Monday, March 31, 2014

Dana Point Sea Cave Adventure

California has so many cool places to explore, so Sunday morning when we woke up we decided we wanted to go to hike at Dana Point to find the "secret" sea cave. I did my research ahead of time and found out that you have to go during low tide or it may be difficult to get there and back. I recommend checking out the tide chart ahead of time to make sure you are going at the right time. After you know what time you need to go (we went at 3:30), the full address is 24200 Dana Point Harbor Drive, Dana Point, CA 92629. There was plenty of parking, and it was actually free (unusual for California). You want to park right in front of the Ocean Education Center and then walk along the path on the right of the building. You will then come to a green staircase that will take you down to the beach. 
Where you should park 
Walking along the path to the beach
The staircase to get to the beach
Finally on the beach!
Dana Point's beach is not a place where you can go swim or surf since it is covered in rocks and boulders, and there really isn't any clear walking path. Keep walking along the large rock wall until you finally come to a small opening in the wall (about .75 miles). You can enter the sea cave here at the smaller opening or continue to walk around until you see the much larger entrance to the sea cave. We ended up at the cave the same time as a 50 person photography class. I guess the cave is not so secret. We waited them out and then had the cave all to ourselves. The entire hike was about 1.5 miles and took around an hour including time to explore the sea cave. I had so much fun being outside in the sun, exercising, and exploring with my boyfriend. I can't wait till this next weekend to see what new adventures we can find in the OC. 
Walking along the rock "path"
An artist setting up rocks, says I love you 
Tons of sea life!
Low tide 
So many mussels 
Beautiful rock wall
Rocky walking path, wear sneakers
So peaceful 
Sitting and enjoying the weather
The sound of waves makes me happy
Huge waves!
Smaller opening to the sea cave
Inside the cave looking out
Larger opening to the sea cave
Inside looking out
I love California!
So many cool rocks inside the cave
I could stay here all day
Adventures with my boo
Tide pools
Saying goodbye to the cave
How we got in and out of the cave
Rock climbing 
Mountains and ocean 
View from the top
Goodbye Dana Point 
I start work this week, but of course I will still be blogging about all the fun things we do here in California.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Great Day Celebrating 3 Years

