325300 Dana Point Harbor Dr.
Dana Point, CA
Day Use Parking: $15
Day Use Hours: 6 AM to 10 PM
Beachlive Webcam - Doheny Beach - Expect 30-second advertisement first.
Doheny State Beach has two separate day-use areas (north and south), each with their own parking lots. Entrance to the state beach is off Dana Point Harbor Drive for all beach venues. Vehicles are $15 each, seniors $14. Pedestrians and cyclists can enter for free.
At the north day-use area is a 5-acre, landscaped picnic area with tables and BBQ grills. There are two canopy-covered picnic sites and 13 others that may be reserved for a fee. Reserving a picnic site does not guarantee entry on days when the parking lots are full, so arrive early. For more information about reserving picnic sites, see Doheny State Beach Interpretive Association.
The Visitor Center at Doheny Beach underwent renovations in late 2013 and as of early 2014 had not quite yet re-opened. Opening day at the Visitor Center should be soon. The Visitor Center includes an aquarium and animal displays. The park store is being moved to the Visitor Center, so for the time being, it too is closed.
A seasonal snack bar and rentals are available at the North Day Use Area. WiFi is available at the snack shop. For more information about rentals here, see our Doheny Beach Activities page.
While the construction of Dana Point Harbor in the 1960s changed the wave configurations at Doheny Beach, surfers still gather there. Board surfing is allowed anywhere along the beach. Paddleboard surfing and kayak surfing are limited to a section of the beach south of Thor's Hammer (a concrete post at the mouth of San Juan Creek). Lifeguards may alter some restrictions based on the conditions at the beach on a particular day.
The safest swimming and wading is along the beach at the North Day Use Area where the bottom slopes out gently for quite a distance. The opposite is true at the South Day Use Area where the bottom can drop precipitously just beyond the edge of the water. This creates a dangerous situation where unwary waders can be sucked into the ocean. Always check with the lifeguards at South Day use Area for advice about current conditions before venturing into the water.
Hardly a Frisbee toss south of the southern tip of Doheny State Beach is Capistrano Beach. Metered parking for $1 per hour is accessed directly off the Coast Highway.
The county operated Capistrano Beach Park features many good facilities such as accessible restrooms, outdoor showers, a food concession, and a picnic area (no BBQs). A basketball court has lighting. Volleyball courts are on the sand. Fire rings are available. Grill screens may be added to the fire ring so that it can be used for cooking. The park is open from 6 AM to 10 PM.
Poche Beach is north of San Clemente. Parking is along street-sides. Access the beach via a stairway on the inland side of the Coast Highway and then pass through an undercrossing to the beach. This small beach has a volleyball court, but no other facilities. Surfers gather here. The beach is open from 6 AM to 10 PM.
California State Parks and Recreation cautions that "large surf, cold water temperatures, backwash, sudden drop-offs, pounding shorebreak, and dangerous rip currents can turn what seem like safe activities such as playing near the surf line, wading, or climbing on rock outcroppings, deadly." Learn more about ocean safety at CA State Parks: Ocean Safety