There are three main caves at the site. Two are enclosed caves and one of them is a tunnel cave. Since there are no names for them. I just call them, Sparrow, Barbossa, and Cortez. The first one, Sparrow, has a small opening where you can get through if the tide is not low enough for the main opening of it. The second one is right next to the Sparrow and it is also an enclosed cave like Sparrow. The last one, Cortez is a taller and short open-ends cave, only accessible in very low tide (unless you don’t mind getting wet)
This place is full of tide pools at low tide. Although the trail is not kids-friendly, kids will enjoy investigating all kind of small sea creatures. If you are just going for tide pools, you probably don’t have to go all the way to the caves. Remember that tide pools are the best when the tide is low. Check the tide times at willyweather.com
Something to consider;
- Shoes. Don’t wear a pair of a flip-flop. It is rocky and uneven all the way. No need to wear hiking boots, I believe but a pair of good walking shoes should be fine.
- When water goes low, be careful of the wet and green part of the beach. It is slippery.
- Security: It is not a completely remote area but it is not an easily accessible area either. There would not be many people depends on what time you would go. It is a good idea to keep your eyes open for any suspiciousness. I am not saying it is a shady place to go but for just fair caution.
- Safety: It is rough to walk in and back. I actually hit my leg a bit on a rock while I tried to find a good vantage point. I didn’t break my leg but I realized it is possible to happen. The emergency crews would not be there quick.
- Take time. No rush. If you want to catch the sunset there, be there early so that you don’t have to rush to the caves. Most of the time, caves are not directly facing to where the sun goes down over the horizon.
The best place to park is the Dana Point Harbor Drive parking by the Ocean Institute. It is free as of January 2019. There is a public restroom by the parking lot.
How to get there
Walk into the Ocean Institute, and stay on the right side of the road all the way to the ocean. You will see a caged stair to a beach. Go down to the beach and walk toward the northwest about a mile.