Laguna Beach: A Taste of Paradise?

If you’ve spent a hungover Sunday slobbing out on the sofa of late, the chances are while channel-surfing, you’ve come across the mindless magic that is soap opera ‘Laguna Beach’. With year-round summers, golden beaches and sparkling waves, you’d think the lucky sods would be permanently sporting wetsuits, but instead they’re more interested in going for lunches and getting their nails done than the paradise on their doorsteps. So, in a mission to find out what life is really like for the people of Laguna (and whether houses actually exist that are that big), we sent intrepid reporter Caroline Nieuwenhuis to visit Laguna Beach to see if it really is like the TV portrayal…

Words: Caroline Nieuwenhuis

On entering the city of Laguna Beach, you are immediately struck with scenes just like on TV. The golden sands and pricey shops are separated only by one main road. Behind the shops are houses upon houses, with the richest people looking down on everyone else from the top of the cliff.

Laguna Beach definitely doesn’t lack in shops. From furniture to cars to surfboards, the city pretty much has everything. One thing I did notice was the sheer number of places to get your nails done. No wonder they go so much trouble in the programme, you can hardly escape them! I also noticed that unlike surf shops in the UK, the shops here in Laguna were full of genuine surfers. People in the queue were stoked from the morning’s surf session, still dripping saltwater and dropping in to buy some new wax or a pair of board shorts, unlike most in the UK where people care more about the clothes then the surf. I’ve listed a few surf shops worth going to below…

• Laguna Surf ‘n’ Sport – This is a great surf shop, with super-friendly staff.
• Quiksilver Boardriders Laguna – It’s worth popping in here if you want a cool t-shirt to take away with you, I was sporting my ‘Roxy Laguna Beach’ tee all week.
• Laguna Beachwear – You may have to fight off the blonde beach babes to get your perfect bikini, but this shop is a great place to pick up a new pair of funky boardshorts.
• Toes on the Nose – Again, a great atmosphere and the staff are more than happy to share local surf spots with you.

With so many choices for spots to eat it’s hard to make your mind up. However, Ruby’s AutoDiner situated on the main road through the city is hard to miss with striking red and white decor and some amazing classic surf cars parked outside. The diner looks just like an original 50’s eatery, with a rooftop terrace overlooking the sea and more than enough on the menu to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. Definitely worth a visit, even if it is just to have a photo taken with the amazing cars outside.

The great thing about Laguna Beach is that apart from the main beach, there are no rules as to where surfers are allowed. Main Beach is right next to the famous Laguna Beach Lifeguard Tower and gets extremely busy in the summer. There are several play parks and entertainers along the boardwalk and so this is best avoided if you are just looking for a good surf session. Almost any side-street off the main road will lead down to a beach. Pick the right one and you can have it to yourself for hours. So long as you’re courteous to other surfers and non-surfers alike, people will be more than happy to let you use their waves.

Places to stay
I didn’t actually stay in Laguna itself during my visit, however I did notice that there are plenty of hotels and self-catering places to stay. There are some great websites with plenty of options including and One place that seems to get really good reviews is the ‘Surf and Sand Resort and Spa’ – the perfect retreat from every day life. Just make sure you save up some serious cash…

With ‘Laguna Beach’ being only a 45 minute drive from Los Angeles, it’s worth a day trip if not more. The people are friendly and always willing to help. The city has a tight-knit community feel to it, where everyone knows each other. However tourists are more than welcome to sample the relaxing and cheerful lifestyle they lead. Now, better not be late for my manicure…


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