Some 20 donned wet suits, surfboards and smiles to paddle out on the south side of the pier in remembrance of parents Joseph and Summer McStay and their sons Gianni and Joseph Jr., all who disappeared in 2010.
Their remains were found only recently. Authorities are still investigating.
The paddle-out followed a noon memorial service at Vineyard Community Church in Laguna Niguel.
"The memorial service was beautiful," said Lindsey Cooper, a family friend. "Both sides of the family spoke. In a situation like this, because there is so much unknown and pain, the pastor mentioned that it is OK to want justice, but God will take care of the vengeance. The message was very meaningful to me."
Children played in the sand and water while almost half of the crowd paddled out on surfboards past the breaking waves to gather and remember the family.
"This is definitely important for the family," said Ken Aranda, Summer's brother. "It's all about family and getting out there and having a good time with the family. This (the beach) is something they loved, something to remember them by."
There was heart-felt laughter as family and friends recalled fond memories of the McStay family.
"I used to babysit their kids until they moved away," said San Clemente resident Hunter Mashburn, 14. "They (Gianni and Joseph Jr.) were always so playful. I knew they loved going to the beach, so I would take them to the beach sometimes. They were a great family. Who would want to do something like this?"