On Victoria Beach, in the famous city of Laguna Beach, right off the equally famous PCH (Pacific Coast Highway), stands a lone “pirate tower”. Pushed up against the cliff and directly below homes costing an average of $4 million, it’s an interesting sight to behold. It’s obviously not a real pirate’s tower, but one constructed in 1926 by California senator William E. Brown, to be his own little private, richy- rich access to the beach below. The tower, along with the property that goes with it, has changed ownership over the years, but the tower sits on a public beach, so they can’t stop the public from going to it. Of course, the door to the tower is kept locked, so nobody can meander up to the current homeowner’s million dollar home, but you can walk up to it, touch it, and take pics next to it.
Located at 2713 Victoria Dr, Laguna Beach, CA 92651, it’s supposedly “open” 24 hours (I’m pretty sure the beach closes, however). This place is a known go-to spot for local photography lovers — either those who simply enjoy snapping pictures or full-time photographers, who snap pics of landscape or of models — and we saw a handful doing just that. The tower sits right next to the ocean, and waves endlessly hammer the rocks, causing a spectacular splash. Numerous tide pools act like mini- portals to the ocean, and you can see crabs and tons of sea urchins. This specific part of the beach isn’t great to swim in, due to all the rocks and extremely rough waves, but it sure makes for incredible pictures!
To get to the tower — good luck, and may the odds forever be in your favor. Parking is super limited, and if you follow the GPS like we did, you’re taken right into the expensive beachside neighborhood, where parking is nonexistent and you cannot park on the side of the street. These are mega-pricey homes and their streets get to remain parking free (although to be fair, many streets in beachside neighborhoods are so narrow that it would be a hazard if cars lined the side). The owners of the house that sits right next to the beginning of the path that leads down to the beach and tower were kind enough to designate a small section in front of their fenced-off home and driveway for parking for the beach. Be forewarned, the sign says it’s only for 30 minutes, it only fits one car, and good luck being there when it’s available.
My brother and I ended up having to park on the far side of PCH, right across the far entrance to the neighborhood. It’s free, but beware – you WILL have to play frogger if you park here. It’s the section of the PCH that runs through Laguna Beach and the traffic is rather heavy. Since I was the driver, I was next to the traffic zooming by, and I had to wait a good 3 minutes inside my car before I could safely open the door and jump out. Then we had to wait and wait until the traffic was clear enough to sprint across the 5 lanes. It’s obviously not impossible to make it across alive, but if you have trouble running fast, I’d suggest finding a different place to park. You can park at any of the beach parking lots, but it does cost money and you’ll have to walk quite a bit. Either way, you’ll have to walk; we had to walk all the way through the neighborhood to the entrance to the beach.
Once you make it to the entrance, regardless of which direction you come from, there is some more walking. You head down some stairs and then onto a steep, paved path. At the end, you hit more stairs and finally onto the sand. Once on the sand, you must walk around the cliffside to the right, which can be rather painful if you’re walking barefoot or in sandals. You must walk over rocky terrain to make it to the tower; there is no other way to go. Once you make it around the cliffside and over the rocky terrain, the area around the tower is sandy, unless you venture forward towards the tide pools… but then you might get a face full of ocean water. 🙃
Overall, I realize this location will very likely never be anyone’s sole/main vacation destination, or something they drive hours to see, but if you live nearby or are visiting, I suggest you go! It’s a fun, quick outing, and pretty cool to see. Bottom line, if you like the beach, then the Pirate Tower and Victoria Beach are perfect for you. It’s a gorgeous location, especially at sunset!