Beaches

Swimming, surfing, bicycling, picnic facilities, hiking, bird watching, tide pool exploration, diving, volleyball, kite flying, fishing, and more!

Capistrano Beach
Pacific Coast Highway and Beach Road, 2 miles south of the harbor. Enjoy volleyball, basketball and other beach activities. Fishing gear rental and sales are always available during the summer.
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Dana Point Marine Life Refuge
Contains some of the best rocky intertidal habitat in Southern California. At low tide, sea anemones, star fish, octopus as well as a variety of shell fish can be observed, dolphins often play just off shore. The refuge is at the far west side of the Harbor. Park at the Ocean Institute lot and follow the paved path to shore.

Salt Creek Beach & Park
The long, sandy beach is a popular surfing spot. Both upland and beach facilities can be reached from Ritz Carlton Drive off of Pacific Coast Highway.

Surfing at Salt Creek: A well-known surf break, Salt Creek focuses swells and often has bigger sized, heavy surf. This beach is suited for intermediate to advanced level surfers, comfortable on short boards. Even if you aren’t ready to be out in the lineup, professional-level surfers occasionally surf here and are very entertaining to watch. During the summertime, there is also a body boarding and swimming zone that is great for anyone who wants to get in the water.

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Strands Beach
The southern entrance to Salt Creek Beach Park (known to locals as Strands beach) is off Selva Road and features picnic tables, barbeque grills, a path and stairs to the beach.

Surfing at Strands: With steeper, quick-breaking waves, Strands is suited for people who have been on a surfboard more than a few times. This beach calls for short boards, good for turning and speeding down the line. Additionally, this beach has plenty of swimming areas marked off by lifeguards during the summer. These zones also offer areas for people to body board, body surf, and swim leisurely.

Doheny State Beach
25300 Dana Point Drive; (Intersection of Del Obispo and Dana Point Harbor Drive)
One of Orange County’s popular camping spots, Doheny State Beach, is administered by the California Department of Parks and Recreation. The 62-acre site features over one mile of sandy beach and some of the best swimming and surfing in California. During low tide, the tide pools attract young and old for exploring. The campground features 120 tents and RV campsites, some only steps away from the beach. The picnic area has 170 picnic tables and 99 barbeque grills. Doheny State Beach is the readers’ choice as the County’s “Best Camping Site” in the Orange County Register’s Annual best of Orange County Survey. Doheny is the site of surf contests, volleyball tournaments, and many special events, such as the Doheny Blues Festival. Doheny also has a five-mile San Juan Creek Bike Trail and an equestrian trail that links with another trail that heads inland to San Juan Capistrano.

Surfing at Doheny: A perfect place to learn how to surf, Doheny is an ideal spot for beginners. Slow, rolling waves that are usually small make this break very friendly to all. A good board to ride at Doheny would be a few feet taller than someone and would have a soft top. Many local surf shops offer board rentals for visitors. This break is also a well-known longboarding spot, making it a great place to go for people who have surfed before and want to ride a glassed longboard. Overall, Doheny is the perfect beach in Dana Point for people who want to learn to surf or build upon their skills.

Park Rangers: (949) 496-6172
Picnic Reservations: (949) 496-3617
Campground Reservations: (800) 444-7275 or click here.

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