Overview of Crystal Cove State Park

Crystal Cove State Park

California Mid
USA West


Crystal Cove is one of those areas that you could spend years exploring. This large stretch of beach has several entry points, and depending upon how far you want to hike, you can choose a different entry for every day of the year!

Directions: Drive 4.5 miles South of the Newport Bridge. You'll see the miles of wild beachfront, and the entrance to the park.


ShoreDiving Survival: Campaign for Patrons
  Please click HERE to learn how, for $1 a month,
YOU can help sustain and grow ShoreDiving by becoming a Patron!

A very warm 'Thank You' to all the one-time and continuing contributors.
Because of you, after 20 years, we are becoming Ad-Free and Tracking-Free!!!

Crystal Cove State Park Patrons:   Please consider becoming a Patron for Crystal Cove State Park

Dive Site Links:   (If you have a relevant link for Crystal Cove State Park, please write us here.)
No external links have been submitted.

Diver Reviews:    Click here to write a Site Review, and share any new information about this site!

07/02/2012 Jason NYC (Avg: 3.35 Review) - I came here (reef point area) on a busy Sunday afternoon, and after seeing the stairs to the beach, I decided to just go ahead and have a nice day on the beach with my family and cancel the dive. It is not too terrible up and down the stairs, but certainly much more severe than Crescent Beach, or certainly Shaw's Cove if you have been to those spots just south of here. Only divers in very decent shape will not be hurting after the climb back up the stairs. All that said, take a look at the stairs and at the water to get a look at the very rocky entry spots so you can find a sandy channel out and avoid the surf that even on a calm day can be tough given the rocky entry. Just from our snorkel trip I would say viz was about 10ft, 64F, surf was about 2ft+. Lots of life. Full facilities on the top of the cliff, nice bike paths and a lovely historic district/area with food, shops, another beach area and cottages for 'glamping' in style. If you have kids, the tide pools here are some of the best I have ever seen in SoCal. This really is a lovely place. Do yourself a favor and come spend the day here! Enjoy!

08/02/2010 Jesse Rorabaugh (Avg: 4.40 Review) - The walk down to the beach carrying all my gear wore me out. Not as challenging as say Reverse Cove in central California because there are stairs. I however did not park near the stairs and wandered all over the place looking for them. The entry was challenging. Even on a day where surf was below average it was a fight to get out. This was partially my fault though. I got in at a part of the beach that was rock not sand. Climbing on invisible rocks is really quite difficult, and at one point I hit my knee pretty hard. Visibility was poor. It was a day with 10-15 foot of visibility at Shaw's Cove. I would say that it was only 10 feet here. Close to shore it was no more than 5. Despite all of this, it is my third or forth favorite free diving site in California. It does not quite beat Coral Street in Monterey, or Reverse Cove in Big Sur, but it at least beats anything in Laguna. When I dive in Laguna it feels fished out. I have tried spearfishing there several times and after probably 15-20 hours of diving have only pulled out one fish and only seen a few more that I would have shot at. Here however it felt like a whole different place. I saw many reasonably sized Sheepshead, Opaleye, Sand Bass, and Perch. They are pretty skittish but it makes a reasonable intermediate spearfishing site. Judging by the guy in the full cameo wetsuit and big teak speargun it may even be a good advanced spearfishing site. A few notes: Parking was $15. The previous reviewer wasn't kidding. Fish and Game really does watch this place closely. Expect to get your catch looked over. All of Laguna Beach is about to become a Marine Reserve. This site is outside the boundary of that reserve. I expect that next year it will be fished out as all the diving from Laguna moves to this site. However in five years I strongly suspect this will be an amazing site again. Once the Marine Reserve is established, fish leaving the reserve should sustain it. Watch out for boats. I saw at least a half dozen fishing and diving boats outside the kelp bed.

07/03/2008 Brian Xavier (Avg: 3.75 Review) - The day I tried to dive Crystal Cove the swell was up and the shore break pretty big. I ended up free diving the kelp for awhile so I wouldn't get beat up with the dive gear. I think this would be a really great dive on a high vis day. I plan on going back here. Take a dolly if you go to the Reef Point entrance- you'll need it.

