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What to Expect on Your Dana Point Whale Watching Experience

Capt. Dave’s Dana Point Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari is a one-of-a-kind experience you’ll never forget. Featuring the world’s only underwater viewing pods, comfortable boats, guaranteed marine wildlife sightings, stunning views, and year-round Mediterranean-like weather, our 5-star rated ocean cruise is the adventure of a lifetime you’ve been dreaming of!

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Cruise the Dolphin and Whale Watching Capital of the World®

Dana Point, California, has been officially recognized as the Dolphin & Whale Watching Capital of the World® ⏤ for good reason. This SoCal destination offers year-round whale sightings and the largest concentration of dolphins per square mile than anywhere else in the world.

On a typical Capt. Dave’s whale watching cruise, you can experience blue whales, gray whales, and dolphin stampedes ⏤ a spectacular sight of thousands of dolphins porpoising. This makes Dana Point the best place on earth for watching dolphins and whales any time of the year.

Dolphin or Whale Sightings Guaranteed

In the Dolphin & Whale Capital of the World®, you are bound to see whales and dolphins. Capt. Dave’s whale watching adventures locate dolphins or whales 95% of the time throughout the year. Dolphins get excited when they see our boats and will come over to greet our guests!

There are rare events where we have “no sightings” trips. In the unlikely event that you don’t see any whales or dolphins on our cruise, there’s no need to be disappointed. You can return within a year for a free trip to enjoy a phenomenal dolphin and whale watching experience.

Experience the World’s Only Underwater Viewing Pods

Many SoCal companies offer dolphin and whale watching tours. But Captain Dave’s is the only whale watching company that has high-tech boats with underwater viewing pods. These one-of-a-kind viewing pods are made of bulletproof glass which is stronger than the actual boat.

With our underwater pods, you can enjoy an unrivaled whale watching experience. This unique feature allows you to come eye-to-eye with dolphins and whales while seated or lying on a cushioned floor. Feel what it’s like to swim with marine wildlife without getting wet!

Best Weather for Year-Round Whale Watching

When imagining whale watching adventures, some people automatically think of rough seas, horrifying waves, and chilly winds. Unlike popular whale watching destinations in Alaska and Vancouver, a whale watching trip in Dana Point is more like cruising in the Mediterranean sea.

Dana Point is known for its pleasant climate and moderate ocean conditions throughout the year. This idyllic destination has warm summers and mild winters. “Sunny and 70” is how locals describe Dana Point’s climate, making it the best destination for year-round whale watching.

Pristine Waters and Picturesque Views

Dana Point doesn’t just offer year-round dolphin and whale watching experiences. Unlike other Southern California harbors, Dana Point’s harbor is not obstructed by big ships, tall buildings, or oil rigs. With its azure waters and pink sunsets, Dana Point harbor is too beautiful to be real.

The harbor’s picturesque views have made Dana Point known as the most romantic place in California. Along with going out for ocean wildlife trips, you can also enjoy the harbor’s pristine and peaceful scenery. Dana Point whale watching is the ultimate relaxing and exciting getaway.

Navigate the Ocean With Your Boat of Choice

Capt. Dave’s has a fabulous fleet of boats that are all available for private cruises. We have six different boats with each offering a distinct whale watching experience. Whether you want an intimate, relaxing, or high-speed adventure, you can choose the best boat for you.

All of our boats are U.S Coast Guard certified and designed only for dolphin and whale watching. We avoid fishing boats for our cruises to promote Capt. Dave’s conservation efforts and protect marine life. Our boats are safe, comfortable, and highly stable in inclement weather conditions.

Here are the six boats you can choose from for your Dana Point whale watching adventure:


The Manute’a is a 50-feet sailboat catamaran with the world’s only underwater viewing pods. This hi-tech boat is fast, fun, and used on our most popular Signature Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari. Manute’a offers the most unique and incredible whale watching experience.


If you want to go on an upscale dolphin and whale watching trip, then the ORCA is for you. This 38-feet luxury motor yacht can hold only 6 passengers and is available for private charters. ORCA charters are perfect for families, couples, or friends that want an intimate cruise.

Fast Cat

Fast Cat is a 24-feet rigid hull, an inflatable catamaran that can hold up to 12 passengers. This small and light boat is one of Capt. Dave’s fastest vessels. Used on the Zodiac Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari, our Fast Cat boat provides an exhilarating whale watching experience.


The boat that started it all, the DolphinSafari is the first catamaran in Southern California to offer year-round whale watching adventures. This vessel is designed to be close to the water so you can hear and touch the animals. Our legendary boat offers an immersive safari experience.


If you’re looking for a thrilling adventure, you’ll love whale watching on AllsWell. A 31-feet rigid hull, inflatable vessel, the AllsWell is our largest zodiac and fastest boat. This speed boat is a great option for small-sized groups that want a super-exciting whale watching experience.

