Everything is just a bit different at Little Corona, a secluded cove ideal for snorkeling just south of its glamorous neighbor, Corona Del Mar Beach (aka Big Corona). No glitz, no crowds. No long staircase to the beach—instead, a paved downhill path. It’s not a see-and-be-seen scene, but rather a haven for adventurous beachgoers lured by above- and underwater beauty—and the warmest ocean water of the year.
The cove is flanked on both sides by enchanting tide pools and rock formations, including Arch Rock to the south. Take some time to explore the rocks and see the habitants of the pools before heading into the water. Be sure to wear shoes with good tread, because those rocks are slippery.
Getting out into the water here is tricky. Waves can get fairly large (for a cove), making this site best suited for intermediate-level swimmers. Once you make it past the waves, you’re rewarded with an underwater wonderland full of submerged rock formations, eel grass, lots of fish (including opaleye and garibaldi), and on rare occasions, leopard sharks (totally harmless). Both ends of the cove offer similar sights. However, the fish tend to congregate toward the southern half.
As you head back to your car after a day of adventuring in Little Corona, take a moment to appreciate the view from Inspiration Point at the top of the bluff. On a clear day you can see Catalina Island off in the distance, and watching the sunset from here is breathtaking.
Safety Tips: Check with the lifeguard on duty about the presence of strong rip currents, and only venture out if you are a good swimmer. Don’t get too close to underwater rocks; they can be very sharp. Obey all posted beach signage; this is a protected cove.
To get to Little Corona, take Pacific Coast Hwy. in Corona Del Mar to Poppy Ave. Follow Poppy Ave. toward the ocean until it curves to the right, becoming Ocean Blvd. The paved path is just below that junction of Poppy and Ocean. Parking is on the street in the surrounding neighborhood. Public restrooms and showers are available during the summer months. Snorkeling gear is available for purchase at Ray’s Rentals in Newport Beach. Check surf reports before you go; smaller swells will provide better visibility. No dogs between 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.