Visiting the Pirate Tower of Laguna Beach - Kirsten Alana

Visiting the Pirate Tower in Laguna Beach

This weekend, Danté and I had quite the adventure. We checked out the California Super Bloom and caught sunset down in Orange County. It was a lot of time in the car but it yielded some wonderful photo opportunities. The photo above is just one of the images I captured on Saturday in Laguna Beach.

About the Pirate Tower

This seaside tower apparently got its name from a wealthy eccentric who would dress like a pirate and hide coins among its stones. Or so says its page on Atlas Obscura. The tower was built in 1926 by William E. Brown, and rumored to have at one time belonged to Bette Midler. It’s 60-feet tall and reaches from the edge of the water up to the top of the cliff, to its accompanying private home built in the Norman-style. Inside the tower is a staircase for the owners to use for beach access.

Popularly called ‘The Pirate Tower’, a moniker it received from the second owner of the estate, retired naval captain Harold Kendrick; it’s accessible from Victoria Beach when the tide is low. I shot these photos at sunset, when Danté and I visited purposely to try and see this spot with a higher tide. We didn’t have the spot to ourselves. It’s very popular for engagement and maternity shoots.Visiting the Pirate Tower in Laguna Beach - Kirsten Alana

When Visiting the Pirate Tower

Like any spot made popular online, the Pirate Tower draws lots of people. There are houses immediately above yet still many were making so much noise and being so disruptive. That’s rude to the people who call this beach home. I even saw people trying to break into the locked gate or attempting to climb the tower. As much as I want to continue to share beautiful places like this, I will do so with a caveat. If you’re going to visit, please do so with respect for not only other people but also the environment itself and the owners of any place you visit. Don’t leave trash, carve in the rock or graffiti any surface. Remember private property means private. It’s not yours to access if it’s locked. Take only pictures and leave only footprints!

California Through My Lens has a great step by step blog post with advice about how to visit, where to park, and how to find the tower itself. I’m linking to it  >> here <<  instead of repeating the information.

To see a vertical version of the header image, please visit and comment on my post about this on Instagram.

Visiting the Pirate Tower in Laguna Beach - Kirsten Alana
Visiting the Pirate Tower in Laguna Beach - Kirsten Alana

I captured the header image handheld on my Sony a7RII with the 35mm f/2.8 lens, ISO 100, f/20 @ 1/6 sec. I learned the history of this spot from Atlas Obscura and the Visit Laguna Beach website which is a great resource for the town and the area of Orange County that it occupies.

  • March 24, 2019

    Very interesting topic with atmospheric photos
    Thank you for making my evening

    Adam Colins

    • March 26, 2019

      Thanks, Adam! Glad you enjoyed!

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