An appealing combination of natural beauty and laid back luxury, the city of Dana Point is one of coastal Orange County’s most brilliant gems. It was once famously described as “the only romantic spot on the coast” by Richard Henry Dana, Jr., author of the 19th century American classic “Two Years Before the Mast.”
Dana Point is just over an hour’s drive from the heart of Los Angeles as well as San Diego, making it somewhat out-of-the-way yet still easily accessible. Blessed with a balmy Mediterranean climate and free of the smog that plagues many other areas in Southern California, this beautiful coastal town has become a popular vacation destination and is a mecca for surfers, whale watchers, anglers, the nautically minded, and just about everyone with an appreciation for the good things in life.
The city has a land area of just under 6.5 square miles, but has a total area of almost 30, most of which is water. It has an estimated population of around 34,000, and population growth has been constant yet gradual over the years.
A Bit of History
Dana Point has long been a great spot for whale watching. Native Americans camped out on the headlands for millennia and watched out not just for migrating whales, but also for traders and possible invaders. So while it only got incorporated as a city in 1989, Dana Point has been called home by various groups of people since before the days of recorded history.
The city is named after Richard Henry Dana, Jr., whose memoir Two Years Before the Mast has been part of the American literary canon since the 1800s. Dana, while still a Harvard undergrad, enlisted as an ordinary sailor on the Pilgrim, a Boston merchant ship. The ship anchored in the Dana Point area in the course of its voyage, which included sailing around Cape Horn, and Dana described the area in his journal, which he would later turn into his famous memoir.
It wasn’t until the early 20th century, however, that Dana Point would start becoming the city we now know today. Developed by a real estate group from L.A. in the 1920s, Dana Point was envisioned as a resort community, and its spirit as a relaxing retreat remains alive to this day.
Things to Do
There’s no end of things to do in Dana Point. The community has a wealth of attractions, including gorgeous beaches, a vibrant harbor, diverse shopping and dining options, plenty of parks and open spaces, and a vibrant arts scene.
Dana Point has a wide variety of neighborhoods and properties to choose from, ranging from condos to grand beachfront residences. Given the city’s coastal location and the fact that it’s a highly desirable place to live, home prices here lie in the higher end of the spectrum and home values continue to rise as well. The median value of single-family detached homes is already close to $1 million and the median value of condos is over $500,000.
The city is composed of distinct communities, including Capistrano Beach, Monarch Beach, Dana Hills, Del Obispo, and Lantern Village. Each of these has its own unique character and housing stock, though all benefit from the top-quality services and facilities that the city provides.