California Diaries: Crystal Cove

{Written in collaboration with Visit California and Air New Zealand}

This is the story of discovering one of the most magical bits of California coastline known as Crystal Cove… The last day of my California adventure was by far my most emotional. Of course I was already feeling “feelings” as I had less than 20 hours left on the ground in one of my favourite places on this big old planet. But, add to that the fact that I was discovering a completely new part of this state that left me with my jaw on the floor, and I found myself not ready to go home at all. There’s so much more to see here and I’ve only ever just scratched the surface. Crystal Cove cottages, however, truly left me with a lump in my throat. If you have never seen this part of the world before, get ready for an incredible eye opener! However, I’ll give the game away a bit here and tell you if you’ve ever seen the Bette Midler movie Beaches, you will know this beach very well indeed! 

Before we kick into gear looking around Crystal Cove, let’s start with the necessities… coffee. Yes, it was early morning when we arrived, so coffee was absolutely essential. And luckily there is a place that’s ready to serve. The Beachcomber is a must when visiting Crystal Cove. It’s located to the right just as you walk onto the beach and it’s an open air restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner with a view. Salty air, the sound of crashing waves and the friendliest smiles serving everything from pancakes to beignets made this a breakfast I’ll never forget. And can we just talk about the beignets. I was told I had to order these, that they were the best things this side of New Orleans and the advice was solid. There was a reason every single table had an order next to their coffee. Holy heck, I could have eaten three more plates full. Do not come here on a diet. It would be a crime. 

After breakfast we took to exploring the area. It’s not a massive corner of the world, so you could probably cover this beach in twenty minutes, corner to corner. But, if you’re taking pictures, expect to be here for an hour at least. However, if you are one of the chosen few that have actually managed to rent a cottage here for the summer weeks, that’s a whole different scenario. Yes, all the cottages are available for the general public to rent and they apparently sell out every season just minutes after going up online. This is an area in high demand and it’s easy to see why. It’s also an area that’s about to experience a great deal of renovation and you’ll see why in just a second.

First, let’s take a look at the famous Beaches Cottage. This is the cottage scene that had every one of my girlfriends balling in their popcorn back in the day. It’s the movie that reenforced the power of female friendship in my mind and to see it in real life made me break down right on the spot. Talk about floods of tears because of memories flooding back in like a tsunami. 

And now one of the most incredible sites I’ve seen on a coastline in my 30+ years of travelling. This is both haunting and beautiful. These are the Crystal Cove cottages that are dilapidated, in need of serious love and currently completed fenced off from the public:

But, there is good news. It was announced in March of last year that the site was getting a $30 million renovation budget. The remaining 17 houses will be completed restored and brought up for public rental in the future. So, this part of the coastline will flourish again and more houses will be available for families to rent in the future. Watch this space as I’ll definitely be trying to snag a cottage for the future. I was completely seduced by this stretch of coastline. It’s magical. I can’t pinpoint it exactly, but there’s something so romantic and “days of old” about this little patch of land. You simply must visit at least once in your life. 

Discover a better way to fly to Los Angeles – Air New Zealand flies daily from London Heathrow to LA. Return flights start from £407 in Economy, £851 in Premium Economy and £2,843 in Business Premier. For the most up to date fares please visit

To find out more about what to do in California, go to Visit California


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