Exploring the coves and sea life in Laguna Beach
One of the gems of Southern California, the Laguna Beach coastline is renowned for it beauty. A rugged array of cliffs and coves line the shore of the Pacific Ocean along the stretch initially settled as a remote artists’ colony, far from the bustle of Los Angeles and San Diego. Today, Laguna Beach is home to more than just artists, but much of the area’s beauty which attracted the early residents remains. The ocean off Laguna is remarkable for its clarity and prized for the large number of reefs and sandy inlets making it an ideal location for a standup paddling and snorkeling.
Where to launch
There are three prominent beach locations perfect for launching a SUP, or simply swimming out into the sapphire colored water. Parking, as with any beach town, may pose a challenge, but I lucked out on my recent visit and landed a spot on the street directly across from Diver’s Cove. A few metered parking spots can be found directly above Diver’s Cove, while the majority of spots are dispersed throughout the surrounding neighborhood and fill up quickly during the summer. If you do opt for a metered spot be sure to feed your meter as the local traffic wardens conduct regular patrols.
As it’s name suggests, Diver’s Cove is known for diving and is one of the three somewhat co-located coves worth visiting on your paddling / snorkeling adventure. The other two, Fisherman’s Cove (also known as Boaters Cove) and Shaw’s Cove are immediately to the north. Each cove is separated from the other by a rocky outcrop and within a few yards of one another. In fact, the access stairs for Diver’s and Fisherman’s Coves are only a few feet apart.
There is certainly nothing preventing one from using a hard board for a snorkeling adventure, but to me, launching with a well designed inflatable SUP is the way to go. I brought along my Hala Gear Hala Playa for the day and was stoked with the board’s performance as a platform for snorkeling. The board’s 30” width, 10’11” length and rocker line designed specifically for the ocean make the Hala Playa an extremely comfortable board to slowly meander through the kelp beds. The Playa also has a set of bungees up front which are perfect for securing your gear and attaching a DeckBagz. All in all, the Hala Playa is a perfect SUP for an ocean adventure paddle.
I like to wear a 9 ft surf leash when snorkeling via SUP. After strapping on my fins I simply swim around and tow my SUP behind along the surface. Using a SUP on a snorkeling trip is a great way to cover a lot of area at once, popping in and out at different reefs, in addition to exploring areas a bit further away from the beach.
The coastline along Laguna Beach is a Marine Protected Area and all the sea life is protected. It is essentially a great underwater park teeming with life from the amazing stalks of kelp forming an aquatic forest to the abundance of fish, including the bright orange Garibaldi – the California State Fish.
One thing to bear in mind when planning a snorkeling trip to Laguna Beach is that California is not the Caribbean, meaning the water is typically not very warm. If you’re exploring the area via SUP, however, you’ll have ample opportunity to hop out of the water to dry off and warm up!