Last week it was 75 degrees outside. In December! As a recent Northern California transplant I found this to be amazing. I grew up in Southern California but it has been so long since I lived down here that I forgot just how warm the weather can be any time of the year. I decided since it was 75 degrees outside in December we needed to get our butts to the beach. Maybe after a while the novelty of the winter warm spell will wear off but for now I am absolutely tickled pink about a winter day at the beach that doesn't involve a parka. I decided to go to Crystal Cove State Park because I knew there would be a parking lot that didn't require me to attempt to cross Pacific Coast Highway with my toddlers like that old Atari game, Frogger, while hoping nobody got killed in the process. We pulled into the almost empty parking lot and followed the trail down the bluff to a beach that was almost completely empty. I couldn't believe it. We live in a population center of millions and hardly a soul was at the beach! Were they insane? I think so. It was 75 with just a slight ocean breeze. You couldn't ask for a better day to be at the beach. And what a gorgeous beach! Since it is a state park it looks exactly as it did 100 years ago and it will continue to look the same way for years to come. There are pristine beaches, steep bluffs covered in native plant life (instead of the ever present multi million dollar mansions), and large expanses of tide pools surrounded by rock. Paradise. Truly.
The twins had an absolute blast running around in the sand, exploring tide pools, and just being kids. I just kept having to pinch myself. I felt like I was on vacation. It was wonderful.
We were lucky and stumbled upon the peak of low tide. The kids loved exploring the pockets of water which were filled tiny sea life. Pelicans and sea gulls flew overhead (I am not a big sea gull fan. I like to refer to them as flying rats) and huge rocks were covered with the biggest mussels I have ever seen. The kids just couldn't get enough of the tide pools that we spent nearly three hours exploring.
There are two main sections of beach at Crystal Cove. There is El Moro Cove (this is where we were) which is basically a large expanse of beach front with tide pools, bluffs, rocks, and sea life. The other section of beach, The Historic District, has cottages for rent (at an affordable rate I might add. Truly a wonderful way to have a beach vacation), a boardwalk, a shake shack, The Beachcomber Cafe, and more sand and sea. Then there is the back country area which has plenty of hiking trails and some primitive hike in campsites. They are also in the process of building a large drive in camping area which will be across the street from the beach. Finally, there is the underwater park which allows people to dive or kayak in an 1140 acre protected are of ocean. Not bad, eh?
Come June and July, Crystal Cove will be packed full of surfers, swimmers, and beach combers so why not take that next warm sunny day and head out to Crystal Cove State Park so you can have it all to yourself (well you may have to share it with me and the kids but I promise to share)?