When I packed my bags to spend one day and one night in nearby Huntington Beach, I could have never guessed that one of my favorite travel experiences would be so close to home.
After all, the Hyatt Regency Resort and Spa is only about 15 minutes (without that famous California traffic, of course) from where I live in sunny Orange County. But that didn’t stop me from having a fabulous time on my Southern California staycation—staying active and eating a lot.
The Sun & The Sea
First up on the agenda was a trip to the waves. We fueled up at the Watertable bar with some incredible parfaits—I’m talking blueberries on the bottom followed by a layer of chia pudding and bright pink pitaya, topped with blackberries, raspberries, coconut flakes and edible flowers.
Once we were ready to go, we took to the water for a surf lesson with Johnny, Paul and David from Toes on the Nose, the resort’s on-site surf shop. They set us up with wet suits and helped us carry our boards across Pacific Coast Highway via theHyatt’s private connecting bridge. Once on the sand, they taught us the correct stance then pushed us to dive in and see what we could do.
The only time I had surfed before was in laidback Hawaii, wobbling atop the long, rolling waves. But this experience was a different monster all together. The thrashing waves pounded the sand, giving us only a couple seconds to try to pop up and find our balance before we were tossed off. After more than an hour of water rushing up my nose and salt burning my eyes, we snapped a group photo and headed back across the street.
Living in Luxury
Back at the hotel, we were treated to all of the classic comforts the property had to offer. We started off wandering the pool decks, searching for a little bit of relaxation. The Spa Grotto, though isolated and calming, was a little warm for the balmy day, so I opted instead to lounge by Mankota’s Pool. This lagoon-style area has private cabanas to keep you shaded, but I spent some time floating in the cool water instead.
After wandering the massive property and making a few wrong turns, I arrived (late…oops) for my appointment at Pacific Waters Spa. The Spanish-style structure offers a European vibe that definitely had me feeling like I was further than 15 minutes away. Heading inside, I was treated to calming Swedish massage with warm stones that had me drifting off into that cozy place between waking and sleeping.
Luckily enough, the Hyatt’s public areas weren’t the only places to find serenity. The spacious guest rooms had other areas to unwind in: the sprawling balcony overlooking the beach, the chaise lounge next to the billowing curtains, the oversize whirlpool bathtub complete with scented bath salts. And, on top of all of that, the posh bed was the perfect thing to sink into after a long day at the beach.
While there were plenty of spots to find tranquility on property, there were some spectacular ways to unwind along the coastline as well. The proximity to the beach made it easy to find ways to explore so on the second morning of the trip, we headed across the street for some yoga. The smell of the salt, the subtle crash of the waves and the grey skies overhead all added to the quiet, relaxing experience.
Another way to combine exercise with a calm mind is along the beach boardwalk. We rented bicycles from Toes on the Nose and headed north along the cement path. Feeling the wind whipping through my hair and across my face was freeing. Later that night, we returned to the beach after dinner to enjoy a bonfire, make s’mores and look at the few stars that we could see.
You can fill your days with endless activities, but there are plenty of culinary delights to enjoy as well. From breakfast to dinner, Watertable is the hotel’s main eatery. In the morning, enjoy various buffet stations in addition to produce-covered toasts and incredible eggs Benedicts. They also serve a unique avocana bread, crafted out of both avocado and banana and presented with whipped honey butter.
By night, you’ll want to do a “Create Your Own” meal. First, select a protein; you can choose between chicken, salmon, filet, New York steak, sea bass or even lobster tail. Top it with white wine butter sauce, salbitxada, olive oil with sea salt or the eatery’s famous bacon jam. Each dish also comes with a side, many of which consist of fresh, in-season vegetables. Watertable’s mixologist is also fantastic, presenting some of the most unique, Southern-inspired cocktails in California.
When it comes to lunch, opt for the more casual Pete’s Sunset Grille. We enjoyed fried green beans with cotija cheese to start, and all ordered their shrimp tacos. Drizzled in a roasted jalapeno and cilantro crema, they were the perfect complement to the beachy staycation experience.