- PLEASE BRING FLASHLIGHTS! Sunset is 5:25PM so we souldn't have issues but given the slower pace and exploration it's best to be prepared!
- Low tide is 2:51PM (click here to view), meet by 2PM, we'll wait until 2:15pm at the latest!
- The trail to the cave is through boulders: there will be even some mini scrambling involved, so you have to be comfortable with this type of terrain.
- Surfaces can be wet and slippery! Be careful not to fall!
- We are hiking to take advantage of low tide. While I do not anticipate any issues, lingering without awareness of rising tides can be dangerous and you must pay attention to where you are and the time and the water!
- This is a very awesome area for tidepool exploration: it is filled with star fish, sea cucumbers, sometimes octopuses!
ABOUT THE HIKE:
- Enjoy exploring tidepools, reach and walk throught the caves!
- This is a 1-3 mile roundtrip beach hike, lots of boulders! Due to uneven and bouldery terrain it will feel like a much longer hike than it is! Walking back the way we came is shorter, longer if it's possible to round the point reaching The Strand and returning via the bluffs.
- We will begin from the Pilgrim (see Directions below)
- We will walk past the museum, descend a stairway to the beach, and pick our way westward along the rocky headland of Dana Point itself. We'll be forced into picking our way across storm-tossed boulders underneath the looming cliffs. The wonderful variety of mostly metamorphic rocks underfoot have weathered out of the conglomerate cliffs above. The boulders that look like poorly made concrete are conglomerate. You will also find "wishing rocks" -- black stones with calcite stripes running through them.
- There are two caves. The first is fairly common to reach, while the second, "secret cave" is only approachable during very low tide. We should be able to visit both caves.
- Travel beyond the sea cave is more difficult, but with a low-enough tide we might be able to negotiate a route across the rocks to the smooth sand of Strand Beach to the north. If we accomplish this we can see whether we can return via teh rocky coastal route or a longer but less difficult bluff route!
The sea cliffs at Dana Point are revered by historians as the site where Spanish vaqueros threw hides over the cliffs and down to waiting ships as described in Richard Henry Dana's Two Years Before the Mast. Today, the sheer cliffs remain, but much of coastline below is occupied by the 2500-slip Dana Point Marina. Just west of the Marina, though, you'll find a fine, wild stretch of rocky beach and dramatic headland -- a little piece of Old California that can be fully explored on foot during low tides. Tides reach their most favorable nadirs (near minus one-foot or lower) provide the best opportunity to visit all caves and tidepools!.
- To reach the Ocean Institute at Dana Point Harbor,
- exit Interstate 5 at Pacific Coast Highway and proceed west for two miles.
- Just past Dana Point's "downtown," turn left on Street of the Green Lantern.
- Go two blocks south and turn left on Cove Road.
- Cove Road descends to Dana Point Harbor Drive and a parking lot for Dana Cove Park (all the way at the end, although you might have to park before this - carpooling is recommended).
- There you'll find a replica of the Pilgrim, the sailing ship that author Dana sailed on during the early 1800s, and the Ocean Institute museum.
- Meet in front of The Pilgrim - a large Pirate "looking" ship which you can't miss along the Ocean Institute dock.