Interpretive Program Information

Doheny State Beach has an active year-round educational program.  There are a variety of activities available; everything from curriculum-based field trips for schoolchildren, thematic outings for Scouts and other groups, special events, restoration/Adopt-A-Beach Cleanups, and Junior Rangers/Campfire Programs in the summer season

Visitor Center 

Doheny State Beach’s Visitor Center is a wonderful place to learn about local sea, land and water animal that live in our environment.  It has a 900 gallon tide pool exhibit and 5 other aquarium tanks with shovelnose guitar fish, rays, Garabaldi, lobster, black-eyed gobies, flounder and more.  On display are bones and skeletons of eels, whales, and dolphins.  Examples of the birds of the Capistrano Valley are here, including many sea birds, hawks and more, and of course, examples of many of the mammals that live amongst us including seals, cougars, squirrels and skunks.  The Visitor Center store has relocated as a Pop Up Shop outside on the boardwalk next to the Concession & Bike Rental.  We have educational books and toys, Doheny collectable magnets, decals and pins, and a great selection of tee and sweat shirts.  Take a look at some of the items we used to have in the Visitor Center but now have at the Pop Up Shop. short video tour

Attention Teachers

Please see below listing of curriculum-based programs that are offered to tie into children’s in-school science studies. These programs allow children to get an outdoor, hands-on learning experience to help them gain a better understanding and appreciation of the natural world. Doheny State Beach Interpretive Association (DSBIA) currently has grant money available to assist with transportation costs for up to $225.00 per bus. An application for this grant can be found at the bottom of this page. Further information can be requested via email to Please note, all bus and/or vehicle entrance fees will be waived for entry the day of your educational outing once field trip is confirmed.

Other Outings in the Park

The interpretive staff at Doheny State Beach is committed to working with visitors by offering alternative outings in the park.   These programs can be customized to fulfill curriculum-based learning objectives for school field outings and special groups.  These presentations are a wonderful opportunities for children to get a hands-on learning experience in the greatest classroom…outdoors!!

Group Programs (school groups, scout troops, home schools, special needs groups, etc.)

Listing of Programs

  1. Marine Life

             Tidepools: Tidepools provide a wonderful opportunity for children to learn about life
within the intertidal zones. Program can focus upon diversity, life cycles, adaptations, or
connections within organisms of this near shore habitat.

  • Outdoor Tidepools: This outing is dependent upon the tidal system and must be scheduled in sync with low-tide (consult Park Naturalist for good dates/times)
  • Indoor Tidepools: This is a good alternative if low-tide times do not work within your scheduled field outing (program meets in simulated tidepool in Visitor’s Center)

Marine Mammals: This is a great program to learn about the incredible diversity and
adaptations of magnificent marine mammals that live offshore of Doheny State Beach and

  1. Bird Life:  This program can be customized to tap into any grade level Life  Science strand (diversity, life cycles, adaptations, and/or connections within ecosystem).
  • Outdoor Bird Life: This program starts out with an introduction to the mysterious world of our feathered friends and then wraps-up with a true field outing complete with binoculars and bird guides.
  • Indoor Bird Life: Bird Life can be incorporated into any Visitor’s Center field outing with
    bird mounts.
  1. Animal Life:

This program can also be customized to tap into any grade level Life Science strand (diversity,
life cycles, adaptations, and/or connections within ecosystem).

  • Outdoor Animal Life: This program introduces children to the some of the common critters of the State Park with the use of animal mounts/pelts and other animal artifacts/replicas. This particular program is very hands-on and can be tailored to focus on critters that can be found within children’s environment.
  • Indoor Animal Life: Animal Life can also be incorporated into any Visitor’s Center field outing with animal mounts.
  1. Native Americans:

Plant Walk and Talk: This interactive field outing takes the children for a stroll around
Doheny State Beach back to a time when the Native Americans lived in harmony with the
natural world for survival. Children will learn through active movement and hands-on
learning through their senses (sight, sound, touch, and smell).

  1. Insects:

Butterflies: This exploration meets in Doheny State Beach’s  Butterfly Garden to allow
children an opportunity to learn by using their multi-senses. This program is an
incredible opportunity to learn about butterfly life cycles and adaptations. Additionally, a
wonderful way to incorporate the theory of interconnections of organisms within their
environment (plants and animals, living versus non-living)

  1. Water Quality:

The Health of the Ocean: This crucial educational program educates children about the
effects and importance of protecting our fragile ocean environment and watersheds.
The outing culminates with a hands-on Adopt-A-Beach Cleanup.

All programs must be prearranged and confirmed by our staff. Please submit a Group Reservation Field Trip Form or contact our Park Interpreter Vicki Wiker at to begin the field trip request process.

 Summer Programs

  • Campfire Programs – Contact Park Naturalist Vicki at (949) 496-2704 for information regarding campfire programs.
  • Junior Rangers – held Mondays through Thursdays for kids from ages 7 to 12.

Fieldtrip Transportation Support Request

Doheny State Beach Interpretive Association (DSBIA) has set aside grant funds to assist schools in paying costs of transporting students to and from their school to Doheny State Beach for the purpose of California State curriculum-related field trips. A maximum grant of $225 per bus is available.

Requests must be submitted to DSBIA at least one month prior to a field trip already calendared with the Doheny State Beach Interpreter.   Field trips may be scheduled with Park Interpreter Vicki Wicker at

Funds will be paid directly to the transportation provider; the district transportation department, the school’s PTA or Foundation, or other school support organization funding the transportation costs upon DSBIA’s receipt of the transportation provider’s billing statement, or copy of the transportation provider’s billing statement and billing statement from the PTA, Foundation or other school support organization. DSBIA funds will only be released following the completion of the field trip and DSBIA’s receipt of the stated documents above.   No funds will be provided if a field trip is canceled for any reason.

The number of busses funded will be based on the number of students and teachers attending the field trip and the size (seat count) of the bus. Parent chaperones will also be counted for bus transportation at 1 chaperone per 10 children. Teachers will be included in the chaperone count, thus for a class of 30 – 35 students, the chaperone to student ratio would be 3 adults (1 teacher-2 parents) to 30-35 students (larger class qualifies for one more chaperone). Extra parent chaperones can be transported as long as their extra numbers do not cause the need for another bus.

All requests will be considered until the existing grant funds held by DSBIA are exhausted.

Request Forms can be mailed to: DSBIA / Doheny State Beach / Care of Ed Neely / 25300 Dana Point Harbor Drive / Dana Point, CA / 92629 or emailed as an email or  attachment to

Doheny State Beach Interpretive Association, Doheny State Beach and the State of California shall be held harmless due to any liability issues related to the transportation of any students, teachers and/or chaperones/parents to and from Doheny State Beach and the school before, during or after the field trip.

CLICK below for the
Fieldtrip Transportation Support Request