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View of Crystal Cove State Park from the cliffs above

If you are a thalassophile, then a trip to Crystal Cove State Park should be high on your bucket list.

Regarded by many as being one of California’s best beaches, this vast stretch of pristine coastline boasts immaculate golden sand and mesmeric rolling surf. Its spectacular landscape is completed by glistening tide pools, lush undulating hills and dense forested canyons.

Nestled between Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach, many people come here for swimming, fishing, scuba diving, surfing and snorkeling. Picnics, especially at sunset, are also popular too.

Should you want to venture inland however, several hiking, biking, horseback riding and wildlife watching opportunities present themselves as well.

For those looking to escape the pressures of city life, this California state park provides the perfect backdrop in which to de-stress.

Subsequently, many people visit it on a day-trip basis. Although for those who want to stay overnight, there are good camping and cottage accommodation options available.

walkway to the beach at Crystal Cove State Park

Activities

Visitors can engage in a range of outdoor recreational activities during their time at Crystal Cove State Park.

Showcased below are just a few of the many things you can see and do during your time there.

Water activities at Crystal Cove State Park

Crystal Cove State Park is a haven for those who enjoy water based recreational activities.

The likes of swimming, surfing, boogie boarding and body surfing are all popular activities at the park, with the swell being decent enough to have fun.

Surfers will find the best waves at Reef Point and Moro Beach and you will be able to enjoy these activities with the peace of mind that the area is lifeguarded.

As it is designated as both a Marine Life Refuge and an Underwater Park, the coastline is a renowned spot for SCUBA or free-diving. Should you wish to venture below the surface of the water you will find an incredibly diverse range of marine life species.

Local diving shops will be able to give you the lowdown on which are the best spots to dive at. Just be mindful that some of them are a fair hike from the campground. So you might need to carry your equipment a bit of a distance.

Aerial photograph of Crystal Cove State Park

Fishing at Crystal Cove State Park

Much of the coastline is protected from fishing. On account of efforts within the State Marine Reserve and State Marine Conservation Area to preserve marine life.

However, fishing is permitted at Crystal Cove State Park, where a good amount of sand bass, perch, rockfish and corbina can be found.

You will be able to gauge the best fishing spots from local anglers and the staff at the park’s main office.

Trails at Crystal Cove State Park

Away from the sand, there are over 18 miles of trails available to explore via hiking, biking or horseback riding.

These trails take you into over 2,000 acres of wilderness that incorporate a patchwork of different terrain and elevations.

Taking you from the sandy beaches, through deep woodlands, to verdant backcountry mountainous regions – replete with craggy canyons, you’ll be blown away by the beauty of the park’s nature.

If you intend to hike, be sure to wear a good pair of boots, as well as a hat and lots of sunscreen and mosquito protection. It is worth taking plenty of water with you too.

For mountain biking and horseback riding, it is always worth wearing a helmet to be on the safer side.

dirt hiking trail at Crystal Cove State Park on a sunny day

Picnicking at Crystal Cove State Park

Throughout the park there are several scenic picnic spots which can be used for an al fresco meal.

While there are no specially designated picnic areas, you will find a number of tables to sit at – in particular at Moro Beach and the Historic District Beach.

Unfortunately there are no pavilions or shelters available to reserve. So all of them are strictly available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Nature & Wildlife

The park is home to a wide range of wildlife species, many of which you will be able to see as you tackle the trails.

These include the likes of coyotes, rattlesnakes and wood rats, which predominantly reside in the woodland areas.

Further along the shoreline, you should see otters, seals and starfish.

Crystal Cove State Park is also home to several types of birds who live on a migratory or permanent basis within it.

Pets at Crystal Cove State Park

You are more than welcome to bring your pooch with you along to the park, although certain conditions on their presence apply.

To find out what they are it is worth contacting the park’s main office for further clarification.

Camping at Crystal Cove State Park

For those who want to stay overnight at Crystal Cove State Park there is a lovely campground available to visitors.

Set upon a bluff, the terrace campground offers 58 campsites that provide tremendous views of the Pacific Ocean and easy access to the beach.

Of these sites, 28 are set up for RV and trailer use, while the remaining 30 are more suitable for soft-sided, low-impact trailers, tent campers or van conversions. Many of these sites come with hookups for electricity and water.

Some of the amenities you can expect to use at the campground include restrooms that are fully accessible and pay-for showers.

In addition to these sites, there are also 24 quaint cottages you can choose to stay at. Wonderfully restored, they provide a throwback to California’s beachside cottage era. Giving guests an insight into what life was like between 1935 and 1955.

Open all year round, these cottages come with kitchens that have a fridge and microwave, as well as beds and other furnishings.

Regardless of whether you stay at the camping site or the cottages, you are recommended to make a booking.

Park Location

Crystal Cove State Park
8471 N Coast Hwy
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Phone: 949.494.3539

Park Website
Reservations

Map

Video

Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Crystal Cove State Park: