Looking for the best tide pools in Orange County? Grab your water shoes and a tide chart, and head to Crescent Bay in Laguna Beach! The mix of shallow and deep pools provides a perfect home for all sorts of sea creatures such as mussels, barnacles, sea stars, urchins, clams, and shore crabs.
Head to the south end of the cove below Twin Points to find the best pools—there’s also a small sea cave there. Navigating the rocks can be a tad tricky, so wear closed-toe shoes that you don’t mind getting wet, and watch your step! And, of course, avoid trampling or disturbing any of the wildlife. (All the beaches in Laguna Beach are protected State Marine Conservation Areas.)
Once you’ve checked out Crescent Bay’s south end, continue to the north end, where you’ll find Seal Rock—and if you’re lucky, some of its namesakes lounging about. For an even closer look at life under the water, just south of Crescent Bay is Shaw’s Cove, home to the best snorkeling on the California mainland. Just head back out to Cliff Drive and walk south for about 0.2 mile, and you’ll see the entrance for the cove. But you don’t have to get wet to get close to coastal creatures—that, of course, is the beauty of tide pooling!
From Pacific Coast Hwy. in Laguna Beach, turn onto Cliff Dr. and follow it to the beach. Park in any of the surrounding neighborhoods, being careful to respect the residents and obey posted parking signs. Otherwise, park anywhere on PCH. The best place to access Crescent Bay is by following the road marked “Authorized Vehicles Only,” which leads you to the middle of the beach. There is no beach access at Crescent Bay Point Park. No dogs allowed on beach 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., June 15 to Sept. 10; leashed dogs allowed outside of those dates and times.