Located about halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego on the southern Orange County coast, Dana Point Harbor is truly one of the most spectacular man-made harbors in the world. Dana Point was named for Richard Henry Dana, Jr., author of “Two Years Before The Mast”. He referred to the area as “the only romantic spot on the coast”, and visitors to Dana Point Harbor can easily see why. Even the fog horn that blows in the early morning hours, warning sailors to look out for the reefs, is one of the most characteristic sounds of Dana Point. Dana was traveling aboard the brig Pilgrim, which at the time had to travel to California via Cape Horn and the stormy Strait of Magellan.
The original plan for Dana Point was for a Spanish-style town with wide streets named after “Lanterns,” and when the streets were laid out, there were actual lanterns for street lights, modeled on the old sailor’s kerosene lanterns. This is still part of the community, in street names like Street of the Golden Lantern, Street of the Blue Lantern, and even a recent newcomer, Street of the Crystal Lantern.
The construction of Dana Point Harbor started in the late 1960′s with the building of the rock breakwater jetties. The water inside the jetties was then pumped out after all the shellfish and sea life had been transplanted. The marina was then built and the water was allowed to re-enter when the temporary jetty across the entrances to the East and West Basin was removed.
Dana Point Harbor was officially dedicated on July 31, 1971. While the harbor was very advanced in design and facilities, it has retained the secluded beauty and historic charm of its romantic past.