Open water swimming Orange County

Top Spots for Open Water Swimming in SoCal

Orange County, California, has some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and coastlines. With its warm, sunny weather and crystal clear waters, it’s no wonder that triathletes love open-water swimming here. Whether you’re a seasoned swimmer or just starting, the OC has a variety of open-water swimming spots to choose from. From secluded bays to bustling beaches, there’s something for every triathlete.

Here is a list of the top open-water swim spots in Orange County that OC Endurance members love to meet up to train.

Corona Del Mar

Corona Del Mar, a popular open water swimming destination in Orange County, has a protected cove, nearby showers, and easy early morning no-pay parking access. The half-mile-long sandy beach is framed by cliffs and a rock jetty that forms the east entrance to Newport Harbor. If you choose to swim here, you will likely run into other triathletes swimming.

CDM’s buoys mark a locally accepted but often debated lap that covers 600-800 meters of perfect ocean water training. While swimming, you may encounter the occasional kelp formation, which can provide an adrenaline surge.

Newport Dunes Beach Resort

Newport Dunes is a popular recreational area located in Orange County, California. This picturesque spot is situated along a secluded bay in Newport Beach and boasts a 110-acre resort with various activities for visitors to enjoy. The Dunes are known for their pristine beaches, calm waters, and ample opportunities for outdoor activities such as swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, and boating.

Early mornings after 6 a.m., you can park for free outside the resort on Back Bay Drive and walk through the parking lot to the water. Swimming a lap along the shore and then across the bay next to the bridge is about 1,000 yards.

1131 Back Bay Dr, Newport Beach, CA 92660

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach is an excellent spot if you’re looking for a more social open-water swimming experience.

Weather permitting, a group of swimmers and triathletes meet at least twice a week for ocean swims. They usually convene at Tower 9, about 1/2 mile south of the Huntington Beach Pier. You can find information on when they will be meeting on their website. Swimmers will partner up, and depending on who your partner is, you can swim anywhere from 1,000 yards to 3,000 yards. This group meets for swims almost every Saturday and 1-2 other weekdays.

Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach is a famous seaside resort city known for its stunning high cliffs, scenic coves, tide pools, rock formations, and white sandy beaches. With a population of only 22,000, Laguna has remained relatively untouched by urban development, thanks to its surrounding hills, limited highway access, and a dedicated greenbelt. Laguna’s clear waters, with high visibility, are home to various marine life, including curious sea lions, friendly seals, leopard sharks, garibaldi, stingrays, spiny lobsters, and even a rare sea turtle.

A non-membership group of around 400 open water swimmers, LBOWS (Laguna Beach Open Water Swimming), enjoy training together in Laguna Beach’s ocean. There are no fees to join or swim. Their goal is to promote safe group swimming. Swimmers of all ages and skill levels are welcome. While most of their swimmers prefer traditional swimsuits, goggles, and caps, many triathletes do wear wetsuits. They swim on weekends and weekdays before work, and the calendar on their website is updated regularly.

Bay Shore in Long Beach

While Bay Shore is not in Orange County, we mention it because it is another of our favorite local swim spots. Bay Shore Beach is on the southwestern shore of Alamitos Bay, adjacent to the Belmont Shore, Naples, and Peninsula neighborhoods of Long Beach. The Alamitos Peninsula shields the beach from the open ocean, providing a calm and peaceful swimming experience throughout the year.

Bay Shore is perfect for beginner triathletes who want to swim in shallower waters next to the shore in the designated area. For experienced swimmers, a 500-yard open water swim course is marked by a swim line. I don’t remember when I swam at Bay Shore, and I have yet to see other swimmers getting in their open water laps.

Swim Together, Swim Safe!

No matter where you swim, it’s important to always swim with a buddy and follow all safety precautions, and we highly recommend using an Open Water Swim Buoy. Check water conditions and weather reports before heading out, and never swim alone.

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