Dana Point was named after Richard Henry Dana, who remarked that the area was "the only romantic spot on the coast." While that seems a silly statement when considering the splendor of Highway 1, it does suggest just how arrestingly beautiful the cliffs, beaches, and harbor are in these parts. Perhaps thats why families flock to the area, which boasts plenty of planned gated communities, upscale apartment living, and neat, modern condos throughout the approximately 29 square miles of land and sea mass. You can even pull into a slip and live on a boat. After all, it’s less expensive, and the waves will lull you to sleep each night.
Besides the natural beauty, Dana Point has a variety of super-fun amenities, ranging from independent designer boutiques and world-class restaurants to luxury cinemas and professional golf courses. The overarching theme is luxury. It costs a lot to live here, but there are undeniable perks for the price. Nearly every home has a stunning view, and many rental properties and apartments do as well. But the cost of living here can give one pause, as it’s roughly 93 percent higher than the nation’s average. High graduation rates make that more palatable, but lets be honest, this isnt a place for tight budgets.
There's good news for renters, though. The vacancy rate is a comfortable 9 percent, meaning there are lots of options in every category, ranging from single-family homes and townhomes to studio apartments. Well, no, studio apartments are pretty rare, but there are some sweet two-bedroom apartments that will knock your socks off. With these rents, you’re gonna want a roommate anyway.
Finding the right location in Dana Point is pretty easy, as there aren’t really any neighborhoods, per se. But there are areas with a little more or less going on, as well as places with a higher density of rental housing. Most spots arent walkable, so plan to drive nearly everywhere. Some people even drive to their mailboxes.
Capistrano Beach: Kind of Dana Point and kind of San Juan Capistrano, this is a less expensive section with some slightly rundown businesses (consignment stores), a beautiful beach area, and less-expensive housing. Oh, and theres a Costco. Easy access to PCH and the 5-Freeway is also nice.
Monarch Beach: People arrive in droves from all over the world to visit Monarch Beach, and the high-end hotels attest to that. There are plenty of rental properties here, but celebrities and other Richie Rich types typically scoop them up. Gorgeous views and a stunning sandy beach make it hard to resist if you have the scratch.
Salt Creek Beach: There are a few eye-popping properties surrounding Salt Creek Beach, and they’re just as pricey as the ones at Monarch. Anything right on the water is a playground for multimillionaires only. Inland, however, is where many of the main neighborhood streets lie, with mostly single-family homes and condos available.
Bear Brand: Close to the major shopping areas, including upscale grocery stores and a luxury cinema, Bear Brand is a mix of apartments, single-family homes, and retail stores. The communities are planned and spacious, but the beach is 5 to 10 minutes away.
Dana Point: The heart of the city is a true mix of accommodations. The harbor has all the boats (yacht-city) while inland has seasonal rentals, condos, single-family homes, and a few apartment buildings. It has the broadest selection and price range. Search well, and you can find a great deal with sea breezes.
Expect a lot of bottle blond trophy wives in yoga pants driving Range Rovers and Botoxing themselves into wrinkle and emotion-free oblivion. What you do, what you drive, and what your politics are matter here since Orange County is that rarest of beasts in Southern California: conservative. Also, it can be pretty quiet in a lot of the neighborhoods, in part because many of the houses are seasonal rentals.
Dana Point culture is unabashedly prosperous, but residents love to relish in the simple, natural beauty of the coast. Festivals are common throughout the year, with the Summer Concert Series, Festival of Whales, and Tall Ships Festival as three of the most popular. Both locals and visitors get in on group fishing trips, whale and dolphin watching, and scuba diving; every season seems to bring a different opportunity to explore the ocean’s offerings. This energetic style overlaps with other physical pursuits, as yoga, golf, and Pilates are a serious way of life. It’s not a party town, and singles will feel their differentness, though youths trek in from all over the county to surf. It’s a quiet, happy place with a touch of romance that makes it an exceptional choice for couples and families who have already seen their ships come in to shore.