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The Top 6 Things To Do In Dana Point

June 27, 2023

Are you ready to experience the best of Southern California’s coast? Look no further than Dana Point, a hidden gem that offers visitors a thrilling array of activities and breathtaking scenery.

As the gateway to the Southern California coast, Dana Point is located just a stone’s throw away from Laguna Beach and boasts some of the region’s most stunning beaches, state parks, and outdoor recreational areas. This iconic surfers’ paradise is home to world-class surf breaks which draw surfers from around the globe. 

But that’s not all—Dana Point is also one of the premier whale-watching destinations in the world, with several tours departing daily from the harbor. Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, or a little bit of both, Dana Point has something for everyone. 

The Top 6 Activities in Dana Point You Won’t Want to Miss!

1. Whale watching tours 

One of the best things to do in Dana Point is to go whale watching. Whale-watching in Dana Point is an experience like no other!

The waters off the coast are home to several species of whales, including gray whales, blue whales, humpback whales, and more. Visitors can embark on whale-watching excursions from Dana Point Harbor and witness these magnificent creatures up close. 

The peak whale watching season is from December to May, when the gray whales migrate to the warmer waters of Baja, California. However, visitors can enjoy whale watching year-round as other species also frequent the area.

In addition to the whales, visitors can also spot dolphins, sea lions, and other marine life. So experience the thrill of whale watching in Dana Point and create unforgettable memories in the world’s Whale Watching Capital!

2. Visit Dana Point’s pristine beaches

Salt Creek Beach Park 

birds flying over salt creek beach park

Salt Creek Beach Park spans 18 acres and includes the beautiful Salt Creek Beach, grassy picnic areas, and several hiking trails.

One of the main draws of the park is Salt Creek Beach. As a surfers’ paradise, the beach boasts consistently excellent surfing conditions year-round, making it the ultimate playground for wave chasers of all levels. 

But the beach’s allure doesn’t stop there! Dive into the sparkling waters for a refreshing swim, soak up the sun’s rays, take a leisurely shoreline stroll, or play sand volleyball! 

The park also has picnic tables with barbecues shaded by large trees for a relaxing afternoon with family and friends.

More parks to explore: 

🔶Sea Canyon Park 

🔶Dana Cove Park 

🔶Lantern Bay Park 

🔶Capistrano Beach Park

🔶Heritage Park 

🔶Pines Park 

Surf’s up at Doheny State Beach 

A trip to Dana Point isn’t complete without visiting Doheny Beach! Renowned for its epic surf conditions, Doheny State Beach is a treasure trove of world-class surf breaks that attract both seasoned surfers and enthusiastic beginners. 

But don’t worry if surfing isn’t your thing—Doheny State Beach has something for everyone! Dive into crystal-clear waters for a refreshing swim, cast a line and try your luck at fishing, or engage in some friendly competition with a game of beach volleyball. Also, at low tide, don’t forget to explore Doheny Beach’s fascinating tide pools. 

You’ll find picnic areas with barbecues scattered along the shoreline, making this beach the ultimate backdrop for a memorable family gathering or a laid-back afternoon cookout with friends.

Doheny State Beach also has a popular campground with over 120 campsites. Featuring amenities such as showers, restrooms, and fire rings, combined with the fact that the beach is only a stone’s throw away, make it the perfect weekend getaway for ocean lovers! 

Want to explore more of Dana Point’s extraordinary beaches? Be sure to check out Dana Strands Beach, Capistrano Beach, and Monarch Beach.

3. Discover Dana Point Harbor 

dana point harbor


Discover the vibrant heart of coastal Southern California at Dana Point Harbor, a bustling hub teeming with activities and attractions for visitors of all ages!

While the harbor is well known for its delightful whale-watching excursions, there are plenty of other memorable experiences waiting to be explored. Below, we’ll share our top two favorite things to do in Dana Point Harbor. 

First, there’s Baby Beach, which is a fantastic family-friendly retreat. Second, you can embark on a scenic adventure with the Catalina Express, an experience you shouldn’t miss!

Would you rather stay on land? Savor the culinary delights of Dana Point Harbor, where an eclectic array of restaurants serves up mouthwatering dishes, from fresh seafood to international cuisine, all against a picturesque waterfront backdrop.

Baby Beach 

Baby Beach is a charming little gem tucked away in Dana Point, Southern California. This sheltered cove is a family favorite. It offers calm waters and gentle waves, making it an ideal spot for young children, novice swimmers, and anyone looking for a more relaxed beach experience.

Baby Beach provides a picturesque backdrop for a day of seaside fun. The beach is well suited for various activities such as swimming, paddleboarding, kayaking, and building sandcastles. It’s also a fantastic spot to enjoy the stunning Pacific Ocean views!

