Things To Do in Orange County: Whale Watching | Capt. Dave’s Dana Point Whale Watching and Dolphin Safari

Ranked #1 Things to do in Dana Point on Trip Advisor, Yelp, and Google+

The most unique dolphin and whale watching in the world! Capt. Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari provides daily, year round, whale watching trips aboard a high-tech, high-speed, Catamaran Sailboat that can get you up close and personal with magnificent blue whales (May through October), gray whales (December through April), fin whales, humpback whales, minke whales, killer whales, five species of wild dolphins that can number in herds of up to 10,000 and more for an educational and incredibly exciting whale watching experience.

About Our Whale Watching Trips

• 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.

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

• Our high-tech catamaran “Manute’a” is never crowded with a maximum of 49 passengers.

• Share your trip whale watching trip LIVE with friends and family back home at, the first and only place in the world you can view whales and dolphins live from your computer during our daily dolphin and whale watching excursions.

• We are a real eco-tourism company!

• Dana Point whale watching trips go out on boats that do only dolphin and whale watching. No whale watching on a fishing boat!

• 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 too with our research quality 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. Our dolphin and whale watching trips typically see them spring through fall, though in 2013 we had our first blue whale sighting in February!

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

How to Reserve Seats

Reservations: (949) 488-2828 or online.
Capt. Dave’s whale watching trips depart from:
24440 Dana Point Harbor Drive, Dana Point, California, 92629
What should I bring on my whale watching trip?

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. To purchase his DVD or book visit our online store at 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 Dana Point 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.

Gray Whale Watching in Dana Point is December through April.

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 ORANGE COUNTY WHALES include Fin Whales, Minke Whales, Humpback Whales, and occasionally Killer Whales.

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 DANA POINT DOLPHINS include Short-beaked and Long-beaked Common Dolphin, Bottlenose Dolphin, Risso’s Dolphin, and Pacific White-sided

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!

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 or Sunfish (like this huge one seen here from our Eye to Eye Underwater Viewing Pod).

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

About Dana Point, California

Dana Point Harbor, where our whale watching trips depart from, is romantic and historic. Located just south of Laguna Beach, only 40 miles south of Disneyland, and 60 miles north of San Diego, Dana Point offers breathtaking vistas, beautiful beaches and more wild dolphins than just about anywhere else in the United States.

Dana Point 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.

Dana Point Accommodation Suggestions

Dana Point Marina Inn
The Marina Inn is the ideal place for business or pleasure. Few destinations offer the quality and variety of environment, scenery, recreation, entertainment, lodging, and dining that awaits you here at the Dana Point Marina Inn.

Blue Lantern Inn
Enjoy fabulous views of the Pacific from just about every window of this four diamond bed and breakfast inn — dramatically located on a bluff above the Dana Point Yacht Harbor. Listed as a Top U.S. Seaside Inn by Travel and Leisure Magazine, featured on the 2008 Conde Nast Traveler’s Gold List and voted Best Bed and Breakfast in Orange County for the sixth year in a row, Blue Lantern Inn’s guests savor a delicious breakfast in the morning and wine and hors d’oeuvres in the afternoon. Other amenities include on site spa treatments, a fitness center, two meeting rooms and bicycles for exploring the beautiful coastline.

Laguna Cliffs Resort and Spa, A Marriott Resort
From deeply romantic retreats to highly-successful business conferences, you’ll discover rare luxuries and services to suit all of your needs. Enjoy exquisite dining, first-class accommodations, and a myriad of ocean activities at this exclusive AAA four-diamond resort.

Montage Laguna Beach
Montage Laguna Beach is a luxury Laguna Beach resort in Orange County, California. This oceanfront hotel offers comfortable accommodations with stunning views, spa treatments, restaurants, conference facilities and wedding venues.

Dana Point Dining Suggestions

The Brig Restaurant
Dana Point’s favorite home cooking for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Cannon’s Seafood Grill
Cannon’s Restaurant is located on a cliff over looking Dana Point Harbor, a historic setting chronicled in Richard Henry Dana’s novel “Two Years Before the Mast”

Proud Mary’s Restaurant
If you love good food, served beside a harbor renowned for its natural beauty in the company of folks who welcome you like family, drop in. The family-owned restaurant has been a mainstay on the waterfront since 1977 and has become a favorite “drop by” spot for locals and scores of visitors.

How to Reserve Seats

Reservations: (949) 488-2828 or online.
Capt. Dave’s whale watching trips depart from:
24440 Dana Point Harbor Drive, Dana Point, California, 92629
What should I bring on my whale watching trip?