This moderate four-day, 27.3-mile walkabout hikes some of the most alluring swimming and 10474469090?profile=originalsurfing 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 10474468900?profile=originalPromenade, 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 10474469676?profile=originaldon’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 10474470454?profile=originalPreserve.  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-10474470265?profile=originalto-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

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  • My husband and I completed the Newport San Clemente section Sept. 20 to 24. Thanks so much to Sunset and Tom, we never would have imagined such a celebration of my 70th BD and our 50th anniversary! Pros: sunsets and drinks each evening, appreciated Tom's accommodation research, even got a dorm room at Crystal Cove! We were warmly received by many curious folks along the way who wanted to hear our story. Hiking pole for me was fabulous and very important. I copied the book and carried one page a day in my pocket for quick reference. The Osprey Stratos and Sirrus 36 packs were great, no back or shoulder problem, just groin and thighs for a couple of days. My iphone helped to find the new San Clemente bike trail starting by the Amtrak station across from a lovely coffee and smoothie store. The trail led to the pier and the end!!

    Cons: My health app clocked 11+ miles the first day, 4 more than the guide, and every day thereafter we hiked at least a third more. Much distance was spent on the inland routes due to the tides and the new construction of yet more gated communities. We dumbly thought the wording of low tide on the 21--24 was meaningful, should have tried for a minus tide! Or else global warming really is affecting the points which were blocked! However, the #1 bus went all way back North from San Clemente to Long Beach for 75 cents, and JetBlue got us to SF quickly!

    Oh, the heat was a big factor, 86 to 90 every day, jumped in the ocean to be able to continue. Also there is NO SHADE on the beaches unless you crawl under a lifeguard station or sneak under someones deck!

    thanks again,

    Judy Turner

  • My husband and I are leaving to hike the Malibu to Mexico path in a week. We'll be walking the entire 200-miles in 17-days, plus taking two extra days in Santa Catalina and Laguna Beach. If anyone is doing this walk, or a portion of it, we'd love to connect with you if we could match up dates/times. I'm happy to share our itinerary if you can send me an email.

  • Jack,

    We were able to find street parking in Newport Beach along W. Balboa Ave., a few blocks from the Newport Pier.  At the time we hiked, there was unmetered parking except for Mondays when there was street sweeping.  If you are staying in Newport Beach, you may also be able to arrange parking with your innkeeper.  Check out the Transportation Section at the end of each chapter for public transportation information on how to return to your starting place once you have finished the hike to San Clemente.

    Have a great hike.

    Tom Courtney

  • Hi all, Coming form San Diego, how do you start and end the trip for Newport Beach to San Clemente walk? There is no train stop near Newport Beach?

    Where would you park your car(s) as you would need starting and ending point transportation. Thanks in advance for your advice


  • Hi Tom thank you for your thoughtful and excellent hiking book. My three girlfriends and I are meeting up somewhere between San Clemente and Laguna Beach Next weekend 2 driving from LA one from Huntington Beach and me from San Diego. did you have a favorite inn or hotel that you stayed at on that stretch? Just looking for beachy and a little personality! Thanks

    Lisa H
  • Lisa,

    This is topic that I haven't researched.  There are lots of inns along the route.  They are listed in the guide.  Check out their websites for dog friendliness.  It would be fun to take a canine friend on an inn-to-inn hike.


  • Is it dog friendly?

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