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.
Ample free parking throughout Dana Point Harbor with a disabled placard
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 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.