Who Would’ve Guessed that Laguna Beach is Better than Coney Island?

Filed under travels

The day before we left California, Kamran finally took me to The Beach. He’d been consulting his friends all week long about which of their favorite beaches he should take me to, and I was under the impression that these beaches were each something we’d need to drive to.

Like in Ohio, where you have one beach to choose from. Or NYC, where you have a handful of beaches but only one you’d actually touch with your bare skin.

But it turns out that when you talk about Laguna Beach, you’re talking about the Main Beach and these smaller beaches separated from it by cliffs. CLIFFS!! I thought the Hamptons and its beaches that stretch for miles were pretty, but cliffs are way more beautiful and make for way more interesting waves.

Of course I didn’t take that into account when choosing a bathing suit, which I haven’t owned for approximately 10 years now. I bought a tankini with a halter on top and these ridiculously tiny bottoms with strings on the sides so you can make them even shorter. Taking a note from my friend California-turned-Chicago friend Beth, I decided to wear opaque black underwear as bottoms to hide some of my trunk-junk, only I went ahead and put the regular swimsuit bottoms on over the underwear.

Don’t ask what made me think that had any chance of being successful.

The waves break unnaturally close to the shore at Crescent Beach, so I wasn’t even in up to my waist when a wave grabbed me, tossed me, and dragged me ten feet back. It was totally fun–if totally scary–and I was about to dive back in for more when I realized that both of my bottoms were around my knees, the bottom of my top was up to my neck, and what was supposed to be covering my boobies was not.

This happened over and over again for the next two hours as Kamran politely reminded me that small children in body-covering wetsuits were hovering around us on surfboards. I couldn’t help it, though, and I didn’t really want to. The water was way too cold for it being August, so the water was practically ours, and it was so much clearer than East coast water is. The waves were huger than any I’d ever seen, and Kamran taught me to dive underneath the crests to avoid, you know, dying. I found it much more fun to turn my back to them and flail my legs as they overtook me, which sometimes resulted in me riding them but more often resulted in me washing up on shore like some sort of unclothed whale.

Not that whales wear clothes. So some kind of regular whale, I guess.

And then we walked around for hours, buying one of everything at The Candy Barron, drinking horchata at the wonderful La Sirena Grill, and generally reliving all of Kamran’s high school and college memories.

I was so amazed at how Laguna Beach is really indie and artsy and exactly opposite of how all of those reality TV shows portray it. When we pulled up to the beach, parking was nonexistent, but we happened to come across a guy who was cleaning off his surfboard by his car. I called out, “You don’t happen to be on your way out, do you?”, and he said, “Yeah, but I’ll be about five minutes.” I said, “We’re happy to wait!” and we sat back patiently with some Beach Boys. But we looked up a second later, and he had pulled his car forward in front of someone’s driveway so we could have his spot right away. Swoon.

More to swoon over:

Laguna Beach
The day started off cloudy,

Laguna Beach
and I thought it was going to rain,

Laguna Beach
but apparently this happens every morning

Laguna Beach
and burns off by afternoon,

Laguna Beach
revealing the bluest sky

Laguna Beach
and the brightest-but-not-hottest sun.

Laguna Beach
And here’s Kamran in a phonebooth for no good reason.


  1. Serial says:

    I want to go to there

  2. My dad used to have to go to California on business quite a bit when I was a teenager (usually Northern California), but one time, we ended up in Laguna Beach.

    To this day, it’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.

    My only complaint was the water was WAY too cold for this Deep South girl, but the scenery more than made up for it.

    • Okay, I thought the temperature of the water was a side effect of it being a weirdly cool summer out there, but I guess not. Everyone else was just sunbathing, but Kamran and I forced ourselves to stand in the water until our feet went numb. And just when we were about to throw in the towel, a huge wave washed over us and got us over our fear of getting our hair wet real quick.

      My dad’s business trips only ever took us to places like Iowa. Hmph.

  3. bluzdude says:

    We had lots of experience in the Atlantic before we ever ventured west into the Pacific. When I ran into the water, I believe my feet and ankles froze up and cracked off, like the T-1000 at the end of Terminator 2. Had no idea the water would be so much colder.

    • The words “when I ran into the water” made me shiver. We left the water at one point after getting used to the temperature to enjoy the sand and then tried to go back in later.

      Um, no.

  4. Aunt Brenda says:

    I want pictures of the bathing suit! I hope you had an horchata for me. Yum!

    • I didn’t bring my camera to the water portion of the day, knowing I’d ruin it in approximately 10 seconds, but here it is on the site. Only mine was plain black so as to attract as much sun as possible and stop me from looking vampiric.

      It’s funny that when I read your comment, I thought, “She accidentally said an instead of a.” And then I realized you were actually pronouncing horchata correctly, which of course I don’t do.

  5. Alfagirl says:

    I thought that it was common knowledge that unless you have a wetsuit on you don’t swim in the Pacific — or if it’s about 105 degrees out. I didn’t realize it was such a secret to non-natives. I guess it’s the same when people visit San Francisco in August and walk out wearing shorts only to have their legs freeze off shortly after.

    Yes, clouds & fog, especially at the coast, is quite common, and if you go further north, the fog sometimes won’t go away. Or, it will for only a couple hours or so. The beaches are pretty amazing, but if you want to swim you go to Mexico or Hawaii. Even there can get a bit chilly after being in the water for awhile.

  6. Cristy says:

    Mmm… waves are so much fun! One of my favorite memories of our honeymoon in Hawaii was of us trying to put on flippers while sitting right where the water meets the sand. The waves kept tipping us over. SO fun.

    Sounds like you had a blast. Yay!

  7. Tracey says:

    I don’t know how I missed this post, but those pictures are beautiful.

    And I still feel like I haven’t heard nearly enough about your trip. I need for you to fly home ASAP and tell me about every detail while you scrapbook it.