Four Hours in Dana Point: whales, boat parades and holiday lights

It’s official: Dana Place, a small harbor wedged amongst Laguna Beach front and San Clemente, is now the “Dolphin & Whale Seeing Funds of the World.”

“There are other contenders,” admits Donna Kalez, co-president of Dana Wharf Sportfishing & Whale Looking at, “but we trademarked the identify 1st.”

It is a little bit modest-city corny, but that’s element of the appeal of Dana Stage Harbor, a 2,400-slip marina with places to eat, retailers and a classic, folksy feel.

During the holidays that homey experience is in particular strong, with sufficient lights on every tree, bush and pole to almost have to have sunglasses at night time, furthermore the 45th Dana Issue Harbor Boat Parade of Lights commencing at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6-7 and Dec. 13-14 and free boat rides with Santa all-around the harbor (although a $5-for every-particular person advised donation positive aspects the El Camino True Junior Woman’s Club) amongst 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Dec. 7 and 8.

Dana Wharf, the Ocean Institute and Capt. Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Watching Safarioffer two- to 2½-hour boat rides to see dolphins and whales. Gray whales migrate amongst Alaska and Baja November by April, Kalez mentioned blue whales go to in the summertime and humpbacks, fin and minke whales check out year-round.

Want to shell out the full day in Dana Level? That is exactly where this itinerary arrives in: If you consider a early morning boat trip, there is a good deal to do in the afternoon.

Noon Two of the marina’s most preferred domestically owned dining places, Harbor Grill and Harpoon Henry’s, provide within seating with marina sights if the weather is chilly. But we’re heading to brave the components and head to the tide pools, so make your way to Coffee Importers, a go-to eatery with so quite a few offerings it flanks the stairs between the boardwalk and Mariner’s Village parking good deal — sandwiches, bagels and smoothies on a person facet and coffees, pastries and ice cream on the other. If you have a hankering for transportable fish and chips, check out Jon’s Fish Market at the south close of the boardwalk.

People delight in the tide pool throughout small tide and a yellow sunset in Dana Position, Calif.

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Moments)

12:30 p.m. Wander north alongside the boardwalk, toward the tide swimming pools at the north edge of the harbor. The mile-extensive wander from the south edge of the harbor usually takes you earlier plenty of bobbing boats, Baby Seaside (specifically suited for wave-shy toddlers) and the Ocean Institute (much more about that in a minute), exactly where you can admire a replica of the tall-masted investing vessel, the Pilgrim, that served make Dana Stage famous after 19th century writer Richard Henry Dana Jr. chronicled his two-yr vacation from Boston to Dana Level, by using the tip of South The usa, in his ebook “Two Years Ahead of the Mast.”

1 p.m. Stroll previous the Ocean Institute to the tide swimming pools, so you can consider edge of lower tide (12:39 p.m. on Dec 7 usually test the surf forecast just before you go and system accordingly). Take in your lunch on a bench or rock and then do some checking out. If you want to get extra methods in (and have strong-soled shoes), walk along the rocky jetty that turned Dana Position from 1 of the premier surfing spots in the country (recognized as Killer Dana) to a light marina in 1970.

The historic Pilgrim tall-masted privateer schooner is a replica of the trading ship that first brought Dana Point’s namesake, author Richard Henry Dana, to its shores.

The historic Pilgrim tall-masted privateer schooner is a reproduction of the trading ship that to start with introduced Dana Point’s namesake, writer Richard Henry Dana, to its shores, in lookup of cow hides.

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Moments)

2 p.m. Wander again to the Ocean Institute, a exploration and educational institute devoted to marine science and maritime historical past. Substantially of its perform is focused on educating students from kindergarten to school but website visitors can investigate its instructive exhibits and animal tanks on weekends from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (last admission on weekends is 2:15 p.m.) It also provides exclusive programs (such a guided tide pool tours on Dec. 8 and 22), its individual whale-viewing cruises and, on weekdays, 30-minute guided excursions of its displays.

If the minor nautical museum is open up across from the Pilgrim, choose a minute to learn about Dana Point’s early days, when ranchers threw their cow hides down the steep cliffs to sailors underneath, who experienced to load them into dinghies and row the three miles back again to the waiting ships via 12- to 15-foot swells, in accordance to volunteer tour manual Milt McMenamin.

3:15 p.m. Wander the fifty percent-mile back again to Mariner’s Village, where by the generally domestically owned merchants supply the quirky combinations of goods so peculiar to vintage beach front outlets — regionally built candies, English bone china and Beanie Toddler toys (at the Chocolate Soldier), fuzzy monster slippers and exotic jerkies (at Jerky & Cali Presents) or moccasins, Pendleton wool shirts and Indigenous American jewelry and art (at the White Pelican).

Ship’s masts silhouetted against the Dana Point Harbor sunset.

Ship’s masts are silhouetted against an orange dusk sky at Dana Point Harbor.

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Moments)

4:30 p.m. Stash your booty in your automobile and then head again to the boardwalk for a sunset stroll, in which the masses of getaway lights enhance the amazing show on the horizon: sunset.

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