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Laguna Beach



Dive Site

Beach Access

What You'll See


Emergency #'s










Access is off of Fairview Street and Cliff Drive.  There is a stairway off Cliff Drive leading down to the Cove.  Sometimes it may be more convenient to drop your gear at the top of the stairs with your buddy and then go park.

The access is a short 58-step, 6-landing staircase leading down to a sandy stretch of beach 35 feet below. From the foot of the stairs, the reef is approximately 75 feet to the west. Divers usually enter and exit the water from the sandy beach.  Watch for sand on the concrete because it can make the walk a little slippery - Use those Hand-Rails!

Stairway access is between private homes (Shown on Aerial View Below - See Yellow Arrow).

Please be mindful of the neighbors...nobody enjoys a rude awakening on the weekends! 


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Shaw's Cove is one of the most popular dive sites in Orange
County. It is well-protected from large swells, making it highly suitable for the beginning beach divers. For this reason, many scuba classes are held here every weekend.

This site is considered by many a beginners' site and many experienced divers stay away from it. That is too bad because this site offers, in my opinion, one of the best beach dives in Orange County, regardless of experience level.

The reef consists of a jumble of very large boulders, separated from each other by a maze of trenches.  During low tide, you can wade out quite a bit due to the flat bottom.  Most divers check out the western side as there is a crevice that leads to Crescent Bay.  The crevice is in 15-20 ft of water depending on the tide.  There can be a strong surge and there is an arch, creating an overhead environment.  There are plenty of smaller channels into the reef as you go deeper. 

If you dive around the reef on the eastern side of the cove, you can exit the water at Fisherman’s Cove. 

Shaw's Cove is monitored by the Laguna Beach life guards so make sure you have a buddy and a snorkel - they check.

A-Fairview Street, B-Entry Stairs, C-Bottom of Entry at Shaw's Cove

Picture Courtesy of Kenneth & Gabrielle Adelman © 2002-2005 California Coastal Records Project

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About 100 feet from shore, there is a long, 6 ft wide trench that leads all the way to the other side of the reef (east to west). The entrance of the trench is an underwater arch that gives divers the impression that they have entered a cave. About half way through, the trench splits into a Y. One leads to the middle of the reef, the other to the northern side of the reef.

This trench is accessible only when conditions are calm, otherwise water pushes through at high speed, making it unsafe to enter (sea urchins are everywhere along the walls and on the bottom). The water here is not deep - even at high tide the depth is only 20 feet. 

On any given dive you can see a few lobsters, eels, rays, octopus, garibaldi, calico bass, Kellet’s welks, tree fish, small sheepshead, bat stars, and lots of purple sea urchins.  On occasion you can spot a dolphin or two swimming though at the surface.

Night Diving here is also good, so don't rule it out!

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There aren’t any facilities at Shaw’s Cove.  However, if you are in dire need you can walk up to the top of the stairs to Cliff Drive, go left - and walk to the facilities at Crescent Bay (It's the next Cove just West of Shaw's). 

For Emergencies, you'll find a phone at the top of the stairs at Shaw's if one is needed.

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There is street parking, but it is limited.  You can park on Fairview or Cliff Drive or any side street. 

Sometimes it is more convenient to drop your gear at the top of the stairs (at the end of Fairview at Cliff) with your buddy and then go park.

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From 405 Freeway exit Laguna Canyon Road (133) South towards Laguna Beach
Follow Laguna Canyon Road till it ends at Pacific Coast Highway (1)
Turn Right onto PCH and proceed to Wave Street

Turn Left onto Wave Street and follow it to the end - Cliff Drive
Park anywhere around there - Beach Access to Shaw's Cove is to the right


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Emergency Assistance:

Recompression Chambers:


--911 (Dial First) CATALINA ISLAND --(310) 510-1053


--(919) 684-8111 NORTHRIDGE --(818) 885-8500
LIFEGUARDS --(949) 494-6571 SANTA ANA --(714) 973-8777
FIRE --(949) 497-0700 LOS ROBLES --(805) 497-2727
POLICE --(949) 497-0701



DAN  (Medical Questions)

--(919) 684-2948

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Copyright © 1996-2005

Pacific Wilderness, Inc.

All Rights Reserved

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