Dana Point Harbor Guide: Top Tips and Things to Do

Dana Point Harbor, located 15 minutes from Laguna Beach, offers a prime spot for whale-watching. However, the harbor also welcomes visitors to enjoy other outdoor activities, shop and dine, all while admiring California coast views. If looking for a new hangout or day-trip spot, check out this Dana Point Harbor guide.

Dana Point Harbor Guide: Get to Know This West Coast Attraction

dana point harbor whale watching

Dana Point Outdoor Adventures

From parasailing to diving and fishing, Dana Point Harbor encourages visitors pick an adventure and play all day. Charters provide a way to fish, dive and tour the area. During seasonal whale migrations, take a boat or sailing tour and see two different types of whales. Those who prefer to explore on their own can rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard and experience the harbor in a new way.

In addition to outdoor recreation, Dana Point offers access to two attractions: Ocean Institute and Catalina Island. Ocean Institute provides a place for all ages to explore the ocean’s deep depths. At the institute, take guided tours, see marine animals and learn about ocean conservation. Then book a boating adventure or tidepool hike the group will enjoy.

Catalina Island is an island located a boat ride away, and welcomes guests to play golf, hike and horseback ride. Hop on Catalina Express, relax and arrive in an hour. Once on the island, visitors have access to parks, casinos, museums and theaters.

Shopping the Harbor

The Laguna Beach area showcases a rich art scene and local artists who create pieces only found in the area. One place to shop for special pieces is Dana Point Harbor, which houses over a dozen retailers. Browse spiritual gifts, sculptures, home décor, paintings and more. For souvenirs and ocean-inspired items, try Gift Chateau, Woody Hut and White Pelican.

dana point harbor restaurants

Where to Eat

While it’s tempting to fill the day with activities, everyone has to take a break. When hunger calls, choose from over 16 restaurants located in the harbor. Many have indoor and outdoor seating, so diners enjoy the view while sampling fresh flavors. And there is plenty of variety, too. For example, visitors select from coffee shops, French, Mexican, New York-style delis, and seafood hot spots.

Boating Services

While Dana Point Harbor operates as a one-stop-shop for attractions and dining, boat owners also find a full range of services. Those who need to dock have guest slips for boats, sail boats and yachts. In addition, boats have access to water and power hookups, telephone and cable connections, restrooms, and on-site security.

Events and Festivals

Dana Point Harbor also hosts annual events that draw thousands of ocean lovers. In March, attend Festival of Whales, a two-weekend event full of whale-watching, games, fun and food. Other must-sees include Fourth of July Fireworks Extravaganza, Tall Ships Festival in September, Thanksgiving Turkey Trot and Holiday Boat Parade. No matter what time of year, the harbor celebrates the best of coastal living.

After reading this Dana Point harbor guide, check out these raved-about seafood restaurants. Then book a Dana Point vacation rental and get ready for fun in the sun.