01/17/2006 Kendall Roberg (Avg: 4.31 Review) - What an awesome place to dive! I took my newly certified brother out here to dive and we had a great time. The winter surf was a little challenging, but we still made it. We found a large reef filled with Garibaldi, Senorita, and Lobsters! There was no kelp on the surface (I think the recent massive wave probably harvested it a bit), but there was plenty of eel grass and shorter kelp underwater. We went down to 32 feet and found a lobster trap, too (no lobsters in it). The walk to the beach is .32 miles and the showers are currently closed for the season (I guess they don't have as many visitors in the winter). Other than that, this was great place to dive.

08/17/2004 J. Williams (Avg: 4.08 Review) - Absolutely gorgeous area with plenty of wildlife and a diversity of habitats. Amazing reefs. Get there early and parking is free (otherwise $10), showers and bathrooms, not a terrible climb up or down to the beach. When the waves are breaking, entry is a bit rough, and surge can be a problem, but well worth the effort. Up to 40 ft vis in some areas.

03/04/2003 Ken (Avg: 3.95 Review) - HI! I am the lifeguard supervisor/dive team leader for Crystal Cove State Park. Crystal Cove is a designated "Underwater Park" and a Marine Life Refuge (Irvine Coast). Awesome variety of marine life and good diversity of bottom types. Excellent photography opportunities and limited recreational fishing (lobster and designated game fish only). Game hunters should expect to be checked every dive by park lifeguards, rangers, and game wardens. A new site of interest is a 150 year old historical anchor located just west of the Muddy Creek access ramp (east end of Reef Point parking lot) in approx 20 foot depth, about 150 yards off shore. Also, divers may now drop off / pick up gear at the entrance station to the Historic District (PCH / Crystal Cove signal light). This access provides for easy beach diving down and up coast of the beach cottages. Contact park lifeguards/rangers at 949 494-3539 for additional diving safety tips!

06/17/2002 Jeff (Avg: 3.46 Review) - I actually went to reef point...which, I guess, is contained within Crystal Cove. Lots to see here...kelp, reef, life, etc. Facilities were AWESOME...showers, restrooms, and changing rooms. It is a state park, so parking fees apply. annual pass is $35...daily is $3 or so. From the parking lot, there is a steep concrete slope down to the beach...Very tiring...especially up...BUT very do-able. Once down on the beach, the water is about 25 feet ahead...surge is present…


Site Photos

(click photo for a larger version)

 Map     Sat
GPS: CM2001


Parking at Crystal Cove State Park 

One of the Northern parking areas with restrooms.

Trail Head

 Map     Sat
GPS: CM2002


Trail Head at Crystal Cove State Park 

The trails are generally well-developed.




Overview at Crystal Cove State Park 

Prepare for a hike down (and back up) the cliff. You can see the rocky point in the background, as well as the delineations of sand, reef and kelp.




Overview at Crystal Cove State Park 

The swell here can be overpowering. Only dive on a calm day. Get advice from your local dive shop.

Last Verification: July, 2001  


Diver Averages for  Crystal Cove State Park  (1=worst, 5=best)

Average Site Condition

Ease of Shore Entry:  2.57
Bottom Conditions:  3.86
Reef Conditions:  4.14
Animal Life:  4.29
Plant Life:  4.00
Facilities:  4.29
Solitude 3.71
Roads:  4.29
*Site Average:  3.90

Average Enjoyment Level

Snorkel:  3.86
Beginner Scuba:  3.43
Intermediate Scuba:  4.29
Advanced Scuba:  4.00
Night diving Scuba:  2.71

Number of reviews for this site: 7


  Search  About You  |  About Us  |  Contact ShoreDiving.com


© Copyright 2000-2020 ShoreDiving.com, LLC. tm All rights reserved.
Please read and understand the
Disclaimer concerning information contained in this site.