A Local’s Guide to Crystal Cove State Park
Just a short drive down the coast from Los Angeles, Orange County is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in California. One of our favorites is Crystal Cove State Park. Here’s everything you need to know about this hidden gem!
Crystal Cove State Park is one of Orange County’s best-kept secrets. The 3.2-mile stretch of coastline is dotted with tide pools, secluded coves, and beautiful beaches—and it’s just a stone’s throw from the bustle of Los Angeles. Whether you’re looking for a place to relax or an adventure, Crystal Cove has something for everyone.
Here are a few of our favorite things to do at Crystal Cove State Park:
Hiking: With 12 miles of hiking trails winding through 2,791 acres of wilderness, Crystal Cove is a hiker’s paradise. These trails offer stunning ocean views, as well as a chance to see some of the park’s resident wildlife, like bobcats, coyotes, and deer.
Pelican Point Trail is a great option for beginner hikers; the moderate 2.5-mile loop takes you on a scenic hike along the coast with plenty of opportunities to rest and take in the view. For more experienced hikers, Moro Ridge Trail is a challenging 6.5-mile roundtrip hike that culminates in panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean from 1,400 feet above sea level.
Camping: Crystal Cove State Park offers 61 campsites nestled in the Moro Canyon Wilderness Area. These sites are reserved for tent camping only and can be accessed by foot or bike only—no cars allowed!
Reservations are required and can be made up to six months in advance; campsites fill up quickly, so be sure to plan ahead!
Beachcombing: With 17 miles of coastline and 24 different beaches to choose from, Crystal Cove State Park is a beachcomber’s paradise. You never know what you might find washed up on the shore—we’ve found everything from sea glass to shells to sea stars!
The Beaches: Whether you want to body surf or build sandcastles, there’s a perfect beach for you at Crystal Cove State Park. If you’re feeling adventurous, head to Shark Hole Beach—a popular spot for bodysurfing—or Moro Beach, where you can rent kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. Prefer somewhere more low-key? Then Pelican Point Beach is perfect for you; it’s sheltered from the wind and waves, making it ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and relaxing.
Tide Pools: One of our favorite things about Crystal Cove State Park are the tide pools! These rocky outcroppings are home to a variety of marine life including starfish, crabs, sea anemones, and sea urchins. Be sure to explore during low tide; that’s when you’ll find the most critters!
Crystal Cove State Park is one of Orange County’s best-kept secrets. With 12 miles of hiking trails winding through 2,791 acres of wilderness and 17 miles of coastline dotted with tide pools and secluded coves, it’s easy to while away an entire day here. Whether you’re looking for a place to relax or an adventure, Crystal Cove has something for everyone. So pack your sunscreen and your sense of wonderment—you won’t be disappointed!