seen offshore at frequent intervals. The state beach has been divided into three distinct areas – the San Mateo Campground, San Onofre Bluffs and San Onofre Surf Beach. San Onofre Bluffs is popular among surfers and swimmers and all campsites located here include picnic tables and fire pits. The San Mateo Campground connects to the Trestles Beach, famous for its world-class surfing, through a 1.5-mile nature trail. The San Mateo Creek flows east of the campground creating wetland and riparian habitats that host some of the most endangered species in the area. The San Onofre Surf Beach is a day-use beach known for its historic surf breaks.
Calafia State Park Beach
Calafia State Park is another elite area in San Clemente that has everything from beautiful beaches, summer migration grounds, restrooms and concessions. It is a perfect spot for families and is incredibly busy during the summer months. The beach may not be a popular surfing spot because of its calm waves, but it does offer all kinds of exciting activities that makes it perfect for an outing with your family or friends.