Get within arm’s reach of wildlife on our speedy and fun dolphin & whale watching zodiac-style boats. VERY low to the water & GoPro friendly. Our fastest vessels!
Dates: Tours run 7 days a week
Capacity: Although Manute’a is Coast Guard certified to carry up to 49 guests, for safe social distancing we are limiting capacity.
Underwater Viewing Pods
- Safe and never crowded.
- Boat is cleaned with CDC-approved products in-between cruises.
- Year-round whales, dolphins, sea lions, sharks, birds, and more!
- Entry into the Underwater Viewing Pods requires the use of ladder-like steps. Persons with a disability or limited mobility may have difficulty.
Departure times vary. Please select a date to view safari times.
- Adult (13 & up)
- Child (1-12)
- Infants (up to 12 months)
“…this tour offers the best whale watching in the world…”
Capt. Dave’s Super-Safe Dana Point Whale Watching Tour
Manute’a (pronounced mah-noo-tay-ah) is our high-tech, high-speed catamaran sailboat offering the world’s most unique dolphin and whale watching experience in Orange County.
Manute’a features Capt. Dave’s exclusive Eye-to-Eye Underwater Viewing Pods. These amazing viewing pods give you the extraordinary experience of feeling what it’s like to swim with dolphins and whales—underwater—without getting wet, making it an unforgettable whale watching tour you’ll talk about for days to come!
This vessel also features three Eye-Spy Dolphin Tram Nets on the bow for an up-close and immersive Dana Point whale watching adventure, a micro dolphin and whale museum, and live narration from expert marine naturalists for a whale watching experience in Orange County that is both fun and educational.
At the end of the Super-Safe Safari, Mrs. Capt. Dave’s legendary, delicious Triple Fudge Brownies are served complimentary!
Does the thought of being elbow to elbow with people terrify you? It terrifies us, too! That’s why Capt. Dave’s trips have always practiced social distancing with plenty of room, comfortable seating, and fewer guests. And now we are giving you more space than ever before.
Manute’a usually carries up to 49 happy passengers. For our Super-Safe Signature Safari, the boat will have a limited number of guests.
Manute’a is the primary vessel used for our daily Dana Point whale watching trips in Orange County.
Occasionally, on select dates, we make available our other catamarans for the Super-Safe Signature Safari.
This vessel is only available on select dates.
DolphinSafari is the original pride of our fleet and remains a crew and passenger favorite. She was the first vessel in Southern California to offer year-round dolphin watching. And it was aboard this catamaran sailboat that Captain Dave filmed his award-winning documentary, “Wild Dolphins & Whales of Southern California“.
Coast Guard certified to carry up to 26 passengers, however, for social distancing we are reducing guest capacity.
DolphinSafari Special Features
DolphinSafari provides an intimate dolphin and whale watching experience. Cushioned seating and panoramic views are available in the enclosed cockpit but returning guests know the best place to be is on the bow!
Her specially designed bow with Eye-Spy Dolphin Nets is so close to the water that you feel as though you can touch the animals! You’re also close enough to hear the dolphins vocalize as they swim right under your feet. It’s almost like being in a kayak! There is a restroom available on the boat.
Please note DolphinSafari is not equipped with Eye-to-Eye Underwater Viewing Pods.
This vessel is only available on select dates.
Lily is our upscale 65-foot power catamaran. This fast and stable boat is Coast Guard certified to carry 49 passengers. For social distancing we are reducing guest capacity.
Lily Special Features
- Beautifully appointed main cabin and galley.
Guests will feel at home while seated on cushioned bar stools, on the sofa, or at the dinette. Panoramic windows on both sides of the cabin offer scenic views of the ocean, coastline, and animals. A large TV provides underwater views of bow riding dolphins next to our boat thanks to our underwater bow camera.
- Covered upper sundeck.
Rails wrapped with glass offer additional protection from the elements. Place your refreshments on the cocktail tables and relax on cushioned seating while you watch dolphins and whales.
- Fully enclosed pilothouse.
You can relax at a table with cushioned seating and visit with the Captain. The climate-controlled pilothouse also features windows on all sides so you won’t miss a minute of the animal action!
- Specially designed bow.
