Walk around the harbor on their many paths for a relaxing, beautiful experience.
The walking path runs through the harbor by the many yachts and boats parked in the slips. You could easily spend an hour or two just walking looking at the yachts and boats. Many people bring their dogs, so it is dog-friendly. I took some pictures of the walking path in this blog to give you an idea of what the walk looks like. Also, I took some video as well.
Update April 2019 – Boneyard Beach Cafe closed (no word yet what will replace them, I will keep you updated).
Spend an afternoon lounging & picnicking on Baby Beach or Doheny State Beach.
We frequent Baby Beach because that’s where we like to kayak. We do love Doheny State Beach because after a long day in the sun we can go to The Boneyard Beach Cafe which is a restaurant right on the beach. They have yummy drinks and surprisingly good food. You can sit on the outdoor patio under an umbrella have a drink and a snack before you leave. They have great parking (there is a fee), camping, fire pits, picnic tables, and restrooms. If you’re interested in a good tent that can hold two people comfortably, three is a little tight (with a couple of air mattresses even) check out the one we use. It’s called the Coleman Sundome Tent.
Rent a Kayak.
Whenever we decide to go kayaking for an hour or two, we go to Westwind Sailing that is right across from Baby Beach. If you’re staring at the water from Baby Beach it’s to the left. The address is 34451 and Ensenada PL, Dana Point. The reason we like this area is that you can go directly into the harbor, there are no waves, they have kayaks with dual seats, and if you want to do paddle boarding, they have those too. I think the cost is around $35 for a double seated kayak for couples.
Walk around the Nature Interpretive Center.
If you pass all the restaurants, then pass Baby Beach and head to the end of the road, you will run into the Nature Interpretive Center off Scenic Drive. If you are spending the day at Baby Beach, you may want to check it out for an hour or so since it’s right around the corner. The address is 34558 Scenic Drive in Dana Point. There are public walks at 9 a.m. on the first, second, and third Saturday of every month. The nature tour is the first Saturday, the wheel tour is the second Saturday, and the history tour is the third Saturday. The center is open to the public Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Take the Catalina Express to Avalon, Catalina.
The Catalina Express operates out of Dana Wharf Fishing in Dana Point Harbor. It’s located in the same courtyard as Waterman’s Harbor Restaurant. It takes about an hour from Dana Point to Avalon, and it currently costs $70 round trip. The address is 34675 Golden Lantern St., Dana Point. Be sure to check Groupon or Living Social for Catalina deals . Make sure you check on the Catalina Express website for the departure schedule. Depending on the time of year the schedule does change.
Why not go Whale watching???
There are two companies in the Dana Point Harbor that we know of that handle whale watching tours, Captain Dave’s Dana Point Whale Watching and Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching. We recommend both of these companies to our friends. Many people ask when is the whale watching season? Well, it’s always whale watching season in Dana Point. The gray whale season starts near the end of November and runs until the end of April. January to March are peak times for grey whales. If you’re looking to see blue whales, their season runs from May until November. Just because it’s called whale watching does not mean you’re only going to see whales, you will see dolphins, sea lions and pelicans as well.
Are you ready for some fresh produce?
If you are planning a visit over the weekend or for an extended period, there is a wonderful Farmers Market from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday. It’s located in La Plaza Park on Pacific Coast Highway by the clock tower.
Where To Eat
In regards to restaurants, we enjoy going to Happy Hour. We love finding places, where we can sit over the water, have a drink with an appetizer and enjoy the gorgeous views. Again, there are tons of restaurants and depending on our mood is where we tend to end up. A few that we regularly frequent are:
Try Waterman’s Harbor where you can enjoy fresh fish delivered daily.
Waterman’s is one of our favorite places for happy hour. The drinks are $5, and it’s not cheap crappy liquor. The appetizers are pretty much half off. You have to be upstairs to get the happy hour prices, but that’s fine with us because the best view of the harbor is upstairs. If you happen to be there on a Tuesday, they have “Taco Tuesdays” starting at 4 p.m. The tacos are $2 each, and you can add your choice of toppings!! They have drink specials too!
Head to the neighborhood “townie” bar overlooking the marina called “Turk’s.”
Turk’s in our view is like a bar you would see up in Northern California along the coast. To us, it seems old school and one of their claim to fame dishes is the fish and chips. The fish and chips and the burgers are fantastic here! If you’re looking for a laid-back, casual place with good food give Turk’s a try. I don’t think you will be disappointed. Just a heads up, on Sunday’s this place, gets packed, but it’s a lot of fun!!
Try Wind & Sea for Hawaiian style food with inside or patio dining.
The Wind and Sea patio overlooks the marina and if you sit at the bar inside you will see the marina. We have been here quite a few times for their famous Mai Tai’s!! I’m pretty sure they have free valet parking, except for the tip. One of Wind and Sea’s claim to fame is there Mai Tai which is only $6.95. The limit is two Mai Tai’s because they are so strong!! They have a pretty good happy hour with calamari strips, teriyaki fish tidbits, chicken sandwiches, poke, sashimi and sliders. They also have Nachos Grande which will run you around $12 but they will fill you up. Wind and Sea is also a great place to sit and watch the boats going through the harbor. Personally, when I’m sitting inside at the bar, I feel like I’m on a cruise ship, but it’s still pretty cool. The bartenders are always friendly, and the service in our experience has been excellent. The main attraction for this place is the location and view.
Are you ready for dinner?? Try the Harbor Grill.
The Harbor Grill has wonderful mesquite-grilled seafood. If you are a fan of ahi poke, calamari, oysters, ceviche, prawns, and of course clam chowder as starters, this place is for you. I have loved everything I tried at this restaurant. The Lobster Ravioli is fantastic, as are the Grilled Scallops. They have an extensive fresh fish menu, which I love! For those of you like my husband that prefer steak, they offer Filet Mignon, New York Steak and Ribeye. Currently, their specials include Thursday Oyster Day for only $9.95. They also have a Champagne Brunch on Sunday’s from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. They have “bottomless champagne” for $6.
Another beach town that is close to Dana Point that is very beautiful with a different vibe is San Clemente! If you would like to read about things to do by the Pier in San Clemente click here and we will tell you all about it!
I really hope this post helps you navigate through the Dana Point Harbor. There is lots to do and it can be overwhelming when you only have a few days to see everything.
If you are interested in seeing the video of the Dana Point Harbor Experience it’s on this blog post above. I hope you found our tips to be useful and you are excited to visit Dana Point. Feel free to pass on your experiences when visiting the beautiful town of Dana Point. I’d love to hear from you.
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