Q. What is it supposed to be on the show?
A. The beach
(and the adjacent town).
Q. Where is it supposed to be on the show?
A. In Newport Beach.
Q. When did we see it on the show?
A. This beach
itself is seen several times, including:
In addition to the beach itself, the adjacent city contains multiple O.C. locations, including
Q. What is it actually in real life?
A. A beach -
but not Newport.
Q. Where can I find it in real life?
A. This is Redondo Beach, California, a city in the South Bay section of Los Angeles county. It lies just south of Hermosa Beach and just north of the Palos Verdes hills. Here is a map link to the city.
The northern part of the city's coast is dominated by the Redondo Beach Pier and the King Harbor Marina, where many of the show's scenes have been filmed. The actual beach area is located south of the pier.
Unlike Hermosa Beach, where the land is on the same level as the sea, in Redondo Beach, the beach is located below the mainland, which forms low cliffs above the beach, so you have to walk down ramps or stairways to reach the beach. The beach walkway, known as The Strand in Hermosa Beach, continues in Redondo as a broad path for bikes and pedestrians, but in Redondo it runs through the beach itself and is far below the street above. (See the photo of the bike path at the right top corner of this page.)
About half way between the Redondo pier and Palos Verdes (near Topaz Street), there is a short finger of rocks extending into the sea about (see an aerial photo). You can see this rocky point in the screenshot below (as well as in the photo in the upper right corner of this page):
Running above the beach, right along the coast, is a street called The Esplanade. Between Knob Hill Avenue (on the north) and Paseo del la Play (on the south), a drive along the Esplanade offers a wonderful scenic view of the ocean below, beach-goers crossing the street, sea gulls soaring overhead, and the picturesque Palos Verdes cliffs to the south.
They used that street, The Esplanade, when they filmed a shot of Sandy and Caleb driving (south) along the beach in his Aston Martin. Here are some photos from that scene:
As you can see in the screenshot below, they are passing 1420 Esplanade (near Avenue G).
Moving farther south, quite a few of the show's scenes (especially in the second season) were filmed down near the beach parking lot, which is located above the beach at the south end of the city, on Paseo de la Playa (see an aerial photo-map).
Right across from (east of) this parking lot are the apartments of Alex and Trey, as well as the apartment house of Carter Buckley. On the other (beach/west) side of the street, they shot a scene where Sandy and Carter are loading their surfboards into their car. Here is a screenshot from that scene:
If you park in this paid lot (which is located directly above the beach), you will find a long stairway/path leading down to the beach. It was on this stretch of beach, near the base of that stairway, that they filmed the night time scene from Episode 21 (of season two), "The Return of the Nana", where a drunken Trey attempted to rape Marissa. (Fortunately, she escaped unharmed.) Here is an enhanced screenshot of that scene. Note the slanted stairway in the upper right side of the photo below:
You can see an aerial photo of this beach at this link.
This same southern end of Redondo Beach was used as Johnny's surfing beach, in season 3, and it's where we first see Volchok. Speaking of Volchok, when he later gives himself up to Sandy (after Marissa's death), he does so at the top of the stairway in the same beach parking lot where Sandy & Carter loaded their surfboards.
(Although the beach lies at the south end of Redondo Beach, and is generally thought of as Redondo, and despite the fact that the city of Torrance miles inland to the northeast, this particular stretch of beach is technically known as "Torrance Beach", due to a legal boundary skirmish which granted Torrance access to a portion of the beach between Redondo and Palos Verdes.)
Q. How the heck did you figure out where it was?
A. I grew up
in the South Bay and I know Redondo Beach very well. That knowledge,
plus a little help from the Google & Live Local aerial maps, made
it easy to pinpoint the filming locations in the city.
O.C. screenshots from the show and all related characters & elements
are trademarks of and © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.