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Dana Point Harbor

Dana Point Harbor’s mile-long shoreline extends from the massive headlands of Dana Point south to Doheny State Beach. To the north and south are miles of coastal bluffs and rolling hills. An accessible 4-mile-long walkway extends around the harbor, providing views of the ocean, harbor, and wildlife. Island Way crosses the harbor in the middle, traveling over a small bridge, and ends at a strip of land with grassy areas and picnic tables. It’s possible to walk over the bridge, but the sidewalk narrows to less than 30 inches where there are light posts.

North of Island Way, along Dana Point Harbor Drive, are several tourist attractions, including a small pocket beach that's good for small children, and the Ocean Institute, which offers hands-on marine science, environmental education, and maritime history programs. Next to the institute are two tall ships: the Pilgrim, a replica of the square-rigged brig that Richard Henry Dana, Jr., wrote about in Two Years Before the Mast, and the Spirit of Dana Point, an accurate replica of a 1770s-era privateer used during the American Revolution. Public access is limited aboard the Pilgrim; only portions of the main deck are wheelchair accessible. Next to the Pilgrim is a small accessible fishing pier with a steep grade up to it. Behind the institute is the Old Cove Native Plant Reserve, a lovely spot on a small bluff with a rustic picnic area.

South of Island Drive is a shopping center, Dana Wharf, a hotel, restaurants, and boat docks that offer fishing and whale-watching trips from late November through April. Dana Point is well-known for gray whale sightings. You can also catch ferries to Catalina Island here; the reservation agent can schedule you on a ferry that has an accessible bathroom. All the boats are boarded from a ramp that may have a step at the bottom at low tide, but crew members are ready to help. A visitor kiosk with pamphlets, brochures, and maps is at the corner of Green Lantern and Dana Harbor Drive.

Accessibility Details

The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.

Beach Wheelchair: No

Accessible Parking: Yes

Ample free parking throughout Dana Point Harbor with a disabled placard

Accessible Restroom: Yes

The most accessible restrooms are across from the Ocean Institute parking lot and by the wharf. Others throughout the harbor require a front approach to the toilet; there’s no side clearance, and in some you can’t close the door behind you.

Accessible Picnic Tables: Yes

Accessible picnic tables are located throughout the harbor. A few tables on cement pads are at the northern end of the harbor, directly behind the beach.

Other Things of Interest

Nearby is 62-acre Doheny State Park, which offers camping, picnicking, swimming, surfing, bicycling, tide pool exploration, and events.
The Pilgrim tall ship
The Pilgrim tall ship (Hannah Karpilow)

Features icon key

  • bicycling
  • fishing
  • hiking
  • particularly good for families
  • picnic
  • swimming

Additional Information

View Map  
Managing Agency: Dana Point Harbor
Address: 34624 Golden Lantern Dana Point
Phone: (949) 923-2255
Hours: Harbor: 5 am-midnight. Ocean Institute public hours: Sat.-Sun., 10 am-3 pm. Behind the scenes tour: Thurs.-Fri., 3:30 and 4:30 pm. Seafarer's guided expedition tours (aboard the Pilgrim): Sat.- Sun., 11:45, 12:45, 1:45, and 2:45.
Fees: Museum
Dogs: In restricted areas
Allowed on leash throughout the marina but not on the beach
Public Transportation: Orange County Transit Authority
Useful Links: Specialized Outdoor Adventure Recreation, adapted boating, harbor driving tour

Did You Know?

The harbor was built in 1966; prior to that the area was famous for a surf spot known as “Killer Dana.”

Reviewed by Eric St. Amant, July 14, 2013
Access Norhtern California This web guide is a project of Access Northern California.  
California Coastal Conservancy Thanks to our partner the California Coastal Conservancy

DISCLAIMER: Although the information contained in this web-guide was believed to be correct at the time of publication, neither Access Northern California nor California Coastal Conservancy shall be held responsible or liable for any inaccuracies, errors, or omissions, nor for information that changes or becomes outdated. Neither Access Northern California nor California Coastal Conservancy assume any liability for any injury or damage arising out of, or in connection with, any use of this guide or the sites described in it.

Accessible Restrooms Icon looks like a women and men restroom signBeach Accessible
Wheelchairs Available
  Hiking icon is silhouette of a hikerHiking & Trails
Biking icon looks like person riding a bikeBicycling   Good for Familis icon is a child on a swing'Particularly Good for Families
Boating Icon is a boatBoating   Picnic Area Icon is a picnic tablePicnic
Camping icon is a tentCamping   Swimming Icon is a person swimmingSwimming
Fishing Icon is a fish biting a hookFishing   Wildlife Viewing Icon is a pair of binocularsWildlife Viewing