Laguna Beach is one of the best and most beautiful beaches that is near the John Wayne Airport.

9 Of The Best Beaches Near John Wayne Airport 2023

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Flying into the John Wayne Airport for an Orange County vacation but wondering what are the best beaches to visit in the area that are near or somewhat near to the airport?

The John Wayne Airport sits a little inland, technically in the city of Santa Ana, but there are a lot of fantastic beaches along the Orange County coast that you can get to in as little as 20 minutes (depending on the traffic of course).

As one born and raised Southern Californian and one frequent California summer vacationer, we both have our preferred beaches within the state, but I think we both agree that our top favorite beach is located in Orange County and is one of the beaches most near to the John Wayne Airport.

Best Beaches Near John Wayne Airport

If you have a short amount of time or want a convenient location, you might be wondering what is the closest beach to John Wayne Airport?

The closest beach to the airport is Newport Beach but it is still about 9 miles from the airport, which could take around 18 to 50 minutes depending on road and traffic conditions.

But we strongly suggest visiting a couple of the nearby beaches in Orange County if you have the chance because they are all beautiful and wonderful beaches for a Southern California vacation.

Laguna Beach is fairly near to the John Wayne Airport and is one of the most beautiful beaches and areas in Southern California.

1. Huntington Beach

After visiting hundreds of beaches all over the world, Huntington Beach will always be one of our favorites. If you’re looking for that typical Southern California feel and extreme surfer vibe, Huntington Beach is the place to go.

It is crowded, the water is cold, parking is expensive and sometimes hard to find and the waves can be big and powerful, but this beach is worth it in our opinion.

Huntington Beach is most famous as the Surf City USA and it definitely lives up to that title. Whether you want to watch professional surfing at the US Surf Open, take a surf lesson yourself or shop for surf products and attire, Huntington Beach is the best place to do it in Southern California.

There also always seems to be some kind of event taking place at Huntington Beach which is always entertaining and a fun addition to a normal beach day. There is also a nearby pickup soccer group called Huntington Beach Coed that is open to all skill levels.

With only about 11 to 13 miles from John Wayne Airport to Huntington Beach, this is one of the best beaches near the airport and our favorite in the entire region of Southern California.

Huntington Beach is the best beach in Southern California especially for surf lovers.

Amenities: Restrooms, Showers, Pier, Surfing, Boardwalk, Shops, Restaurants, Biking, Running, Skateboarding, Rollerblading, Fishing, Lifeguards, Fire Pits, Farmer’s Market, Volleyball, Bike Rentals, Events, Surf Competition, Air Show, Nearby Dog Beach

Parking Options: All Day and Hourly Rates, Busy and Packed Most Days

Hotels Nearby

Healthy Places to Eat: Sancho’s Tacos, Lemonade, Sensitive Sweets, True Food Kitchen, Flower Child, Chipotle
(Click here for more info on restaurants)

2. Laguna Beach

Although it is out and around the Crystal Cove Natural Area, John Wayne Airport to Laguna Beach is only about 14 to 16 miles.

The Laguna Beach area is filled with beautiful little coves all along the coast so there are many beaches you can choose from, but from the Main Beach and south you will have more shops and restaurants near the beach.

Staying on the beach is great anywhere, but it is especially great in Laguna because a lot of places are located right on the water so waves crash right up against the sea walls. It is so peaceful and wonderful to hear the sounds of the ocean all night long.

Watching the sunset from a beachside room in Laguna is the best evening activity.

Amenities: Restrooms, Showers, Scuba Diving, Playground, Park, Boardwalk, Volleyball, Basketball, Tide Pools, Lifeguards

Parking Options: Metered but Limited Parking

Hotels Nearby

Healthy Places to Eat: GG’s Bistro, The Stand Natural Foods, Rasta Taco
(Click here for more info on restaurants)

3. Newport Beach

John Wayne Airport to Newport Beach is about 8 to 9 miles, making it the closest beach to the airport. Although those short miles can still take an average of 20 to 30 minutes so be sure to leave yourself with plenty of time.

One of the coolest places at the south end of the Newport island/peninsula is called The Wedge. It is a great place to watch surfers (typically bodysurfers) and boogie boarders try out the powerful shore breaking waves. Waves can potentially reach 30 feet here and they are right at the shoreline.

