Best Gated Communities to Live in Laguna Beach

Best Gated Communities to Live in Laguna Beach

Emerald Bay, Three Arch Bay, Irving Cove — these beaches are among the last private beaches in all of California, having been grandfathered in before new laws opened up beach access to the public. The high tide line demarcates the boundary between the public and private sections of sand. As a result, beaches like the one at Emerald Bay are like living time capsules (by contrast, newer developments have required public beach access points).

Beyond exclusivity, these communities have much to offer: panoramic ocean views, beach days, sunsets, and the salty breeze are among their shared qualities. As you closely examine the gated communities of Laguna Beach, their idiosyncrasies will speak their differences. Domaine Luxury Properties can help with that search. Read on to learn more about four of the most prestigious gated communities in Laguna Beach.

Emerald Bay

The winding avenues and ocean breeze of Emerald Bay call to mind the Mediterranean seaside or beaches in the south of India. The beach is shaped like a horseshoe and small enough that the curves at its north and south ends appear to hug the bay. The exclusive beach is a world unto itself, a perfect place to escape into a good book or one of the boats parked in the bay.

Barred from the general public, the community is a picturesque paradise for anyone lucky enough to live there. Amenities include private tennis courts, idyllic parks, and a pool reserved for residents. The beach is wide and has volleyball courts, and during the summer, the bay is often anchored with yachts from around the world. By contrast, the streets in the community are guard-gated; residents typically walk or motor around on golf carts.

Emerald Bay's homes are on either side of North Coast Highway, which runs north as far as Oxnard and south to Capistrano Beach. The divide creates a situation where you can find beautiful homes next to the beach and homes further up the hill with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean (you can access the beachside community by a tunnel that subverts the North Coast Highway).

As of January 2024, there are about 538 homes in Emerald Bay, which was founded in 1929 and has its own fire station. Homes range in price from $3 million to $65 million; their architectural influences are contemporary, French, Mediterranean, Tuscan, and traditional. Emerald Bay is widely considered one of Southern California's most breathtaking beachside communities. Get in before the centennial celebration and experience how time slows down in Emerald Bay.

Three Arch Bay

Three Arch Bay is a stunning oceanfront community, one of California's most beautiful residential areas — you have to see it for yourself. Newcomers to Three Arch Bay are greeted by the soft rush of crashing waves and the natural rock formation resembling three arches standing over the beach.

Besides the three arches, the community is known for its rock pools, the first of which was created by film producer Edward H. Griffin, who used his property as a backdrop for feature films like Captain Blood and Give Us This Night.

Today, residents enjoy walkable access to the private beach, tide pools, and a clubhouse. Of the 507 homes in Three Arch Bay, about 300 are situated on the lower side, and about 200 are on the upper side. The gated community occupies 29 acres of prime Laguna Beach real estate.

Homes in Three Arch Bay are situated on the southwest side of the Pacific Coast Highway. Built harmoniously with their coastal surroundings, they range from classic beach cottages to contemporary estates. Some original homes date back to the 1920s when Laguna Beach was first incorporated as a city.

As of January 2024, Domaine Luxury Properties can introduce you to at least 10 homes for sale in Three Arch Bay. Half of these properties are gorgeous oceanfront estates priced between $20 million and $25 million. The houses further from the beach start at $3.5 million and include amenities like pools and panoramic views of the ocean.

Irvine Cove

Like its neighbor, Emerald Cove, Irving Cove is an oceanfront community with residences on either side of the Pacific Coast Highway. It’s even more exclusive, smaller geographically, and only has about 110 total homes and few on the market at any time.

When they hit the market, the estates of Irvine Cove list between about $4 million and $60 million. The residences in Irvine Cove, ranging from Mediterranean villas to contemporary estates, showcase architectural diversity while maintaining a commitment to luxury. Most houses here are single-level with tranquil ocean views.

Guarded around the clock, this gated community is a genuine retreat, secluded between Crystal Cove State Park to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. Private beach access, crystalline waters, and panoramic views characterize the Irvine Cove lifestyle. There’s also a neighborhood park in the middle of the community with limited access to residents and guests of Irvine Cove.


Smithcliffs borders Emerald Bay to the south and is one of the best beach communities in Laguna Beach. Perched majestically above the Pacific, Smithcliffs is graced with some of the most luxurious properties on the California coast.

Founded in 1995, Smithcliffs features relatively new homes with a European flair. Homes in Smith Cliffs range from Mediterranean estates to contemporary marvels, each designed to accommodate the panoramic ocean views. You can find cliffside properties or houses closer to the beach.

Regarding amenities, Smithcliffs residents can walk to Laguna Village, Heisler Park, or the beach. The community is relatively small, with one circular street defining its center. The bluffs are about 200 feet above the beach.

The community also has a history as a playground of sorts for Hollywood celebrities of yore. Ownership of Smithcliffs changed over the years, ending up in the hands of developer Gary Brinderson, who subdivided the land and built its 20 or so signature estates. As of January 2024, there are no public listings in Smithcliffs — work with Domaine Luxury Properties to discover pocket listings.

Domaine Luxury Properties: Your Gateway to Coastal Elegance

In the quest for the perfect gated community in Laguna Beach, work with the agents at Domaine Luxury Properties. Whether it's the secluded charm of Emerald Bay, the coastal oasis of Three Arch Bay, the grandeur of Irvine Cove, or the timeless sophistication of Smith Cliffs, this esteemed real estate agency navigates the nuances of each enclave with finesse.

Domaine Luxury Properties complements your goals and preferences with trust, honesty, and integrity. The agents on this team bring a unique energy and complete transparency to every client and transaction. They have an intricate understanding of Laguna Beach and its real estate, including the gated communities discussed above.

Reach out to Domaine Luxury Properties as your next step toward luxury homeownership.

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