Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sea Cave at Dana Point

Hiked: 6/16/2013
Distance: 1.5 miles round trip
Summit Elevation: 0'
Elevation Gain: 0'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 0.00
Round trip time: 45 minutes
Recommended water: 8 oz.
Parking/Fees: Free at Ocean Institute
Difficulty: Easy

Laguna Beach Tide Times and Charts

To get to the trailhead, use your favorite map program to get directions to the Ocean Institute in Dana Point. The full address is 24200 Dana Point Harbor Dr. Dana Point, CA 92629. There is usually ample free parking unless it is a holiday or some event is taking place. I discovered this cave at The large sea cave, carved out of the cliff, is best approached at low tide. I used the tide chart to determine the best time to go. If you go near high tide, you might have a hard time getting into the cave itself.

This is an atypical hike for me, and at 1.5 miles, barely qualifies as a hike. However, the cave is not obvious until you are on it, and the loose rocks require some attention. Because of the short distance, I didn't take anything with me but my GPS to get an accurate distance reading. Start behind the Ocean Institute by descending a set of fenced stairs leading down to the beach. If water is covering the bottom of the stairs, you probably came at high tide. You can still scramble down the rocks to the right, but may want to return near low tide.

There is a faint use trail that hugs the cliff most of the way. Watch your footing on the loose rocks, especially if they are wet, as a fall is likely to result in scrapes. I passed over a clam shell graveyard, and it was a crabfest around the cave.

Typical terrain all the way to the cave


About 0.75 miles from the start, there is a narrow entrance to the cave on the right in the cliff face. You can enter the fairly large cave and walk around with nice views out the larger entrance. You never know what kind of marine life you might see on any given trip.

Narrow entrance to the sea cave

View from inside the sea cave

Rocks outside the cave

See also: Sea Cave at Thousand Steps Beach


  1. Is there only one sea cave at Dana Point beach?

    1. Cassidy,

      There may be more caves past the first one, but I could not get any further without getting wet.