Thousand Steps Beach in Laguna Beach: Stairway to Coastal Bliss!

Thousand Steps Beach in Laguna Beach is a cool spot that feels hidden away from the busy world. Don’t let the name fool you; there are over 200 steps, not a 1000, but it’s still quite a walk. Wear good shoes because those steps can be slippery.

Quick Overview of Thousand Steps Beach

FeaturesActivitiesAccess & ParkingHighlights
Over 200 steps to access, not 1000. Located off Pacific Coast Highway between 9th and 10th Street.Hanging out, volleyball, exploring sea caves at low tide.Street parking on PCH, can be challenging, especially in summer. Entrance is hidden between two houses.Big, open beach with sea caves and tide pools. Less crowded, feels hidden away.
Steps can be slippery; wear good shoes. Beach is big and open.Caution advised due to rough ocean conditions and high tide. Bring essentials as facilities are limited.Free parking available on PCH; neighborhood across the street for additional spots.Natural pools constructed in the 1920s, popularity increased through social media.
No many facilities; bring what you need and take trash with you.Ensure to visit caves and pools at low tide for safety.Restrooms and showers available at the bottom, which is convenient.Adventure to reach and explore, with the thrill of timing your visit with the tides.
Ocean pools and sea cave exploration, dependent on tide conditions.Advised to call Laguna Beach Lifeguards for cave access information.Entrance might be tough to spot, look for beach signs. Updated stairs in 2022, making access easier.Private beach feel beyond a big rock to the north, where the pools are located. Reminder to bring water and wear appropriate shoes for climbing over rocks.
entrance to the Thousand Steps Beach
Entrance to the Thousand Steps Beach

Once you’re down there, the beach is big and open—great for hanging out, playing volleyball, or checking out the sea caves when the tide is low. Just keep an eye on the ocean because it can get rough.

steep stairs going down to the Thousand Steps beach

There aren’t many facilities, so bring what you need and take your trash when you leave to keep the beach nice.

Going down the stairs to Thousand Steps beach

And if you’re planning to explore the cave and pools, make sure to go when the tide is low for safety.

almost down to the Thousand Steps beach in Laguna
Almost down to the Thousand Steps beach in Laguna

Thousand Steps Beach is right off Pacific Coast Highway between 9th and 10th Avenues in South Laguna. Parking can be a bit of a challenge, especially in summer, so try to get there early to find a spot on the street. The entrance might be tough to spot since it’s squeezed between two houses.

bottom of the stairs at Thousand Steps beach
Bottom of the stairs at Thousand Steps Beach

When you get down to the beach, there’s a huge sea cave and a pool area to explore, especially when the tide is out. Just make sure to keep an eye on the tide so you don’t get caught out by the water.

me standing at the Thousand Steps beach
Thousand Steps Beach on the right

The ocean pools at Thousand Steps Beach in Laguna Beach were constructed for private use in the 1920s, and there is some uncertainty about whether these pools are currently on private or public land.

fun area for kids to play in the sand at Thousand Steps beach

These pools, once secret spots known to locals, have gained popularity through blogs and social media.

kids playing at 1000 steps beach

My Experience Visiting Thousand Steps Beach

When I went to Thousand Steps Beach, I found free parking right on the PCH, just across from the stairs. You could try the neighborhood across the street for more spots.

left side of the Thousand Steps beach
Left side of the Thousand Steps Beach

The entrance is hidden, but just look for the beach signs. The stairs seem never-ending from the top and are pretty steep, but there’s a handrail.

right side of the Thousand Steps beach in Laguna Beach
Right side of the Thousand Steps Beach

The steps were fine in November—not slippery at all. After they fixed them up earlier in 2022, the beach looks great.

people in the water in thousand steps beach near the cave
People in the water near the cave

When you get down to the beach, turn left to go to the sea cave and pools. The first pool is before the cave but the signs were up to not enter.

sea cave at 1000 steps beach
The sea cave you have to go through to get to the tide pools

Because it was high tide, I couldn’t get too close to the cave, but even from a distance, it was cool to take pictures. The pool wasn’t filled with water, but the waves hitting it were a sight to see.

some pool area before the sea cave at Thousand Steps beach
Pool area before the sea cave at Thousand Steps Beach. Not sure if that ever fills up with water.

