By Levi Clancy for לוי on
Though called Mussel Cove on the map, this private beach is known as Three Arch Bay after its natural formations and more recently the gated community enclosing it.
Three Arch Bay is a private beach with a carefully maintained insularity. Visit the dwellingLIVE website to read about promising features including community intelligence and vehicular searches. Also visit their site to learn that even the most manicured façades are susceptible to its or it's style typos -- seriously, call me next time you need an editor.
However, there are many ways to get access to this beach even if you are not a Three Arch Bay resident. Just be careful if you are any color other than white, white-enough or crispy, sunburned pink: your cover as just one of the locals will be blown.
Three Arch Bay is a spectacular Orange County microcosm.
There are two labyrinthine stairways to the beach: a wooden one off La Senda Drive with its own restrooms and gazebo, and another off Barranca Way with a little waterfall to treat your eyes. The beach itself gets some absolutely enormous waves, which on one windy August day in 2012 were among the largest I have ever seen in California. Even with such tumult keeping the lone lifeguard busy, the water was crystal-clear. At the north end of the beach are some tide pools and also the three arches themselves, which separate the main bay from a secondary little cove that is too rocky for swimming.
Locals were friendly but not very talkative.
However, that may have been due to my clumsy remarks like I can't believe this place is so pretty! and Oh wait, this beach is private? after I'd wandered in from Los Angeles via train. The beach was busy towards the north and empty at the very south, but even in the most crowded areas it was possible to find a nice spot.