Added by Scotti Shafer
Dana Point Harbor offers flat, calm water with an easy entry and exit point. This is a great full-body workout. If you make it out of the harbor, there are fun waves to surf, spectacular coastline to explore, and tons of wildlife to spot
Whether I’m looking for a quick workout on the water, wanting to catch some waves, or simply explore the coastline, Dana Point is one of my favorite places to paddle. There is plenty of parking close to the beach, so you don’t have to walk far with your board. It’s also a great spot to launch as there is a soft sand beach with flat water.
If you want to do a short and mellow paddle, I recommend paddling a loop around the harbor. It’s just under 2 miles of flat water paddling with great views of all the boats.
If you are looking to ride waves, Doheny Beach is just south of the harbor and is a well known small wave surf spot. When the surf is small, this spot is perfect for Stand Up Paddling and occasionally you can get the waves all to yourself (check the surf report before going and only plan on paddling here if the waves are <2ft). I don’t recommend paddling at Doheny during big swells as the line-up is usually crowded with longboards. If you are looking for a place to Stand Up Paddle in bigger surf, check out my post on San Onofre.
If you want to explore the coastline and check out the local ocean wildlife, there are 5+ miles of beautiful, more or less undeveloped coastline to the North of the harbor. Check out the underwater kelp forests below your feet as they are home to a variety of fish including the Garibaldi, which is the California State Fish. The seals and pelicans are usually sunbathing on the exposed rocks and buoys that are just off shore. Also keep an eye out for Dolphins as they can often be spotted swimming and playing just off shore.
If you need to rent boards, check out West Wind Sailing. Located at the dock just to the left of the launch beach. It is the most convenient spot as the boards don’t need to be transported to and from the beach. They are open 7 days a week from 10am-4pm and rent boards and kayaks for $25 an hour.
- Paddle board and paddle
- Life jacket or inflatable life vest (harbor patrol occasionally stops people without flotation)
- Water (I usually bring a camel back for long paddles)
- GoPro or water proof camera
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