Hoku Nai’a

Here comes Dana Point’s most upscale large whale watching boat. A 65-foot double-deck power catamaran, Hoku Nai’a, is our largest  vessel. Up to 149 guests can watch marine wildlife or relax and enjoy live music while sipping on a craft beer from the bar or dining at the large buffet!

Marine Wildlife You Might See on Capt. Dave’s Safari

As the Dolphin & Whale Capital of the World®, most people think of whales and dolphins when discussing Dana Point’s marine wildlife. But whales and dolphins are not the only marine animals you can see on Capt. Dave’s whale watching adventures.

From marine birds to reptiles and mammals, Dana Point is rich in marine animal diversity. It’s common for our guests to encounter a variety of ocean wildlife on their whale watching experience. Many of these animals are rare or threatened species.

Below are some ocean wildlife you might see on our Dana Point whale watching safari:


As one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, the waters off Dana Point are home to many different types of large whales. Some of the whales we see on our whale watching safaris include blue whalesgray whalesfin whaleshumpback whales, and minke whales.


Dana Point is home to more than 450,000 dolphins. It’s common for our guests to see dolphins just five minutes from the harbor! You can encounter common dolphinsbottlenose dolphinsPacific white-sided dolphins, and Risso’s dolphins during your Dana Point whale watching experience. You might even see rare killer whales, the largest species of dolphin!


Along with whales and dolphins, you may also see diverse sharks on Capt. Dave’s whale watching adventures. Southern California is home to more than 10 different types of sharks. White sharks, thresher sharks, and mako sharks are frequently sighted in Dana Point’s waters. You might be one of the very lucky people to see a very rare basking shark!

California Sea Lions

With a population of 210,000, California sea lions are the second most numerous marine mammals off Dana Point’s coast. These noisy, barking mammals love to lounge and sleep aboard our boats. Have your phone or camera ready to take some funny snaps!

Brown Pelicans

In addition to marine mammals, you can spot more than 50 species of birds during your whale watching experience. Among the most beautiful of these birds is the brown pelican. Our Dana Point whale watching tours offer a great opportunity to see these endangered species up close.

Sea Turtles

California’s productive coastal ecosystem attracts many sea turtles from beaches in Mexico. There are more than five species of sea turtles along the coast of Southern California. You can find green, leatherback, and loggerhead sea turtles off Dana Point’s coast.

Get Educated on Marine Wildlife

A Capt. Dave’s whale watching adventure is not only exciting but also enlightening. All of our safaris are accompanied by a marine wildlife naturalist. These experts educate guests about the lifestyle and behavior of whales to provide them with an educational whale watching experience.

Children love these giant ocean creatures as much as we do. Capt. Dave’s also offers whale watching field trips for kids. Along with increasing their knowledge of ocean wildlife, kids can also enjoy swimming alongside dolphins and whales in our underwater viewing pods!

A 5-Star Ocean Adventure for the Whole Family

With our one-of-a-kind boats and prime location in Dana Point, Captain Dave’s offers the best whale watching experience in Southern California. We have 5-star ratings on Tripadvisor, Yelp, and Google because we provide exceptional service to our guests.

Our vessels are equipped with restrooms, shaded areas, and cushioned seating to make your whale watching adventure as comfortable as possible. We can accommodate infants, pregnant mothers, and people with disabilities so your entire family can enjoy an unforgettable trip.


What to Bring to a Whale Watching Safari

So you’ve finally decided to join our exciting and educational Dana Point whale watching safaris? Yaay! To enjoy a convenient and memorable whale watching experience, make sure you come fully prepared. Here’s what you need to bring to whale watch like a pro:

  • Water ⏤ Our safaris last 2-3 hours, so bring enough water to stay hydrated during the trip.
  • Snacks ⏤ Visit the Dolphin Deck for an assortment of snacks and beverages.
  • Jacket ⏤ Oceans are 10-15 degrees cooler than land. It’s a good idea to bring a jacket or sweater to stay warm throughout the whale watching adventure.
  • Sun protection ⏤ Bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats to avoid sunburns.


What is the minimum age for children to go on Dana Point whale watching safaris?

Capt. Dave’s offers a range of safari options for different age groups. Our signature safaris, private ORCA and Lily charters, and boat parade cruise are safe for all age groups. For our high-speed Zodiac cruises, we allow children over the age of six.

How far out in the ocean do you go to see whales?

We usually go out 3-5 miles from shore. But we have gone out up to 8 miles on some occasions to get as close as possible to dolphins and whales. Our boat is always within view of Orange County’s gorgeous coastline. Bring your best camera to take some stunning selfies!

Can I bring a person in a wheelchair?

Capt. Dave’s goes above and beyond to accommodate people of all needs. We have taken paraplegics and quadriplegics on our Dana Point whale watching adventures. If you want to bring someone with disabilities, please call us at 949-488-2828 to make arrangements.

What is the best time of day to see whales?

We asked a couple of whales what time of day is best to meet them and they said they were available until bedtime. So the best time for a great whale watching experience is from morning to sunset. You can meet Dana Point’s whales all day long until the sun goes down.