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Signature Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari

Experience our world-famous underwater viewing pods
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Quick Details

Additional information:

  • Our whale watching safaris in Orange County are safe and never crowded.
  • Entry into the Underwater Viewing Pods requires the use of ladder-like steps. Persons with a disability or limited mobility may have difficulty.

Star Outline SPECIAL CRUISE: An intimate dolphin and whale watching cruise with just 6 passengers.

Book Now for Instant Discount! Discount Applied at Checkout
Adult (13 & up)
Child (1-12)
Infants (up to 12 months)

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“…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.

Passenger watching dolphins from underwater viewing pod on Manute'a

Passenger watching common dolphins from an underwater viewing pod on Manute’a

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.

Manute’a is the primary vessel used for our daily Dana Point whale watching tours in Orange County.

Additional Vessels

On select dates, we make available our other catamarans for the 2.5-Hour Signature Safari.

When purchasing tickets for this cruise, your booking will be for our 2.5-hour Dolphin & Whale Signature Safari. Although our primary vessel for the Signature Safari is Manute’a, there may be times when other vessels are used. These unique vessels offer a special dolphin and whale watching experience that is equal to Manute’a.

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 on our Dana Point whale watching tours.

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 everyone in. This usually occurs when we find a large enough pod of dolphins that are interested in interacting with the boat.

Wildlife is inherently unpredictable, therefore, the quantity of animals you may see in the Underwater Pods can vary from trip to trip.

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’.

What do our guests say about our Dana Point whale watching tours in Orange County?

Google review logo

I have been on several whale watch tours in Newport and Dana Point, but this trip on July 2nd, 2020 was really enjoyable even with the COVID requirements. The catamaran provides a close up view of marine mammals and an opportunity to get some great pictures. The staff was very knowledgeable and friendly a great day on the water!

– Carroll Councilman
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I’ve been to Disneyland, Sea World, Universal Studios—all for much more money. I ALWAYS GET MORE THAN MY MONEY’S WORTH. I’ve brought friends, family members, colleagues from work, Rotarians, etc. Each time I knew everyone would enjoy themselves—and they have. I’ve seen my stoic girlfriend break out in giggles the first time she saw a dolphin. I’ve seen my 30+-year-old son who is “too cool” to be impressed with anything anymore, grab my hand and point to several blue whales with great excitement. I could write volumes about my experiences on Capt. Dave’s Dolphin Safari. The adjectives I would use are: GREAT, WONDERFUL, SPIRITUAL, INVITING, INFORMATIVE, PEACEFUL, ADVENTUROUS, FUN, FRIENDLY, and who can forget the great brownies at the end of the trip?

– Basia C - TripAdvisor
Yelp Logo

This experience was way better than the dolphin watching out of Newport! The crew, the boat, the info, everything was great! The trip I went on was kind of a fundraiser for Ric O Barry's Dolphin Project to help stop the dolphin hunt in taiji japan. Happy to have participated. Cant wait to go back.

– Citlalli P.
Google review logo

Great people who are very friendly and determined to find you marine mammals on the tour. At the same time they’re respectful of the wildlife and if say a whale shows signs of being distressed they will back off. They maintain a respectful balance between curiosity and education and conservation on these tours. Best whale watching in SoCal.

– Thomas Scheck
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Our 2/28/2020 morning trip on the Manute'a is our third time, and we plan to return. Our trip's Captain Craig and the crew were first rate and the experience just can't be topped. We've gone to other companies at both Dana Point and Newport Beach, but Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari are the gold standard for consistent experiences. The crew knowledge is impressive. The narration and easy Q&A provide new information every trip we've taken. I enjoyed the viewing pods with my daughter last trip, but just delighted staying topside with my wife this trip.

– kelpzone
Google review logo

This was We saw so many dolphins. We were lucky to see a humpback whale over and over. We also saw sea lions. Everyone was helpful and professional! Would love to to this again. Highly recommend .

– Lee Jewell
Yelp Logo

Wow!! What an amazing time with Captain Dave and his team. We loved every second of our tour! We got to see so much. The dolphin were amazing and the underwater viewing area just blew my mind. The whales were incredible. We also learned so much from the team. I especially enjoyed Dave's wife telling us all about the positive effects of negative ions being out on the water. Can't wait to go again next time! I highly recommend Captain Dave's. I promise you won't be disappointed. Book a tour! They'll even give you a homemade cookie when you get back to the dock!

