One of the most popular things to do in Orange County is to have a bonfire on the beach. It’s one of those classic California past-times that brings back all the feel-good childhood memories, right?! This is something that should be on everyone’s California bucket list.
Orange County is so lucky to have hundreds of bonfire pits scattered throughout each beach city. Which beach has the most and where can you find them? Read further to find out everything you need to know, including where to find fire pits in Orange County, what to bring with you, how to rent bonfire pits or hire a bonfire butler, and more!
The Ultimate Guide to Bonfires on the Beach in Orange County, California
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Beach Bonfire Checklist
Make sure you bring these items with you to have the best beach bonfire ever:
- A few bundles of firewood (or charcoal if allowed)
- Kindling and matches (or a lighter) to help start the fire
- Blankets or beach chairs to sit on
- An extra blanket to bundle up in
- Any kind of food or dessert (s’mores!) you want to cook over the fire
- Campfire roasting sticks for roasting marshmallows and/or hotdogs
Rules for Beach Bonfires in Orange County
While beach bonfires in Orange County are a tradition, there are a few rules to keep in mind:
- In California, beach bonfires are only allowed in designated fire pits or by renting a fire pit from a designated business (see more information on beach bonfire rentals in Orange County toward the end of this post).
- If you’d like to grill food, most beaches allow you to bring your own grill, with some restrictions. View specific rules for each beach below.
- Alcohol is not permitted at any of the beaches listed below.
- You are not allowed to burn wood pallets in the public fire rings.
- Safety first! Follow all beach-specific rules and regulations to have a safe and memorable experience.
How to Build a Wood Bonfire on the Beach
Luckily, you’ll find plenty of fire rings in Orange County, so you don’t have to worry about creating that part. To start your fire, you’ll lay out some kindling (small twigs, small pieces of wood, or even dry seaweed) at the bottom of the designated fire ring. Choose a formation to lay your larger wood logs in – likely either a cone-like structure or a square base with the wood around the kindling. The square base (also known as cabin-style) tends to be more sturdy.
Whichever you choose, build that structure around your kindling while still giving yourself access to the interior so you can start the kindling on fire. Then, you’ll use your matches or lighter to light the kindling. The fire will grow and spread to the log formation you built. Keep adding logs to grow your fire!
How to Make S’mores
No bonfire is complete without s’mores! You’ll want to pack these items for your beach bonfire:
- Graham crackers
- Large marshmallows
- Hershey’s chocolate bars
- Roasting sticks
First, you’ll put a marshmallow on the end of a long skewer or stick and roast it over the fire. While it’s roasting, crack a graham cracker in half so you have two squares. Also, break off 2-3 pieces of chocolate from the chocolate bar.
Once the marshmallow is ready, put one half of the graham cracker with the chocolate under the marshmallow and the other half of the graham cracker on top. Simultaneously squeeze the marshmallow between the two halves and pull the skewer away. Now you have a gooey marshmallow and chocolate sandwich. Enjoy!
How to Put Out the Fire
About an hour before the beach closes you should stop adding wood to the fire and let it burn out. You’ll still have burning embers at the bottom which you should completely douse with water and then bury with sand. This will prevent any risk of the fire starting again due to wind or anything else.
Orange County Beaches with Fire Pits
Bolsa Chica State Beach
Hours: 6am to 10pm
Parking fee: $15/day
Number of fire pits: 200
Bolsa Chica State Beach has 200 fire pits to use on a first-come, first-serve basis unless they are reserved with a picnic area reservation. Bolsa Chica is one of the most popular beaches in Huntington Beach, so expect to get there early during peak season. Coal or wood can be used in the fire rings. Propane grills are allowed behind the line of lifeguard towers and must be 18″ off the ground. Dogs are not allowed on the sand at Bolsa Chica State Beach.
Huntington City Beach
Hours: 5am to 10pm
Parking fee: Up to $15/day or $30/day during peak season and holidays (check current rates here)
Number of fire pits: 125+
For a special classic California experience that you won’t experience at any other beach, have a beach bonfire at sunset on Huntington City Beach. You’ll have the Huntington Beach Pier as your backdrop, allowing you to capture the perfect Instagram shot. You’ll find 125 or so concrete fire rings in between Beach Boulevard and 1st Street, plus two places to hire a bonfire butler (see more info at the end of this post). If you’re bringing your own grill it must be within 6′ of a fire pit and off the sand. Dogs are not allowed on the sand in the bonfire area.
Huntington State Beach
Hours: 6am to 10pm
Parking fee: $15/day
Number of fire pits: 200+
Huntington State Beach has plenty of fire rings for bonfires that can be used from 6am to 930pm daily on a first-come, first-serve basis. You can reserve picnic areas with a fire pit on the State Park’s website. The parking lot entrance closes at 9pm and visitors must exit the beach by 930pm. Coal or wood can be used in the fire rings. Propane grills are allowed behind the line of lifeguard towers and must be 18″ off the ground. Dogs are not allowed on the sand at Huntington State Beach.
