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Festival of Whales 2018, Things to Do

Festival of Whales Carnival

Festival of Whales 2018

It’s the 2nd weekend of the annual Dana Point whale festival. Here are a few suggested events.

Taking the family outdoors this weekend for a little vitamin D?   How about some Vitamin W.  Whales!  The 47th Annual Festival of Whales in Dana Point has another wave of aquatic and ocean-themed fun this weekend that couldn’t have come at a better time.  Since gray whales discovered Google Maps for Mammals, they have been seen 75% more than last year in the Dana Point area.

Gray whales use the Dana Point Headlands as a landmark on their journey, making this beautiful coastal town the best place to view the animals. We asked the magnificent mammals for some tips and highlights for this year’s whale festival, and here’s the consensus:

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Saturday, March 10  (8:00 am)
Cardboard Classic Dinghy Dash & Expo (Baby Beach)

Cardboard boat building contest and race (Dinghy Dash). Teams will work through the morning designing and building from corrugated cardboard and duct tape then compete in the afternoon. We had you at cardboard, right?  Those taking bets to see if corrugated cardboard can indeed float can be first mates on the voyage.

Saturday, March 10 (8:00 am – Noon)
Boat Builders’ Breaky & BBQ on the Beach (Baby Beach)

Breakfast and Boat Building goes together like eggs and bacon. Don’t miss the scrumptious breakfast served by the Veritas Lodge at the OC Sailing & Event Center before viewing or doing the Cardboard Classic Dinghy Dash. And hang on to your forks – the BBQ is as good as it looks!

Saturday, March 10 (9:00 am – Noon)
Whale of a Beach Cleanup (Doheny State Beach)

Because sometimes, natures living room needs some help. Bring your work gloves and recyclable bags or bucket (don’t wear them, just bring them) and let’s brighten up our stunning coastline. Meet Park Naturalist Vicki at the Lifeguard Headquarters and discover new ways to maintain our precious resources. FREE Shuttle Service to Doheny from most Harbor parking lots.

Saturday, March 10  (11:00 am)
Annual Whale of a Clam Chowder Cook-off (Baby Beach)

Clam chowder tasting from 11 AM to 3 PM.  A shellabration of the delicious and hearty seafood chowdah from local restaurants.  Not every day $10 can make you happy as a —.

Saturday, March 10th , (Noon – 2:00 p.m.)
FEATURED EVENT Captain Dave’s Under the Sea Eco Carnival

Dolphin Deck, (Dolphin Deck, 24440 Dana Point Harbor Drive)

Free Entry (face painting, small fee)

This wallet-friendly Sea Eco Carnival will feature wildly fun activities for the whole family, from under-the-sea bounce houses, face painting and selfie stations to Underwater Viewing Pod simulations. Keep-our-ocean-clean demos and more. And yes, the bounce house is for all ages, so Grandma can give it a go.

Saturday, March 10  (2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.)
FEATURED EVENT Capt. Dave Presents Entangled Whales: What Can We Do?

OC Sailing and Events Center, 34451 Ensenada Pl, Dana Point, CA 92629

Captain Dave Anderson, of Capt. Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari, offering dolphin and whale watching excursions year round, will host. Whale Festival attendees will view amazing rescue footage and drone video, see the special equipment that is used to entangle whales and learn how to make a difference and help whales. (Whale gratitude abounds.) Capt. Dave has been featured on THE ELLEN SHOW, CBS THIS MORNING and the TODAY SHOW to name a few as well as being the guy who organized the Orange County’s first whale disentanglement. A sea worthy few hours.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Sunday, March 11 ( 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM)
Sailing Rides and Stand-up Paddling Clinics (OC Sailing & Event Center)

Sailing Rides

Unplug the tablets, and bring the kids (ages 5-up) so they can learn how to steer and sail a Capri 14! Lifejackets provided. $15 per boat, 3 people max, half-hour sessions. Contact Westwind Sailing for details: (949) 492-3035.

Stand-up Paddling Clinics

Next to random selfie-taking, this is the fastest growing water sport today. Here’s your chance to find out why. Ages 12-up (Ages 12-14 must be accompanied by an adult), from 10 AM – 2 PM. $10 per person, lifejackets provided.

All proceeds are donated to the Dana Point Aquatic Foundation for educational boating scholarships benefiting at-risk youth and adaptive boating programs.

Sunday, March 11 (Noon – 5:00 PM)
Whale of a Concert BBQ and Spirits Garden (Baby Beach)

Because what’s a Spirits Garden without a Concert BBQ?  Delectable BBQ at Baby Beach, including a Spirits Garden (21 and over.)

Sunday, March 11 (6:00 PM – 8:00 PM)
Film Screening: Sonic Sea and Q&A with Filmmaker

Catch SONIC SEA narrated by Rachel McAdams (Notebook, Mean Girls)

Oceans are a sonic symphony. Sound is essential to the survival and prosperity of marine life.  But man-made ocean noise is threatening this fragile world. Sonic Sea is about protecting life in our waters from the destructive effects of oceanic noise pollution.

Tickets $10.00 in advance/$15.00 at the door. Space is limited; advance registration is encouraged. Cash bar and OC Food Trucks – but arrive early, whales have been known to be pushy around gourmet food trucks.Saturday & Sunday


You’re whale-come to whale watch from land each day of the festival, but the stars of this 2018 Festival of Whales highly recommend you find an excursion up close and personal. When selecting an excursion for your family, ask questions about passenger capacity and perks.

Festival visitors can join Captain Dave’s crew for an intimate dolphin and whale watching excursion during the whale festival and try the exclusive Eye-to-Eye Underwater Viewing Pods by reserving advance tickets; call 949-488-2828 or book online. Festival of Whales dates are popular and often sell out in advance, so attendees are advised to book ahead.

Visit to view the full calendar of events for both weekends.