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What Do You Wear and What to Bring on a Whale Watching Tour

People watching a humpback whale aboard Capt. Dave's whale watching catamaran DolphinSafari

Whether you are planning an upcoming trip or you already have one booked and you’re ready to climb aboard, there are a few essentials for boating you’ll ‘dolphinately‘ want to bring with you on the day of your dolphin and whale watching experience. To ensure the best whale watching possible, be sure to read our list below of our top must-haves you won’t want to forget at home. If you aren’t sure what you’ll need or are asking yourself “what should I wear for whale watching,” then you will not want to miss any of these tips from our pros:

Prepare for Motion Sickness

More than anything else on the list, nothing will take away from your whale watching fun than feeling the motion of the ocean. Ensuring your upset tummy isn’t going to take you away from seeing the sights is the #1 thing to make you feel what it’s like to whale watch like a pro. The sea is unpredictable, and if the thought of rockin’ and rollin’ makes your tummy a little queasy, you may just want to be sure to bring along some ginger chews or motion sickness meds and bracelets. What should I wear for whale watching is a question many of our passengers ask us daily. If you are like many of our passengers and have motion-related nausea, then be sure to check out options for sea travel. There are many options to choose from, and most whale watching companies will even have these available for purchase at check-in. Be sure to grab yours at Captain Dave’s Dolphin Deck, conveniently located upstairs from the parking lot before you check-in for your trip.

A woman feeling seasick on a boat

Dress in layers

The age-old saying “if you go there, take your jacket” certainly applies to whale watching too! If you are wondering “what should I wear for whale watching, know that becoming cold while you are out on the water can have a significant impact on your ability (or your little one’s ability) to have the best whale watching day! Looks can be deceiving isn’t just a statement meant for land. Out on the water, the air on the open seas can drop several degrees, sometimes up to 10-15 degrees, especially if it is windy! Having something to take on and off creates a buffer helping to keep your body insulated and, ultimately, warm if needed. The best whale watching means being comfortable too. If your friends ask, “what should I wear for whale-watching?” remind them there isn’t a bad season for whale watching in Dana Point, California Dolphin and Whale Capital of the World®. Even the summer months can require layers. The ocean is calm below the surface even during a winter storm, so any weather day is truly the best weather for whale watching. If you do find yourself arriving in inclement weather at Captain Dave’s Dolphin Safari, don’t worry! Ponchos, jackets, sweatshirts, and more are available at the Dolphin Deck, where you can find an array of fashionable Capt. Dave’s merchandise to commemorate your incredible journey out to sea. What should I wear for whale watching is simple once you know what you need to bring.

Clothing materials are made from crude oil

“We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected on the deep.” ~William James


Dana Point whale watching is one of the most incredible opportunities you will ever have in the USA of seeing such a wide variety of whales and dolphins. There is no better place to bring your family, friends, neighbors, or co-workers’ to capture a picture of the spectacular animals we have right here in Southern California. Who wouldn’t want to share a memorable moment when a breathtaking animal weighing several tons makes its way to the surface! What should I wear for whale watching is one of our most frequently asked questions, and wearing layers is advantageous. Capturing an up-close and personal opportunity to see these fantastic animals while aboard Captain Dave’s Whale Watching and Dolphin Safari, your camera is just as essential as your jacket to bring with you on your ride. Sharing the best whale watching means seeing each spout and having a digital record of exuberant dolphins as they bow ride alongside our safari. Having a camera means you’ll have the chance to share your memories for years and years to come.

a person standing next to a body of water


Summer isn’t the only season for sunburns. In Southern CA, the best time to go whale watching is every day right here in Orange County, where the sun shines all year long. When asked what should I wear for whale watching, sunscreen is a “must” 365 days of the year. Those warm rays can also shine brightly through the overcast clouds in the sky and, without even realizing it, can burn even the most unsuspecting skin. A quick application before you leave the docks will keep you burn-free. With so many sunscreens on the market, finding the correct one can be difficult. Something to keep in mind is purchasing from conscientious ocean-safe brands. Many sunscreens can cause harmful damage to the vast coral reef systems and marine life dwelling under the surface. Without even realizing it, supporting brands who fill their creams and lotions with harsh chemicals can wreak havoc on marine ecosystems below. If you ask what should I wear for whale watching, then ocean-safe sunscreens should be at the top of your list. When looking into which brand to buy, look for ingredients that contain ocean-friendly mineral UV filters, zinc oxide, and Titanium dioxide instead of deadly chemicals.

