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NEW!  Dana Point Invasive Plant Guide

Marine Resources

Habitat                                                                           Sunset

The 7.5 miles of coastline of Dana Point offers access to a variety of marine habitats. The coastal waters and shoreline are rich with animals and plants associated with sandy beach, rocky intertidal, rocky subtidal, and kelp forest ecosystems. Each of these habitats is rich in species diversity and includes the unique boulder fields and bedrock bench tidepool areas around the Headlands and the largest kelp forest in Orange County at Salt Creek.




Beady eyes


Marine Protected Areas(MPAs)                                     Shoreline

Dana Point’s coastal habitats are currently designated as three section so of California State Marine Protected Areas. The marine resources at Doheny State Park are protected by the Doheny Beach State Marine Conservation Area and include an offshore under water park: the intertidal and subtidal areas around the Dana Point Headlands are protected by the Dana Point Marine Conservation Area: and the Niguel State Marine Conservation Area stretches from South Strands to Three Arch Bay encompassing all of the Salt Creek kelp bed. Within these three MPAs it is illegal to take any intertidal marine resources and only certain finfish and invertebrates may be taken under permit.

For more information visit:

The Dana Point Tidepool Interpretive Program (TIP)


The TIP provides an interpretive education program for all visitors to the rocky intertidal areas of the  Dana Point Marine Conservation Area. This program is sponsored by the City of Dana Point in concert with the Ocean Institute.

Unfortunately, at this time, our Tidepool (TIP) Docent Volunteer Program is full; however if you are interested in becoming a Docent at the City's Nature Interpretive Center, please fill out the interest card (PDF).

Tidepool Group Reservation Program                         Bus photo

The City of Dana Point welcomes all visitors to the tidepools of Dana Point. To ensure your trip is enjoyable as well as safe for both participants and for marine life, we require that advance reservations be made for all groups of 15 persons or more who visit the Dana Point Marine Conservation Area. 

Reservation Policy:   Please click on the flyer (PDF)  to find out how to make a group reservation.  For additional information on how to reserve a group visit of more than 15 students at the Dana Point Marine Conservation Area please email Sean Vogt at 

Terrestrial Resources (Headlands Nature Park)

Habitat                                                                       Native Plants

The Headlands at Dana Point contains many plants and animals that are native to coastal Southern California. Rare and indigenous plant assemblages found on the site include; southern coastal bluff scrub, native grasslands, maritime succulent scrub, mixed chaparral, and coastal sage scrub. The unique setting and mix of habitats the Headlands also provides a home for rare and threatened animals. The wildlife seen on the point consists of mammals, including the Pacific Pocket Mouse, reptiles, and birds including the California gnatcatcher and coastal cactus wren.

Headlands Biological Open Space Conservation Parks 



Development of the Headlands project site has been carefully planned to enhance the public coastal access, provide a range of passive recreational opportunities, preserve the coastal bluffs and other significant landforms and conserve sensitive habitat. The public open space, parks and greenbelt linkages comprise half of the development site.

The primary goals for the parks are to:

  1. Create high quality public parks, recreation and open space areas that maximize coastal access, establish and preserve public views and conserve natural resources including the preservation and enhancement of environmentally sensitive habitat areas.
  2. Interconnect the public parks and open space by establishing an integrated public trail/access system that links to other trail alignments off site.
  3. Encourage public visitors to utilize the parks and open space by implementing a series of scenic overlooks, informational signage, public art, and public visitor recreational facilities that provide a variety of educational, historical, natural and conservation programs.

The four open space parks that comprise the 50 acres of the Headlands are; Harbor Point Park, Headlands Conservation Park, Hilltop Park and South Strands Biological Open Space. The Headlands Conservation Park, managed by the Center for Natural Land Management, supports the known population of the Pacific Pocket Mice.

Trail System           Trail

A public trail system, over three miles in length, links all the parks and open space areas of the Headlands. The system includes pedestrian trails, coastal and beach access, scenic overlooks, and the Nature Interpretive Center. The trails maximize public coastal access and ocean view opportunities. These trails implement the policies and guidelines of the Dana Point General Plan and provide a comprehensive system that reinforces the relationship between the Headlands, the beaches, the Harbor and the Pacific Ocean. 

Trail and Park Hours             Trails

The parks and trails can be reached either off of Green Lantern or at Dana Strand Rd., limited parking is available along these streets or at the Nature Interpretive Center parking lot.

The trails will be open from 7 a.m. to sunset daily


Nature Interpretive Center

The Nature Interpretive Center is located adjacent to the Headlands Conservation Park, at the terminus of Street of the Green Lantern. The facility includes educational, management and operational space designed as a visitor center for the open space parks.

Center Hours: 10 am – 4 pm, everyday except closed on Mondays

For more information please and to schedule a public tour, please email or call (949) 248-3527. 

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Last updated: 2/10/2014 12:37:36 PM