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Whale Watching

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If you are looking for things to do in Orange County, or planning a visit to Southern California and considering a whale watching trip, please consider our most unique and number-one rated whale watching and dolphin safari.

About Capt. Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari

For 20 years we have offered dolphin and whale watching safaris departing from Orange County, conveniently located midway between Los Angeles and San Diego. We offer the most unique dolphin and whale watching in the world, with two Underwater Viewing Pods and more! Capt. Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari provides daily, year round, whale watching trips aboard customized catamarans that can get you up close and personal with huge blue whales (May through October), gray whales (December through May), fin whales, humpback whales, minke whales, occasionally orcas, five species of wild dolphins that can be in seen mega-pods of up to 10,000, and much more for an educational and incredibly exciting dolphin and whale watching experience.


Ranked #1 on TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Google Reviews

WHY Choose Captain Dave’s For Your Whale Watching Trip?

• Capt. Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari offers the most amazing wildlife encounters. 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! And during the summer we are home to the largest concentration of blue whales in the world. Blue whales are the largest known animal to have ever lived!

• We operate the best dolphin and whale watching boats. 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 exclusive Eye-to-Eye Underwater Viewing Pods aboard Manute’a.

• Capt. Dave’s original catamaran DolphinSafari is so close to the water that it’s like viewing dolphins and whales from a kayak. Both DolphinSafari and Manute’a feature our Eye-Spy Dolphin Nets to give you a really up close encounter!

Lily, our power catamaran, features luxury whale watching with state-of-the-art whale research equipment, cushioned seating throughout (even on the bow), upscale galley, and a beautifully appointed interior.

• Our newest and fastest catamaran, Fast Cat, is a high-speed thrill ride for smaller groups of up to 12 passengers.

• Our high-tech catamarans Manute’a and Lily are never crowded with a maximum of 49 passengers. Our original catamaran DolphinSafari carries a comfortable 20 passengers. And Fast Cat is super intimate with up to 12 guests.

• We are a real eco-tourism company! Captain Dave’s whale watching and dolphin safaris go out on boats that do only dolphin and whale watching. We don’t put you on a sport fishing boat to go see magnificent whales and dolphins.

• Our knowledgeable marine naturalists explain how these animals live for a fun and educational whale watching experience.

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

•  Listen below the surface with our underwater hydrophone.

•  We have two decades of experience watching whales and dolphins.

•  And Mrs. Capt. Dave’s yummy triple fudge brownies are served as a special treat when you return from the dolphin and whale adventure.


Or call us at 949-488-2828

What to Expect During Your Dolphin and Whale Watching Trip

We take you on a 2 and 1/2 hour fun-filled ocean adventure. We see whales and dolphins all year round! Blue whales, fin whales, minke whales, humpback whales and once in a while killer whales, sperm whales, pilot whales, and false killer whales. Dolphin species including common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, risso’s dolphins, and pacific white-sided dolphins. We also see sea lions, harbor seals, several types of marine birds, and even sharks including great white sharks and rare basking sharks.

It can be cooler out on the water so a jacket or windbreaker is a good idea. The Southern California sun is wonderful but don’t forget to protect your eyes and skin with sunglasses and sunscreen. And, of course, you’ll want to bring a camera!

After your whale watching safari you might want to sample some of the nice restaurants in Dana Point Harbor. Here are a few samples:

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Meet Captain Dave

Captain Dave Anderson is a marine naturalist, conservationist, photographer, author, and filmmaker, whose award winning film “Wild Dolphins & Whales of Southern California” and award winning book “Lily, A Gray Whale’s Odyssey” have drawn people worldwide to Dana Point, California. Frequently called upon as an authority on wild dolphins and whales, Captain Dave has appeared on ABC, CBS, NBC, as well as local network affiliates and the Travel Channel. 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 on CBS Morning News for his conservation efforts and successful disentanglement of whales.

What Will I See on my Whale Watching Safari?

Blue Whale Watching in Southern California is May through October.

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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.

Gray Whale Watching in Southern California is December through April.

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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.

Throughout their migration gray whales face many challenges and hazards one of which takes the lives of nearly 1,000 whales and dolphins every day. Scientists estimate that 308,000 dolphins and whales die because of fishing gear entanglement every year worldwide. Captain Dave organized Orange County’s first whale disentanglement group in 2008 and has successfully disentangled several gray whales, including Lily, a horrifically entangled Gray Whale that made national headlines when she stranded herself inside of Dana Point Harbor. To help raise awareness Captain Dave authored the book, “Lily, A Gray Whale’s Odyssey“, a magnificent photographic journey of a gray whale’s migration based on her true story.

YEAR ROUND Southern California Whales include Fin Whales, Minke Whales, Humpback Whales, and occasionally Killer Whales.

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Fin whales are the second largest baleen whale, after the blue whale, with adults measuring 70 to 80 feet. The fin whale is a fast swimmer leading to the nickname “greyhound of the sea”. We see fin whales on our whale watching trips January through December. At 26 to 30 feet in length, Minke whales are the smallest baleen whale seen on our dolphin and whale watching trips. Minke whales have dark gray to black coloring on top with a tall, curved, dorsal fin. They are sometimes mistaken for a large dolphin! Minke whales are still hunted by some countries around the world including Japan, Iceland, and Norway. Minke whales are seen on our dolphin and whale watching trips throughout the year. Humpback whales average 40 to 50 feet in length and are well known for putting on energetic shows with breaching, lobtailing, and fluking. We don’t see Humpback whales on our whale watching trips frequently so when we do at various times throughout the year it’s a special treat. Killer whales, also called Orca whales, are a favorite whale to watch for both passengers and crew. Killer whales can be seen at any time though most frequently they appear in the winter months.


YEAR ROUND Southern California Dolphins include Short-beaked and Long-beaked Common Dolphin, Bottlenose Dolphin, Risso’s Dolphin, and Pacific White-sided

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Southern California has the greatest density of dolphins than anywhere else on earth. Our dolphin and 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 sailboats are specially designed for dolphin and whale watching. Our Eye to Eye Underwater Viewing Pods let you be underwater with dolphins without getting wet! And our Eye-Spy Dolphin Nets on the bow can get you so close you feel like you can almost reach down and touch the dolphins!

Whales, Dolphins, and More!

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Whales and dolphins are not the only wildlife our Whale Watching trips encounter. Capt. Dave’s Whale Watching also sees unique marine birds such as Pelicans, Cormorants and Terns, sea lions, and fish including Basking Sharks, Great White Sharks, Mako Sharks, Blue Sharks, and Mola Mola (Sunfish).

Visit our whale watching sightings log for more information about the whales and dolphins we see.

Capt. Dave Filmed the Drones Over Dolphin Stampede and Whales Viral Video!

How to Reserve Tickets


Or reserve via telephone: (949) 488-2828

What should I bring on my whale watching trip?