Terranea Resort, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

When I think of the Los Angeles area, I think of the hustle and bustle of downtown LA, the luxury of Beverly Hills and the eclectic beaches of Venice, Santa Monica or Laguna Beach. Because expansive land is so limited in Southern California, I don’t tend to think of remote destination resorts in that area. However, the Terranea Resort (terra-nay-a) located in Rancho Palos Verdes, managed to secure a pristine location on over 100 acres of land with stunning ocean views.

The Property

Terranea boasts a prime setting on the cliffs of the Pacific Ocean with a view of Catalina Island across the channel. The land was previously occupied by Marineland of the Pacific which opened it’s doors to the public in the mid 1950’s and remained in operation up until 1987.

As described on Terranea’s history pageMarineland was the world’s largest oceanarium featuring sea life, entertainment, and research facilities. Opening one year before Disneyland, many consider Marineland California’s first major theme park, and it remained a major attraction to the area until it closed in 1987″. The property has also been the location for dozens of Hollywood films and television shows over the years, including the television series Sea Hunt with Llyod Bridges. I think this gives the property an interesting story.

In 1998, a 10-year development project began creating a luxury destination resort which has become the Terrenea Resort. In designing the resort, the developers took great pride in preserving the history and legacy of the property.


This is a large resort and a lot of conferences are held here so be prepared to enter a bustling lobby. There are several Front Desk personnel working at one time so the process moves fairly quickly. The lobby is beautifully decorated with fresh flowers and potted plants all around.


The resort offers over 580 rooms consisting of hotel guest room and suites, residential style bungalows, casitas and villas. I stayed in the main building in a guest suite on the top floor overlooking the pool and ocean. The suite offers two separate rooms ~ the guest room and a living room with a sofa bed, additional television and seating, and a writing desk. Together it’s quite spacious.

The Bungalows are located near the resort spa and include some spa amenities when you stay in one of these units. You must be over 18 years of age to use the spa and stay in the Bungalow. There are 4 Bungalow units to a building ~ two lower and two upper. Each Bungalow is over 1,000 sf and richly decorated and offers a kitchen and living area. Some units have oversized terraces with fire pits. One comment that I will make about these units is that they are located right in the middle of the resort, as mentioned by the spa and by Nelson’s restaurant, so there will be more traffic in this area and some of the terraces won’t be as private as other locations on the property. However, if you want to be located near the spa and enjoy people-watching this is a good location for you.

The Casitas and Villas are gorgeous accommodations positioned higher on the hillside with expansive views and offer a luxurious residential feel. This is a great option for families.


There are numerous dining choices on property from light options such as the Lobby Bar & Lounge and Sea Beans, to casual meal options at (the oh so fun) Nelson’s, Catalina Kitchen and Bashi’s with an Asian flair, to the upscale Mar’sel. There are also spa and pool dining options at the Spa Cafe and Cielo Point. I can guarantee you, you won’t go hungry!

I have to give a special shout-out to Nelson’s though, it is the quintessential California bar and grill and a great hangout to watch an amazing sunset!

Spa and Pools

There are three pools at the resort ~ the main pool, an adult pool and the spa pool. My choice was hanging out at the adult pool on a cushy chaise lounge. This pool has a hip, contemporary feel. Pops of orange add some drama and a sleek, orange glass fire pit adds a bit of sass to the patio.

Conversation seating and lounge chairs on a make-shift sand beach overlook the stunning cliffs and ocean. The pool offers a full bar and snack shack and tunes are played throughout the day for a really relaxing and pleasurable experience.

The next day I decided to give the resort’s full-service luxury spa a try ~ a little workout in the gym, sat in the steam room, sauna and hot tub for awhile and then had a healthy lunch out by the pool.


Countless activities await you here. Explore the Aqua-Terra Adventures and make a splash with activities like stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, tide pooling and snorkeling. The beaches here are a rocky shore so you won’t be tanning on a sandy beach, but in my opinion, that’s what makes this shoreline so interesting and beautiful.

Explore the surrounding area on an oceanside hike, by bike, or even a horseback trail ride. Or just take in the stunning ocean views from the resort’s 9-hole par 3 golf course.

And don’t forget, you are still in the Los Angeles area, so you are a stone’s throw from all the glitz and glamour that LA has to offer.

If you are looking for a Southern California destination getaway without the hustle and bustle of being directly in the middle of the city, the Terrenea Resort is an excellent choice.