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Zodiac Whale Watching

A fast, smile-plastered-to-your-face, exhilarating ride!

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Zodiac whale watching boat Fast Cat with a pod of dolphins

Zodiac Whale Watching

A fast, smile-plastered-to-your-face, exhilarating ride!

Captain Dave’s fast and fun zodiac whale watching and dolphin watching catamaran, Fast Cat, is available for public tours (you join other guests) and private charters (just your group on board).

Fast Cat is Orange County’s only Coast Guard inspected rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB).

This small-group tour of up to 12 passengers will give you an intimate 90-minute look at Southern California’s year-round whales and dolphins. With speeds up to 30 knots, you’ll spend less time looking for animals and more time enjoying them! Captain Dave’s zodiac whale watching safaris will have you incredibly close to the ocean’s surface and within arm’s reach of wildlife.

Your zodiac whale watching adventure departs from Dana Point, California, conveniently located midway between Los Angeles and San Diego, and about 30 minutes south of Newport Beach.

Zodiac Safari Prices

• 90 minutes (standard adventure):
$65.00 per person, all ages*

• 120 minutes (extended trip):
$95 per person, all ages*

*Minimum age restrictions apply. Please see safety and comfort information below.

Zodiac Safari Availability

Public Safaris

Zodiac whale watching safaris are available for public group tours every day, pending Captain availability. Please call us at 949-488-2828 to inquire.

Private Charters

Private zodiac whale watching charters are available for groups of up to 12. To learn more, visit our private charters page, or give us a call at 949-488-2828.

Zodiac Whale Watching Vessel Features

Detailed Features of Captain Dave's Zodiac Whale Watching Boat

Let the fun begin!

Small Group Tour

Up to 12 passengers.

Up Close Wildlife

Wide, rectangular bow puts you and your GoPro in arm’s reach of dolphins and whales.

Comfortable Seating

Heavily padded seats with seat backs.


Custom teak floor.

Sun Protection

Large custom sunshade.


240-HP engines provide quiet and reliable speeds up to 30 knots.


Catamaran design offers a smooth ride.


Fully inspected and certified by the U. S. Coast Guard.

Important Zodiac Whale Watching Safety & Comfort Information

Fast Cat is unique, and as such, has different safety requirements from our other vessels.

Minimum Age

The minimum age requirement on public trips is 8 years old.

Health Conditions

Because of the high speed and fun but bumpy ride you must be in good overall health and have good mobility. We do not allow anyone who has head, neck, or back injuries, is pregnant, or has any current problem that could be aggravated by this type of ride. All passengers will need to sign a waiver before boarding.

If you have disabilities, or are not able to meet any of these conditions, please consider a Dolphin & Whale Safari aboard one of our larger catamarans instead. Or, feel free to contact us to learn which boat might be best for your needs.

Weight Restrictions

Due to U. S. Coast Guard regulations guests weighing more than 195 pounds may not be accommodated on Fast Cat.

If you exceed the weight limit please consider a Dolphin & Whale Safari aboard one of our larger catamarans instead.

Ocean Spray

Fast Cat is very low to the water, and as a result, you may encounter ocean spray. Please keep electronics, camera equipment, and any other items you don’t want wet secure while the boat is underway. You’re welcome to bring a GoPro, and to prevent loss or damage, please do not attempt underwater filming until after the boat has slowed down and your Captain gives the OK.

Personal Items

Fast Cat has ample cushioned seating for all passengers. However, space for stowing belongings is not available. No over-sized bags or coolers are allowed. Please limit what you bring to only what you can fit on your lap. Waist-packs, mini backpacks, and small camera sling bags are good examples of what to carry your belongings in.

Food & Beverages

Because this vessel offers a fast and bouncy ride, plastic-bottled beverages that can be closed and easy-to-eat dry snacks that won’t be swept away by the wind, such as granola bars or cookies, are best. To prevent spills please do not bring open cans of drinks.


Please be advised that there is no bathroom on Fast Cat. Restroom facilities on land are available to use before boarding.


Capt. Dave’s Fast Cat has a very low center of gravity. For guests concerned about feeling seasick, this means the boat might feel more comfortable.

Zodiac Whale Watching Reviews

OMG!!! DO THIS!!!!

Hubby and I took the Fast Cat…the Zodiac boat…to see the whales. Even if we hadn’t seen a whale, it was exciting to fly across the water. Captain Marie and her 1st mate were wonderful. The boat holds 12 but there were only 8 of us on the early morning ride. Space for moving around and meeting each other before we saw the whales. We found a great gray whale that became curious of our “little” boat and swam as close as 40 feet from us. Plenty of dolphins and seal lions, too. A GREAT 90 minutes of watertime. – Via TripAdvisor

Robin S.

Hubby and I went whale watching this morning and saw some beautiful gray whales and lots of Dolphins. I highly recommend booking the Fast Cat tour. Smaller vessel and you get great views of sea life. we will definitely book this again. – Via Yelp O C.

Best experience ever!

My two kids (11 and 13) and I had an incredible experience on the 12-seater FAST CAT boat. Wow. I wasn’t expecting much because I’ve whale-watched before with little success, and I even commented that even without seeing anything, it was fun just to be on a zippy boat. Moments later, we encountered a huge pod of dolphins that hung out with us, and we could take turns to lay on our bellies and put our hands in the water. It was a great perspective and fun experience! Our skipper seemed quite intent on finding the whales though…and we did: 2 humpbacks and 1 blue whale. It was an AMAZING experience, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone. Very cool. Another reviewer said it felt like the skipper went the extra mile … it felt that way to me, too. I hope to be back next time I visit Los Angeles. – Via TripAdvisor


My family recently took the “Fast Cat” tour, and it was a wonderful experience. While it was a little intense for my wife, whose sensitive back was a little jarred by sitting near the front of the boat, my 11-year-old loved being up front, and my rather skiddish 9-year-old was totally comfortable in the back. In fact, she loved the thrill of the speed and bumpy waves, and this is a kid who generally hates roller coasters and the like. I personally really enjoyed it; the speed was great, as we got out to sea really efficiently and got to see some amazing sights.

Captain Dave himself is super chill, knowledgeable, and above all clearly cares about showing his clients a good time. It’s really obvious that he enjoys his job, and that helps to set a good tone for the group. That’s important, because the Fast Cat is rather intimate, you sit right next to each other in a pretty small group.

As for the animals themselves, we got to see a huge blue whale, which was magnificent. One can’t really effectively describe how cool it is to be a few feet away from the largest animal in history! We also saw a pod of dolphins, including an adorable baby dolphin, and they swam right next to the boat. My 9-year-old was so excited to be able to lay belly-down at the front of the boat and be right beside them! We also saw numerous sea lions, which were terribly cute, as well as many gulls, ducks and other sea birds.

We’re certainly going to return, and perhaps try one of the other boat options. I highly recommend this experience for families. – Via Yelp

John S.

Zodiac Whale Watching in the News

Gayle Anderson, from KTLA’s Morning News, joined Captain Dave aboard Fast Cat for a live broadcast while looking for sharks and other sea life.