Nearby, you’ll find Dana Point Harbor, which offers many amenities, including restaurants, shops, and boat rentals, which we’ll dive into below! 

ℹ️ 24300 Dana Point Harbor Drive, Dana Point, CA 92629

The Catalina Express 

The renowned Catalina Express departs from its designated dock located within Dana Point Harbor, the sole departure point for Catalina Island in South Orange County (other points are Long Beach and San Pedro). This high-speed ferry operates twice daily and transports passengers to Avalon, Catalina’s main town, in approximately an hour.

Embarking on a trip to Catalina Island is one of the best Dana Point activities. It doesn’t get much better than catching an early morning Catalina Express ferry and returning in the late afternoon after spending a fun-filled day enjoying all the island has to offer!

ℹ️ 34571 Golden Lantern Street, Dana Point, CA 92629, Phone: 949-388-3663

4. Dana Point Farmers Market 

The Dana Point Farmers Market is where you want to go for a fresh and vibrant shopping experience! 

Held every Saturday from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm at La Plaza Park, just north of Golden Lantern in the heart of Dana Point, this weekly market offers an array of locally sourced products, from farm-fresh fruits and vegetables to handmade crafts, artisanal goods, and specialty food items.

But the market isn’t just about shopping! The market also offers live music and a festive atmosphere—the best way to spend a Saturday morning in Dana Point! 

ℹ️ 34111 La Plaza, Dana Point, CA 92629, Phone: 951-271-0669

5. Golfing at the Monarch Beach Golf Links

Monarch Beach Golf Links is a highly regarded and picturesque golf course that offers an exceptional golfing experience to players in Dana Point, California. Nestled alongside the beautiful Pacific coastline, the course is part of the luxurious Monarch Beach Resort and provides stunning ocean views and a relaxing atmosphere for golf enthusiasts.

Designed by the renowned golf course architect Robert Trent Jones Jr., Monarch Beach Golf Links is an 18-hole, par-70 championship course that spans 6,601 yards. The course features tight fairways, strategically placed bunkers, and well-manicured greens, presenting players with a challenging yet enjoyable golf experience.

In addition to the beautiful course layout, Monarch Beach Golf Links offers top-notch amenities and services. Golfers can also use practice facilities that include a driving range, chipping and putting greens, and practice bunkers to refine their skills.

Are you looking for a golf lesson? They have got you covered! The Monarch Beach Golf Academy provides personalized lessons and clinics with experienced PGA instructors, catering to beginner and advanced players.

ℹ️ Drive North, 50 Monarch Beach Resort N, Dana Point, CA 92629, Phone: 949-248-3002

6. Activities for Kids in Dana Point! 

Visit the Ocean Institute 

Immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring world of oceanic wonders at the Ocean Institute, a nonprofit organization located in Dana Point, California. 

The Ocean Institute invites visitors to dive into the marine environment firsthand within the picturesque Dana Point Harbor. Boasting cutting-edge research labs, a mesmerizing aquarium, interactive exhibits, and vibrant classrooms, this facility weaves together an enriching learning atmosphere for students, teachers, and the general public.

At the heart of the Ocean Institute’s educational mission lies experiential learning. A diverse array of programs are offered to engage students of all ages to learn about sea creatures and native marine life in Southern California to raise awareness for ocean conservation. 

Visitors can even set sail on the Pilgrim, a replica of a 19th-century merchant brig, and experience the ocean as explorers did centuries ago. The Ocean Institute is a must-see attraction in Dana Point, especially for younger children! 

The institute hosts special events throughout the year, including the Festival of Whales and the Tall Ships Festival.

ℹ️ 24200 Dana Point Harbor Dr, Dana Point, CA 92629, Phone: 949-496-2274

Dana Point Nature Interpretive Center 

Discover the captivating beauty of Dana Point’s natural environment at the Dana Point Nature Interpretive Center. Situated within the 62-acre Dana Point Headlands Conservation Area, the center is committed to nurturing an understanding and admiration for the area’s natural history and ecology through many engaging exhibits and educational programs.

Visitors can take a short walk or a longer hike in the conservation area to appreciate the views and take a moment to enjoy nature. 

ℹ️ 34558 Scenic Dr, Dana Point, CA 92629, Phone: 949-248-3527

Visit Dana Point Today!

Don’t let another day slip by without experiencing the enchanting coastal charm of Dana Point! With its stunning beaches, bustling harbor, unrivaled hospitality, and a myriad of unforgettable activities, there’s no better time to dive into the adventure. 

So, gather your loved ones, pack your bags, and visit Dana Point today—a world of sun, sand, and excitement awaits you. Your seaside escape begins now!