Dana Point

Savor a storied sailing adventure, tall ship-style, near Dana Point

The 39th Annual Maritime Festival even has a Pirate and Mermaid Ball.

Don Telford @dtelford168

What to Know

  • 39th Annual Maritime Festival
  • Sept. 8-10, 2023 in Dana Point
  • Go sailing on The Spirit of Dana Point, watch a cannon battle, attend pirate school, attend the Pirate and Mermaid Ball

Encountering a pirate and a mermaid on this side of the movie screen, or outside the pages of a novel, can be a fairly fantastical occurrence, the sort of strange happening that makes you wonder if you've suddenly slipped through the looking glass.

But the Maritime Festival, a longtime seafaring festival in Dana Point, is more about spyglasses than looking glasses. It's a three-day celebration that includes a tall ship sighting, cannon battles, and opportunities to say "avast!" and "arrrr" and other pirate-y phrases.

True, the 2023 celebration is happening a week or so before "Talk Like a Pirate Day" — which always happens on Sept. 19 — but figure you can get your practice in at the Maritime Festival.

Presented by the Ocean Institute, the annual happening, which marks four decades in 2024, will include the chance to sail on The Spirit of Dana Point.

Sailor camp, ship tours, a pirate school, and the Pirate and Mermaid Ball are other charmers of this briny bash. (For sure, you should break out your favorite tri-corned hat and/or shiny tail for this fancy-dress scene.)

New offerings are surfacing in 2023, like a Mermaid Tea by the Sea, the Lil' Lads Landing (think carnival games and chances to make art), pirate shows, and an appearance by The American Pride Tall Ship.

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Some of the salty-air'd activities are complimentary while others will have a fee, so dive into this site now and plan your visit to the ship-tacular.

Figure that a journey at sea takes months, if not years, to map out, with all sorts of brass nautical tools, sepia-toned maps, and advice from trusted seafarers.

Your visit to the Maritime Festival on Sept. 8, 9, or 10 starts with something rather more modern: This site, which has all of the information you seek, no spyglass required.

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