The beach town of Dana Point is nestled on a cliffside in idyllic south Orange County, halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego and within easy driving distance of Southern California’s hottest attractions. Whether you’re in the mood to luxuriate in a beachside resort or take advantage of legendary surfing and sunning, you’ll escape to a less-crowded, totally approachable beach paradise.
Southern California is synonymous with surf culture and Dana Point is at the heart of it all. In fact, one influential group of early surf icons was dubbed the “Dana Point Mafia,” consisting of locals Hobie Alter (founder of Hobie surf brand in 1954), John Severson (founder of “Surfer” magazine in 1962), legendary surfer Phil Edwards, and filmmaker Bruce Brown (“Endless Summer,” 1966). Take selfies with their statues at Waterman Plaza. Hop over to Doheny State Beach for your very own surf lesson on beginner-friendly waves or surf at Salt Creek Beach, one of the “Endless Summer” film locations. In the neighboring city of San Clemente, check out the awesome collection of historic surfboards, art and other surf memorabilia at the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center – a must-stop for beach bums and surf enthusiasts.
In addition to surfing, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy the Pacific. Stroll along picturesque Dana Point Harbor, home to a massive 2,500-slip marina, unique boutiques and tempting waterside dining. Reserve a whale-and-dolphin watching cruise to see why Dana Point has been called the Dolphin and Whale Watching Capital of the World™; or sail out to Catalina Island for golfing, horseback riding, hiking and shopping. Take your pick of other water sports, from paddle boarding and kayaking to scuba diving and fishing.
Dana Point Harbor, with its marinas and eclectic boutiques, is a jumping off point for dolphin and whale-watching cruises. Surf waves roll onto nearby Doheny State Beach and Salt Creek Beach, which is backed by a grassy park. Trails wind through Dana Point Headlands Conservation Area, which has sweeping ocean views and an interpretive center.