Paradise Bay in Laguna Beach is like stepping out of a dream. Paradise Bay’s most alluring feature is two concrete swimming pools built into the rocks circa 1930. The south end rock formation is so smooth, my friend and I questioned whether it was man-made. I have not seen such smooth terrain anywhere else on the Southern California coast. The natural swimming pools are fed by the tides. At high tide, fresh saltwater washes into the pools and at low tide, the pool water is warm. I could not tell how deep the original pools were because quite a bit of sand covers the bottoms. However, walking down the stairs into the infinity pools is a glorious experience every hardcore adventurer will love.
Getting to Paradise Bay
The first time I visited Paradise Bay, I swam south from Thousand Steps Beach with mask, snorkel, and fins early one summer morning as it is inaccessible from the street. As I mentioned many times, the water at the south end of Thousand Steps Beach is turbulent. Watch the tides and water, and go at low tide when the water is relatively calm for the most enjoyable, least risky experience.
You will swim past the Thousand Steps archway. The next cove is Paradise Bay. The waves are frequently high and the undertow powerful. Swim into the south end of Paradise Bay for the easiest entry. Once you reach Paradise Bay, you will notice signs warning you not to enter and claiming the cove is private property. I ignored them. The California Coastal Commission has addressed these type of claims with regulations, such as Protection of Public Access–section 30211.
Rumor has it that a Three Arch Bay resident used to call the police when he spotted anyone swimming in the pools, but apparently he died and the police didn’t respond to the calls anyway. When I called Three Arch Bay Homeowners Association, they informed me the bay and the two swimming pools are privately owned by one of their residents, but they refused to provide me with the landowner’s name. One September day while whale watching at Crescent Point with two of Laguna Beach’s finest police officers (what else would you do with your time if you were an officer in LB?), I inquired about Paradise Bay’s supposed privacy. They told me the property is public. So, whether the bay is private or public largely depends on who you ask.
I have also swam to Paradise Bay from Three Arch Bay. Water entry at Three Arch Bay is easier than Thousand Steps Beach entry, but you need to know a resident at Three Arch Bay to gain access to the beach.
You won’t find Paradise Bay on Google Maps, or any local maps, but the secluded bay is most definitely there.