This moderate four-day, 27.3-mile walkabout hikes some of the most alluring swimming and surfing beaches in the world as well as rugged rocky shores under steep cliffs that you will share with sea birds, seals, and dolphins. You may want to pause from hiking each day to swim in the luxurious waters of the Pacific.
Start this hike in Newport Beach. It has the feel of an old-time Southern California seaside hamlet. Eateries and watering holes surround the pier. Live music spills out of taverns on balmy evenings.
Day 1 hikes 7.2 miles to Crystal Cove State Park. Walk Newport’s Ocean Front Promenade, take the ferry to Balboa Island, and stroll along the harbor to Corona del Mar State Beach. Then hike along a rugged shoreline, teeming with birdlife. Stop to inspect the tide pools, home to sea snails, anemone, and hermit crabs. Harbor seals feed and swim just beyond the breakers.
Hiking into Crystal Cove, you pass the historic district where ramshackle cottages from the 1930s – 1950s perch on the bluffs. They are being rescued and meticulously restored for visitors. You will need to make your reservation early. They book up months in advance. If you don’t score a cottage, stop for lunch at the Beachcomber Café, and push on to Laguna Beach (Day 2, 4.6-miles).
Laguna Beach’s main beach is almost always a scene with strollers on the promenade, musicians, painters, beach volleyball, Frisbee, and sun bathers. It is a fun town, worth staying an extra day – lots of inns close to the beach, dozens of restaurants, and more than 100 artist studios and galleries.
Day 3 (9.5 miles) hikes both quiet shorelines and popular beaches to Dana Point. Climb a set of stairs and enter the magical world of Dana Point Preserve. A path winds along coastal cliffs through a wild garden of native plants. The lush foliage attracts a wide variety of bird life. You feel transported back in time to the days before California’s great cities were built and her shoreline crowded with houses.
Day 4 is a six-mile stroll along pretty beaches to San Clemente where you can enjoy the inns, restaurants, and pubs near the pier. Take a walkabout and explore the Southern California Riviera at two miles an hour, hiking inn-to-inn.
The Newport Beach to San Clemente Walkabout is one of the hikes found in "Walkabout Malibu to Mexico: Hiking Inn to Inn on the Southern California Coast. " It can be purchased as an individual guide.
“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature