Summer is (almost) officially here, and California’s beaches are beckoning. If you’re ready to get your toes wet and take on a new watersport in true SoCal style, you’ll find everything you need to go sailing, snorkeling or surfing in Orange County (tip: don’t call it the OC). We travelled all the way down to the Newport Coast to shoot our last catalogue and found just about everything cool to do under the sun!
While there are many places that lay claim to being the “Surf Capital of the World”, only Huntington Beach boasts the moniker “Surf City USA.” So if you’re thinking of taking up surfing, or simply immersing yourself in surf culture, you need to start here with a visit to the International Surfing Museum, and a stroll along the Surfer’s Walk of Fame. Wander on to the pier for great surf-watching, and then when you’re ready to head out, you’ll find plenty of surf rental shops to get you suited up.
Newport Beach is along stretch of sandy beach that is ideal for bodysurfing, body boarding, or simply enjoying a day at the beach. Bring all the toys, you can use them here. At the south end, the more adventurous and experienced bodysurfer can take on The Wedge, where the jetty creates a fierce shore break with steep waves and exciting conditions.
Snorkeling and Scuba Diving
The best spots for snorkeling and diving in Orange County are found in and around Laguna Beach. Crescent Bay is favored for having rocky tidepools, giant kelpforests, and a reef. Just south is Shaw’s Cove, and Fisherman’s Cove is south of that. There are some interesting reef formations, such as an underwater arch between Shaw’s Cove and Crescent Bay. Commonly viewed marine life includes brightly colored garibaldi fish, sea stars, sea urchins, bat rays, and the occasional leopard shark (harmless).
Corona Del Mar State Beach is a great all-around beach for swimming and playing in the water. This family-friendly protected state beach is sheltered from the larger swells, and here you’ll find picnic tables, fire pits, showers, restroom, and a snack bar. Further south, Laguna Beach is where you’ll find a high concentration of luxury hotels with private beaches, all of which have optimal conditions for good ole swimming and sunbathing.
Stand Up Paddleboarding
If you’re more interested in being on the water than in it, head to the Back Bay of Newport Beach, where you can learn to Stand Up Paddle in calmer waters. Also known as Paddleboarding or SUP, this sport is self-propelling and doesn’t require waves, though more advanced Paddleboarders will head to the beach to ride waves as well.
Sailing, Yachting, Whale Watching…and gondolas!
So, you really don’t fancy get wet at all, but love a good dose of ocean air. Sailing and yachting options are abundant, especially around Dana Point Marina and Balboa Islands. Some of the best whale watching in the world can be found off the Orange County coast, where whale and dolphin sightings occur year-round. For something completely different, you can even take a romantic gondola cruise in Newport Beach. Whatever your watersport inclination, you’ll be sure to find the best spots to learn, enjoy, or simply spectate, all in Orange County.