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The Real OC Baby Beach

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Dana Point and Newport Harbor have what most people in Orange County refer to as the “baby beach.” It is located right inside the harbor and has no waves. Parents can feel safer by taking their children to these beaches without the fears of having their kids washed out to sea.

What you will not see is many native Orange County locals bringing their babies to this beach. Why? It is a harbor. The water is grey and usually has yucky moss. (As my son would refer to it as ‘The Grinch’ in the water) The channel does not allow the water to come in and out enough that there can sometimes be higher levels of bacteria in harbor waters. I grew-up sailing my boat in and out of these harbors, and I would see what would leak for various boats into these waters. Even fifteen years ago, I would avoid falling into the harbor waters as much as possible – let alone allow my baby to swim in it.

Once I started having kids, I wanted my kids to grow-up loving the ocean as much as I did. I wanted to find a beach where I could relax and enjoy the experience as much as they did, but also give them the experience of collecting shells and seeing sea life. The summer after my oldest son turned two I went to find a beach along the coastline that was “baby” friendly. Each day we visited a different beach starting at one side of the coastline going to the other.

Then I found it – Goff Beach.

The beach is small and quaint. Visitors will not find more than about twenty people on this beach, even on a busy summer day. (Yesterday there were only six kids playing – including my three). The best part is that the beach also has a lifeguard. With the small amount of visitors and the extra set of eyes on the kids, it makes this beach an excellent choice for bringing young children.

The better part is that this beach is a cove, which means that the waves rarely get over a foot tall. Toddlers can play in “real” waves without any fears of them being swept out to sea. Every year my kids build a strong relationship with the lifeguard on the beach, and last years lifeguard became one of our babysitters. Did I mention that there is also tide pools?

It is a true “local baby beach.”

Where is Goff Beach? When I was a kid it was a private beach just for the trailer park that lived right on the cliffs. My girlfriends and I would sneak down to this beach for the most ultimate snorkeling experience, and catching lobster for our parents. Once the Montage started to get built, the popularity of this beach started to increase – but not as much as I expected it too.

When most people come down to the beach in this area, they often stop at Treasure Island Beach. This is the main beach to the Montage. If you continue to walk down the sidewalk path past Treasure Island, there is a small flight of stairs leading down to Goff Beach.

Where to park? Most nonlocals pull into the busy underground parking lot off Wesley street. I will see people waiting there forever until a car leaves. There is also a lot of meter parking available along Pacific Coast Highway.

The locals? (Shh!) Head up the other side of Wesley Street. There is a ton of free parking available on the neighborhood streets.

The last insider tip that I have is to check the surf reports before heading down to Goff Beach. Since it is a small cove beach, when there is a high tide the beach can almost disappear. Going when it is low tide will make it an even better experience.

Enjoy visiting the “real” OC baby beach with your kids this summer. It will become a favorite, and create an unforgettable experience for both you and your children.

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