Nearby you can also visit Crystal Cove Park for hiking, biking, and Tide Pools, and the closest pickup soccer games to Newport are South Orange County and Newport Beach Adult Coed.

Skateboarding is the way to get around in Southern California, even for dogs.

➡️ For a private Newport Beach surf lesson, we recommend booking your tour here with Learn to Surf.

Amenities: Restrooms, Showers, Pier, Jetty, The Wedge, Surfing, Boogie Boarding, BodySurfing, Lifeguards, Boardwalk, Bike Rentals, Volleyball, Roller Skating, Roller Hockey, Basketball, Playground, Park, Farmers Market

Parking Options: Limited Parking, Hourly Rates

Hotels Nearby

Healthy Places to Eat: Sancho’s Tacos, Lemonade, Sensitive Sweets, True Food Kitchen, Flower Child, Chipotle
(Click here for more info on restaurants)

4. Seal Beach

Seal beach is on the north edge of Orange County about 20 miles from John Wayne Airport. It is just south of Long Beach and is actually closer to some of the bay beaches like Mother’s Beach and Bayshore Beach which are great for young kids because of the lack of waves.

Seal Beach itself is a calmer and more secluded beach with a pier, nearby shops and restaurants, a playground, fishing, surfing and more. The beach is wide, spacious and clean, and is one of the best less touristy areas in Orange County compared to beaches like Huntington.

Seal Beach is one of the beaches most near to John Wayne Airport that is a great option for a quick visit or some smaller waves.

Amenities: Restrooms, Showers, Shops, Restaurants, Pier, Volleyball, Playground, Fishing, Surfing, Street Performers, Park, Jetty, Bike Trail, Lifeguards, Nearby Rosie’s Dog Beach, Beautiful Sunset Views

Parking Options: Hourly Rates and Possibly Free Parking at a Distance

Hotels Nearby

Healthy Places to Eat: The Grain Café, Seabirds Kitchen, Tocaya Modern Mexican, The Wild Chive, Chipotle
(Click here for more info on restaurants)

5. Bolsa Chica State Beach

Sitting in between Seal Beach and Huntington Beach, the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve is a very popular birding and wildlife viewing area. The beach here is also very popular for sunsets and fire pits along the beach. Its is about 15 to 19 miles from John Wayne Airport but is well worth it because of its clean beach and notably clean restrooms.

Amenities: Restrooms, Showers, Camping, Bike Trails, Hiking Trails, Picnic Areas, Fishing, Surfing, Birding, Wildlife Viewing, Concession, Fire Pits, Lifeguards, Nature Tours

Parking Options: All Day Rate

Hotels Nearby

6. Crystal Cove State Beach

As one of the closest beaches to John Wayne Airport (about 9 to 11 miles), Crystal Cove State Beach is a great option for spending the day at the beach, tide pools and even hiking. This area is known as a very clean and beautiful stretch of coastline and has been used in a number of historical movies over the years.

Amenities: Tide Pools, Hiking, Camping, Historic District Walking Tour, Concessions, Picnic, Biking, Horseback Riding, Surfing, Diving, Fishing, Restrooms, Lifeguards

Parking Options: All Day Rate (around $20)

Hotels Nearby

7. San Onofre State Beach

The furthest beach from John Wayne Airpot, technically in San Diego County, is San Onofre State Beach. It is about 34 miles to the south of the airport, and just south of the city of San Clemente.

The best things about San Onofre are that it tends to be less crowded (compared to beaches further north) and it is a great spot for surfers of all levels. The rocky shoreline may not be ideal for sun tanning, but its great for sea creature spotting and the consistent waves make it a great place for beginner surfers.

Of course when we visited there had just been a huge storm so waves were quite large and I ended up basically boogey boarding (not standing up on the surfboard) down an eight foot wave because I was still very new to surfing!

San Onofre isn't one of the beaches that is most near to the John Wayne Airport but it is a perfect one for surfing fans.

Amenities: Restrooms, Showers, Surfing, Fire Pits, Camping, Hiking Trails, Biking Trails, RV Camping, Picnic Areas, Fishing, Wildlife Viewing

Parking Options: All Day Rates

Hotels Nearby

8. Doheny State Beach

Located on the south end of Orange County, Doheny State Beach is about 24 to 26 miles from the John Wayne Airport. Being one of the lesser traveled areas, you might find fewer crowds compared to beaches up north like Huntington but with the rockier conditions, you may want to be sure to bring water shoes and beach chairs.

