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Zodiac Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari

A super-fast, smile-plastered-to-your-face ride for adventurous groups. Come face to face with the most spectacular marine mammals when you book tickets for Dana Point dolphin and whale watching tours in beautiful Southern California.

Quick Details

Info Additional information:

  • Zodiac-style = Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB)
  • Faster, more adventurous tour.
  • Safe and never crowded.
Book Now for Instant Discount! Discount Applied at Checkout
Guest (Age 6 & up) 2 Hours
Website price includes a small fee retained by our booking system. To avoid this fee please call 949-488-2828 to book.

Zodiac-Style California Whale Watching Tours

Get incredibly close to the ocean’s surface and within arm’s reach of wildlife aboard Capt. Dave’s fast and fun, upscale Zodiac-style vessels (rigid inflatable boats).

When you book Dana Point dolphin and whale watching tickets for our rigid inflatable boats (RIBs), you’re sure to enjoy an intimate experience that’s perfect for adventurous visitors. Your Captain is also a knowledgeable marine wildlife naturalist who will connect you with the lives of amazing dolphinswhalessea lions, and more. You’re welcome to ask the Captain questions, too!

Bring Out Your Inner Jacques Cousteau

Have a GoPro? Bring it! The Zodiac Safari is extremely close to the water’s surface and perfect for capturing underwater shots during your Southern California whale watching tour.

Regular cameras are welcome too on your Southern California whale watching adventure. Just be sure to take precautions to keep expensive electronics safe from possible ocean spray.

Need for Speed

Reaching speeds of 30 knots or faster, our zodiac-style boats are the fastest in Dana Point for whale watching.

Book your tickets today and spend less time looking for animals and more time enjoying them!

Comfortable, Safe, and Stable

When it comes to Southern California whale watching tours, our Zodiac-style (rigid hull inflatable) boats feature heavily padded seats and seat backs as well as a large custom sunshade that provides protection from the sunny SoCal skies.

The vessels are also U.S. Coast Guard inspected and certified for safety.

The boat’s very low center of gravity offers passengers a higher level of stability. For anyone concerned about seasickness, this means the boat will feel more comfortable.

Cetacean Declaration – Our Sightings Guarantee

Sightings Guarantee Capt Dave's

You might be wondering, “What if I don’t see any animals?” Although we locate whales or dolphins on over 95% of our Southern California whale watching tours, there are rare occasions when we don’t see any marine mammals. So in the unlikely event of zero whales or dolphins, regular fare guests can return for FREE on a regular 2-hour safari within one year from the date of your trip. Dive deeper into what we see and when.

Join us for the experience of a lifetime! Book your Dana Point dolphin and whale watching tickets today!

What do guests say about our zodiac whale watching cruises?

TripAdvisor logo
Best experience ever!

My two kids (11 and 13) and I had an incredible experience on the 12-seater FAST CAT boat. Wow. I wasn’t expecting much because I’ve whale-watched before with little success, and I even commented that even without seeing anything, it was fun just to be on a zippy boat. Moments later, we encountered a huge pod of dolphins that hung out with us, and we could take turns to lay on our bellies and put our hands in the water. It was a great perspective and fun experience! Our skipper seemed quite intent on finding the whales though…and we did: 2 humpbacks and 1 blue whale. It was an AMAZING experience, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone. Very cool. Another reviewer said it felt like the skipper went the extra mile… It felt that way to me, too. I hope to be back next time I visit Los Angeles.

– burbankmadre, Tripadvisor
Google review logo

From the moment our tour was booked until we were driving away from the Harbor, every moment was magical! Excellent customer service, superior communication and the best tour ever! We had Captain Gary driving Fast Cat for our tour and he was phenomenal! Excellent energy, knowledgeable and patient just to name a few of his qualities! While my husband and I have done many tours with Captain Dave’s, this was a first for our daughter and our first on one of the zodiak boats! Super close to the water and in the middle of all the action! We all had the best day ever! Great way to start off the new year!

