An Exploration of the Secret Pools in Laguna Beach

Crashing Waves, Salty Air and a Sense of Adventure


‘m one of the lucky ones. I’ve lived near the coast of Orange County for nearly my entire life, and I thought that I had experienced everything that would be on the OC Bucket List. I’ve taken a ride on Balboa’s Ferris Wheel. I’ve gone paddle boarding in the Back Bay. I’ve had (more than a few) toasted marshmallows at Huntington Beach bonfires. But I had no idea that there was still a little mystery left: the Secret Pools in Laguna Beach. Secret Pools Laguna Beach

Photo by: @neohumanity, Instagram.

I had heard whispers about them, but I’d never been. So after a little bit of research, I grabbed a friend and we planned our excursion.

I’m not going to give away all the details for two reasons. The first is because it’s still a secret. The second is because if you knew exactly where it was or what to expect, then it wouldn’t be as fun. The feeling of exploration isn’t something we get to experience every day, and that sense of discovery is something that I was happy to take away from it all. Secret Pools Laguna Beach

We started out at Thousand Steps Beach in Laguna Beach, which everyone should try to visit even if you’re not searching for the Secret Pools. It’s such a beautiful beach to go to. The waves are so clear, blue and dynamic that you’ll forget you’re still on the mainland.

Part of our journey took us through a beautiful cave. I know it’s odd to describe a cave as “beautiful,” but this cave felt like a different world. It wasn’t dark or creepy at all. There were openings at the top to let in plenty of sunlight. And the ebb and flow of the incoming tide gave the cave a sort of breath as if it had a life of its own. Secret Pools Laguna Beach

Quite literally, it did have a life of its own. The cave is the beginning of a stretch of tide pools, so don’t be surprised to see a multitude of sea anemones, crabs and small fish. Oh, and algae. Lots of algae. I showed my friend how to interact with the anemones by using the two-finger-touch rule to gently touch their tentacles. Their tentacles feel sort of sticky to us, but to smaller prey, the sticky sensation is a harpoon-like filament that injects a paralytic neurotoxin. Don’t worry, we’re too thick-skinned for its effects.

We continued on through the tide pools and the jagged, algae-covered rocks until we came to the pools. One is rectangular and must have been an old lap pool. The other one has to be my favorite though. It has a more natural shape to it, and it has an incredible view of the ocean. It’s not too high above the tide so we felt the spray of some of the larger waves, but other than that, the water was still. And since it’s been in the sun all day, the water was fairly warm, too. My favorite part was that you could see the wildlife on the rocks. It was like swimming in a giant tide pool. Secret Pools Laguna Beach

After swimming in the pools, we both felt rejuvenated. It must have been a mix of the adrenaline from the climbing, the beauty of our surroundings and the sound of peace and quiet. We both walked away from the pools that day feeling happier and more relaxed. It was definitely a baptismal experience for us, and we were pretty proud of ourselves for being so adventurous.

Notes for Your Adventure to the Secret Pools

1. Wear water shoes! I know they’re not the most photogenic things ever, but they made the rock climbing much easier.

2. Check the tides. Give yourself enough time to both explore the pools and to head back during low tide.

3. Watch your step! The tide pools are an ecosystem that a lot of creatures call home.

4. Be prepared to get wet. Waterproofing your electronics may not be a bad idea.





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