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Is There a Best Time of Day to Go Whale Watching?

Capt. Dave's guests get up close with a minke whale

The whale watching in Southern California is unlike anywhere else in the world. The Dana Point whale watching season brings about whale sightings of blue whales, humpback whales, gray whales and many more, as well as an extraordinary amount of dolphin sightings.

As you and your loved ones make plans to join a whale watching trip during your favorite whale watching season in Southern California, you may be asking yourself one of our most commonly asked questions, “what is the best time of day for whale watching?”

With an incredible variety of marine life to see just right outside the Dana Harbor during your whale watching tour, finding out the best time of day for whale watching is an important quest to pursue.

Fortunately, here at Captain Dave’s, we may have just the answer you’re looking for when it comes to the best time of day for whale watching.

Woman looking over side of boat at dolphin bow riding

Depending on the time of year you join us for a whale watching tour in Dana Point, the sightings may vary, but as far as the best time of day for whale watching goes, the recommended time for whale watching stays consistent throughout the entire year. Our recommended special time of day is in the morning, which will cater to those early bird ocean voyagers in your party who are scoring a trip during their preferred whale watching season in Southern California.

Our five-star safari’s in Orange County see wildlife nearly 95% of the time, making whale sightings spectacular all throughout the day, but there are a few advantages to trekking out with us during the a.m. time of day.

Benefits of Morning Whale Watching

One of the reasons that the morning time is the best time of day for whale watching has to do with weather and ocean conditions. The wind is a key player when it comes to smooth seas, and morning trips often have less wind. Less wind means calmer seas, making ocean conditions during the best time of day for whale watching, easy, breezy, and beautiful. These conditions can make for a less rocky ride, being muy bueno for anyone in your party who is prone to seasickness.

During the best time of day for whale watching, less wind in the morning time can also aid in the sightings of your favorite marine mammals. No fancy gadgets needed to spot whales, just a good pair of eyes! With a calm, flat sea, the fin, fluke, or flop of a whale may be spotted more easily from a distance, especially when not competing with the waves brought on by a windier time of day.

Humpback whale leaps out of the water

During the whale watching season in Southern California, an additional reason as to why mornings are the best time of day for whale watching is because of less local traffic in the area. As much as we love jamming out to our favorite radio ads and commercials while stuck behind a line of slow-moving vehicles, we’re probably safe to say that you’re with us when it comes to wanting to dodge that morning hustle and bustle.

This is why morning trips can be more beneficial when seeking out the best time of day for whale watching. The harbor in Dana Point is usually less busy, crowded, and congested in the early hours of the day, making your commute and cruise around our location much more convenient and time-efficient. Dodge the crowds, cars, and radio commercials and drop in early for a whale watching tour during the whale watching season in Southern California, and enjoy your free morning with our favorite flipper wearing friends.

Child having fun with bow riding dolphins


Avoiding the local traffic in the area isn’t the final reason that mornings can make for the best time of day for whale watching. After arriving at our location, you’ll be pleased to find out that you’ll have an easier time finding a close parking spot in the morning time. While many folks may be tucked away in bed or behind a desk at work, you’ll be able to tuck your car away in a close parking spot, steps away from our storefront dolphin deck. Let’s save those breathtaking moments for the unforgettable whale watching tour you’ll be aboard soon, and not on that stroll from a distant parking spot down the road during a much busier and overcrowded time of day.

While the benefits of morning trips range from easier to spot sightings, minimal motion sickness,  less local traffic, and an easier time finding parking spots, one solid reason that mornings can make for the best time of a day for whale watching has to do with our favorite MVP’s, the animals. While aboard a safari in the morning time, you may not just be scoring calmer seas and easier spotting, but there is usually less traffic from other boats on the water in the a.m., leading the wildlife to play a little less shy and more lively during their lap swims. With more space in the water, it may give them more freedom to be more friendly and comfortable to swim about and say hello.

Afternoon Whale Watching is Great, Too

Although these reasons may have you freeing up your time in the morning to join us for an unforgettable dolphin and whale watching safari, we don’t want you to fret if a morning trip does not work with your day to day routine. We get it, life is busy, and with travel distance, schedules, and priorities, an afternoon trip may be your best bet. This works too!

Whale Watching in Afternoon Dolphin Safari

As stated above, we see wildlife 95% of the time on our safari’s, all throughout the day. This means that whether you join us at 8, 11, 2, 5 or anytime in between, your chances of seeing something absolutely astounding are bigger than the wingspan of a humpbacks pectoral flippers.

Still worried about what time to come? Join an all-day cruise! With specialty safari’s such as our six-hour super safari aboard our upscale catamaran, Lily, you can enjoy dolphins and whales all day long, while most likely grabbing a great parking spot as well.

So whip out your planner and plan a day to cruise to Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari, in Dana Point, the Dolphin and Whale Watching Capital of the World®, where you’ll enjoy a remarkable day out at sea, surrounded by some of the most spectacular scenery and species of wildlife on the planet.

Until then!

Your Friends at Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari