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See Whales Up Close on an Unforgettable Whale Watching Tour

Whale watchers get up close view of humpback whale during Capt.Dave's Dana Point Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari in Dana Point, California

Are you looking for an unforgettable family experience with a chance to see whales and dolphins up close? Read below to learn more about our incredible boating trips, our whale watching FAQs, and what each one of our trips offers our passengers to ensure the next whale watching tour you book is the best one for you and your family to enjoy any time throughout the year!

We are flipping our flukes at all of the amazing sightings we have been seeing! From beautiful blue whales, to pairs of fin whales, and multiple humpback whale sightings, plus plentiful pods of wild dolphins seen in our underwater viewing pods whale watching, there is never a dull moment seeing whales and dolphins up close, especially in our underwater viewing pods; up close whale watching has never been so easy to do!

During winter and spring we excitedly encounter friendly gray whalesEschrichtius robustus. The Dana Point coastline lucks out as these gregarious and gorgeous whales travel past us on their way to birth young in the warm lagoons just off the shores of Mexico. Dana Point, California is a natural route on their migration path making whale watching in this region, one of the absolute BEST in the entire world. Catching a glimpse of these amazing creatures is a must-do for any local or vacationer alike!

Seeing whales up close and creating a deeper, more intimate connection with wildlife is something to be thankful throughout the year. When you decide to take a whale watching safari, you are not just signing up for an activity that will keep you busy for the day. What you are signing up for is the opportunity to connect with nature in its purest environment. Whether you joining us within a larger group or you prefer to create a more intimate experience by booking a private boat charter, there are many ways to see whales up close! Going down in our underwater viewing pods, whale watching with family becomes a memory you’ll never forget. Our always uncrowded trips add an extra touch of personalized style and privacy regardless of your group size. Whale watching provides the perfect option for holiday team-building experiences and can create more intimate experiences aboard our adventure-filled zodiac trips too.

Dana Point whale watching offers more opportunities to see whales up close than any other place in the United States! At Capt. Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari, we have a multitude of ways to enjoy your time out at sea. A passenger favorite is having the opportunity to go down below into our one-of-a-kind underwater viewing pods – whale watching has never been so easy! Our clear underwater pods aboard our catamaran sailboat Manute’a give passengers of all ages a chance to see whales up close but without having to get wet! If adventure is what you are after, we also offer adventurous Southern California whale watching tours aboard our fast rigid hull inflatable (Zodiac-style) boats Fast Cat and AllsWell, and Dana Point private yacht rentals on our six-passenger vessel, ORCA. There is something for everyone and a boat to suit every need when you choose to come aboard one of Capt. Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari’s.

Every day provides the opportunity to have several amazing encounters with mega pods of dolphins easily seen in our underwater viewing pods whale watching just off the coast in beautiful and sunny, Dana Point, CA. Robust baleen whales within the humpback family of whales, fin whales, minke whales, blue whales, Bryde’s whales, California sea lions, and more all take advantage of the abundant food source we have in our rich nutrient waters. Witnessing a feeding frenzy, passengers were amazed at the size of the whales as they surfaced with their massive jaws wide open, showing off their thrilling lunge-feeding behavior. Seeing whales up close is one thing but seeing a massive animal, seemingly larger than life, who can lurch their 60,000-pound bodies into the air is a sight our passengers, our captains, and our crew will never forget!

Throughout the year we receive visits from several five types of dolphins including Pacific white-sided dolphins, common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, and Risso’s dolphins. A spectacular sight to see is when hundreds of diving birds pierce the water’s edge diving their way into the schools of fish below. The vast variety of species of dolphins and baleen whales sharing the common food sources with the birds above makes for a spectacular viewing day of whales up close and with our underwater viewing pods, whale watching doesn’t get any better on days like this!

When you have the incredible opportunity to see whales up close, whether it is in underwater viewing pods whale watching from our state-of-the-art catamaran Manute’a or zipping swiftly through the seas aboard one of our zodiacs, there is something that irreversibly changes within your soul when you see these incredible creatures up close. The connection to nature when you witness whales in all of their glory creates new perspectives that will last you and your guests for a lifetime. Don’t forget to have your cameras ready because these are moments you will not want to miss!

The most commonly asked question we get is “when is the best time to see whales up close?” Lucky for us, Dana Point is an outstanding location where cetaceans (whales, dolphins, or porpoises) are embraced through the cultural, economic, social, and political lives of associated communities, and where people and cetaceans coexist authentically and respectfully. Dana Point is the first Whale Heritage Site in the Americas to be certified by the World Cetacean Alliance, and it is right here in our backyard, ready and waiting for you to come and visit!

One important FAQ our passengers always want to know about the viewing pods is “are the underwater viewing pods whale watching on Manute’a fully submerged underwater?” The answer is YES, they are! Seeing whales up close doesn’t get any closer when you are aboard Manute’a. Passengers can go down below literally inside the interior of the hull of Manute’a and have the incredible opportunity to see dolphins swimming in their natural habitat. Our state-of-the-art viewing pods are fully submerged when we are underway, allowing a sneak peek into their world without disrupting the dolphins in their natural habitat. It’s the perfect way to view wildlife in Dana Point, California!

Passenger watching dolphins from underwater viewing pod on Manute'a

Another question we receive about our pods is, “Is viewing dolphins in the underwater viewing pods whale watching just outside the Dana Point Harbor, the only way to see dolphins and whales up close while aboard your boats?” The answer is as simple as the two-letter word “no.” We have several options for you and your guests to ensure your family has the safest and most enjoyable experience possible while still being able to see dolphins from anywhere on the boat. Our captains and crew are versed in providing whatever it takes to accommodate your group, friends, and family and will assist you with accommodating anyone with special needs, paraplegics and quadriplegics, pregnant mothers, and infants as young as six weeks old on board.


Another common FAQ that runs through the minds of many potential passengers wanting to see whales up close when booking a trip is “Why should I book with Captain Dave’s?” Well, if it isn’t the dolphins the whales or the brownies it should be the fact that Dana Point is the one and only Dolphin and Whale Watching Capital of the World®! Capt. Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching safaris are proud to be a part of the spectacular Dana Point Harbor and we are conveniently located right on the waterfront adjacent to Baby Beach. Be careful when booking your trip with other companies who all too often falsely promise they also see dolphins and whales up close and are located near Dana Point. When choosing a dolphin and whale watching company, always be sure to choose an experience with an official Dana Point whale watching company located in (not near) Dana Point Harbor.

We can’t wait to take you out on a trip of a lifetime either in our underwater viewing pods whale watching and seeing majestic dolphins and whales up close!

Until then,

Jess Wright
First Mate and Marine Naturalist
Capt. Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari

Gift an unforgettable dolphin and whale watching experience! With year-round whales, dolphins, sea lions, sharks, and more, any time is a great time for your recipient to enjoy their gift.

“Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods…” – Dr. Thomas Gilovich