How Dana Point Got Its Name

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Picturesque Dana Point harbor is nestled along the Orange County coast in a beautiful location. 

It is one of the few harbors on the coast that has been used by ships for more than 150 years. 

So why is it called Dana Point?  Who is Dana?

The harbor was named after Richard Henry Dana in 1851, but the city wasn’t incorporated until 1989!

Dana was a lawyer, author, and sailor who wrote two books about his experiences as a sailor.

He wrote the book Two Years Before the Mast, which is a narrative of his experience as a common sailor in 1834-1836.

He was also the first to publish a description of the California coastline and harbor.


More on Dana…

Richard Henry Dana was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1815. He was the son of a wealthy family that made its fortune in the textile industry.

Dana had an adventurous spirit and he liked to explore new places. When he was 18 years old, his father sent him to Harvard where he studied law.

In 1834, he embarked on a voyage to the California coast aboard the brig Pilgrim as a common sailor.

His adventures are chronicled in Two Years Before the Mast (1840), which includes descriptions of the pre-gold rush California coast from Monterey to San Pedro to San Diego. 

You’ll find this book a fascinating read if you’ve spent any amount of time living or fishing along the Southern California coast!

Dana describes the area once known as Capistrano Bay, as “the most romantic spot in California.” Today, Capistrano Bay is known as Dana Point.

If you’d like to sample the sportfishing options out of Dana Point, give Dana Wharf Sportfishing a try.  Local, islands, offshore, charter and whale watching are all available from Dana Wharf.

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