8 Best Things To Do For Wildlife & Nature Lovers In Laguna Beach, CA

things to do in laguna beach california

Laguna Beach is a beautiful seaside city in California with lovely weather all year round. On top of that, the area is renowned for its focus on environmental conservation and unique wildlife. This list sets out 8 fascinating attractions in Laguna Beach where you can get up close with local wildlife and marvel at some gorgeous natural landscapes.

1. Pacific Marine Mammal Center

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

The Pacific Marine Mammal Center is a non-profit marine mammal rescue center and sanctuary for sea lions and elephant seals. Whether you’re an animal lover or not, the sight of little seal and sea lion pups flapping around as they undergo rehabilitation and treatment will surely melt your heart a little. Some end up there because of injuries from fish hooks, others from illness or malnutrition. Visiting the center will give you a glimpse of the real life consequences on pollution and climate change and the sobering impact on creatures which call our oceans and seas home. The center is open daily from 10 am to 4 pm for free, but donations are welcome and will go a long way in supporting a worthy cause.

Pacific Marine Mammal Center

Address: 20612 Laguna Canyon Rd. Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Website: Pacific Marine Mammal Center

2. La Vida Laguna Tours (from USD 95.0)

La Vida Laguna Tours promise to give you a rush of endorphins with their exciting activities mostly conducted out around the ocean and shore (although they do have art and culture related walking tours inland). Enjoy some truly panoramic views of craggy cliffs and pristine beaches as you take to the ocean on a kayaking or paddleboard tour. With friendly guides to take care of you the entire way, beginners are totally welcome to join in and explore the coastline! As an added bonus, you may even get to catch a sight of dolphins in the area.

La Vida Laguna Tours

Website: La Vida Laguna Tours

Laguna Beach Open Ocean Kayaking Tour

Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes

152 reviews

3. Snorkeling at Crescent Bay and Shaw's Cove

Crescent Bay Point
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ayesha Nadiadwala used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Laguna Beach offers fantastic spots for diving, but don’t worry if you haven’t gotten a license! Crescent Bay and Shaw’s Cove are also amazing and easily accessible locations around Laguna Bay for a snorkeling adventure. The north side of Crescent Bay is particularly exciting as the reef extends out and then dips downward, forming an incredible underwater valley. Rays, rock fish, sea urchins, and even leopard sharks can be spotted here if you are lucky. If you swim down south you will end up at Shaw’s cove, which has some stunning reef structures, kelp forests, and schools of fish which call those home. However, please note that these are protected areas and you will have to follow certain rules posted at the entrance areas to protect the indigenous wildlife.

Crescent Bay

Address: Crescent Bay, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Shaw's Cove

Address: 999 Cliff Dr, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

4. Crystal Cove State Park

Crystal Cove State Park
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Don Ramey Logan used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Crystal Cove is located slightly north of Laguna Beach but is well worth the drive up. The park is massive, with canyons, miles of beaches and tide pools, an underwater park, and much more. These grounds are home to plenty of indigenous species, such as the Greater Roadrunner, the California King Snake, and the San Diego Horned Lizard. Some of the popular ways to explore the park include hiking, horseback riding, and cycling, but you can also stay overnight at one of the camping sites to see the beauty of the park at night. With such beautiful views to be seen everywhere, it’s also no wonder the park has long attracted artists, especially landscape painters.

Crystal Cove State Park

Address: Crystal Cove State Park, 8471 N. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, California 92651

Website: Crystal Cove State Park

5. Captain Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari (from USD 100.0)

Captain Dave has dedicated more than 20 years to bringing tourists around Laguna Beach’s waters to catch sight of the marvelous whales, dolphins, and other marine mammals. Although you may not always see a whale, dolphins are very common in the area and encounters are generally guaranteed. You may even get to see up to hundreds of dolphins over the course of the tour. Dave’s boats also feature underwater viewing pods with clear glass walls, so you can watch the dolphins and whales frolic underwear, and not just around the surface. This is an especially great alternative for animal lovers who would like to see these magnificent species up close and in their natural habitat, instead of visiting marine mammals that have been cooped up in enclosures.

Captain Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari

Address: 24440 Dana Point Harbor Drive, Dana Point, California, 92629, USA

Website: Captain Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari

Dana Point Whale and Dolphin Watching Eco-Safari Tour

Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes

378 reviews

6. Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park

Aliso-Wood Canyons
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user BC.Space used under CC BY-SA 4.0

The Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park is a wonderful expanse of seasonal flowers and grassy meadows overlooking beaches and the calm blue waters. Deer, coyote, and rabbits are common, and bird watchers will have plenty of interesting sightings. Furthermore, numerous trails offer options for the novice to hardcore hiker, all of which boast incredible sights. The park even features some caves, but be careful of poison oak near to the Dripping Cave.

Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park

Address: 28373 Alicia Pkwy, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656, USA

Website: Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park

7. Laguna Coast Wilderness Park

Laguna Coast Wilderness Park
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user BC.Space used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Nix Nature Center is a great starting point for your adventure at the Wilderness Park. Here, the knowledgeable staff will be able to assist you in mapping your hike around the park, and you can also take the chance to use their very clean bathrooms! From there, head out to explore the picturesque Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, with its interesting rock formations, lakes, and canyons. From some of the peaks in the Wilderness Park you will even be able to see Catalina Island in the distance.

Nix Nature Center, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park

Address: 18751 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

8. The Blue Bell Cat Retirement Sanctuary

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

We know cats are not exactly wildlife, but sometimes they do act like it! Blue Bell is a loving sanctuary for cats whose owners are no longer around or able to take care of them. Blue Bell was founded by a generous soul named Bertha Yergat in the 1960s. During her lifetime, she provided a home to strays and ended up bequeathing her home as a permanent sanctuary for these feline friends. If you’d like to visit this huge family of cats and kind-hearted volunteers, you can arrange for a personalized tour by emailing [email protected].

The Blue Bell Cat Retirement Sanctuary

Address: 20982 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Website: The Blue Bell Cat Retirement Sanctuary

Sea lions, cats and whales, oh my!

South Laguna Beach
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Don Ramey Logan used under CC BY-SA 3.0

If you’re looking to experience unspoiled natural beauty and learn more about amazing wildlife, Laguna Beach has all that and more. Southern California’s golden beach welcomes you!

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Benita aspires to live like the sloth - a peaceful vegetarian at harmony with the world even when turned upside down.

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