– Joseph K.
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We loved everything about Dave's dolphin Safari. The crew Capt Steve, Grayson & Buck were awesome. This was our first time whale watching. We saw so many dolphins & several humpback whales, sealions. The boat was very nice. We enjoyed the underwater viewing pods. We had considered taking the kids to Sea World, but I'm glad we opted to do this instead. So awesome to see these beautiful sea creatures in the wild. Oh and delicious brownies at the end. Such a wonderful experience all around

– Amber142
Google review logo

It was a beautiful day and a wonderful adventure. I've been out with the Captain Dave crew 4 times now, and each time has been better than the one before! It was the very first time out for my fiance (her first time ever on the ocean, in fact), and what a way to get started! Everyone involved were knowledgeable, professional and fun. We'll be back!

– Mike Wallace
TripAdvisor logo

The Manute’a catamaran was a comfortable and fun ride. The midship seats are covered, at the back they are open, and the bow is open with a strong webbing next between the hulls. The crew advised about where to stand to get wet or not, and where to sit for the smoothest ride. The catamaran gives a much more stable ride than a monohull, and there is plenty of room for the 50 or so passengers on board. Captain Marie and Steve are knowledgeable and informative, and knew where to take us to see the mammals. We saw a large group (60-100) of dolphins, a sea lion, and a pod of 3 or 4 grey whales, plus the sea birds. The underwater viewing pods are popular, the crew made sure everyone had a chance to use them but didn’t rush you out. They give a good view of the dolphins swimming (like an aquarium window) but aren’t very deep: only the floor level panel is under water most of the time. It’s a nice addition but the trip would have been worth it even without the underwater pods.

– 5kiiers
Yelp Logo

My family had a wonderful time on the tour today! We saw a pod of 200+ dolphins and a blue whale. The dolphins swam with the boat, and we were able to view them up close and personal! The underwater viewing pod was an added bonus because we got to see them swimming under water. The blue whale was amazing and majestic. We saw him about 4 times, the last few times near the end of the trip. Captain Steve was kind enough to extend our tour so that we could get an additional glimpse of the majestic creature. Overall, I was impressed with the captain's skill and tenacity in finding the dolphins and whales, and with the crew members' humor and knowledge about the animals. I liked the little nature talk that they gave at the end where we got to handle whale baleen and whale's tooth. While researching whale/dolphin tours, I came across another tour in Newport Beach. It was cheaper, but didn't get very good reviews. I decided to go with Captain Dave's because of the outstanding reviews, even though it was a bit pricier. I am so glad I did, because the experience was worth every penny.

– Angie S.
Google review logo

Capt Dave’s was an amazing experience!! My boyfriend and I were visiting Dana Point for the weekend and came across this place. From the moment we bought our tickets we knew it was going to be great. The lady at the ticket booth provided extraordinary customer service and was very friendly to us. Then, the actual tour began and it was just incredible. We did the sunset tour and the views were spectacular along with our captain Daniel he was just so nice and so friendly as well. We felt so comfortable during our entire experience, we didn’t want to leave! I highly recommend it 10/10. Also, the brownies they give at the end once you get back to the dock are delicious. I can’t wait to go back! It made our trip to Dana Point worthwhile and truly an unforgettable experience.

– Melanie Cruz
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Absolutely amazing experience! We saw pods and pods of dolphins and I felt like I was swimming right next to them! There were times I could have touched them. The underwater glass pod blew my mind too. We saw a Fin whale also!! Then sea lions and a Mola Mola (sun fish ) basking in the sun. Just wondrous. Our captain worked hard to ensure we saw all this sea life and was kind, conscientious of everyone's needs and preferences too. The staff are sincere and dedicated to a top experience. I'm coming back for more and bringing all my friends here. Totally loved this!

– Shikha U.
Google review logo

The best of all the whale watching services on the southern California coast

– David Messenger

Wildlife We’re Seeing

Dana Point is the World’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Capital® and is 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 on our Dana Point whale watching tours 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 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 during our whale watching tours in Dana Point. And in that unlikely event—zero whales or dolphins— regular fare guests can return for FREE for another Signature Safari (daily public whale watching trip in Orange County) 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!

Capt Dave's Sightings Guarantee

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