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Beach Road

Capistrano Beach, while possessing its own zip code, is in fact a part of the city of Dana Point in Orange County, California. It is bordered by San Clemente to the south and Laguna Beach to the north. Other nearby cities include San Juan Capistrano. Capistrano Beach is one of the few remaining "beach towns" in Orange County. It has avoided much of the commercialization of the surrounding areas, and remains a unique and charming place with a "small town" atmosphere.

Capo Beach, as it is sometimes referred to, is situated along the coast on the southern end of Dana Point. Homes range from beach cottages to some of the finest real estate in Orange County. Many multi-million dollar homes can be found in the area, with some situated atop a cliff overlooking Coast Highway and the Capistrano Beach park below. Many celebrities have homes on Beach Road.

Beach Road was developed by Edward (Ned) L. Doheny Jr. after purchasing 1000 acres (including 3 miles of beachfront known as Boca del Playa) from the heirs of Don Juan Forster.  He attended Stanford and USC, and married Lucy Smith in 1913. After serving in the Navy during WWI, Doheny joined his father's oil business. Doheny was active in the USC Alumni Association, and in November 1928 made an endowment of $200,000 to the university.

Doheny build four Mission Revival homes on Beach Road, several more on the Palisades, and developed the Beachcomber's Club where the county park is today.  He planned to build several more to realize his vision of creating a relatively unspoiled, peaceful beachfront community that was far removed from the urban sprawl of Los Angeles.  The teapot dome scandal hit the national news affecting the family.  Other problems with the family also emerged.

Murder in Los Angeles

Hugh Plunkett, the family chauffeur became an incrasingly close confidante to Ned Doheny, eventually serving as personal secretary. On the night of February 16, 1929, Hugh Plunkett arrived at the Greystone mansion, and a shot rang out. Ned Doheny was dead along with Plunkett. Over the years, questions have arisen about the events of that February night. Various rumors surfaced: that Plunkett and Doheny were more than just good friends, and that Lucy killed them in a fit of jealousy; that Plunkett shot Doheny in a quarrel over his salary. Questions were raised about the timing of the killings: was there a delay between the time of the deaths and the arrival of the police? Were the bodies moved to better suit the story told to the police? Was there an effort made to make Plunkett look crazy, to make the murder/suicice story more plausible? The undeniable wealth and influence of the Dohenys added to the public's fascination with the tragedy.

Prior to his death, Ned Doheny formed the Capistrano Beach Company, and built 18 homes and a Beach Club along Beach Road. Although the Beachcombers  Club was destroyed by fire in the late 1960's, 188 houses now occupy "the road".

Before the fire, Beach Road Property was to change hands two more times.  During the war years, the LA Harvey family, owners of Harvey aluminum bought the property from the Doheny heirs.  Around 1959, the Harvey family sold the property to Hadley-Cherry, who sold off the last ten lots at the south end of the Road. 

"Poche" was on a  railroad sign near the south end of the road , and is the genesis of the beach named there today.  Big wave surfers Walter and Flippy Hoffman, filmmaker Bruce Brown, surfboard foam inventor Gordon "Grubby" Clark, world famous surfer and surboard designer Hobie Alter, and Surfer magazine editor Pat McNulty were one of the groups involved with the development of the community. 

San Clemente

The City of San Clemente spans fifteen square miles of coastline and scenic foothills. The location of the City, long admired by explorers and passing settlers, remained virtually uninhabited until 1776, when Mission San Juan Capistrano was established by Father Junipero Serra and led both Indian and Spanish settlers to set up villages nearby.

Property rights to the land exchanged hands several times, but few ventured to build on it until 1925, when former Mayor of Seattle, Ole Hanson purchased and designed a 2,000 acre community. Hanson believed that the area's pleasant climate, beautiful beaches and fertile soil would serve as a haven to Californians who were tired of "the big city". He named the City "San Clemente" after San Clemente Island which was named by the explorer Vizcaino in 1602 after Saint Clement, the patron saint of November 23, the day of Vizcaino's arrival on the island.

Hanson succeeded in promoting the new area and selling property to interested buyers. His "San Clemente by the Sea" was to consist of buildings built in the classic Spanish style with red tile roofs. He built public structures such as the Beach Club, the Community Center, the pier and Max Berg Plaza Park, which were later donated to the City. The area was officially incorporated as a City on February 27, 1928.

In 1969, an event occurred which accelerated the growth and reputation of San Clemente. In that year former President Nixon purchased a Spanish mansion in the southern part of town that Hamilton Cotton had built in 1927. This "Western White House" became the site of numerous historical meetings.

Dana Point

Incorporated in 1989, the City of Dana Point is named after Richard Henry Dana Jr. (1815-1882), a Harvard-trained lawyer, seaman, and author of the classic sea journal, Two Years Before the Mast (1840). In his journal, Dana documents his voyage from Boston around Cape Horn to California on the merchant ship, Pilgrim. Therein, Dana describes the area once known as Capistrano Bay, as "the most romantic spot in California." Today, Capistrano Bay is known as Dana Point.

Doheny Beach has some of the best beginner waves around.

Dana Point Harbor provides slips and mooring for over 2,500 boats along with over 50 specialty shops and restaurants. The Harbor attracts thousands of visitors annually for shopping, sport fishing, walking, bicycling, parasailing and a host of recreational activities. The Dana Point Harbor is also considered the gateway to Doheny State Park, one of California’s most popular beach facilities. The 62-acre State Park offers camping, picnicking, swimming, surfing, bicycling, tide pool exploration and more.

Located in southern Orange County, California, Dana Point is approximately half way between Los Angeles and San Diego, and is bordered by the cities of Laguna Niguel and Laguna Beach to the north, San Juan Capistrano to the east, and San Clemente to the south. Please visit our City Map for more information about our location.

Lately, dolphins have become regular residents of the bay. Check out a recent article on an epic dolphin stampede.

Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach is rich in history and dates back to the early 1870's when the first house was built by Thurston family in Arch Beach just north of Bluebird Canyon. By the 1880's the city had a post office and a general store and starting to grow just as the economy started to go bad. In the early 1900's families that occupied Laguna Beach decided to rent out their beach homes to settlers of inland cities like Tustin, Santa Ana and Fullerton that were trying to escape the summer heat. From this point on, Laguna Beach started to become a tourist destination.

In the 1920's, a lot of Hollywood stars and artists flocked to Laguna Beach for it's natural beauty and stunning landscapes. It also attracted people with a lot of money causing the real estate to be in big demand. It's funny how little things have changed, Laguna Beach still remains one of the most desirable real estate in the world. Laguna Beach officially became a city in 1927 and remains a popular tourist destination. You will find a lot of artist shops and historical homes dating back to the early 1920's. These homes are referred to as "Laguna Cottages" which are often found in Laguna Village, Temple Hills and Three Arch Bay in South Laguna. Don't be decieved by the word "cottage." Some of Laguna Beach historical homes can be as large as 8,000 square feet with a price tag of $50,000,000

The Pagent of the Masters, is an annual festival held by the Festival of Arts in Laguna Beach, California. The event is known for its tableaux vivant or "living pictures" in which classical and contemporary works of art are recreated by real people who are made to look nearly identical to the originals through the clever application of costumes, makeup, headdresses, lighting, props, and backdrops.  The first Festival of Arts occurred in 1932, and the first presentation of the Pageant occurred in 1933. Since then, the two events have been held each summer, apart from a four year interruption caused by World War II.