– Cher Aguilar, Google
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Fast Cat is the Best

Being on such a small, fast vessel, there isn’t a bad seat on the boat. We were able to cover so much ground and see so much more. We saw our first whale within minutes of leaving the harbor. We followed him for quite a while until we saw another one. So beautiful. I didn’t even take photos because I just wanted to be present in the moment. Then we went super fast. The ocean was blue and beautiful. We ended up in a pod of about 100 common dolphins. They were everywhere. We saw another breed of dolphins and more sea lions on our way back in. Steve and Daniel were excellent. They definitely deserve more triple chocolate brownies…. which were super killer, btw.

– vcakron, Tripadvisor
Yelp Logo

Captain Marie and Steve were AMAZING! I highly recommend the fast cat/zodiac. You are able to see everything up close and they do a great job of educating on the way! They are both so passionate about what they do!!! We saw whales, dolphins, sea lions! We saw it ALL! They communicate and work together !!!!! Highly RECOMMEND!!! We will be back in the summer!

– Sabrina R., Yelp
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I'd heard about the Fast Cat adventure last year, and wanted to try it ever since. The cost was certainly higher than your average whale watching tour, but this trip was worth every penny. I think this is going to be an annual thing for my husband and I. We had so much fun. The Fast Cat is the Zodiac adventure where you're right on the water. With such a small boat and group size, you're not limited to seeing off one side of the boat. You can see all around. Our captain, Marie, got us right to a huge pod of dolphins. Once surrounded, she slowed, allowing everyone to take turns looking over the bow of the boat. Here you can see the Dolphins so close that you can practically touch them. I wouldn't be surprised if some people actually did. You are that close. Captain Marie then located two greys, a mom and calf. We spent a good twenty minutes watching them. The boat ride itself is exciting. Lots of speeding and bumps. We were prepared to get wet, but we didn't. If you only make one whale watching trip, it should be with Captain Dave's. The other ships they have look awesome too. I'm happy we did the fast cat though.

– thewinsomewench, Tripadvisor
Google review logo

Great tour, definitely recommend going on the zodiac boat. Staff and captain are very friendly and great.

– Maddie Scovill, Google
TripAdvisor logo

This is our 3rd time going out. 1st time on the Fast Cat! Capt Steve and 1st mate Cheryl were outstanding. We saw dolphins, humpback and gray whale. Definitely recommend taking any one of their tours. Great!!

– Nick N, Tripadvisor
Yelp Logo

We went out on 2/20 2020, on the Zodiac. It was a fantastic whale watching experience. Our captain was Daniel; who took us immediately out about 5 miles from Dana point. We saw two large humpback whales who breached, gave us at least 20 instances of tail. These wheels were feeding, and very active above water. It was the best well watching experience I've ever had in my whole life! Very comfortable and safe. I highly recommend this whale watching service !

– Joanne P., Yelp
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Captain Marie and her 1st mate Steve were awesome! Being on the Zodiac was a great choice because it was a great ride and got us super close to the water. The Captain worked with the other boats on the water to find a whale and several hundred dolphins. Captain Marie was also super knowledgeable about the sea life so I learned some new facts today. I also love that they took the time to grab some floating balloons, so they didn’t endanger wildlife later. Will definitely be back!

– Ginny Meyer, Google
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OMG!!! DO THIS!!!!

Hubby and I took the Fast Cat...the Zodiac see the whales. Even if we hadn't seen a whale, it was exciting to fly across the water. Captain Marie and her 1st mate were wonderful. The boat holds 12 but there were only 8 of us on the early morning ride. Space for moving around and meeting each other before we saw the whales. We found a great gray whale that became curious of our "little" boat and swam as close as 40 feet from us. Plenty of dolphins and seal lions, too. A GREAT 90 minutes of watertime.

– Robin27320, Tripadvisor
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Thanks to Captain Dave's whale watching tour, our trip to the OC started off spectacular. We went on the Zodiac Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari today with the amazing Captain Neal. We saw over 2,000 common dolphins, a humpback whale, and a fin whale. It was the most surreal experience! We would highly recommend taking a tour with Captain Neal, as his knowledge and expertise on marine life really made the trip worthwhile.

– Sara Soltan, Google
Yelp Logo

We took the zodiac tour 2 days ago and what a riot. Capt Steve was excellent and did his best to get us to see some whales, which we did get to see. But even if we hadn't seen any sea life, the ride in the zodiac was just plain fun. They went way out of their way to accommodate us and I would highly recommend this company for their class and fun.

