Three public beaches and how the public can actually get to them

SECRETBEACH,DANAPOINT

This beach is located just to the north of Salt Creek. To get there, go to the St. Regis Resort (located at 1 Monarch Beach) and pretend you're staying there—you know, have some nice beach clothes, or maybe just walk around in one of those plush white bathrobes. Come to think of it, screw that. Just look like you belong. Talk too loud on your cell phone and berate the staff. Now walk onto the beach and head north along the shore. Scramble over the gray boulders that help make this the most difficult-to-reach beach in Orange County. The less adventuresome beachcomber may prefer to impersonate a well-heeled vacationer and simply sunbathe in front of the St. Regis.

THOUSANDSTEPSBEACH,NINTHSTREET&PACIFICCOASTHIGHWAY,SOUTHLAGUNA

Park on Ninth Street across PCH from the beach. Then run across the highway, dodging traffic. DO NOT GET KILLED. Now head down Ninth Street to the steps where it ends. Don't panic—despite the beach's name, it's only a few hundred steps down to the water. Just so you know, this beach, also known as West Street Beach, is one of the most popular spots for gay beachgoers. In fact, we're told gay people come from all over the world to this spot. So if you have a problem with that, please stay away. If you don't, please also know this is a south-facing beach with pretty big waves, which brings in the surfers, who really don't want you getting in the way. So don't.

BALBOABAYCLUB,1221W.COASTHWY.,NEWPORTBEACH

Although access to the club is restricted to members, the hotel, restaurant and waterfront area are open to the public. There's no beach, but there's a pathetic little pier-like strip of publicly accessible coastline, and your presence there is guaranteed to piss off the rich people dining on their yachts. Enjoy!

Nick Schou

Award-winning investigative journalist Nick Schou is Editor of OC Weekly. He is the author of Kill the Messenger: How the CIA’s Crack Cocaine Controversy Destroyed Journalist Gary Webb (Nation Books 2006), which provided the basis for the 2014 Focus Features release starring Jeremy Renner and the L.A. Times-bestseller Orange Sunshine: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love’s Quest to bring Peace, Love and Acid to the World, (Thomas Dunne 2009). He is also the author of The Weed Runners (2013) and Spooked: How the CIA Manipulates the Media and Hoodwinks Hollywood (2016).

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