Why the Orange County Coast Is Your Festival Backdrop This Summer

Johnny Marr performs live during Ohana Festival at Doheny State Beach
Johnny Marr performs live during Ohana Festival at Doheny State Beach | © Jim Bennett / Getty
Casey Hatfield-Chiotti

Join Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder beside the rock pools and rolling surf of Dana Point for a California music festival like no other.

What’s happening?

Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder started Ohana Festival in 2015 as a fundraiser to preserve and enhance coastal parks in California. The three-day extravaganza occurs annually at (and raises money for) Doheny State Beach, which flanks the shoreline of Dana Point just south of Los Angeles. There, you’ll find a 5-acre (2ha) grass lawn, where most of the festival takes place; on the north end are marine-rich rock pools and surfing. The stages are so close to the ocean that you can stand in soft SoCal sand while listening to some of the biggest names in music perform, from indie rockers Kings of Leon to folk foursome Mumford & Sons.

A sold-out crowd watches Eddie Vedder perform live on stage during Ohana Festival

Ohana means family in Hawaiian, so, despite attracting up to 20,000 fans each year, the surf-inspired festival feels intimate and low-key. Vedder himself headlines with an acoustic set at least one night a year, typically propped on a stool and backed by simple sparkling lights to create a laidback ambiance. While evening shows are more crowded, during the day, there’s plenty of room to get close to the stages and even talk to artists after they’ve finished. Ohana is so smoothly run, in fact, that there are rarely lines for food or drinks, making it a breeze to grab tacos and burritos between acts. Make a trip out of attending Ohana this year by booking one of our curated collection of hotels and experiences, available over the festival weekend.

Eddie Vedder (left) and Johnny Marr of the Smiths perform at Ohana in 2018

Who’s there?

In addition to the main stage, Ohana has a Storytellers stage. There, pro-surfers, photographers and conservationists give talks and share tales. Protecting the environment is a core element of the festival, and there are art installations that often echo the theme.

The crowd can vary, depending on the day’s headliner. For example, Jack Johnson might summon the laid-back surfer scene, while the Red Hot Chili Peppers bring out the rockers. There are often emerging artists to discover, such as beehive-sporting songstress Natalie Bergman, as well as indie favorites, such as blue-wave multi-instrumentalist Mac DeMarco.

 Mumford and Sons frontman Marcus Mumford |
 Natalie Bergman |
 Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea |

Whatever the lineup, Ohana ticks a lot of boxes for music fans and the festival often sells out fast each year. Gig-goers come from all over, so book hotels well in advance.

With plenty of places to lay blankets and set up chairs, the festival is very family-friendly. You may even find yourself swaying next to the families of the musicians themselves.

Ohana draws an array of music-lovers every year, from rockers to folk aficionados

Don’t miss

Here for the weekend? Downtown Dana Point is happily sleepy with a handful of dive bars, such as Craft House. Make a short jaunt 5mi (8km) miles north to Laguna Beach. Not only does it have beautiful beaches; there’s a lively downtown with shops, art galleries, bars and restaurants.

Make reservations at the Comedor dining room, found in the 1930s-era La Casa del Camino boutique hotel. It serves delicious dishes such as carrot fritters with apricot; we’d also recommend the vermicelli with lobster, shrimp and calamari. Almost as impressive as the food is the decor, which has a Spanish Revival essence, Carrara marble bar, hardwood floors and wood-beam ceilings. The menu was developed by Marcel Vigneron; a former Top Chef contestant, he’s worked with Ferran Adrià (of elBulli fame) and has his own neighborhood restaurant, Wolf, in LA.

Make sure you pop up to the La Casa del Camino rooftop bar as well. It has an unobstructed view of the ocean, ideal for a pre- or post-dinner cocktail such as a refreshing mojito or fresh fruit margarita.

La Casa del Camino in Laguna Beach

During the day, explore the tidepools at Shaw’s Cove, a small beach with public access in a quiet neighborhood. Head to the Laguna outpost of Wild Taco, a Baja-inspired taqueria serving freshly caught fish, such as Mexican sea bass, street corn with chili con limón and cold cervezas.

Finally, Laguna Beach is an art colony at heart – at one point, approximately half of the residents were artists. So, don’t pass up the chance to explore more than 100 art galleries and studios in and around town. To learn more about the local history as an art enclave and see world-class art, swing by the Laguna Museum of Art on the Pacific Coast Highway, it’s the oldest cultural hub in the area, dating back to 1918.

Keen to make a weekend of it? Browse our curated collection of hotels and experiences available over Ohana Festival – bookable here on Culture Trip.

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.