Newport Beach to San Clemente

Hi - A group of 8 (three generations) just did the Newport Beach to San Clemente walk in three days - we really enjoyed it, despite rain at times.  We wished we had taken the advice about a layover day in Laguna Beach - it was really nice!

We stayed at:

  • Newport Channel Inn - nothing fancy, but the staff were SUPER helpful and nice and we were able to get breakfast nextdoor
  • Tides Laguna Beach - nice location near galleries and a great cafe (Urth Cafe - has an unusual and extensive menu with something for everyone - loved breakfast there)
  • Dana Point Marina Inn - looks and feels bland, but it's right at the harbor which was good after lots of walking, dinner options nearby, hot tub was very welcome
  • Our favorite: Volare San Clemente, near the old town shops and restaurants 

We have some feedback for the next version of the guide:

  • At the end of Crystal Cove beach the instructions say to continue until it is blocked by steep cliffs then "scramble up the hillside to the Pacific Coast Hwy just before a 2 story brick and metal structure".  The cliffs looked so steep we couldn't quite figure out how to do this, so we talked with a ranger at the structure at the end of the beach (beyond the tunnel).  He told us we had two not very good options:
    • Walk back a fair way to an intersection where we could call lyft to get beyond the stretch with no beach and no trail
    • Walk along the highway, which is what we did, but he warned us they have had several pedestrian related accidents there and the traffic is going 60+ MPH and sometimes taking pictures of the view at the same time (!). He advised us to have the last person walking looking back at traffic, which we did.  The shoulder was narrow, not the wide bike lane described (which may be farther down the highway).  Just after the "Entering Laguna Beach" sign the shoulder entirely disappeared.  There was a private road there and we couldn't get in, so we called a lyft from there to get us over the part with no shoulder.  It felt like more of a risk than we really wanted to take.
  • Similarly, after the visitor center on the bluff just before coming to the Dana Point harbor, it was too bad that the Cove Road had no sidewalk as it winded down, but at least traffic is going fairly slow there
  • Day 4 - it took us a few tries to figure out how to get to the pedestrian part of the bridge across San Juan creek leaving Dana Point harbor.  Might be good to specify to stay on Park Lantern
  • We lost the paved bike trail when it got to the San Clemente metrolink station, but we followed the bike route signs through town and that was nice too, up and down neighborhood hills
  • Your suggestion to have lyft take our bags to the next place worked great, I tipped the driver in cash and gave the driver an envelope for the front desk (with cash) at the hotel, and had them call me when the bags arrived. I had made arrangements in advance for them to store them at each place.
  • We took a neighborhood route through the southern part of Laguna Beach and were entranced by a street with mailboxes that were miniatures of the house they were at.  I think it was Glenneyre St.

General suggestions:

  • Some of us aren't used to the concept of private roads, which Google doesn't mark (or mark well). This was a problem for us a few times when we wanted an alternate route. It might be good have a general note about that.
  • For people who prefer not to walk on the sand much it'd be nice to say when there is a surface other than sand, like a trail along the beach. For instance, the Dana Strands beach has a very nice trail elevated slightly which I'm glad we happened across.  There were places where walking on the beach was hard due to storm high tides and it's more work to walk on sand.
  • There's a free shuttle from the Laguna Beach area to the Ritz-Carlton, which some of the older generation took to make that day shorter.

You need to be a member of Walkabout California to add comments!

Join Walkabout California

Email me when people reply –


  • Charis,

    Thanks for the report and advice on the Newport Beach to San Clemente Walkabout.  You captured both the  joys and challenges of what is probably the most popular Southern California Coast inn-to-inn hike.  Your advice will be useful for others.  

    It is great that three generations made this journey together. 


This reply was deleted.