Dana Point Harbor is located in southern California's Orange County about 30 nautical miles southeast of Los Angeles and about 60 nautical miles northwest of San Diego. Dana Point Harbor is one of the few harbors in Orange County, and it is a popular surfing destination, being home to the once famous surf break known as Killer Dana. In 2000, over 35 thousand people lived in Dana Point Harbor.
Dana Point Harbor was named after Richard Henry Dana, Jr. who wrote Two Years Before the Mast. Dana described the area as the "only romantic spot in California." Today, the Dana Point Harbor contains a replica of the author's ship, the Pilgrim. In 1990, one of the rare specimens of the megamouth shark was caught off Dana Point Harbor. The area is a designated California Historical Landmark.
In 1926, Harry Chandler (publisher of the Los Angeles Times), Sidney H. Woodruff (LA homebuilder), and General M.H. Sherman (of the Pacific Electric Railway Company) created the Dana Point Syndicate. The trio invited other Los Angeles players to invest in 5.6 square kilometers of land for a development. Woodruff built 35 houses and several commercial buildings in the future Dana Point Harbor in what is now called Lantern Village.
The centerpiece was to be the Dana Point Inn, a resort hotel that was started in 1930. Unfortunately, the Great Depression intervened in construction, and Woodruff abandoned the project in 1939, selling his holdings in the Dana Point Syndicate.
Dana Point Harbor construction began in the late 1960s when the rock breakwater jetties and marina were built. Dana Point Harbor, with state-of-the-art design and facilities, was official dedicated in 1971.
Today, Dana Point Harbor is working to revitalize the harbor’s shops and restaurants, dry boat storage and marinas, and the City of Dana Point is working to revitalize it historic downtown Lantern Village area.