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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