Amenities: Restrooms, Showers, Grills, Picnic Tables, Concessions, Surfing, Camping, Bike Rentals, Volleyball, Lifeguards, Kayaking, Paddleboarding, Leashed Dogs Allowed

Parking Options: Close and Easy Parking, Hourly and All Day Rates

Hotels Nearby

9. Long Beach

Technically one of the beaches in Los Angeles County, Long Beach is just north of Huntington Beach and Seal Beach. Along with all of the shipping and boating in the area (the Queen Mary* is located here), Long Beach can be great for young kids or those that don’t like big waves. There are even a few bay beaches nearby that are great for bringing babies and toddlers.

Other nearby attractions include The Aquarium of the Pacific ($37) and pickup soccer games with Cali Coed or Long Beach Coed.

*The Queen Mary is a 1930s historic ship that is now one of the top 10 most haunted places in the US as well as a hotel, spa, eating and tour attraction.

The Queen Mary is located in Long Beach, south of Los Angeles.

Amenities: Bay Beaches, The Queen Mary, Pier, Volleyball, Rosie’s Dog Beach, Restrooms, Lifeguards, Biking and Walking Paths, Playgrounds, Restaurants, Shops, Boating, Aquarium

Parking Options: Lots

Hotels Nearby

Healthy Places to Eat: The Grain Café, Seabirds Kitchen, Tocaya Modern Mexican, The Wild Chive, Chipotle
(Click here for more info on restaurants)

Tours & Activities In Orange County

🚣‍♂️🏄‍♀️ Laguna Beach offers a lot of outdoor and water activities perfect for a beach vacation. Among others, you can find tours for kayaking, electric biking, surfing, and stand up paddleboarding.

➡️ For a Laguna kayaking tour, we recommend booking your tour here with Surf and Kayak with Laguna Ethos.

➡️ For a Laguna electric bike tour, we recommend booking your tour here with La Vida Laguna.

➡️ For a Laguna surfing lesson, we recommend booking here with Surf and Kayak with Laguna Ethos.

➡️ For a Laguna stand up paddleboarding lesson and tour, we recommend booking here with La Vida Laguna.

🏖🐳 If you’re visiting Disneyland or are staying in Anaheim for some other reason, you can take a tour of the three most popular Orange County Beaches (Huntington, Newport and Laguna) as well as take a two and a half hour whale watching tour out of Newport Beach. That way it doesn’t matter if you have a car and you don’t have to deal with parking.

➡️ For an Orange County Beach and Whale Watching tour from Anaheim, we recommend booking your tour here with Anaheim Tour Company.

➡️ If you want the same Orange County Beach tour but without the whales, we recommend booking your tour here with Anaheim Tour Company.

➡️ For just a Whale Watching tour out of Newport Beach, we recommend booking here with Davey’s Locker Whale Watching.

🎬🎥 If you’re looking to visit Hollywood but again want to avoid driving and parking, taking a tour is a great option. This tour is a full day experience which takes you to see The Hollywood Walk of Fame, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, Sunset Strip, The Hollywood Sign, Rodeo Drive and pass by some celebrity homes. They pickup from locations all over Orange County including Disneyland, Huntington, Newport, and Laguna Beach.

➡️ For a day in Hollywood from Orange County, we recommend booking your tour here with Surf City Adventure Tours.

Distance Overview Table Of All The Best Beaches Near John Wayne Airport

Below are all the beaches mentioned above that are near to the John Wayne Airport in order of distance. The distances vary based on the route taken and travel times are just estimated averages based on road and traffic conditions.

BeachDistance (depending on route)Average Travel Time
Newport Beach8 to 9 miles 18 to 50 minutes
Crystal Cove State Beach9 to 11 miles 18 to 50 minutes
Huntington Beach11 to 13 miles20 to 55 minutes
Laguna Beach14 to 16 miles 22 to 45 minutes
Bolsa Chica State Beach15 to 19 miles26 to 55 minutes
Seal Beach19 to 20 miles 26 minute to 1 hour 15 minutes
Long Beach22 to 24 miles28 minutes to 1 hour 25 minutes
Doheny State Beach24 to 26 miles 28 to 50 minutes
San Onofre Beach33 to 35 miles35 minutes to 1 hour 40 minutes
Venice Beach48 to 55 miles55 minutes to 1 hour 50 minutes
Santa Monica Beach51 to 55 miles1 hour 5 minutes to 2 hours 10 minutes
Malibu Beach61 to 65 miles1 hour 15 minutes to 2 hour 30 minutes

Watching Kelly Slater rip it at the Huntington Beach US Surf Open a few years back.

