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Save on Newport Beach Whale Watching
Book online and SAVE instantly. Cruises depart from Dana Point, only 30 minutes from Newport Beach.
Are you considering a Newport Beach whale watching tour? Be sure to explore neighboring Dana Point first for the best dolphin and whale watching experience, including exclusive Underwater Viewing Pods!
Save on each full fare adult and child ticket aboard our 2.5-hour Signature Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari instantly during online checkout.
- Adult (13 & up)
- Child (1-12)
- Infants (up to 12 months)
Come ‘sea’ why Dana Point offers the world’s best dolphin and whale watching!
Captain Dave’s boats are never crowded with a maximum of 49 passengers. Some of our vessels carry even fewer, for a very intimate whale watching experience.
You won’t be aboard a fishing boat that’s doing whale watching on the side. Our eco-friendly vessels only offer dolphin and watching, 7 days a week, all year round.
There is nothing wrong with sport fishing, however, there is unintended by-catch that can result in injuries or death to other marine animals.
We offer the best customer service, and that reflects in our five-star ranking on TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Google.
We are a recipient of TripAdvisor’s Hall of Fame award in 2015 and again in 2018 for receiving the Certificate of Excellence for five consecutive years.
We’re a two-time winner of the silver medal for “Best Customer Service” in the Dana Point Times People’s Choice Lantern Awards.
You can feel what it’s like to swim with dolphins and whales underwater, without getting wet in our two exclusive Eye-to-Eye Underwater Viewing Pods on Manute’a.
There is no other boat, and no other experience, quite like it!
No hidden fees or fuel surcharges! Our prices are what you pay.
And parking is free, too.
Our staff of knowledgeable marine naturalists are dedicated to helping whales and dolphins (some are part of Orange County’s whale disentanglement team; more on that below). During your safari they will explain how these animals live, while you see and touch our collection of whale and dolphin artifacts, for a fun and educational oceanic adventure.
Almost as sweet as the wildlife you’ll encounter aboard your trip is Mrs. Capt. Dave’s triple fudge brownies. Her homemade recipe is a fan favorite and served to you as a special treat upon return to the harbor. Our little way of saying “thank you”!
Captain Dave specially outfitted his catamarans to provide the best dolphin and whale watching possible. All of our vessels have cushioned seating and each boat has unique features to maximize your fun and enjoyment.
Giving back to the oceans with whale disentanglement, to the beaches by hosting clean-ups, and to the community by arranging meal packing events are just a few of the ways we try to do our part and keep the environment beautiful and healthy for future generations.
For 20 years we have proudly supported local non-profits, schools, and similar organizations. We’ve donated hundred of thousands of dollars in free trips to help non-profits raise funds for their organizations.
Newport Whale Watching vs Dana Point
Dana Point and Newport Beach, California are both beautiful beach towns situated less than 30 miles from one another. With both being located in sunny SoCal, and with such a short distance between the two, one may wonder what differs from these breathtaking coastal cities. They both enjoy stunning views, delectable eateries, and an amazing place to enjoy a beach day, but one particular pleasure sets them apart from each other: whale watching.
Both of these coastal cities provide year round whale watching to locals and visitors alike, but as The Founding Fathers once stated, “Not all whale watching trips are created equal.”
“How so,” you ask? Both areas share the same ocean, the same sun, and some of the same wildlife, but much differs from Newport Beach whale watching and Dana Point whale watching.
For example, let’s start with one of the main reasons why one would board a vessel and trek out into the deep blue to begin with:
Dana Point is perfectly positioned next to deep coastal canyons that are right outside its harbor. What this means is if you were sporting up your Sebastian self, and spending a day under the sea looking at the floor of the ocean, you would notice that right outside the harbor, it becomes very deep. Because of this, it causes a great upwelling of rich nutrients in the ocean water which brings great numbers of amphipods and small fish to the area to feed on these nutrients. Where you have small fish and amphipods, you have much larger animals to feed on them. These larger animals include our favorite friends such as dolphins, whales, sea lions, and nearly seventy other wildlife species. You read right, seventy!
The waters off Dana Point, California, are home to one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. This ecosystem includes several species of those favorite dolphin friends; long and short beaked common dolphins, bottlenose, Risso’s, and pacific-white sided dolphins. The whisker wearing water friends we spot include harbor seals, California sea lions, and elephant seals. Let’s not forget to mention the magnificent variety of nearly fifty marine bird species we see soaring across the big blue sky. And nobody can forget about the large pool of massive mammals we refer to as whales, that can be seen throughout the year in Dana Point. These whale species can include humpback, fin and minke whales, and of course our gray whale pals who migrate through the areas during the winter and spring months, and yes oh yes, the world’s largest mammals, the blue whales who stop by to say hello during our spring and summer seasons. We also receive sightings from sperm, pilot, and false killer whales, and of course the oceans most pristine predator, the Orca, better known as the killer whale.
This smorgasbord of scrumptious sea snacks brings all the whales to the yard, and Dana Point has the luxury of spotting many of them all throughout the year just right outside our harbor! Unlike our SoCal neighbors in Newport who do not have these deep coastal canyons and nutrient upwellings, they also don’t have the luxury of spotting them so close to their disembarkment location. Which leads us into our second reason as to why Dana Point is better than Newport Beach whale watching.