– Cindy O., Yelp
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An amazing excursion

Where do I start? My fiance and myself, Tom Ginn & Jennifer Gilbert were on a 7 day So California vacation with my daughter. Of course my daughter visited all the fun parks and we found an absolute gem in Captain Dave's. We were expecting to see any wildlife and we got more then we bargained for. I sure wish i could remember one of our captain's name. I believe it was Tim or Ken(Argggg). I do remember Captain Marie. These two were the most impressive captain's. We were hoping to see a dolphin or two but would have been satisfied with seeing any wildlife. We still are in AMAZED at what we encountered. A Minke whale, a Humpback whale, 1000's of Dolphin(Common) and a family of Sea Lion, we are still in AWE!!!!!!! Why they call these dolphins Common, is beyond me. They are everything but common. We have decided to make this an annual trip just for the fun. If we see wildlife then that is just an added bonus. This was the most incredible excursion of any type for both of us. The Fast Cat was absolutely incredible. They tell you that is is a little bumpy but fail to tell you that these are amazing fun bumps. They were not uncomfortable at all, just FUN! Make sure you bring plenty of room for lots of photos. This team at Captain Dave;s will make sure you see something. We want to thank you all again for the most incredible time we have ever had is a long, long time. I have a few more places to post my review so until we see you next year, thanks so much again.

– tomginn, Tripadvisor
Yelp Logo

It was a lot of firsts for us, including the first time on the ocean, first time whale watching, and first time in SoCal. Captain Dave's didn't disappoint at all. We went out on the smaller, faster pontoon boat (the Zodiac Dolphin & Whale Watching package), and we were not disappointed! We took the late morning tour, so the sun wasn't punishing at all. There had been sightings of a blue whale in the area, and the crew were eager to see if we could spot it as well. Part of the fun was in meeting the other passengers, who were mostly state locals that day, including one lady who was there as a birthday treat. We tracked and spotted a blue whale three times that day, and the crew of the vessel were happy to answer any and all questions. The boat is very sturdy, but you really feel the bobbing when sitting still on the water. (I'd recommend dramamine.) The two hours we spent on the water goes a lot faster than you would think once you've begun watching in earnest. Overall, it was exhausting, exciting, and worth the trip to California by itself! After disembarking, the captain passes out their famous brownies. Do yourself a favor and take one!

– Grampa C., Yelp
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What a wonderful experience!! We went on the zodiac and had the joy of having Captain Marie and Stacy with us, who were both so friendly and knowledgeable about the ocean and marine life. We saw a handful of Pacific white-sided dolphins who swam right next to the boat and we could see them just by looking down on the sides! I think we saw four gray whales who gave us incredible flukes and Captain Marie and Stacy were so wonderful in making sure we all got a great view of them. You can tell they really cared about our experience and made sure to point things out to us and raced over to certain spots to ensure we all caught glimpses. I also definitely enjoyed the delicious brownies at the end--they were the cherry on top of an overall lovely time out on the water. I will definitely come back with Capt Dave's Whale Watching and maybe during a different month when other sightings may be more likely :)

– Shannon C., Yelp
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The four of us plus eight others took the high speed Zodiac which cut through the water so nicely, no seasickness! Captain Gary was so amazing and he even kept us out a little longer than our tour so we could keep tracking this one whale! I would very highly recommend this tour to everyone !! One little thing: in the back of the boat you get great views but couldn’t hear Jess very well. Maybe if she turned around ?

– LR R., Google
Yelp Logo

The best local whale/dolphin watching in dana point! I highly recommend the tour on the zodiac, can't wait to get back out there again!

– Kerra F., Yelp
Google review logo

We chartered a private zodiac tour for a birthday celebration. Our party had people with a wide variety of ages and all of us had a great time. The charter boat during covid restrictions was a wonderful choice to not expose our elderly parents. It was an excellent value for the money and Captain Jim was a knowledgeable, friendly and professional guide. I feel it was well worth every penny we paid. Since it was a small boat we could quickly go to wherever the reports of sightings were, allowing us to see an abundance of sea life. Thank you Captain Dave's! Let's do it again sometime!

– Wonder Beagle Murphy, Google

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