Bring Your Friends, Family, and/or Co-Workers

A journey out to sea connects us with nature and brings the unknown world of the ocean closer to our friends, family, and co-workers alike. Creating the best whale-watching memories for your group is our priority. Whether you are joining us for an adventurous zodiac cruise or a trip aboard Manute’a and are excited to go view dolphins in our underwater viewing pods, we are sure that you and your guests will have a great time. Wondering “what should I wear for whale watching” isn’t a problem on our largest catamaran Lily, with enclosed rooms which have indoor options to shield you safe from the outside elements in the event you need to duck inside. Our fleet of trusty sea-worthy vessels can accommodate any number of guests and any type of function. From team-building events, family gatherings, ash scatterings, and just a fun day trip, our friendly staff at the deck, captains, and crews are all here to ensure you are comfortable and have the best time possible.

Sunset wine cruise


Staying hydrated while out to sea is just as crucial as your hydration on land. While it may not be answering the question of what should I wear for whale watching, having something to drink while onboard if you become thirsty or need something in the event, your tummy feels a little wishy-washy is crucial. Yes, of course, there are other alternatives when it comes to your favorite beverage of choice, but good ole H2O will not only wet your whistle but also will keep you hydrated while out under the rays of the glorious Southern California sun. And now you can do your part by purchasing water in recyclable cardboard boxes instead of plastic! What should I wear for whale watching earns best the dressed award when you are holding a box of refreshing Captain Dave’s Whale Watching Ecobox of water, proudly launched in 2022. Grab yours at the Dolphin Deck before your trip!

Giving back via eco-friendly recyclable water cartons

Cell Phone

Don’t have a telephoto camera at home? Your phone’s camera is the next best thing! Weather can be unpredictable, and sometimes personal items can get wet on board. So as not to go from the best whale watching to the worst day, be sure to protect any electronic devices by covering them with a waterproof cover. And, if you forget to bring yours, we have you covered…literally!  What should I wear for whale watching is one of those questions that we will always answer with “a waterproof phone protector” (also sold at the Dolphin Deck)!

People whale watching through the view of a smartphone


Seeing whales in their environment is certainly a sight to see. The open ocean is a big place, and the vast open water is a lot of space to cover. Having a set of binoculars may give you the chance to be the first one to spot a whale in the deep blue sea and will bring the details of the whale closer to view. When passengers ask what should I wear for whale watching, we also like to remind people to bring their very best set of eyes out with them. Humpbacks and gray whales have distinct markings that, when sighted with binoculars, are more easily seen. Shyer minke whales can be harder to see, and their sleek, black backs are that much easier to spot with a zoomed-in lens. But don’t fret if binos are not in your budget for your trip. Our experienced captains always do their very best to look at all the animals we see while remaining safe distances from them.

Looking for Whales


Protecting your eyes is equally as important as staying warm. When packing for your journey out to sea and wondering what should I wear for whale watching, you will have a ‘whaley‘ great time if you do not have to squint and can see all of the amazing wildlife in the water. If you have a pair of polarized lenses, be sure to opt for those. Polarized lenses have a technology that cuts through the glare of the water making it a little easier to catch a glimpse of the marvelous and magnificent whales out in the distance. you may even be able to spot their lighter color under the water!

Your Smile and Great Energy!

At Capt. Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari we LOVE to interact with our amazing passengers. The best whale watching starts with a five-star experience from the moment you contact us and book your trip to the moment you step foot on the dock after seeing whales and dolphins in the deep blue sea. Don’t worry about asking what should I wear for whale watching…just bring a bag with our tips for the day with you and you are sure to have a great time!

Marine naturalists with Capt. Dave's

Whether this is your first trip or your 101st trip, we can’t wait to enjoy some time out on the water doing what we love, with you and your guests. Don’t forget to mention to our booking team if you are celebrating a special birthday or anniversary so we can celebrate along with you!

Until next time,

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