Golden Hour at the Dana Point Headlands can feel like therapy after a long day. On rare occasions like this picture, the ocean is glassy and emerald green, and there isn’t a single breath of wind. Take a stroll along the 2.5-mile loop that will take you from dirt trail to sandy beach. Start at the Dana Point Nature Interpretive Center located at the end of Scenic Drive, past The Chart House restaurant. Docents at the Interpretive Center are happy to share info about the latest whale sightings, as well as provide educational games for children interested in learning more about the Headlands’ indigenous plant and animal population.
Follow the trail past the Interpretive Center, through the gated entrance, and down the sandy path to the outermost point of the Headlands. Proceed through the gate at the top end of the trail and walk past several homes before arriving at the southern-most entrance and staircase to Strands Beach. Walk down the long path to the beach path, where at the far-end, you’ll ascend the long staircase (or take the funicular on weekends only) to the Strands parking lot. Travel north on the path at the top of the staircase, past the memorial, and past the Strands Residental entrance, and back up the same road to the Headland trail entrance.