The warning sign was up for not entering the cave due to high tide. Some people tried to climb the rocks regardless, but the lifeguard quickly came to get them away.

me standing near the sea cave at Thousand Steps beach

I’ve heard that people often visit during the off-season or early in the morning before lifeguards arrive to explore the cave.

sea cave at Thousand Steps beach
The sea cave was full of water and not accessible when I visited

Personally, I’d only go when I know it’s safe. The risk of being knocked over by strong waves and slipping on the wet rocks isn’t worth it, especially when the ocean’s rough.

restrooms and shower at the bottom of the Thousand Steps beach
Restrooms and shower at the bottom of the Thousand Steps Beach

The beach opens from 6am to 9pm. You’ll see the sign in front of the entrance about no swimming, dogs, or drones, but people were still in the water, and a lifeguard was around. I didn’t get to check out the tide pools on the other side—you have to go through the cave at low tide to reach them.

going up the stairs from Thousand Steps beach in Laguna
Going up the stairs from 1000 Steps Beach

Next time, I’ll wear sneakers instead of flip-flops so I can climb over the rocks to see the round and rectangular pools. I want to go back when it’s low tide and take pictures of the cave and pools.

Going up the stairs from 1000 stps beach
Almost back on top from the beach

I’ve heard that passing through the cave to get to the other side where the pools are can be risky. You’ve got to go when the tide is really low and make sure you don’t stick around until it rises again. Some folks say to run through the cave when the water pulls back.

Thousand Steps Beach sign with rules
Rules of the beach

You’ll end up at a small, more private beach that not many people know about. Beyond a big rock to the north, that’s where you’ll find the pools.

And remember to bring water with you; there’s no shade and it can get pretty hot. Additionally, make sure to keep clear of the private properties around Thousand Steps Beach. There are signs posted, so it’s best to stick to the beach area to avoid any issues.

There’s a shower and restrooms right at the bottom of the stairs, which is super convenient. Coming up the stairs wasn’t that bad but my calves were sore the next day.

Update: I went there on February 2nd and it was supposedly a low tide but I still couldn’t go through the sea cave because the water reached the cove. The signs were up and the lifeguard was alert preventing people going into the cave. I talked to the lifeguard and he recommended that next time I should call the Laguna Beach Lifeguards and ask if the cave is accessible.

closer picture of the sea cave

He said this time of the year, the sea cave is usually accessible with a low tide. I was able to take closer pictures of the cave though.

opening of the sea cave in 1000 steps beach
The entrance of the sea cave in 1000 steps beach.

I made another attempt of going at the end of February 2024 and I was able to go into the cave. The cave is massive inside.

sea cave entrance at Thousand steps beach
Sea cave entrance at low tide
me standing in the cave at 1000 steps beach
I’m standing inside the cave
second entrance to the cave at thousand steps beach
The second entrance to the cave at thousand steps beach
looking out of the cave at thousand steps beach

Another cave opening is on the right. If you keep going straight, the cave narrows down and ends (you can’t go through there).

I wasn’t able to reach the pools though. The tide was still high and the ocean waves were crashing on the rocks. I climbed on top of the rocky area but couldn’t get down from there.

the cave opening on the other side
The cave’s opening on right side. It looks small on the picture but it’s not.
pool at thouands steps beach
This area is by the second cave entrance. This looks like a pool too, not sure if it gets filled with water when the tide is higher.
beach area where the pools are at thousand steps beach
Beach area where the pools are at Thousand steps beach
thousand steps beach pools
Pools at Thousand steps beach
square pool at thousand steps beach
Square pool
pool and rocks at thousand steps beach

I have to go back when the tide is even lower. I also think I’m in a better shape now because my calves didn’t hurt the next day after climbing up the stairs.

Conclusion

Wrapping up my day at Thousand Steps Beach, it’s clear why this place is special. It’s not just about the beach itself, but the whole adventure getting there and back, discovering hidden spots, and the thrill of timing your visit with the tides.

It’s a reminder that some of the best parts of nature take a little effort to enjoy, but it’s always worth it. Next time I go, I’ll be ready to explore those tide pools and capture the beauty of that secret beach. Can’t wait to head back and experience it all over again.

me on the beach
About the author

Hi, I'm Kat, the adventurous spirit behind TasteCaliforniaTravel, your guide to the hidden wonders of California. Having called California home for the last 15 years, I am thrilled to take you along on my journey and share the adventures that this incredible state has to offer.

Leave a Comment