Shade and Sun. Best times are late in the day after the cliff has had some time to dry out. The climbing here is characterized by sandstone caves that come out into a short cliff. The sandstone is typically juggy. It can be VERY greasy. Recommended to bring shoes, chalkbag, brush for holds, towel to clean off shoes and get sand out of your eyes. Awesome landings onto soft sand beach. No need for a crashpad in many spots.
Craig Fry's "Southern California Bouldering Guide, 2nd edition" has this area listed and info.
Drive to Corona Del Mar State Beach. There is free parking along the roads that run along the beach or pay parking inside the park. The Cliff is located at the extreme west side of the beach. If you're in the beach parking lot head west past the picnic area and scramble over the rocks to a staircase that leads down the cliff to the beach and bouldering.
Sit start deep in the cave right of Iron Man. The line follows the fairly obvious edges and pockets out of the cave and up the face. Once on the face, you have the option of a left or right exit. Both seem to be about the same grade.This climb is very weather dependent. It is best when the sun or wind has had a chance to dry out this area. The holds can get very wet and gummy if the conditions are not right, making it extremely hard to climb....[more]Browse More Classics in CA
Local Information for Pirate's Cove (aka The Beach or Corona Del Mar)
I'll preface this by saying I'm a sport climber not a boulderer, but all kinds of climbing only work when you go for it. It's harder to go for it when sand is covering everything. That said, bouldering on the beach is pretty novel and the place has some real charms. Many low-grade problems are available too if you want to be conservative and just have fun.
Despite the conditions that can sometimes make it a difficult place to climb (e.g. sand and rock moisture make gripping the rock difficult), Corona del Mar (Pirates Cove) is an awesome place for anyone in the area to come check out.
There are a bunch of climbs with varying degrees of difficulty. The sand, which can sometimes make climbing difficult, also provides a softer landing area than most other outdoor areas.
During the summer, it's a great place to come climb during the weekdays, but I wouldn't recommend going until after 5 pm. Anytime before then, the beach is packed with beach goers.
It's not often that you find a place like this. It's easily accessible, it's scenic, and it's go a lot of history to it. If anyone didn't know some of the history behind Pirates Cove, you should check out the article below.
If you plan on checking Pirates Cove out, I would recommend bringing a towel to stand on before you get on a problem and a larger brush of some sort to wipe the sand off your shoes before getting on the rock. Also, most of the people who climb there regularly are pretty friendly so don't hesitate to ask someone for help if you need it!
Also, check the weather conditions before heading over. Ideally, you will want a low tide, low humidity, and a nice breeze. But otherwise, as long as the sun is out, there will be an area that is good to climb.
This is a pretty cool place with a lot to offer if your just starting out or you're an intermediate climber. Definitely worth checking out if you're passing through or live in the area.
Article written by John Long about the history of Pirates Cove:
Don't even think about climbing here on weekends, anytime it's warm or between late Spring and early Fall. The crowds are insane. On the June weekday that I visited, I could not have begun any route without stepping off of a sun bathing tourist. Each of the caves was packed wall-to-wall with bodies.