Johnny's Surfing Beach.
Q. What is it supposed to be on the show?
A. The beach where Johnny Harper surfs (along with Chili and other students from Newport Union High).
There have actually been actually three different beaches where Johnny's scenes have been filmed.
The other two
are the beach where Johnny enters the surfing
contest (and where he is later hit by a car), and the rocky beach where
Johnny falls to his death. (See those
two separate pages for info about those other locations.)
Q. Where is it supposed to be on the show?
A. The exact
location isn't mentioned, but most likely Newport Beach.
Q. When did we see it on the show?
A. We first see it in Episode 5 (of Season 3), "The Perfect Storm", when an angry Marissa comes down to the beach to find Johnny.
He & Chili are seen walking from the surf, carrying their surfboards, when Marissa spots them. She is upset at Johnny for helping Ryan get a job on a fishing boat. Johnny is confused, because he was just trying to help. She tells him they got in a fight, and he tells her where to find Ryan.
(The same stretch of beach is seen at the end of that same Episode 5, when Ryan, Marissa, Seth & Summer go walking arm-in-arm on the beach.)
We see Johnny's beach again in Episode 6 (of season 3), "The Swells", when Marissa comes out to the beach when he is surfing. The two of them sit on the beach and talk, then they go back to the beach parking lot, where Johnny tells Marissa his story about how he attacked his father (after his father threatened his mother).
While they are talking, Johnny's jealous girlfriend sees them together.
Later, in the same episode 6, Marissa introduces Summer to her new surfer friends on the same beach, and Volchok makes his first appearance on the show, carrying a surfboard and acting like a jerk (as usual).
Q. What is it actually in real life?
A. A beach,
but not in Newport.
Q. Where can I find it in real life?
A. You'll find
the spot at the far south end of Redondo Beach, near where the beach
meets the Palos Verdes peninsula.
It's actually called Torrance Beach in that area. Since Torrance is an otherwise land-locked city, an old agreement gave Torrance the far south end of (what most people think of as) Redondo Beach.
This beach really is a popular spot with surfers, at its best during a North/Northwest swell. It's somewhat secluded - you must park on a hill above the beach and walk down stairs (or a ramp) to reach the beach.
The beach parking lot (where Johnny and Marissa talk) is the lot bordered on the east by Paseo de la Playa; in the conversation shot, Johnny & Marissa are leaning on the first beach stairway just south of Paseo de la Concha.
The OC filmed quite a few different scenes in this area.
Early scenes of Summer and Marissa relaxing on the beach were filmed here, as was the second season scene where Trey tried to rape Marissa on the beach.The fourth season scenes of Ryan running on the beach were also filmed here. The scene where Volchok meets with Sandy to give himself up (after he accidentally kills Marissa) was filmed in the parking lot right above this beach. The apartments of Alex, Trey, and Carter Buckley were located right across the street from that beach parking lot. And scenes of Caleb and Sandy driving down the Esplanade were filmed just a few blocks to the north.
Here is an aerial photo of Torrance beach (and the parking lot).
Here is a map link.
Q. How the heck did you figure out where it was?
A. I live in
the South Bay, and I know Redondo Beach and Torrance Beach like the back
of my hand. But one obvious giveaway is the bent tree sticking out of the
end of the Palos Verdes cliffs in the background. Due to the way the twin
cliffs are made, that tree isn't visible from farther north on Redondo
beach, it only comes into view as you head south towards Torrance Beach.
O.C. screenshots from the show and all related characters & elements
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