Beachfront city in south Orange County, California; a surf industry hot-spot for more than 50 years. Dana Point was named after 19th-century American author and sailor Richard Henry Dana, who described the area in his 1840 book Two Years Before the Mast. Surfers had mapped out five different breaks at Dana Point by the late '50s, and the main spot—a right-breaking wave located just off the headland, sometimes called "Killer Dana"—was famous up and down the coast for producing bigger surf than anywhere in Southern California during a south swell; waves here would occasionally hit 12 feet or bigger. Many of the state's best pre-war surfers, including Lorrin Harrison, Peanuts Larson, and Ron Drummond, were Killer Dana regulars.
The adolescent Phil Edwards, later recognized as the world's top surfer, made his first big impression here during a double-overhead south swell in 1953, hotdogging the thick walls while the older guys carefully steered their boards for deep water. (Edwards later claimed he was terrified. "There I was, in the 15-foot surf of Killer Dana, too young to ride it and too old to cry.")
Construction on Dana Point Harbor began in 1966, and was completed two years later, destroying the Dana Point surf (with the exception of the soft-breaking waves of nearby Doheny) and giving the not-yet-formed surfing environmental movement its first martyred break. Surfer magazine and Hobie Surfboards were both founded in Dana Point. Filmmaker Bruce Brown lived here while making The Endless Summer; Ron Stoner, Art Brewer, and Tom Servais are among the A-list surf photographers who have lived in Dana Point, as did foam magnate Grubby Clark