Salt Creek Beach, Dana Point, California

By Tee1

Salt Creek Beach Vacation

Dana Point’s popular Salt Creek Beach Park is easily one of the best beaches in Orange County. Situated under the Laguna Nigel Ritz-Carlton beach resort, this beach would get the elusive 5 diamond rating that hotels strive for. This sandy beach is located under the Monarch Beach Golf Links course and the gated community of Ritz Cove as well. The Park has walking trails sprawling in all directions from the huge grass area. If you don’t want $20 burgers from the Ritz, pack some food and use the free picnic tables.

Where is Salt Creek Beach? 33°48′N 117°72′W

A popular beach vacation spot for locals and tourists, Salk Creek Beach boasts nearly a mile of a wide sandy beach. This surf spot just to the north of Dana Point, has been the best in the area following the construction of Dana Point’s harbor changed the area forever.

The Salt Creek Beach Park can be found 70 miles north of San Diego and 45 miles south of Los Angeles. It is only 10 miles from Laguna Beach. It is widely considered to be one of the best beaches in the state of California and incredibly popular for those fortunate enough to call South Orange County home. Swimming, surfing and fishing are all highly recommended. The 7 acre grassy part of the park that overlooks the beach has basketball courts. Its likely, there will also be people playing volleyball. If you are not in a hurry, grab a seat and observe. There is an amazing location to see mother nature at her finest, if you are patient.

The coast here has tide pools and the biggest kelp forest in California is just off the beach.  Another opportunity to see wildlife takes place offshore, with whale migrations. Each December, gray whales arrive in route from Mexico on their way to Alaska. From May to November, its possible to see Blue whales. A few of the other creatures to look for are orcas, sperm whales, and dolphins.

The area is part of the Niguel Stare Marine Conservation Area.

People like to complain about the government frequently as is their right. In the case of this area, hats off to the state government for purchasing the land and converting it into a park, before allowing it to be made into another gated community. Its hard to imagine this family friendly beach park not existing.

Orange County Public Beach

More than 50 years ago, in 1965, there was a Grand Jury report which highlighted the “overcrowding of our parks, beaches and harbors.” Orange County made a determination to acquire more public and recreational land. In the late 1960’s there was a popular movement to “Save Salt Creek”, and maintain public access and use of this beach. The public pressure was considerable since the Salt Creak beach area has always been popular with swimmers and surfers. Once the area was purchased and set aside for private development, the area and protest came to the forefront of the American public’s imagination.

[pullquote]with almost a mile of public beach that hosts hundreds of thousands of beach goers each year. [/pullquote]

Today, the Salt Creek Beach Park and its facilities are operated by Orange County. This California beach is open daily from 5am to midnight. Parking is readily available for a dollar per hour and there is a snack shop for sandwiches, drinks, beach chairs, etc.

Salt Creek Beach Park

The tidal pools of Salt Creek beach are considerably different from the beach in the next town over San Clemente. There is a tremendous variety of protected animals on the beach and in these tidal pools of the Dana Point State Marine Conservation Area. That means no collecting please. Just a few of the sea creatures to look for include: hermit crabs, sea stars, fish, barnacles, sea urchins, sea anemones and the famed keyhole limit! The best time of year to explore is low tide in the winter.

This long sandy beach is amazing for birdwatching also. Orange Country, California is reputed to have over 400 species of bird. Reportedly, at Salt Creek Beach Park, you can reasonably expect to see pelicans, six species of grebe, herons, egrets, blue-footed and brown boobies, four species of cormorants, and gulls.

Of course, this is a surfing beach. There are a number of great breaks here. Three famous surf spots include: Gravels, Middles and the Point. The most powerful waves are found at Gravels, Middles offers both lefts and rights while The Point is usually just lefts.