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Picking the best beaches in Orange County isn’t easy, but many of the best beaches in all of Southern California are actually in between San Diego and Los Angeles. Orange County has both epic large sandy beaches and picturesque small cove beaches. They have piers, rock arches, and tide pools galore. Some well-known surf breaks are in OC too.

Our list of the best beaches in Orange County puts each beach into a category that it is associated with. Most of these beaches are good for many different things including sunbathing. Scroll to the bottom of the list to see our favorite beach in Orange County.

Best Surfing Beaches

Huntington City Beach
The Wedge
San Onofre Surfing Beach
Seal Beach

Best Beginner Surf Spot

Doheny Beach

Best Bodyboarding Beach

North Beach San Clemente

Best Pier

San Clemente Pier Beach
See all of the OC Piers

Best Tide Pools

Little Corona Del Mar Beach
See all of the OC Tide Pools

Best Unique Beach Discovery

Mysterious Tower at Victoria Beach

Best Hidden Beach

Table Rock Beach

Best Kid-Friendly Beaches

Dana Point Harbor Beach

Best for Beach Walking

Crystal Cove State Park

Best Rock Arch

The Keyhole at Pearl Street Beach
See all the California Rock Arches

Best Beach Camping

San Clemente State Beach

Best Sunbathing Beach

Newport Municipal Beach

Best Beach for Bonfires

Huntington State Beach
See all the OC Bonfire Beaches

Best Spot for Kayaking & SUP

North Star Beach on Newport Beach’s Back Bay

Best Dog-Friendly Beach

Huntington Dog Beach
See all the OC Dog-Friendly Beaches

Best Beach Bike Ride

San Clemente Coastal Trail

Best Bird-Watching

Ecological Reserve at Bolsa Chica State Beach

Best Overall Orange County Beach!

Laguna Beach Main Beach

Why is Laguna Beach Main Beach the best? Well it has so much to offer. It might not be the biggest or best at anything, but it has everything. Visitors can enjoy a diverse selection of restaurants nearby, plus lots of shopping options, and hotels if they are not from the area. Main Beach is a relatively safe place to play in the water as waves aren’t typically that big, but there are lifeguards on hand if someone needs help. Sports fanatics will find two courts behind the beach, volleyball courts on the sand, and room to toss a football or Frisbee at the water’s edge. Small kids have a playground to enjoy as well. Just to the north is Rockpile Beach where tidepools emerge when the water recedes. The wooden boardwalk behind Main Beach leads to Heisler Park, a well-landscaped bluff top park that is ideal for picnics. Want to enjoy a long walk on the beach? Just walk south and you have a mile of sand leading all the way to a rock arch known as The Keyhole at Pearl Street Beach.

Laguna Beach’s Main Beach

Below is our complete list of the best beaches in Orange County California.