Hotels Near John Wayne Airport

If you need or want to stay close to the airport, there are plenty of good options nearby in the cities of Irvine, Costa Mesa and Santa Ana.

➡️ To find close and convenient hotels near John Wayne Airport, we recommend booking your room here with

But unless you have specific reasons for staying near John Wayne Airport, there are much more convenient and easy locations close to beaches or the theme parks in Orange County.

➡️ To find hotels around Orange County, we recommend booking your room here with

Tips & FAQs For Beaches Near John Wayne Airport

🚗 Traffic is the most annoying problem in Los Angeles but it is still pretty bad all over Southern California. Especially during busy seasons or typical rush hour times, be sure to plan ahead and leave yourself with plenty of room for any traffic delays.

🏄‍♂️ Southern California, especially Huntington Beach, is a great place to learn to surf but not every beach is good for surfing. If it’s your first time surfing, it’s a great idea to get a private or group lesson to learn how to surf, to learn proper surf etiquette and the most important, water safety.

🥶 Even during the summer, water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean are pretty cold. Visit during July or August when it is hottest and consider using a wetsuit for any extended time in the water.

🧥 No matter what time of year it is in California, make sure to keep a jacket or sweatshirt with you. Once the sun goes down, the temperatures drop and it gets cold outside.

🅿️ Most beaches in Orange County have paid parking by the hour or for the entire day. Prices per day tend to be around $10 to $15. This is an old post by the OCRegister, but you may still be able to find some free parking options that are still currently available.

🛼 If you plan on using any of the busy boardwalks in Orange County along the beach (walking, biking, skateboarding, rollerblading, etc.), be sure to be courteous and keep right when you’re moving slower, move over if you hear a bell behind you, or ride behind each other not side by side where you take up the whole lane.

🌥 Even when its gray and cloudy with the marine layer, don’t forget to use an organic and reef friendly sunscreen because you can still get burned by the sun through the clouds.

🌮 If you plan to eat something at one of the many restaurants along the beach (in some beach towns), remember to get dressed because most restaurants have a no shoes, no shirt, no service policy. But also bring some healthy snacks with you because the beach makes you hungry.

🍺 Any glass products (bottles, containers, etc.) are prohibited on the beaches so leave those behind when you head to the beach.

🚭 Smoking (even legal marijuana) is prohibited at pretty much all beaches in Southern California.

What Beaches Are Considered Orange County?

Orange County sits in between Los Angeles County to the north and San Diego County to the south. The best part about Orange County is the 42 miles of beautiful coastline with fantastic beaches. In order from north to south, these are the beaches you can find in Orange County:

Seal Beach, Sunset Beach, Bolsa Chica State Beach, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Corona Del Mar State Beach Park, Crystal Cove State Beach, Laguna Beach, Treasure Island Beach, Aliso Beach, Laguna Nigel Beach, Dana Strands Beach, Doheny State Beach, San Clemente State Beach, plus a number of other small beaches along the coast.

Which Cities Are In Orange County?

In addition to the beach towns along the Orange County coast like Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, Dana Point and San Clemente, other cities in Orange County include Anaheim, Santa Ana, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Irvine, Orange and San Juan Capistrano.

Is Orange County Santa Ana Airport The Same As John Wayne?

The Orange County Santa Ana Airport is the same as the John Wayne Airport and was only renamed after the iconic actor and Newport Beach resident in the late 70s.

SNA (the John Wayne Airport) is the airport you’d want to fly into for an Orange County visit but you can also check flights from LAX (Los Angeles Airport) or LGB (Long Beach Airport), they would just require a bit more travel time on the ground to get to Orange County.

Although SNA is smaller than LAX, it is the closest airport to Orange County Beaches and Disneyland so it remains a busy airport, second to LAX. So if you want to spend time south of Los Angeles, SNA is a good airport option but if you want to stay closer to Hollywood, Santa Monica or Malibu, you’ll be better off with LAX because of Southern California’s heavy traffic.

What Airport Is Closest To Disneyland?

