Monarch Bay (Monarch Beach) is a small wealthy enclave in Orange County, California located within the City of Dana Point. Its distinction is two luxury hotels St. Regis and the Ritz Carlton-Laguna Niguel (both located within Dana Point) which are beachside resorts located within the area of Monarch Beach. Monarch Beach is close to the city-boundary between Dana Point and Laguna Niguel, which are both included in Orange County’s “Beach Cities” area (although Laguna Niguel does not have any coastline). It consists of some residences, but is also a tourist attraction for travelers. The name “Monarch Beach” is often incorrectly referenced as the name of the city.
Monarch Beach is named after its most prominent geological feature “Monarch Bay” aptly named as its rolling hills of Sagebrush and Manzanita were once a breeding ground for the Monarch Butterfly. The butterflies were once seen there in large masses, but have disappeared from the area because their habitat has been replaced, almost entirely, by the large houses that can be found in the Monarch Beach neighborhood.
Like the rest of Dana Point, Monarch Beach residents enjoy close proximity to the beach, a relatively low-crime rate, top-rated competitive public schools, and a relaxed, comfortable and athletic atmosphere that proliferates within the entire Dana Point community. They are also close to the Dana Point Harbor and the nearby shopping center. The Links — an 18-hole golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. — is considered one of the best golf courses in Southern California. In addition, the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort & Links Course offers visitors some of the best amenities in the area. Monarch Beach is about a five-minute walk to Salt Creek Beach. It has straight access to Strands Beach and a picnic area.
Historically, Monarch Beach could become a part of Laguna Niguel. The group responsible for incorporation of Dana Point submitted documents on December 31, 1986, a week behind Laguna Niguel’s submission. At a Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) meeting in May 1987, commissioners outraged Laguna Niguel by proposing the coastal subdivisions of Monarch Beach be a part of Dana Point. This was based on a poll of residents in the area, which showed approximately 90 percent wanting to be a part of Dana Point.
The commission suggested the matter be put to a vote in November, but the idea was opposed by some. An advisory vote took place in November 1987, with 63 percent of the residents voting, 61 percent chose to go with the city of Dana Point. In December, LAFCO voted to include the disputed coastal strip to Dana Point, without Laguna Niguel present which again caused uproar, and scheduled the cityhood vote for June 1988. Under protest by Laguna Niguel, the commission voted to reconsider their decision, and scheduled a new hearing in January 1988 and LAFCO voted to place the coveted coastal strip with Dana Point.
The incorporation vote for Dana Point occurred on June 7, 1988 and it became the 28th city in Orange County on January 1, 1989. Incorporation won by a 4-1 margin, which took 13 public hearings and two elections to produce. But the fight was not over. Laguna Niguel filed suit to set aside the decision and laid claim to Sea Terrace Park by means of a developer agreement. In October, a judge decided Dana Point would keep the Monarch Beach coastal strip.
2. Crystal Cove State Park
This beautiful stretch of land features rustic, overnight campsites, a stretch of coastal cliffs and a beach front cove sandwiched between Pacific Coast Highway and the Pacific Ocean and very popular with both swimmers and surfers.
3. Dana Point Harbor
Housing 2,500 yachts within its two marinas, inside a one-and-a-half mile jetty, this harbor offers complete harbor facilities such as guest slips, a fuel dock, shipyard, launch ramp, boat rentals, yacht sales, community class instruction for all ages, fishing, windsurfing, jetskiing, kayaking, boat charters, two yacht clubs, sailing association, ocean classroom labs, shops, restaurants, picnicking and a baby beach for young swimmers.
4. Ocean Institute
Explore for an in-depth study of whales, dolphins and sea lions using customized state-of-the-art equipment including plankton nets, grab samplers, video microscopes and the dolphin-cam!
5. Whale Watching
Learn more about whales and dolphins with the help of Dana Wharf sportsfishing captains.
Dana Wharf Sportsfishing
Dana Point Harbor
1. Festival of Whales (March)
Experience the Whale Festival with a weekend of fun, food, entertainment and an arts & craft show with over 100 vendors.
Dana Point Harbor
2. Sunset Jazz at The St. Regis ( April)
Watch cool concerts at the 5-star St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort & Spa overlooking the Monarch Beach Golf Links and the Pacific Ocean.
Omega Events Box office:
2. San Clemente Ocean Festival ( July)
Full weekend of family events including lifeguard games, a fishing derby, sand sculpture contest, art exhibit, car show, games, beach party and concert.
A community of artists which gathers every summer in Laguna Beach for what has become Southern California’s fastest growing art festival.
2. Tall Ships Festival ( September)
At the Marine Institute: Sea Chantey Concert, maritime exhibits and demonstrations, Port Royal Privateers encampment, model boat building, wood carving, touch tank encounters, rope challenge course, crafts and food.
Admission to Art & Craft show, live entertainment, living-history demonstrations, pirate encampment and food vendor area: FREE
Dana Point Harbor