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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.

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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)
$89
$69.42
Child (1-12)
$60
$46.80
Infants (up to 12 months)
$5

Come ‘sea’ why Dana Point offers the world’s best dolphin and whale watching!

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:

The Wildlife

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.

Yelp Logo

All I can say is wow! Out of all the things I have done in my life with my children, after leaving the catamaran at the end of our trip… My son told me this will be one of his best memories with me ever!! I completely agree. If you take this trip I strongly suggest to take the smaller boat called the MANUTE’A. It’s an awesome catamaran that only seats 49 people unlike the other large boats that carry approx 150. You get the experience almost eye level with the Dolphins/whales, up close and personal, and the kids think it’s the coolest thing ever. I know it’s a little more then the places you can find on Groupon. I’m a Groupon-er myself but spare no expense on this trip or your sell yourself short. 5 Stars no doubt. You won’t be disappointed! Thanks for the wonderful hospitality guys! We will definitely be back.

– Des M. via Yelp

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!

TripAdvisor logo

Captain Dave is a “pied piper” for whales and dolphins. You can get cheaper BUT you won’t get any better than Dave’s!!! I first heard about Captain Dave & Whale Watching Safari a couple of years ago when I saw a video he made using his drone to capture a bird’s eye view of a whale and of a dolphin stampede. I was hooked and going out whale watching with Captain Dave went on my bucket list. On August 29 and 30th we did 2 back to back morning trips. Both were wonderful and offered very different experiences. Monday we did not see any whales but saw large pods of Common, Short Beaked and Long Beaked Dolphins. We got the rare experience of watching 2 pods merge into one and the happy party time expressed by the dolphins with meeting up with old friends and family. The second day we found ourselves in the middle of a huge pod of Common Dolphins numbering between 1200 to 1500. Dolphins as far as one could see when looking in any direction. It was so very cool. But then Dave announced the sighting of a whale spout and dang if we did not get to see a Blue in all her/his glory. Dave even launched his drone so our trip and sighting might have a video to document it ! Craig, the Naturalist and photographer was most informative on both trips as was all of Dave’s staff. My friend and I did a cheaper Whale Watching trip Monday afternoon out of Newport Beach. Boat was larger but it was basically a boat ride with the viewing of only 1 pod of Dolphins. We never traveled out of the sight of the Orange County high rises! You can get cheaper but it will not be the wonderful family like experience you get with Dave’s. We will be back for many more adventures. Make sure to check out his Facebook page as well as his YouTube channel. These guys and gals really care about the whales and about the ocean as well as donating $ to help people in Africa! Oh and Mrs. Dave’s brownies are wonderful!!!

– sls986 via TripAdvisor

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!

Yelp Logo

After an amazing afternoon aboard the Lily, my family and I shared our photographs and commented on how wonderful our time was on Captain Daves upscale, quality, whale watching experience! I was very tempted to purchase the Groupon to use for the other whale watching tour in dana point- but i’m so happy I didn’t because we saw the other boat out at sea and it was sardine jam packed… where we had indoor seating, covered seating, deck seating, etc. Everything was really great! The information was really my favorite thing! The crew knew so much about whales and about the dolphins that it made the experience even better.

– Cristabella C. via Yelp

Capt. Dave’s

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.

TripAdvisor logo

Capt Dave delivered. We spent about an hour and a half with two Blue Whales. I have travelled the world looking for these rare creatures and they were a 15 minute boat ride off the Californian Coast. Capt was very knowledgeable and gave us good viewing without interfering with the whales. Absolutely amazing tour. Oh, there were dolphins as well.

– NeilK_13 via TripAdvisor

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