Proximity to Open Ocean (i.e. Where the Animals Are)
“Mom, are we there yet?” Not a question you’ll hear very often while aboard your whale watching safari in Dana Point. A major advantage to whale watching in the beautiful area of Dana includes the short amount of time it takes you to depart from the dock to when you’ll be gazing upon the amazing animals close by.
For instance, it only takes less than eight minutes to cruise our vessels from their pretty parking spot in the harbor to the open ocean, right outside the jetty. This is a hot minute in comparison to Newport Beach where it can take nearly twenty five minutes to travel from the dock to the exit of the channel, eating up a large portion of your precious whale watching time. For a typical cruise in Newport, your whale watching trip may last a total of two hours, which if our calculations check out correctly, that is indeed a very large portion of your precious whale watching time. With a smaller harbor in Dana Point, which enables passengers to reach the open ocean in less time, this grants us another jolly good reason as to why Dana Point is better for whale watching. And we’ve yet to mention that our trips go for longer as well, with at least two and half hours to explore the open ocean.
Not only will we get you out to the animals quickly, but the animals in Dana Point act as though they are anxious to see you as well. This is especially true during gray whale season, where we can spot these gorgeous gentle giants dwelling right outside the jetty. It’s as though they’ve been waiting with flippers crossed for your arrival!
Parking and Travel Time
Speaking of your arrival, a third reason why Dana Point is better than Newport Beach for whale watching has much to do with distance and location. When one is planning their arrival to either location, the distance plays a large role. Many folks traveling from Anaheim after a day or two at Disney may assume that trekking to Newport for a day out at sea would be their best bet. We’d have to disagree. In fact, it would take you and your bustling bunch of roadtrippers the same amount of time to travel to Dana Point Harbor then from Anaheim to Balboa Island in Newport beach. Let’s not even get started on parking! Okay, actually, lets do. You’ll be spending more than a few nickels and dimes to park your carriage at all too non-existent parking spot in the busy-izzy area of Newport Beach. Not to mention the amount of time you may spend in the heaving hours of traffic during your voyage to get there. Play it smart and dodge the crowds in Dana Point instead. You’re less likely to encounter all that jammed up and jostling gallivanting when choosing to voyage to Dana Point. Plus, when you get there, the parking is free. Yep! Free. You won’t even need a senior citizen discount for them spots, we’re basically giving them away!
Once you’ve arrived in Dana Point in a comfy parking spot, finished up high-fiving all your fellow travel companions in celebration of all the traffic and busy crowds you’ve dodged, and are ready to greet your nearby sea creatures, we vote that you check out one of the final, and one of our favorite reasons as to why we prefer Dana Point over Newport Beach whale watching. Crab-roll please? ‘Captain Dave’s Dolphin Whale Watching Safari.’ Captain Dave’s provides year round, up-close and personal whale watching expeditions aboard several seaworthy vessels that provide an intimate experience for you and your fellow ocean voyagers.
Our primary vessel, Manute’a, is a high-tech, high-speed catamaran which is famously known for its one of a kind underwater viewing pods. Each pod has glass windows on both sides, enabling passengers on-board to be fully submerged underneath the water, while viewing the wildlife eye-to-eye without getting wet. This experience is much like swimming with dolphins and whales without soaking your suit, nor causing harm to the wildlife or their environment.
Another vessel option includes our Fast Cat zodiac, which will be sure to knock your fins off with its high-speed, zippy ride that cruises you out to the animals much more quickly, and is designed to get small groups up-close with those favorite marine friends. Super close, super fast, super fun! Any closer and the dolphins will think you’re one of the pod.
Did we mention that every safari that departs from Dana Point with a Captain Dave’s tag, is always eco-friendly? You bet! We’re always caught red handed with providing sustainable wildlife viewing, and never aboard a fishing vessel, as we believe in being good stewards of the ocean.
This can’t be said for our Newport neighbors who often take passengers aboard large fishing vessels that are much higher off of the water, and hold up to 149 passengers leaving a large majority of onlookers on their feet during their excursion. We’re a fan of those feet, and aim to please when it comes to comfort, making sure to not over crowd our vessels, providing ample cushioned seating for all passengers on-board, so that you have a nice place to kick up those flippers while you say hello to your cetacean compadres.
We won’t be the first to admit that Newport Beach, California, is an absolutely breathtaking area for any and all ocean activities. The white soft sand, fun and jovial shops, and the sun kissed faces you’ll see why taking a stroll on the boardwalk do sound delightful, but hey, any chap in a cap with his four legged friend can indulge in that goodness right in the heart of the harbor in Dana. And when it comes to whale watching, if the reasons above don’t win you over, then maybe Dana Point’s name will: The World’s Whale Capital™.
Take us up on it! We’d love for you to put that noteworthy title to the test while we prove it right. Come and see why Dana Point, California is the absolute best place to visit with your favorite marine mammals while cruising the open ocean in gorgeous Orange County.