The Pelican Point Entrance is where Newport Coast Drive dead ends into Crystal Cove State Park. Parking is on the beach side of PCH. My family enjoys this entrance because of the boardwalk that goes through the coastal sage scrub and the path that winds around to the viewpoint path over Little Treasure Cove.
Driving Directions to Pelican Point and Treasure Cove Parking Lot: Going north on Pacific Coast Highway, turn left at Newport Coast Drive. There are a number of smaller parking lots inside this entrance. Park in the first lot on your right to reach the Boardwalk. Or go all the way to your far right if you’d like to walk to the viewpoint. The other two lots to the left make a for a nice loop walk if you go out to the beach and back up to one of the other lots.
How to Get from the Parking Lot to the “Play Area” on Foot: To get to the viewpoint, walk as far north as you can on the paved path and keep bearing right until you get to the small viewpoint area on your left. Otherwise, pick a trail and get to the beach! You can take the same trail back up or try another one. You can re-orient once you get to the top of the bluff and the bike path that runs along the parking areas.
- This is probably my favorite access point to Crystal Cove State Park. I like walking through the archway that protects walkers from stray golf balls flying from Pelican Hill Golf Course. And the steps to the beach are pretty easy from the northern part of the park.
- There are 4 parking lots accessible from this entrance and each have something a little different to offer by way of beach access, trails, views, benches. Try them all and pick your own favorite.
- Little Treasure Cove Viewpoint (visible in the 2nd photo of this post) gives you a peek around the corner towards Little Corona, Corona Del Mar Beach, and Newport Harbor.
- Lots of rocks and tidepools to explore.
- We come here often because we don’t really have to prep at all. We just grab our backpack, stow some water and snacks, and wear our clothes to the beach to watch the sunset and explore.
And if you love the look of this place, you’ll love the rest of Crystal Cove State Park.
- Some of these trails have quite steep drop-offs once you get close to the bluffs, so make sure you stay close to little ones who like to dart away. Stick to the northern-most paved path for the safest route.
- Follow the “Good Tidepooler Rules.”
- $15 to park or use your California State Parks annual pass
- Opens at 6am and closes at sunset
- Stay on the boardwalk and watch for rattlesnakes during hot weather. I’ve heard reports of rattlesnakes off the boardwalk, so just keep your eyes out while you hike the bluff and don’t let the kids run ahead.
- Not a good spot for swimming because of the rocks. Choose Moro Beach or near the Historic District where lifeguards are stationed in the summer.
- It’s quite a long walk with some fairly steep hills and steps to get to/from the beach.
View south on a stormy day:
Same view on a sunny day:
- Restrooms are up at the top of the trails near the parking area. Make sure you go before you head to the beach, because there are no restrooms below.
- Crystal Cove Alliance and CrystalCoveStatePark.org are the best sources for info about the park
- Read “How to Buy a California State Park Annual Pass” – I think it’s really worth it. The more you go, the more it pays off!
Low tide looking north towards Pelican Point:
A little closer:
What to Do When You Get There:
- Watch boats enter and leave Newport Harbor. Bring binoculars!
- Start a bike ride from here south to Reef Point.
- Walk the boardwalk and hike up and down other points on the bluff.
- Hike out to the Little Treasure Cove viewpoint and then go explore the tidepools below.
- Play in the sand and see what you can find on the rocks at this stretch of beach.
- Park at the furthest south lot and walk to the Historic District.
Bike trail and restrooms at the top of the bluff:
Explore Other Entrances to Crystal Cove State Park
- Moro Beach at Crystal Cove State Park
- Reef Point at Crystal Cove State Park
- Crystal Cove Historic District via Los Trancos
Originally published May 2015.