Hiking to the Dana Point Sea Cave

I can’t believe I waited so long to go check out the Dana Point Sea Cave. Finally, after 3 years of living in Orange County, I made the trip over to Dana Point to see what these sea caves were all about.

I had never been inside a sea cave before. Not one that you could actually sit inside of. I didn’t know what to expect, and in a way, I was a little scared. Being surrounded by the ocean while inside of a cave with waves crashing in didn’t sound too fun actually. What if I got claustrophobic?! What if a wave came in too far and knocked me down?! What if I couldn’t get out for some reason?!

All of those silly thoughts were going through my mind, but once I got there I realized that it wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought it would be. The hike is actually very easy, and the cave wasn’t difficult to get into, and there were no waves crashing in the way I had imagined them.

Cliff views from the beach in Dana Point

I am so happy I finally checked this off my Southern California bucket list! The Dana Point Sea Cave is now one of my favorite places in Orange County.

Here’s what you can expect on your way to visit the Dana Point Sea Cave!

Hiking to the Dana Point Sea Cave

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Type of Hike: Out and back

Difficulty Level: Easy

Time: Less than 2 hours

Distance: Around 1.5 miles round trip

The trail to the Dana Point Sea Cave

What to wear and bring:

You will be hiking along a rocky beach with no shade. Make sure you bring water, sun protection, and most importantly, you need to wear comfortable and stable shoes. There are a lot of rocks once you get closer to the sea caves, and if you don’t have the right shoes you could end up hurting yourself. Since there could be water at the entrance of the cave, water shoes would be a great idea.

The rocks along the hike to the Dana Point Sea Cave

I wore these Skechers sandals. They are super grippy and handled the rocks great! Aside from that, you can wear or bring anything else you would normally have for an easy hike.

Shop all of my hiking essentials here!

When to go:

Orange County has excellent weather all year, so any day would be fine to visit the Dana Point Sea Caves. But, because you will be entering a cave, you need to make sure you are going when the tide is low. If you go at the wrong time it could be dangerous, or you may have wasted a trip because you won’t even be able to access the cave.

You can check the tide in Dana Point here.

Where to park:

It seems like most people park at the Ocean Institute, which apparently offers free parking. You could also use the parking lot for Baby Beach, which is where I parked, and it was free. This lot is not much farther than the Ocean Institute.

Finding the trailhead:

You are going to walk behind the Ocean Institute, where you will see a park with some seating areas. Continue the path and at the end, you will see a rock sea wall on your left and a tall cliff on your right. The stairs that are fenced in is the starting path towards the Dana Point Sea Cave.

The trail:

Once on the beach, you will go right and follow the cliffside the entire way to the sea cave. The beginning of the hike has a sandy pathway, but most of the hike is rocky.

Starting path to the Dana Point Sea Cave

You can check out the tide pools along the way to the sea cave, and take tons of photos of the scenery!

Tide pools in Dana Point
Cliff views from the beach in Dana Point

Entrance to the Cave:

You will eventually get to a point where you just can’t go any further or you will end up in the ocean. Look for a little hole on the right!

When I first saw the hole I thought there was no way this was the entrance to the cave. I didn’t think I would be able to fit! But don’t worry, as you get closer the entrance becomes much larger.

Go through the little entryway to the cave, and there you go! You have entered the Dana Point Sea Cave!

Ocean entrance to the Dana Point Sea Cave

Inside of the Cave:

The inside of the cave was pretty cool, and not scary at all. It was actually very peaceful. Watching the waves crashing on the rocks outside was soothing.

It was a lot cooler inside the cave, so it was a nice break from the heat I generated from hiking. I found the biggest rock that I could and took a seat to enjoy the show.

View from inside of the Dana Point Sea Cave
Inside of the Sea Cave in Dana Point

I hope you enjoy the Dana Point Sea Cave as much as I did! I was so happy to check this off my bucket list, but even though I completed this task I know I will be back for a visit soon.


Have you ever been inside a sea cave? Let me know if you have any questions about visiting the Dana Point Sea Cave!


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18 thoughts on “Hiking to the Dana Point Sea Cave”

  • Beautiful photos that also make excellent direction markers! Dana Point Sea Cave looks like an amazing place to visit, and I’ll be putting it on my list of things to do when I’m in SoCal again.

  • We did this yesterday. Given it was winter in CA, nobody else was around. What a great cave. Caught it right as the tide was going out. Great photo ops and lots of fun. Highly recommend. Easy to do if you are mobile.

  • Thanks for blogging this! I took my girls here on Friday and your instructions were perfect. Round trip was 45 minutes. Beautiful day and the cave was great!

    • Hi Sarah, I am so happy to hear this! I think this was one of my favorite blog posts to write – it’s such a simple little thing to do that doesn’t take much effort, is kid-friendly, and is actually quite unique! Thank you so much for your feedback because this really keeps me motivated to continue finding these little gems and sharing them with you!

  • Have you ever gone to the sea cave in La Jolla? You have to go thru the shell shop and it’s a few dollars but very cool. Lots of steps!

    • Yes I have been to that one! I took my dad there when he was visiting because I figured it would be easier than doing a whole beach hike. Super cool and I love La Jolla!

  • Your directions were perfect, thank you! My 4 and 6 year old kids were able to get to the cave and back. They had a lot of fun walking through the rocks, playing in the tide pools, splashing the water in their way to the cave. They goodness there was a small pathway to take in the way back because they were tiring out. Thanks again for the details. Our family had a blast!

    • Thanks for your feedback Vanessa! SO happy to hear you guys had fun. I had no idea there was a shortcut on the way back, congrats for finding that!

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