In the hustle and bustle throughout the day and the work week, we all long for that weekend getaway. Be it a quick trip out of town, a day at the beach, or a hike in the brisk mountain air, we all have our favorite places to escape and recharge. Some of us have more than one. Because what’s worse than your favorite spot being packed with the same people you’re trying to escape from in the first place? It’s times like these that make those hole in the wall diners, secluded beaches, and long scenic drives out in the middle of nowhere so perfect!
While there are many ways to describe Thousand Steps Beach, out of the way, secluded, hidden, it’s really none of those. It’s nestled nicely within the many beaches near Laguna Beach, California, and it’s relatively easy to get too as well. The beach does have many secrets, many cool and interesting secrets. Before we go any further, I do have to warn you that parts of the beach are on “private property”, and even though the California Coastal Commission says otherwise, I’d tread lightly in this area seeing as there have been rumors of people being ticketed for being in this area. If the cops don’t get you, the lifeguards may chase you down and tell you you’re not allowed in the private cove if you head in that direction.
As I mentioned earlier, getting to the main beach is relatively easy, access to the beach is by a staircase near Pacific Coast Highway and 9th street. The only real hard part is finding parking along the street. Then you get to where the beach got its name, Thousand Steps Beach. The steps! There may only be 250 something steps in total, but it feels like 1000, especially when you go back up them! So technically it’s not 1000 steps, but it is a catchier name than 250 Steps Beach haha!
Once you’ve made it to the bottoms of the steps, you can see what all that effort was for. The California coastline! It’s beauty is unmatched! The blue waves crashing on the sand, the tide pools filled with an abundance of sea life, there is a reason why people spend millions of dollars just to live close to it. It’s absolutely gorgeous no matter which direction you look! You have two options once you’ve made it to the bottom. Walk north along the beach and hop over the small rock ledge to the tidepool area. Note this rock ledge may not be passable at high tide. The tidepool area consists of two narrow benches and a boulder field. The two benches have large populations of mussels, barnacles, limpets, snails and smaller populations of sea starts. This area has several smaller pools that contain sea anemones, urchins and even a few fish that quickly dart out of site when you approach. The larger of the two benches is a bit uneven in places and requires extra care to traverse to the outer edges. This outer area is the best place to see starfish and other animals that inhabit the lower tidal zones.
The real adventure starts when you head south along the beach! Start walking south along the beach, you will come to a sea cave opening. You can stop and explore the sea cave, as it is pretty cool by itself, but our adventure continues on the other side of the cave! And what awaits on the other side is truly worth the trip through the cave! It’s best to go at low tide, to avoid getting wet. At high tide the water can get up to your upper legs, so be prepared to get wet, or check the tide before you go! You can check the tide here.
Once you’ve exited the cave, you will come across some tide pools, and you’ll begin to notice more private houses situated along the cliff side, with staircases for private access down to the beach. You can find some interesting sea creatures in the tide pools as well as the occasional starfish. Continuing south, you will start to scramble over rocks that lead us to even more interesting and exciting things! As if wandering through a sea cave wasn’t enough! You’ll continue walking and scrambling across the coastline until you reach the edge of a small cliff. You’re almost there!
In order to make it the final distance, you have to climb down the cliff and jump into the water in order to get to shore below. By the time you are low enough and out of easy rocks to climb, the water is only about knee high and you can easily walk to inland, once you’ve jumped.
You’ve finally reached the Pools of Thousand Steps Beach! The pools which are filled with salt water from the high tide ocean water, look right over the ocean in the tidal zone. They were built in 1929 by Hollywood movie director Edward Griffith, who lived in the community above the cove. When they were built, they misjudged the tides, so the ocean would come crashing in, filling the pools with sand and salt water. They were later forgotten and abandoned, making them perfect spots to explore and for our enjoyment! The first pool was a giant rectangle and actually looks like its out of reach of the waves. The second pool was on the edge of a cliff almost. Since the waves are particularly big(the rocky beach below), they crash against the rocks and create a huge spray over the end of the pool. It’s incredible!
You can also swim in the small bay between the cliff and the pools, you will rarely see anyone else stop to do this so you practically got a private beach for a whole afternoon. The water is the perfect temperature and the waves are just big enough to carry you away for a moment. Make sure you watch the tide, as a high tide will make it more difficult for you to make your way back. Have fun with those stairs 😉
Here are some tips to keep in mind when visiting Thousand Steps Beach:
1. Just a reminder that a portion of this is considered private property. The property owners can revoke the rights to trespass at anytime. And while the life guards may try to deter you from the cove, you should be fine if you stick to the beach. Don’t climb and stairs to people’s houses, etc.
2. Parts of the trek to the pools are very rocky, I highly recommend water shoes/aqua sox, sandals, or anything that will protect your feet.
3. While it’s pretty easy and relatively safe to go at low tide, it can be dangerous at times, especially with the crashing waves. So please be careful and remember that Joeography isn’t liable for anything that happens while exploring the area.
4. Go at low tide! It makes the trek 100 times easier and safer. You also tend to stay drier, longer. That being said, make sure you water proof your belongings or leave them in the car.
5. Above all, have fun, be safe, and pack back what you bring with you! The only way we can keep these beautiful beaches beautiful is to make sure we remove the trash we bring. If you need directions, you can find a map below.
Have you been to Thousand Steps Beach? Is it on your bucketlist? Any questions or concerns? Tell more in the comments below! And don’t forget to follow Joeography on Instagram!