By Carisa Carlton
Located on on the west side of Pacific Coast Highway and 1st Avenue in South Laguna, Table Rock Cove is a protected, inviting cove known for a young and beautiful crowd. Families with small children are rare at Tablerock.
The sand at Table Rock Cove is soft and the waters are clear, but given its shape and size, the rip currents –especially on the north end — are simply dangerous. The undertow ruins the fun in swimming to and from West Street Beach unless you are tired of playing it safe. Swimming from Table Rock Cove to Thousand Steps Beach, however, is an enriching experience. Just as you swim past Secret Cove and around the Table Rock mansion, you’ll find a reef with lots of underwater lagoons. I see more fish here than on any other Laguna reef.
The beach presents wonderful photo opportunities with majestic views and backdrops. Mansions sit on the hilltop overlooking the cove. The beach is never crowded as the area is not well known to tourists, parking can be challenging, and the stairs to the beach are arduous for those who are not somewhat physically fit.
A lifeguard mans the beach and he encourages swimmers to get out of the water when waves present a danger.
At the south end of Table Rock Cove lies a few scalable boulders. At low tide, you can climb over the boulders, or you can swim around the rocks to find Secret Cove. Even at low tide, if you climb the boulders, you must jump onto the sand or into the water as scaling down the straight edged rocks is tricky. The jump is only about 6 to 8 feet high, but it looks higher when you are standing on top of them. Some climbers claim you need ropes to climb the Table Rock boulders, but if you are prepared to jump, you’ll be fine without ropes. Swimming around the boulders may be the easiest route for good swimmers.
If you make it around the boulders to Secret Cove, you can continue through the cave to Thousand Steps Beach and walk up the 250+ steps to PCH, and then walk north on PCH back to your car at Tablerock; or you can swim/climb the boulder back to Table Rock Cove.
- Wear water shoes or climbing shoes when bouldering the south end jagged rocks.
- Watch your back when climbing the south end rocks even at low tide. You may see a set of 20+ calm waves and think you are safe, then suddenly an overbearing wave will crash on the rocks. These silent, unexpected waves are the dangerous ones.
- Climb and swim to Secret Cove with a buddy. If you must climb alone, let someone know where you are.
- Keep your smart phone and camera in a waterproof bag. You will get wet no matter which route you take.
Table Rock Cove Tide Pools
The tide pools at Table Rock are explorable only at the lowest tides. Check the local tide schedule. The Table Rock tide pools are considered some of the best in Laguna Beach due to their location in the water.
Getting to Table Rock Cove
To get to Table Rock Cove, drive along PCH and turn west onto Table Rock Drive (Eagle Rock Drive on the east side of PCH). Parking at Table Rock Cove is difficult as the beach is located in a quaint neighborhood of small streets. You can sometimes find parking on Bluff Drive, but you are more likely to find parking along PCH.