California Cities


Dana Point, The Only Romantic Spot on the Coast

That's what fur trader Richard Henry Dana declared when he climbed a hill and looked out over the blue Pacific in what is now known at the City of Dana Point. Dana landed there during the 1830s and described the charm of the steep cliff cove in his renowned 1840 book, "Two Years Before the Mast".

Dana Point, California, is a coastal city in south Orange County featuring several beaches such as the popular Doheny State Beach where camping is permitted, Salt Creek Beach, Baby Beach, and a harbor provides mooring for boat lovers, anglers, and tourists who like to take whale watching cruises where you'll see more than just whales.

In the days of the square rigged sailing ships, the rugged cove was known as Bahia Capistrano and served as the primary port between San Diego and Santa Barbara. It is only natural that this scenic cove has become one of the most beautiful recreational harbors on the West Coast.

Dana Point Events include Festival of Whales, Grand Prix of Cycling, Winter Festival and the Blues Festival at Doheny Beach. Dana Point is known for its luxury accommodations with ocean settings at the four-star Marriott's Laguna Cliffs; five diamond Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel; and five diamond St. Regis Monarch Beach. Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel is actually in Dana Point and features a beach at its "feet". The resort sits on a cliff and guests can enjoy public, family-oriented Salt Creek Beach below the hotel, which offers golf cart rides down to the beach for resort guests.

Dana Point Harbor & Marina, the pleasure point for fun in Dana Point, is divided into two basins, the East Basin and West Basin. Officially dedicated in 1971, the two harbor marinas operate as a separate marinas, holding a total of 2,500 slips combined. Fifty quest slips for visiting sailors and anglers make it easy to moor and spend some time dining, dancing, romancing, and whatever tickles the fancy of those who travel the Pacific Ocean.

A 10 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 all carry the traditions that would make the larger than life figure, Richard Henry Dana, proud of the city that bears his name!

 A bronze statue on a raised base shows a muscular, handsome man overlooking the harbor from the public park where picnic tables provide the perfect spot for family outings, or maybe just a quiet place to read a book.

The brig "Pilgrim" full-sized replica of the square rigged vessel Richard Henry Dana sailed into this very harbor cove sat in Dana Harbor for many years, but sank in 2020.

Richard Henry Dana Jr. (1815-1882), was an educated and worldly man. He got his law degree at Harvard, was a skilled seaman, and author. Dana documented his voyage from Boston around Cape Horn to California on the merchant ship, Pilgrim, and his trip will forever be remembered by those who see Dana Point, stand in the gazebo overlooking the harbor and repeat his words, "The Only Romantic Place on the Coast."

Mariner's Village with shops and dining and Orange County Marine Institute at the far west end of Dana Point Harbor with a laboratory and display tanks,  are several attractions in Dana Point Harbor, where parking is free.

There are countless things to see and do, including many exciting festivals and events throughout the year. Dana Point lives up to its name and the proclamation that it is a romantic spot, though many beg to differ with Dana's claim that it is the ONLY romantic place!

Getting there: 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.

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