5970 Palos Verdes Drive South
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
Owned by the City of Rancho Palos Verdes
Parking Hours: 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Park Grounds Hours: 9:00 AM to Dusk
Closed January 1, Thanksgiving Day, December 24-25
Parking Fees: 1st 30 minutes free
$6 per car after 1st 30 minutes up to 2 hours
$12 per car for more than 2 hours
Seniors 62+ and Handicapped are free year-round
Caution: Check with rangers or lifeguards that conditions are safe for your planned activities.
The area encompassing Abalone Cove and Sacred Cove is included in the Abalone Cove Ecological Reserve, a 64-acre preserve. All the natural features in the Reserve are protected and should not be disturbed. Dogs on leash are allowed on the Reserve's 5 miles of trails. Bicycles and horses are permitted on designated trails.
Views from the Reserve's trails include Portuguese Point, Sacred Cove (also known as Smuggler's Cove), Inspiration Point, Abalone Cove, and Catalina Island.
Almost directly across Palos Verdes Drive from Abalone Cove Shoreline Park is the famous Wayfarers Chapel, designed by Lloyd Wright, the son of Frank Lloyd Wright. The tree chapel blends in beautifully with its forest setting. Expansive glass walls allow visitors to the sanctuary to feel as if they are a part of the forest.
The Visitors Center, open daily from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, contains information about Emanuel Swedenborg, Lloyd
Wright's designs, and about worship services. There is also a gift shop. Group tours:
To arrange a group tour of the Chapel and gardens, or to make reservations for a Chapel concert, please call
the Visitors Center at 310-377-1650 Ext. 2.
Abalone Cove Shoreline Park serves as the parking area for Abalone Cove Beach and Sacred Beach and for hikers in the Abalone Cove Ecological Reserve. The trail to Abalone Cove Beach begins at the parking lot in Shoreline Park. To reach Sacred Beach, visitors must walk ¾-mile along Palos Verdes Drive South to the trailheads above the cove.
Abalone Cove Beach with its tide pools and places to explore is the main destination for most visitors to the area. Plan at least 15 minutes to hike down the steep trail to the beach, crossing a small bridge and passing a little waterfall. Visitors recommend bringing some kind of footwear you can get wet for picking your way across cobbles to the small areas of sand and for exploring the rocky area. Lifeguards are on duty there in the summer and on weekends the rest of the year.
Abalone Cove Beach rates as one of the best tide pool spots in the Los Angeles area. The approach to the tide pools is across rocks. Plan your visit for low tide. You may need to negotiate a little inlet from one rock ledge to the other to reach the best tide pools. Look for a shallow sea cave. Sea life abounds among the rocks, everything from slugs and sea stars to octopi and sea anemones.
Good waves don't arrive often at Abalone Cove, but when they do the locals come out in numbers and enjoy the break. The area is best for experienced surfers. Sharp rocks pose a hazard. Surfers have three spots they like at Abalone Cove - The Point, an area west of the point known as Toilet Bowls, and another spot even farther to the west,
With the surf usually fairly gentle, Abalone Cove is an easy place to enter the water. Diving depths there range from about 12 feet to more than 50. Currents are not usually a problem. Divers are rewarded with a variety of sea life from giant crabs and sheephead to horn shark and electric torpedo rays. On the west side of the cove are large kelp bed and a submerged reef.
The trail down to Sacred Cove (or Smuggler's Cove) is more difficult than to Abalone Cove. The steep, slippery route can be challenging. The trail closest to Inspiration Point is perhaps the easiest. The rewards are a secluded cove with tide pools, a sea cave cut through the rock, views of the two points and Catalina Island, and fewer people than at Abalone Cove. There are no facilities at the beach. Nude sun bathing is illegal in Los Angeles County, but you may encounter a few who are risking a citation.
California State Parks and Recreation cautions that "large surf, cold water temperatures, backwash, sudden drop-offs, pounding shorebreak, and dangerous rip currents can turn what seem like safe activities such as playing near the surf line, wading, or climbing on rock outcroppings, deadly." Learn more about ocean safety at CA State Parks: Ocean Safety