Dana Point Sea Cave Trail

Dana Point Sea Cave Trail

If you’re cruising down Pacific Crest Highway in Dana Point, you should set aside 90 minutes to see one of the better sea caves in Orange County. The hike to the cave is probably only a half mile round trip, but it will feel like more because the coastline is rocky and slick in a few sections due to the seaweed and algae. You should be careful to avoid this hike during high tide or large wave swells because you're essentially trapped along the coastline next to a large cliff for the duration of the hike and there is nowhere to hide if the ocean comes crashing down on you.

There is a free parking lot for this trail at the ocean institute in Dana Point. The easiest way to find the trail-head is to enter this address into your GPS: 34558 Scenic Dr., Dana Point, CA 

The trail for the sea cave starts at a large fenced-in set of stairs at the edge of the beach. These stairs can be locked during periods when the tide is high or the ocean is too rough. Once you descend the stairs to the beach, just head west (right) on the beach and follow the coastline for about ¼ of a mile. There is a large rock outcropping which marks the cave. The entrance to the cave is hidden until you get up right next to it. Here is the outcropping along the beach that you’ll want to look for:

Hidden Entrance to the Dana Point Sea Cave

This particular sea cave is one of the largest I’ve seen in Orange County, but it's really only about the size of a your living room. We actually don't have very many large caves in the county, so it's unique. The hike will take most people around an hour to complete from start to finish. It may not be suitable for small children or people who may have trouble traversing the slick rocks. 

Inside the Dana Point Sea Cave


If you want to make a day of it, there are several other great areas to explore near the Dana Point sea caves including:

1000 Steps Beach- A great secluded beach with a large sea cave and great waves for surfing and bodyboarding

Crystal Cove State Park/Moro Canyon- A huge park located just north of Laguna Beach with hiking and mountain biking trails, a tent campground, a dedicated snorkeling area and amazing views from Coastal Peak Park at the top of the mountain.

Alta Laguna ParkA smaller park located high above Laguna Beach with basketball courts, a picnic area and a paved 1 mile bike trail. 

Laguna Coast Wilderness Park- A larger park next to Laguna Beach with amazing mountain biking and hiking trails. This park is breathtaking in the spring or anytime when we’ve had some rain and the entire mountain is covered in a blanket of greenery.

The Back Bay Loop Trail at Newport Beach- A wetland preserve in Newport Beach with a fantastic paved bike trail. I highly recommend renting a kayak and experiencing this park from the water.
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