Text and photography copyright 2010 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. The author does not take any responsibility for injuries sustained during hikes or walks on the routes described here. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.
Corona Del Mar Sea Caves
- Location: Newport Beach. From the north, take highway 73 to Mac Arthur (the last free exit), and head south for 3.2 miles to Coast Highway. Take a left, go 0.6 miles and turn right on Marguerite. Take Marguerite to its end at Ocean and park anywhere.
- Agency: Corona Del Mar State Beach
- Distance: 1.5 miles
- Elevation gain: 50 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG
- Suggested time: 1 hour
- Best season: All year during low tide (see here for more info)
- USGS topo maps: “Newport Beach”; “Laguna Beach”
- Recommended guidebook: Afoot and Afield: Orange County
- More information: here (includes video)
- Rating: 6
The sea caves of Corona Del Mar are a great way to beat the heat. If you want to check out some interesting coastal geology without having to go all the way down to Dana Point, this is a good hike to do. It is a little trickier than the Dana Point trip, however, so if you don’t have a lot of experience climbing over slippery rocks and with beach hiking, definitely make sure you go at low tide.
From your car, head southeast on Ocean and head down the curving walkway to the beach. Here you will see Arch Rock, located a little ways off shore. Head right, toward the rocks, and carefully make your way up and over them toward the sea cave. The cave goes back at least ten feet, and is about six feet tall at its highest. This of course all depends on the tides; expect the waves to reach the two entrances to the cave.
The short stretch from the cave to the state beach is the hardest part of the trip, so if the tides are high and you aren’t confident with your rock scrambling abilities, you can retrace your steps along the shore and back up the ramp to your car. However, if you want to continue, when you reach the beach, you can get back to Ocean Blvd. either by another walkway similar to the one you came down, or by a staircase on the opposite side of the parking lot. The staircase leads to a place called Lookout Point, where you get nice views of the Corona Del Mar beach, the Newport area and Catalina Island.