How to get to the Pirate Tower of Laguna Beach California and why you and your kids will love stunning Victoria Beach, Laguna, CA.
Last year, as I was researching things to do in Southern California with the children, I came across a most peculiar site: a Rapunzel-style tower overlooking a stunning beach.
The tower seemed out of a Disney movie however, the location on the beach gave away straight away this was not part of Disneyland but rather something else.
My curiosity piqued, I decided the ‘Pirate Tower of Laguna beach’ would be our next destination and, sure enough, after a day at the San Clemente outlets, this is where we spent one of the best afternoon of our California vacation.
What is the Laguna Beach Pirate Tower
The first thing I wanted to figure out about this tower was its origin and use.
Because of its location in Orange County, the Laguna Beach tower was unlikely to be what remained of a medieval castle and indeed, the history of the tower is quite recent.
Apparently, it was built in the XX century and not to protect a castle form an attack or to hide a princess hated by a nasty witch but rather, as a scenic way to connect the house above the buff to the beach.
Yes, you read that right: the pirate tower of Laguna beach is nothing more than an elaborate, private stairway to the ocean!
Fun fact about the history of the Laguna Beach tower: the tower is often referred to as ‘La Tour’, French for ‘the tower’. It is said (read it here) that both the tower and the house above are built in a style reminiscent of that of Normandy, in the North of France, where its original owners had spent a significant amount of time.
However, this doesn’t take away from it beauty, not it makes it less interesting form the point of view of the casual visitor.
The tower is beautiful, the beach out of this world gorgeous and the mix of the tower, the waves and the California coastline so powerful, this states as one of your favourite hang outs in the area.
You can find more about the tower and its history on the official Laguna Beach site, here.
How to find Victoria Beach + where to park
The Laguna Beach Pirate Tower is in a hidden corner of Victoria Beach, a wonderful sandy cove along the Pacific Coast Highway.
Victoria Beach is within the area of Laguna Beach and it between Laguna itself and Dana Point, immediately to its South.
Finding the beach is rather easy.
We simply put it on google maps and quickly found the right spot along Highway 1: as you drive North from Dana Point, you find the beach to your left.
Good reference points are Ruby’s Diner, before Victoria Beach if coming from South, and Dizz’s As Is, the closest to the actual beach access.
While not very clearly indicated, it is hard to miss: the presence of something special is very much announced by the several cars parked on the side of the road!
Good to know: most stretched along Highway 1 here are pay and display: bring quarters to pay for parking!
To get to the actual beach, the best thing to do is to join the others and park the car carefully on the right hand side of the highway.
From here, you will walk back a few meters, then follow the road under the bridge and walk down following the slope of the coastline towards the beach.
To go down, we followed a staircase but on the way back we also found a steps-free road climbing back up.
Either way leads you to the beach via a set of stunning and envy-inducing private homes (honestly, the trip is worth even just to dream what it would be like to live here!).
How to find the Pirate Tower once on the beach
Once you get your feet on sandy Victoria Beach, you may look around, not see the tower and conclude you are in the wrong place but you are not!
The tower is hidden from sight, immediately to your right. To get to it, walk towards the water, then take a right: you will see a round pool and the tower right in front of you!
Need to know: Victoria Beach is tidal and you can only reach the tower on low tide. Please be careful here: the current and the waves can be really strong. If access doesn’t seem easy or you think may get caught by the rising tide, don’t chance it!
Visiting the Pirate tower of Laguna with kids
The tower is an unexpected sight and a real hit with kids. My two are not particularly into pirates or castles and knights but they had a real WOOOOW coming out of the them as the tower made an appearance!
It truly is special.
The tower is tall and narrow, it is circular in shape and it has a pointy roof, very reminiscent of early medieval architecture we see in Ireland (it was oddly similar to the tower in Glendalough!)
What is most peculiar about it however, is its position and colors.
The tower sits just beside tall cliffs plunging into the ocean and it made of the same color as the rock, something that makes it almost blend in with the nature around it!
This mimetic character and the strong presence of the ocean make the tower almost a vision: as much as your brain knows this is just a staircase, the tower just evokes ancient stories and I couldn’t help getting lost in fantasies looking at it!
Other things to do in Victoria Beach, Laguna
The tower is the most beautiful thing to see here on Victoria beach, if we exclude the beach itself, which is absolutely gorgeous!
As you walk in, the beach is pretty small.
It is protected by a hill and several stunning homes overlook this little cove.
It is very clearly a wealthy place to live, the houses having the distinctive Orange County, architect-design-perfect look about them and it is truly beautiful.
Here, the sand is soft, the Pacific mighty and, if you look South, you can see and long extension of sand stretching forever along the Orange County coast and the beautiful California South.
When we arrive, we found several people on the beach, playing volleyball (they had their own net, there are no facilities here) and many kids playing in the sand as well as a good few tourists taking photos of the tower.
Unlike other California beaches, Victoria beach doesn’t has surfers nor many swimmers.
The wavers here crash violently on the shore and while we did find people braving the water to swim, surfing or body boarding is unsafe and not allowed.
For us, it was a perfect beach for a late afternoon.
While slightly frustrated by me not allowing them in the water, the kids loved playing with the sand and I spent hours watching the seabirds glide over the water.
This is the perfect California beach for a romantic stroll, a meditative afternoon, a picnic, sandcastle making or just to enjoy some down time dreaming what it would be like to live here and have these views on your doorstep any day of the year.
Good to know: along the highway, just above the beach, there are several food places, diners and cafes however, this is not an easy stretch of road to walk and you may need to hop back in the car. If you are planning on staying the day, I recommend you pack a picnic or you may lose your coveted parking spot!
I hope you enjoyed this short post about visiting Victoria beach and the Pirate Tower of Laguna Beach and it gave you inspiration for a beach-filled afternoon in California.