Panoramic views abound in the natural cove that author and seaman Richard Henry Dana called, "The only romantic spot on the coast." Dana landed here during the hide trading days of the 1830's and described the charm of the steep cliff cove in his renowned book, TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST. In the days of the square rigged sailing ships, the rugged cove was known as BAHIA CAPISTRANO and was the major port between San Diego and Santa Barbara. It seemed only natural that this scenic cove was destined to become one of the most beautiful recreational harbors on the west coast.
Dana Point Harbor and marina were built and officially dedicated in 1971. Divided into two basins, the East Basin and West Basin each operates as a separate marina, holding a total of 2,500 slips. Also, included in the harbor are fifty quest slips for visiting guests. There is a ten lane launch ramp, dry boat storage hoist, fishing pier, shipyard, marine fuel dock, three yacht clubs and a commercial sports fishing operation which also offers whale watching trips during the migration season.
Numerous restaurants and stores offer good food in a beautiful setting in either Mariner's Village or the Dana Wharf areas. The Orange County Marine Institute, located at the far west end of Dana Point Harbor, is a unique educational experience for both children and adults. The facility provides classroom instruction, wet laboratory equipment, display tanks, and exhibits to study marine life. A 70 foot research vessel "Sea Explorer" provides daily cruises to study and observe marine life offshore. Just beyond the base of the breakwater lies the Marine Life Refuge, a protected area for observing marine life in the tidepools at the base of the majestic bluffs overlooking the ocean.
The Marine Institute also displays the brig "Pilgrim" which is a full-sized replica of the square rigged vessel on which Richard Henry Dana sailed into this cove. The Pilgrim is docked adjacent to the fishing pier and offers school children the experience of life aboard a sailing ship in the 19th century.
Dana Point Harbor offers the recreational boaters and county residents alike, numerous events which attract thousands of spectators and participants each year. Starting with the February "Festival of the Whales" and its many activities for a three week period. Other events during the year include: the Classic Wooden Boat Festival, offshore powerboat races in June, July 4th fireworks show from a barge offshore, Tallship Festival in September, an Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot Race and an annual Christmas Boat Parade.
Dana Point Harbor is a County Park located within the City of Dana Point. Dana Point Harbor is located on Capistrano Bay in Dana Point, California. To reach the harbor take the 5 Freeway or 405 Freeway to Dana Point and exit at Camino de las Ramblas/Pacific Coast Highway. Follow the signs to the harbor. www.danapointharbor.com
Things to Do:
Doheny State Beach in Dana Point has a five acre lawn with private picnic facilities rentals plus a sand beach and plenty of restrooms, volleyball courts, food concessions, showers, etc. It is located off Dana Point Harbor Drive, charges a parking fee of under $10, and has 121 tent sites for RV parking and tents.