Each year, thousands of visitors come to Dana Point for the breathtaking natural beauty and nautical adventures that can only be found at one of California’s top travel destinations. A variety of open-water excursions are available at Dana Point Harbor, which houses 2,500 boats within two marinas. Large boats, sportfishing charters and specialty sailboats are among the numerous rental options.
From Dana Point Harbor, the famed Ocean Institute offers voyages that range from themed pirate ships to wildlife cruises, or take the Catalina Express for a one-hour trip to beautiful Catalina Island. Boating enthusiasts will also find everything they need in the marina, with complete facilities that include guest slips, fuel dock, shipyard and launch ramp.
Dana Point Harbor has been attracting mariners and visitors alike since the 1800s. The town is named after Richard Henry Dana who visited this area in 1835 aboard the trading ship Pilgrim and declared the cliff-lined cove “the only romantic spot in California.” The Harbor’s name comes from this adventure-seeking sailor and also for San Juan Point, which locals refer to as the Headlands, a landmark for both sailors and migrating whales.
The Harbor boasts a rich maritime history and while it was quite the adventure for 19th century travelers to reach area shores, it is now easily accessible for sailors and visitors. The adventures now lie in the many land and water activities that are available within the two marinas and its environs. The Harbor is considered a small-boat harbor and provides both permanent and guest slips for more than 2,500 boats.
The marina features a fuel dock, bait barge, boating services and boat brokers. It acts as a central hub with more than 25 unique shops and 15 restaurants that cater to every taste. The Harbor’s eateries offer fine dining and casual eats along with an ocean breeze. The boating and water-based activities can get visitors out into open water within five minutes and include charters, music cruises, sportsfishing, marine mammal adventures and whale watching.
Dana Point is considered the “Whale Capital of the West” in large part for its year-round whale watching — the gray whale migration in the winter and the blue whale sightings in the summer. Dana Point Harbor is owned and operated by the County of Orange. OC Dana Point Harbor oversees the Harbor and partners with OC Parks. Guests will find fantastic public picnic and barbecue areas, grassy open expanses, a public pier and the local’s favorite, Baby Beach. Baby Beach is a wave-free swim area where children and their parents can enjoy the water.
Kayakers and stand-up paddlers also launch near the beach and appreciate the wake-free waters of the marina. The 4-mile circumference of the Harbor draws outdoor enthusiasts to stroll, jog and even cycle dockside, next to the rows of sailboats, motorboats and yachts. Accessibility to Dana Point Harbor’s many amenities is made trouble free with ample, free parking. The Harbor also features the Ocean Institute, a marine-education facility.
The non-profit has become nationally known for its hands-on marine science, environmental and ocean education as well as its maritime history programs. Open to the public on weekends, the Institute owns and operates two tall ships, the Spirit of Dana Point and the brig Pilgrim, a full-size replica of the ship that brought Richard Henry Dana to these shores. Just behind the Institute are the tide pools where visitors can get an up-close view of South Orange County’s many different species of marine life. The Harbor plays host to some of the region’s most beloved events, including the Festival of Whales in March, the In-Water Boat Show in May, the 4th of July Extravaganza, the Toshiba Tall Ships Festival in September, the Turkey Trot in November and the Boat Parade of Lights in December as well as neighboring events at Lantern and Heritage parks and Doheny State Beach. Dana Point Harbor is also considered the gateway to Doheny State Beach Park, which offers camping, picnicking, swimming, surfing, bicycling and more. It is easy to see why so many set sail for this historic, romantic and adventurous Harbor.
Within just a few miles of the Dana Point Harbor, you can catch Halibut, Barracuda, Yellowtail, White Sea Bass, Sand Bass, Calico Bass, Bonito, and even Tuna. And with Dana Wharf’s expert crew, you know you’re going to find your way to the best waters imaginable.
Dana Wharf Sportﬁshing offers ﬁshing trips all year long and anyone can go – young, old, experienced or those out for their first trip. Dana Wharf caters to the novice as well as the seasoned angler with knowledgeable crew and expert skippers who are always helpful with instruction (if needed!).
Dana Wharf offers a variety of fishing boat excursions and charter, from kid-oriented trips to half-day fishing, all-day fishing, overnight trips and Halibut Derbys on Sundays. Check out Dana Wharf’s fishing calendar here.
Dana Wharf owns a number of modern fishing boats, each of which offers a full galley of hot and cold food. Beer, soda, chips and candy are available for purchase, If you do not have fishing gear, Dana Wharf supplies the rods and reels to rent from $14 – $18.
A day license for anyone over 16 years of age is required. Please purchase your fishing licenses online PRIOR to your trip, and print them out to bring with you. Free parking is always available.
Looking for a more intimate adventure? Charter any one of our smaller vessels for your personalized trip. Our fleet of 14 vessels feature small 6-packs, mid-sized boats, and a Schooner sailboat, the Curlew.
Since 1976, Aventura Sailing has offered the best in bareboat and skippered charters and sailing instruction. We’ll teach you how to sail, and keep you sailing! We also offer dinghies, kayaks and paddleboards to enjoy in the beautiful Dana Point Harbor and beyond.
Surfboards and Stand-Up Paddleboards (SUPs) are available for you to transport to the beach of your choice or to walk next door to Doheny State Beach. SUP rentals include a life vest (required by law). Both full and spring wetsuits are available for $10. Since 1978, Dana Point Jet Ski has served the South Orange County and surrounding area in sales, service and rentals. Over the years, DPJS has continually grown and improved by expanding our facility and services to keep up with customer needs.
Dana West Marina is professionally managed by TBW Company. With over 30 years of marina experience we understand the needs of boaters and the importance of meeting those needs. Monthly boat slips between 22′ and 55′ available. Amenities include: Concrete docks with dock boxes, restroom and shower facilities, as well as cable TV, electric, water and phone at each slip. To inquire or apply for a berth call our office at 949-493-6222.
The Rampage operates out of Dana Point and is a beautiful refurbished 42-foot Hatteras 6 pack Yacht. Operated by Captain Larry Phoenix, the Rampage has top quality rods and reels as well as hooks, sinkers, lures and trolling feathers. It’s all included in the price. Book early as the best fishing days will fill up fast! Call 949-496-5794 or 949-887-1673
The Riviera is a custom-built resort boat with an exceptionally wide beam for a comfortable and stable ride located in Dana Point, California. With a comfortable cruising speed of 18 knots she has a United States Coast Guard certification for 29 passengers. Guests can choose to ride in a climate-controlled cabin or enjoy the sounds and sights of the sea in an outside environment. Passengers will enjoy the friendly crew as they cruise past Orange County cities and beautiful Dana Point Harbor. Guests may listen to the Captain’s island style tunes or bring along their own iPod and compact discs. The Riviera is available for scuba diving excursions, corporate charters, trips to Catalina Island, intimate weddings, burials at sea and many other special occasions.
Recognized by the City of Dana Point as a Historic Vessel, the 85 year old Schooner Curlew offers private Sailing Charters for family outings, sunset sails, corporate entertainment, media shoots, or small intimate weddings. Located in the Dana Wharf section of the harbor Curlew boasts Unforgettable Journeys for the Adventurous Spirit.