Again, SNA (John Wayne Airport) is the closest airport to Disneyland and the best option to avoid traveling by car through LA traffic if you’re going on a Disney vacation. You could also look into LGB (Long Beach Airport) but it is located between 13 and 24 miles from Disneyland depending on the route, as opposed to the 13 to 14 miles from SNA to Disneyland.

If you’re visiting Disney but still want some time at the beach, Anaheim is within 14 to 15 miles from the nearest beach. Huntington Beach is located about 17 to 24 miles from Disney and Newport Beach is located about 14 to 20 miles from Disney depending on the routes taken.

Where Is The Clearest Water In Orange County?

The beaches in Laguna are considered some of the cleanest waters in the US with beautiful, clear blue colors. Treasure Island Beach, just south of the main part of town in Laguna, is known specifically for its clear waters.

Which Orange County Beaches Are Least Crowded?

As you go further south in Orange County, many of the beaches tend to get less crowded. They’re further from the main airports and major cities so they generally get less travelers. The beaches of Crystal Cove State Park, Treasure Island Beach, San Onofre Beach and Dana Point are some of the typically less crowded beaches in Orange County.

What Is There To Do In Orange County In The Summer?

Orange County is the perfect summer destination with loads of outdoor and active things to do. During the summer you can obviously visit the beautiful beaches, take a surfing lesson, attend the US Surf Open, ride bikes or skateboards along the boardwalk, go bird and wildlife viewing in the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, spend the day at Disneyland or Knott’s Berry Farm, explore tide pools between Newport and Laguna Beach, hike in the Crystal Cove State Park, visit the historic Mission San Juan Capistrano and so much more.

Is Huntington Beach Worth Visiting?

Huntington Beach is definitely worth visiting if you love surfing and beach activities, and are looking for that typical Southern California summer vacation spot. This is our favorite beach and it is super fun (although crowded) to visit during the US Surf Open held every year during summer.

Is Huntington Beach Or Newport Beach Better?

Huntington Beach and Newport Beach are just within 5 to 6 miles from each other but they definitely have different qualities. Huntington Beach is a surf city with larger waves, wider beaches and lots of shops and restaurants right off the beach.

Newport Beach on the other hand usually has smaller more consistent waves good for beginner surfers and kids, and sits out on a peninsula so it is a little bit more narrow of a beach with somewhat less shops and restaurants right off the beach.

We love both but Huntington is our favorite.

How Far Is Santa Monica From Huntington?

If you are staying up closer to Los Angeles but you want to spend a day at one of the Orange County Beaches, you can definitely do so on a day trip but you might spend a good amount of time traveling through LA traffic.

Santa Monica to Huntington Beach is between 47 and 52 miles depending on the route but you’ll either be traveling on the notorious 405 or through the city of Los Angeles so delays are possible.

Hollywood to Huntington Beach is between 43 and 47 miles, and Downtown Los Angeles is between 40 to 42 miles from Huntington Beach. Ride-shares are also pretty expensive within Los Angeles, so driving between counties will add up.

Orange County beaches, which are the ones near the John Wayne Airport, are some of the most popular and visited beaches in Southern California.

What Month Has The Best Weather In California?

California is a fantastic place to visit any time of year, but it does not have the best beach weather year round. The Pacific Ocean is already very cold so you really want outside temperatures to be warm and sunny.

Even early summer months like June aren’t the best time for beach vacations because the marine layer (gray clouds that cover the sky) sticks around for most of the day, giving this month its nickname, June Gloom.

Kelly Slater finishing a heat at the US Surf Open in Huntington Beach.

For the beach, the month of July or the month of August have the best weather for sun tanning, surfing and being outdoors. You may still need a wetsuit if you’re planning on staying in the water for long amounts of time, but these are usually the best months for beach visits in Southern California.

The hottest month in Orange County, California is August which usually has average temperatures ranging from 64 degrees to 84 degrees. Along with the rest of summer and late spring, August also has the least average number of rain days.

Wrap Up: The Best Beaches Near John Wayne Airport

Whether you’re on a short trip, want a quick beach day from Disneyland, or just want something convenient, you can find plenty of Southern California’s best beaches near or somewhat near to the John Wayne Airport. Our favorite is Huntington Beach, but you might prefer the beautiful waters of Laguna Beach or the calmer waves of Newport Beach. Regardless, this is one of the best counties to visit the beach in all of Southern California!