It’s been a couple of months since we’ve introduced any new SUP destinations, and with the Pacific Paddle Games just over, I think this is the perfect time to explore what some Dana Point locations have to offer for stand up paddle boarding.
Dana Point’s official city motto is “Harboring the Good Life”, and the area is certainly not lacking in opportunities for recreational activities such as whale watching, music and festivals, marine centers, good eats a-plenty and of course paddle boarding! With something for every level of boarder from paddleboard beginners to the seasoned SUP surfing enthusiast, Baby Beach and Doheny State Beach offer both ends of the spectrum and are close enough together to explore on a weekend camping trip, or even a single day trip.
As its name suggests, Dana Point Harbor’s Baby Beach is the perfect launch point for beginners with its sandy shores and flat waters. Absolute beginners can have a great time practicing in the shallows for a bit before heading out into the harbor for a scenic paddle. There are views of the beautiful cliffs overhead and plenty of seal watching opportunities. For more intermediate paddlers with some open ocean experience, it’s possible to head out of the harbor on the south-east end to venture toward Doheny State Beach. Just be sure to watch for boat traffic and heed the stand up paddle board regulations at Doheny which are outlined below!
For those of you bringing your own lunch, there are plenty of picnic and barbeque areas with gorgeous views of the harbor and bluffs for you to spread out your fare, otherwise there are a multitude of fantastic cafes, delis, and restaurants within a 15-20 minute walk from the launch point, and many of them have waterfront views. Although the harbor can get very busy on the weekends, I’ve usually been able to find free parking on a hot summer Saturday afternoon unless there’s a special event going on, so it’s also not totally unfeasible to hop in your car and drive to lunch and still find a parking spot when you get back.
If you’re visiting on a Saturday, we’d love to see you drop by our SUP to You booth located right on the beach to say hi. We hold a Demo Day here every Saturday where you can try out a variety of SUP boards to see what suits you best!
Doheny State Beach
Home of the annual PPG, Doheny Beach (affectionately called “Doho” by locals) features over a mile of sandy coast with relatively mellow waves, tide pools during low tide, a beach Café, a landscaped picnic area with tables and barbecue grills, 120 developed family campsites with picnic tables and campfire rings, and plenty of paid parking. Based on Doho’s regulations, stand up paddle boards may be launched from the beach by the jetty near the mouth of the creek, and from here, those who are paddle board surfing can ride waves along the coast to the south, and open ocean paddlers can venture north away from the shore (at least 1,000 feet from the high-water mark) to avoid other surfers.
Since it’s a State Park, parking is $15 per vehicle unless you have a State Park Pass. Of course, if you decide to launch at Baby Beach and paddle out of the harbor to Doho, you can take advantage of the free harbor parking.
Doho’s Boneyard Beach Café is the only café on a State Beach where you can enjoy your meal right on the sand. My favorite selections off their menu are their melt-in-your-mouth pulled pork sliders and their rosemary garlic fries which are to die for. Their prices are quite reasonable, and their patio is full-service and serves beer and wine. It’s more than just a convenient location for your midday bite.
Definitely come explore Dana Point for your next paddle board adventure!