Wrap-around cushioned seating, cushioned backrests, cup holders and rails enclosed with Lexan® glass for wind protection offer supreme comfort and convenience while whale watching.
- Micro-museum with whale and dolphin artifacts.
A realistic, life-size, common dolphin and stunning photographic art throughout the boat will immerse you in the world of dolphins and whales!
One restroom is available on the boat.
Please note Lily is not equipped with Eye-to-Eye Underwater Viewing Pods.
- Beautifully appointed main cabin and galley.
About the Underwater Viewing Pods
Manute’a exclusively features two Eye-to-Eye Underwater Viewing Pods.
The ‘Pods’ are areas in the hull of the boat with cushioned padding on the floor to sit or lie down. Surrounding you on both sides is 36 square feet of bulletproof glass to see underwater.
You’re not just looking down at the animals, they’re swimming right next to you, and looking you in the eye! If the dolphins are “chatty” you’ll be able to hear their clicks and whistles, too.
Each Underwater Pod (there are two) can usually fit 1 to 2 adults or 2 to 3 kids at a time. No special reservations or extra cost! Everyone takes turns.
For safety reasons the Underwater Pods are not open during the entire trip. Your Captain will make an announcement when our crew members will be opening the ‘Pods’ and allowing passengers in. This usually occurs when we find a large enough pod of dolphins that are interested in interacting with the boat.
Please note entry into the Underwater Viewing Pods requires the use of about six ladder-like steps. Guests with a disability or limited mobility may have difficulty enjoying the ‘Pods’.
How We’re Keeping You Safe
Our crew is healthy and has been healthy for at least the last 14 days. We ask the same of you. Boat crews and Dolphin Deck team members have their temperature taken daily to assure their health status.
Your vessel will be thoroughly wiped down prior to your trip with CDC approved products.
Our crew will be wearing a face covering when they are within six feet of guests.
We are reducing guest capacity on our already spacious catamarans.
What do our guests say about whale watching in Orange County?
Wildlife We’re Seeing
Winter is a great time for dolphin and whale watching! Dana Point is the World’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Capital® and blessed to have moderate weather all year long, and this includes mild winter weather and ocean conditions.
Great Grays: During the winter and spring months, the animal that started the whale watching industry in Dana Point can be seen migrating along the coast. Now through May, thousands of gray whales are migrating past Orange County and locals know Dana Point to be one of the best places to view the migration. Gray whales often travel within a mile or two of the coast and are believed to use Dana Point’s headlands as a landmark on their route.
Dana Point has a few year-round baleen whale species including playful humpback whales, large and friendly fin whales, and curious minke whales, too. These majestic creatures can be seen anytime from January through December. All three species are known to be curious about boats, and will sometimes come over and check you out! That’s called a whale mugging.
You also have the possibility of seeing orcas (killer whales) throughout the year while on a whale watching tour in Dana Point. They can appear at any time, without warning, so have your camera ready! Or you might have a rare encounter with pilot whales, false killer whales, or even sperm whales. Other special sightings could include basking sharks, the second-largest shark in the world, and huge elephant seals.
Hold on to your safari hats because we’re not done yet! Several species of wild dolphins are seen throughout the year while whale watching in Orange County —some in pods that can number up to 10,000. Imagine nothing but dolphins in every direction as far as the eye can see! It’s during these cooler months that we see one of our favorite dolphins, the beautiful black and white pacific white-sided dolphin. And that’s not all. Over 50 species of pelagic birds, sea lions, seals, and sharks, including the great white, mako, hammerhead, thresher, and more could be encountered.
Cetacean Declaration – Sightings Guarantee
You might be wondering, “What if I don’t see anything?” Although we locate whales or dolphins on over 95% of our trips, there are rare occasions when we don’t see any marine mammals while whale watching in Dana Point. And in that unlikely event—zero whales or dolphins—you can return for FREE for another Signature Safari (daily public whale watching tour) within one year from the date of the trip.
Join us for the adventure of a lifetime! Book your dolphin and whale watching Dana Point tour now!
Give the gift of an unforgettable dolphin and whale watching experience! With year-round whales, dolphins, sea lions, and more, anytime is a great time for your recipient to enjoy their gift.