Looking for more things to do in Huntington Beach? Here are 7 unique experiences to have while you’re there!
Corona Del Mar State Beach
Hours: 6am to 10pm
Parking fee: $2.40-$6.40/hour or $24.15-$32.20/day (check current rates here)
Number of fire pits: 24
Corona Del Mar State Beach has 24 fire pits, including 16 for wood burning or charcoal (4 of those ADA accessible) and 8 rings that are for charcoal only (these fire rings are painted green). You’ll want to get there early – Corona Del Mar is a very popular beach area and it will be hard to get a fire ring during peak season. All fire rings are available on a first-come, first-serve basis between 6am and 10pm. Grills are not allowed and dogs are not allowed on the beach in between the hours of 10am and 430pm.
Hours: 6am to 10pm
Parking fee: $2.10-$4.25/hour up to $42.50/day (check current rates here)
Number of fire pits: 31
The beach at Balboa Pier is one of the most popular Orange County beaches with fire pits, so again, you’ll need to get here early before they’re all taken. With only 31 fire rings available and tons of things to do in the area, they tend to be taken up quickly. On both sides of the pier, you’ll find a total of 15 wood or charcoal fire rings (8 of those ADA accessible), plus 16 charcoal-only fire rings painted in green. All fire rings are available on a first-come, first-serve basis between 6am and 10pm. Grills are not allowed and dogs are not allowed on the beach in between the hours of 10am and 430pm.
Crystal Cove State Park
Hours: 6am to sunset (Historic District at 10pm)
Parking fee: $5/hour up to $15/day
Number of fire pits: Bring your own propane pit or rent one
Although there aren’t any public fire rings on the beaches at Crystal Cove State Park, you can use propane fire pits on the beach. The most popular place to have a bonfire at Crystal Cove is at the Historic District. If you’re interested in renting a propane fire pit, you can do so with The Beachcomber (more information on that below).
Check out my guide for how to spend an entire day at Crystal Cove State Park!
Hours: 6am to 10pm
Parking fee: $1/hour
Number of fire pits: 7
Aliso Beach has 7 wood-burning fire pits available for beach bonfires, but since this is the only beach in Laguna Beach with fire rings (and parking is super cheap!), you’ll definitely want to get there early to secure one. These fire pits are first-come, first-serve and only one fire ring can be reserved per group. You must be present to secure a fire ring and unattended items will be removed. Dogs are not permitted on Aliso Beach between 9am and 6pm from June 15 to September 10.
Looking for more beaches to explore in Laguna? Here are some of the best beaches in Laguna Beach!
Hours: 4am to midnight
Parking fee: $1.50/hour
Number of fire pits: 8 (across 3 different beaches)
The city of San Clemente does offer a few fire pits, but not many. You can find a few at the San Clemente Pier, North Beach, and T Street Beach. Because there are so few, you’ll need to arrive early! All fire rings in San Clemente are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
However, San Clemente does allow fires in self-contained barbeques that are off the sand. Just make sure you dispose of coals in the fire rings when you are finished. You can find more information about beach rules in San Clemente here.
San Clemente State Beach (campground only)
San Clemente State Beach doesn’t allow bonfires on the beach, but they do allow them in fire rings in the campground nearby. This campground is suitable for tent campers and it also has RV hookups to use. There are hiking/biking trails, restrooms, and of course, plenty of opportunities for bonfires!
Where to Find Beach Bonfire Rentals and Butler Service
If you’re visiting Orange County from out of town and don’t want to risk not getting a firepit, you can choose to hire a bonfire butler service or rent a bonfire! Check out these options for ensuring you’ll be able to have a beach bonfire for your time in the OC.
Waterfront Adventures in Huntington Beach
Waterfront Adventures offers everything from Cabana rentals to bike rentals to beach bonfire packages. As far as their bonfire packages go, they offer options for bonfires by the pool at The Waterfront Beach Resort, a Hilton Hotel, or on the beach right across from the resort (with great views of the pier). Both options come with a reserved fire pit, a bonfire attendant, and chairs for everyone. The beach bonfire option comes with s’mores fixings and other food can be added on for an additional charge.
The Beachcomber at Crystal Cove
The Beachcomber at Crystal Cove State Park offers several different beach bonfire rental packages. The rentals last for 3 hours and come with the fire pit, beach chairs, beverages, s’mores ingredients, and some kind of food (options for hot dogs, hamburgers, or kabobs). Additional food, drinks, or chairs can be added a la carte. These three-hour packages start at $160 on weekdays and go up to $235 on the weekends.
Lost Pier Cafe at Aliso Beach
If you’re in Laguna Beach, check out Lost Pier Cafe which offers bonfire rentals at Aliso Beach. The fire pits they rent come with wood and propane and they’re portable. You can take these onto Aliso Beach to ensure you get to have a beach bonfire instead of hoping to snag one of the public fire rings.
With so many options available for having a beach bonfire in Orange County, I hope you are able to easily plan your memorable night with friends and family! If you have any questions about the fire rings, you can find me on social media, or leave me a comment here. Enjoy!