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Orange County Whale Watching

Gray Whale

Join the most unique dolphin and whale watching adventure in the world!

Captain Dave’s daily, year round, dolphin and whale watching adventures aboard high-tech catamarans can get you up close & personal with magnificent Blue Whales (May – October), Gray Whales (December – May), Fin Whales, Humpback Whales, Minke Whales, Orcas (Killer Whales), plus five species of wild dolphins that can number in herds of up to 10,000, and much more, for an educational and incredibly exciting whale watching experience. Our boats are never crowded with a maximum of 49 passengers. Knowledgeable marine naturalists explain how these animals live while you see and touch our collection of whale and dolphin artifacts. You can listen below the surface too with our hydrophone. And Mrs. Capt. Dave’s yummy triple fudge brownies are served as a special treat on the ride back.

Our whale watching trips depart from Dana Point Harbor, about 45 minutes south of Disneyland.

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Captain Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Watching trips depart from:
24440 Dana Point Harbor Drive, Dana Point, California, 92629


Why Captain Dave’s?

Ranked #1 Things to do in Orange County on TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Google+

Gold Medal Winner – Best Whale Watching
2013, 2014 Dana Point Times Best of Dana Point People’s Choice Award

Silver Medal Winner – Best Place to Take Out of Towners
2013, 2014 Dana Point Times Best of Dana Point People’s Choice Awards

Silver Medal Winner – Best Customer Service
2014 Dana Point Times Best of Dana Point People’s Choice Awards

Highlights of our Dolphin and Whale Watching Safaris

• You can be one of the pod and feel what it’s like to swim with dolphins and whales without getting wet in our two Eye to Eye Underwater Viewing Pods aboard Manute’a.

• Southern California has the greatest density of dolphins per square mile than of anywhere on earth! Our whale watching trips are home to the Dolphin Stampede.

• Our catamarans are never crowded with a maximum of 49 passengers. Some of our vessels carry even fewer for a very intimate whale watching experience.

• We are a real eco-tourism company! Our vessels only offer dolphin and whale watching. You won’t be whale watching on a fishing boat.

• Our knowledgeable marine naturalists explain how these animals live for a fun and educational oceanic adventure.

• See and touch our micro-museum collection of dolphin and whale watching artifacts.

• Listen below the surface with our underwater hydrophone.

• Southern California has the largest concentration of blue whales of anywhere else in the world! Blue whales are the largest known animal to have ever lived.

• We offer the best customer service!

• And Mrs. Capt. Dave’s yummy triple fudge brownies are served as a special treat on the ride back.

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Captain Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Watching trips depart from:
24440 Dana Point Harbor Drive, Dana Point, California, 92629


Daily Dolphin & Whale Watching Prices & Schedule

Departures are available every day, though times can vary by date. For availability and reservations please call us at 949-488-2828 or check our schedule online.

2 and 1/2 hour Dolphin & Whale Signature Safari Prices:
Adults (13 and up): $65 each
Children (1 to 12): $45 each
Infants (less than 1): $20 each


Orange County offers one of the best locations in the world to see magnificent whales and mega-pods of wild dolphins throughout the year.

Whale watching visitors depart from romantic and historic Dana Point Harbor, located about 45 minutes south of Disneyland and just minutes from many popular Orange County resorts including the Montage, St. Regis Monarch Beach, and Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel.

Whale watching off Orange County offers breathtaking vistas, beautiful beaches and more wild dolphins than anywhere else in the United States!

Orange County whale watching trips are unique because the waters surrounding Dana Point have unusually deep underwater coastal canyons within one mile of shore, where small fish live. The kind of fish dolphins love to eat! That means that on most of our whale watching trips we don’t go much further than five miles to see magnificent dolphins and whales.


What Will I See on my Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari?

Blue Whales

Blue Whale Watching off Orange County is May through October.