Well folks, it is official. My boyfriend and I have been together for 3 years now. He is truly an amazing man, and I feel very blessed. He has a way of making me feel like a princess everyday, but this anniversary he really outdid himself. I love surprises, and I had no idea what he had planned for the day. I just jumped in the car (my new car) and went along for the ride. We left our apartment around 8:30AM and drove North towards Malibu. We stopped for breakfast at Malibu Farm Pier Cafe which we recently saw while watching the movie Taken 2. It is a breakfast-lunch cafe that is alone at the end of the Malibu Pier overlooking the ocean. You can sit outside while watching surfers and paddle boarders catching a few waves. Just beware of the seagulls fighting for leftovers. Everything they serve is fresh, organic, and locally grown. There is an excellent range of freshly squeezed juices as well as coffee and teas. I ordered the Swedish mini packages with fresh berries (crepes), and my boyfriend ordered the fried egg sandwich with bacon and arugula. We both also ordered fresh squeezed orange juice which was my favorite part of the meal. We spent over $40 on breakfast, so it's definitely not cheap, but you are getting really high quality natural food. This is a must see while in LA/Malibu. They don't take reservations, and it gets really busy around lunch time, so I recommend going earlier in the day. Check out their website for more information at
Cloudy but perfect morning
On the pier looking at the cafe, people fishing on the pier
Fresh squeezed OJ
Surfers out there somewhere
My Swedish mini pancakes 
Fried egg sandwich 
After breakfast we had a little time before our next excursion, so we went to Point Dume State Beach in Malibu to relax. One of the things I love about California is that everyone is very active. Just walking on the beach you'll see people surfing, running, fishing, working out, paddle boarding, camping, getting married, walking dogs, playing frisbee, playing volleyball, and of course just relaxing. One of the most unique things we saw was a sand soccer tournament on the beach. Of course I've seen volleyball played on the sand but never soccer. There was an entire tournament going on with a few different leagues and games, announcers, and even food vendors. We stopped to watch a few games before heading back to the car and on to the next stop.
Sand soccer tournament 
Harder than it looks
Still cloudy but beautiful
I love the ocean 
With my boo
We then drove North again to the city called Ventura where I was surprised with a whale watching tour. While in California I made a bucket list, and number one on that list was to see a dolphin. I was so excited to find out that we would get to go on a three hour tour and see not only whales but also dolphins. The tour was booked through a company called Island Packers. They offer many different tours and they change depending on the time of year. Next month they are offering a blue whale tour when they start coming through the California waters for migration. The boat had about 40 sightseers and a few crew members. At first I was skeptical since when we had the first sighting of a grey whale, everyone ran to that side of the boat and made it impossible to see or take any photos. We decided to ditch our seats and stand in the front of the boat on the top floor. This was the best decision since we were now seeing exactly what the captain was seeing. I recommend standing on the front right side of the boat since that is where all of the whales were. After moving to the front, we saw dozens of grey whales, a few humpback whales (they are here year round), hundreds (yes hundreds) of dolphin, seals, and even sea lions that were hanging around where we were docked. There was so much to look at it was overwhelming at times. We even saw a few grey whales mating and a young grey whale calf. The crew definitely knows what they are doing, and they were fabulous! I highly recommend doing this tour if ever in the area. Their prices are really reasonable. Check out their website to see the different tours they offer at
The Marina 
Island Packers boat
All of a sudden the sun came out! Still a little chilly hence the sweatshirt over my dress. 
About to leave the dock
Sea lions hanging on the dock
Ocean and mountains 
The dolphins are so fast and hard to take a picture 
Saw hundreds of dolphins 
They swim right along the boat
Can check this off my bucket list 
Humpback whales
Coming up for air
Two humpbacks 
Tail shot
Right as my phone died. Perfect! 
The Island Packer tour marine mammal sightings this month... CRAZY!
After our three hour marine life excursion, we worked up quite an appetite. My boyfriend made reservations at a great little restaurant in Malibu called Kristy's that overlooks the ocean. They had reserved the best seat in the house for us so we could watch the beautiful sunset. We ordered a tuna sashimi appetizer that was very light and refreshing. We both orders the specials for our main course that again was delicious. My grouper was caught that morning and was super fresh. Being our anniversary, we had to order dessert. We went with a sorbet that was served in a white chocolate crust. Overall the meal was around $140 and well worth it. The view, food, and service all made the dinner unforgettable.
The menu
Tuna sashimi 
Grouper caught that morning 
Baby's pound of steak 
What a view
Love of my life
Sorbet dessert 
I thought after dinner and the sunset that our magical day was over, but my boyfriend had one last trick up his sleeve. We traveled away from the ocean, up the mountains where we arrived at Malibu Wine Safaris at Saddlerock Ranch. Saddlerock Ranch is a 1,200 acre ranch that includes a vineyard, zoo animals, and even Native American cave paintings. We were booked on the private stargazing tour which is a new tour that they just started. It was just us two, our tour guide, and truck driver which made it extra special. We got to try all the wines they offer, pick our favorites, and then hop in the truck to go out to a field and watch the stars while drinking the wine. The Bachelor even filmed a few dates here at the vineyard. It was pitch black, so everything but the stars were hard to see, but it was easy to tell that the vineyard is beautiful. Since we were one of the first to book the tour, we really had the freedom to do whatever we wanted. We sat and watched the stars with our blankets while enjoying the wine for awhile then we got to see some of the zoo animals they have rescued and now live on the property. The coolest part for me were the cave paintings that our tour guide showed us. The property remains home to some of the best preserved Chumash Native American cave paintings. I had never seen anything like it, and I felt very lucky to have experience it. Most tours starts around $65/person which I think was well worth the money since it was a private tour and our tour guides were awesome. I can't wait to go back during the day to see the ranch in the daylight. 
At the Ranch exploring some of the foods they sell
Wine tasting
Some of the wines they sell
Tour truck 
Tasting wine under the stars
Where The Bachelor dates were filmed 
Looks fake... cave paintings 
After leaving the vineyard, we were exhausted. We made the 1.5 hour drive back and crashed as soon as we got home around 11:30PM. The day was absolutely perfect, and I can't believe I am this lucky. This was one of the best days of my life. He really is going to have a hard time topping this next anniversary. As always, I will continuing to blog about the things we do here in California.