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Love Letters: Dana Point

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Donna Kalez was born and raised in San Clemente, CA. In 1961, her father, Don Hansen, founded Dana Wharf, a business that pioneered the region's whale watching industry. Donna now successfully runs the family business with her brother in the male-dominated world of sport fishing and whale watching. She wrote the book, The Adventures of Captain Don, about, and in tribute to, her father.

There is nothing I love more in the world than being outdoors, gazing at whales and dolphins as they swim in the crystal blue waters of the Pacific Ocean from one of our boats in Dana Point. It is nothing short of awe-inspiring! The natural beauty of this seaside community always beckons me home. From the harmony of the cliffs above to the miles of sandy beaches below and the quiet sanctuary of the harbor, simply said, Dana Point, I love you.

Whether it's being an ambassador on one of our whale watching excursions out on the open sea, paddle boarding on the calm waters near Baby Beach, or taking a hike along the fabulous cliffs, Dana Point and this community is magical. There is no place on earth I'd rather be than here.

My favorite mornings begin with a stop by Coffee Importers for my morning cup and a stroll along the water front. On the weekends, I sometimes treat myself to brunch at Harbor Grill where the smoked salmon eggs benedict is perfection. I love stopping to chat with the local fisherman as they disembark from a day of fishing and I love to hear about the one that got away or watching the families as they board the boats. The kids are always so excited by the prospect of heading out for a morning of whale watching and dolphin spotting. Every trip is a new adventure.

The rich history of Dana Point is a wonderful story. I love that a writer named Richard Henry Dana Jr. is the inspiration for the name "Dana Point". In his journal, Dana documents his voyage from Boston around Cape Horn to California on the merchant ship, Pilgrim. Dana describes the area, then known as Capistrano Bay, as "the most romantic spot in California." The fact that the area's residents were so enamored with his portrayal of their special place that they renamed their city after him is a love story for the ages.

I love that visitors from near and far can travel to Dana Point for its sunny year-round, picture- perfect weather, family-friendly atmosphere and stunning resorts perched on the cliffs above. The wealth of options we offer here ensure that folks with a range of tastes and budgets have plenty of opportunity to play and be pampered in the surfing soul of our little Southern California gem. I mean, who wouldn't be completely enchanted with our seven miles of coastal bluffs, pristine beaches, and magnificent blue waters? Throw in world class whale watching, golfing, surfing, deep-sea fishing, checking out the tide pools, visiting the Ocean Institute, and the many other activities, and you have the perfect combination of active relaxation! I can see why just one visit to Dana Point and they are hooked.

How lucky I feel to be able to call this special place my home! It's my legacy. My father started the first business in Dana Point Harbor over 40 years ago. Thank you Dana Point for giving me all of this and so much more! No matter how far I may stray, I will always come home to you.