The Blue whale is, and always has been, the largest animal ever to exist on earth. This whale can grow to a length of 33m (110ft) and weigh 200 tons, about a ton per foot, but on the average it is much smaller. The Blue whale is called a “rorqual” a Norwegian word for “furrow” and refers to the pleated grooves running from its chin to its navel. The throat grooves, in addition to streamlining the shape of the whale, allow the throat area to expand tremendously during feeding, and can hold 1,000 tons or more of food and water when fully expanded. By taking tons of water into its mouth and filtering out the fish or krill with its baleen plates a medium-sized Blue Whale can eat over four tons of krill a day. Learn more about blue whales.

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Gray Whales

Gray Whale Watching off Orange County is December through May.

Gray whales make one of the longest migrations of any mammal and are seen every winter off Orange County. The whales travel 10,000 to 12,000 miles from the Chukchi and Bering Seas near Alaska to the lagoons of Baja, California, where they mate and have their calves.
Dana Point whale watchers often see gray whales within a mile or two of the shoreline. Many believe they use Dana Point’s headlands as a landmark on their journey, making them a popular whale to watch. In early March, we celebrate the annual Dana Point Festival of Whales with ocean-themed events and activities that have an emphasis on education and environmental responsibility. Learn more about gray whales.

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Other Year-Round Whales

Multiple species of baleen and toothed whales can be seen anytime throughout the year. These frequently seen whales include Fin Whales, Minke Whales, Humpback Whales. Occasionally seen whales include Orcas, Bryde’s whales, Sei Whales, Sperm Whales, Pilot Whales, and False Killer Whales.

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Year-Round Dolphins

Five species of wild dolphin are seen throughout the year including Short-beaked and Long-beaked Common Dolphin, Bottlenose Dolphin, Risso’s Dolphin, and Pacific White-sided Dolphin.

Southern California has the greatest density of dolphins than anywhere else on earth. Orange County whale watching trips see several species of wild dolphins, sometimes in herds of up to 10,000. Common dolphin, Bottlenose dolphin, and Pacific White-sided dolphin love to bow ride with our boats. Our unique catamaran are specially designed for dolphin and whale watching. Our Eye to Eye Underwater Viewing Pods on Manute’a let you be underwater with dolphins without getting wet! And our Eye-Spy Dolphin Nets on the bow of our catamaran sailboats can get you so close you feel as though the dolphins are at your finger tips!

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Whales, Dolphins, and More!

Whales and dolphins are not the only marine wildlife our whale watching trips encounter. We also see unique marine birds such as Pelicans, Cormorants, and Terns, plus sea lions and seals, and fish including Basking Sharks, Great White Sharks, Hammerhead Sharks, Mako Sharks, Blue Sharks, and Mola Mola (Sunfish).

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What should I bring on my whale watching trip?

Meet Captain Dave

Captain Dave Anderson is an experienced marine naturalist, award winning filmmaker and author, photographer, and a leader in ocean wildlife education and conservation. His award winning film “Wild Dolphins & Whales of Southern California” and book “Lily, A Gray Whale’s Odyssey” have drawn people worldwide to Southern California. Captain Dave organized Orange County’s first whale disentanglement group in 2008 and was hands-on with Lily the Gray Whale’s disentanglement that made national headlines. Frequently called upon as an authority on wild dolphins and whales, he has appeared on ABC, CBS, NBC, as well as local network affiliates, the Discovery Channel, Nova, the Travel Channel, and National Geographic. His photographs have appeared on the cover of newspapers and magazines and have appeared on special exhibit at various locales. He also worked with filmmaker Greg McGillivray for the IMAX film Dolphins, helping to locate large herds of dolphin. Captain Dave has been featured on the Ellen Show and CBS Morning News for his conservation efforts and his success in disentangling whales.

Captain Dave was a keynote speaker at the LA Drone Expo where he talked about flying his DJI Phantom 2 and GoPro hundreds of times over water in challenging conditions filming dolphins and whales. Most recently Captain Dave received worldwide acclaim for his breathtaking viral video “Drones Over Dolphin Stampede and Whales off Dana Point and Maui”.


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or call us at 949-488-2828 to reserve over the phone.