In Dana Point California you can enjoy Doheny Beach, dine at the Marina, go fishing or rent a kayak. It's kind of a one-stop-shop for things to do by the beach. Located between Laguna Beach and San Clemente in Southern Orange County. Dana Point is just south of Laguna Beach and north of San Clemente in Southern Orange County.
This town was named after the author Richard Henry Dana, who wrote "Two Years Before The Mast". Back in 1835 when Dana was here, the harbor was a major port, the biggest between Santa Barbara and San Diego. The point itself is at the northwest end of the harbor and is a huge mound with 200 foot cliffs seen for miles around.
In 1970 the new harbor was completed, along with a long jetty, creating a calm, safe haven for the pleasure boats.
The natural cove has two marinas: the west marina and east marina. At the west end are the Ocean Institute, Baby's Beach and the Dana Point Yacht Club.
The east marina has some shopping villages, a hotel, waterfront restaurants, and the Dana Wharf, where you can catch a cruise to Catalina, go sport fishing or take a whale watching trip.
There is a boardwalk along the marina with outdoor tables. Grab a bite at Coffee Importers & Deli (wraps, bagels, soup, coffee) or the Scoop Deck & Espresso Bar (ice cream, coffee, pastries) and sit and enjoy the waterfront atmosphere.
Grassy areas and picnic benches are found throughout the harbor, so you can sit, enjoy a picnic and watch the boats glide in and out of the channel. Parking is free, but some of the lots are for boat owners and their guests only.
Dana Point Harbor is backed by some seriously steep bluffs. At the top are several spots with great views:
Within the harbor itself is Baby's Beach, a calm little beach where you can swim or launch a kayak or paddle board. Being so sheltered, the water quality may be dubious, so don't let the little ones ingest it. Salt Creek Beach is to the north, while Doheny State Beach is to the southeast of the Harbor.
Strands Beach is just south of the Ritz Carlton.
Head a little further down Pacific Coast Highway and you will see Capistrano Beach Park on the right and several hotels and motels on the left, facing the ocean. The beach is sandy and has a metered parking lot. There are also picnic tables, restrooms and basketball courts. A stand, when open, rents out bicycles, umbrellas and beach chairs.
Love watersports? There are so many options in Dana Point California! Here are a few:
The annual Festival of Whales is held over two weekends in March. It includes loads of fun activities for the whole family, from a parade with floats, a street faire, an outrigger canoe race, a Woodie exhibition, Nash Metropolitans, hot rods, a horseshoe tournament, guided family tidepool hikes, an art show, sailboat rides, clinics on stand-up paddleboards, live music, an outdoor movie, sand sculpting exhibit, kid fishing clinics, a regatta of junior sailors, a rubber ducky race, and a whole lot more! Free shuttles make it easier to get around.
The Dana Point California Wine Festival is held in April at Doheny State Beach.
The Doheny Blues Festival is held in late May.
The Dana Point Harbor Annual Boat Show is in June.
In July is the annual 4th of July Fireworks Extravaganza. Fireworks are shot off from a barge and can be seen from Doheny Beach, Dana Point Harbor and up on Heritage Park.
The Dana Point Toshiba Tall Ships Festival, which is the largest gathering of tall ships on the west coast, is held each September at the Ocean Institute.
In December is the annual Dana Point Boat Parade of Lights, which has been going for 35 years. It includes around 100 colorfully lit and decorated boats cruising throughout Dana Point Harbor.
Prizes are given to the best decorated boats. Some boaters really go all out to turn their boats into spectacles of light.
Around 1000 spectators come to Dana Point to watch the hour and a half long parade over two weekends. It starts at the East Marina near the Jolly Roger restaurant and heads over towards Baby Beach in the West Marina and circles back.
The Dana Point Marina Inn is located right in the East Marina, while theDana Point Harbor Inn is across the street from the harbor entrance and Doheny State Beach.
Click on Dana Point Restaurants to see a sampling of what's available in the area, whether you're looking for waterfront dining or a cuppa joe.
The Chart House is up on a hill overlooking the harbor.
To get to Dana Point California, take the I-5 south from Los Angeles or north from San Diego, get off on the Beach Cities Exit or CA-1. That'll lead you to Pacific Coast Highway and Street of the Golden Lantern. Go left and follow the signs to the harbor and you're there!
The nearest major airport to Dana Point California is 25 miles away at John Wayne airport in Santa Ana, which serves Orange County. Also, if you're coming by train, Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner stops in nearby San Juan Capistrano on its way between San Diego and San Luis Obispo. Additionally, Metrolink trains can be picked up in San Juan Capistrano on their way between Oceanside and Los Angeles Union Station.
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