Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer
Back to Capt. Dave's Blog

When is the “Best Time” to Go Whale Watching in Dana Point?

Blue whale next to 50-foot catamaran Manute'a

A dolphin and whale watching tour can be one of the most unique and unforgettable experiences, leading many to place such an excursion at the top of their bucket list. As plans come into play to make this dream a reality, a common question is “when is the best time for whale watching?”

When is the best time for whale watching is one of our most commonly asked questions, and when looking for whale watching near Los Angeles, it’s one of the most important. This is why we are thrilled to share with you a slew of good news that will have you checking off that bucket list item in no time.

Here in Dana Point, the best time for whale watching is anytime! Dana Point, California, is the Dolphin & Whale Watching Capital of the World® thanks to calm seas, a captivating Dana Harbor minutes from the open ocean, the first and longest-running annual Festival of Whales, a variety of year-round whales, and more dolphins per square mile than anywhere in the world. With nearly thirteen species of whales and dolphins seen along our Southern California coastline, Dana Point whale watching season is some of the best in the world, all year long.

As you sport-up a grin of glee knowing that the best time for whale watching falls on any day of the year, your smile may also accompany the question of what one can see on a trip during the Dana Point whale watching season.

Depending on what time of year you join us for whale watching tours, the marine wildlife you see will vary. With over seventy species of wildlife spotted, your chances of saying hello to one of them are higher than the spray from a blue whale’s spout, but the Dana Point whale watching season does change throughout the year.

For example, aboard our Dana Point whale watching trips between November and May, some of our favorite annual visitors grace us with their presence. These gentle giants are best known as gray whales, who make their way along our gorgeous Orange County coastline while migrating to and from their breeding grounds in Baja California, Mexico, to their feeding grounds in the cold seas near the Arctic.

During a gray whale’s 12,000-mile round-trip migration, passengers aboard a Dana Point whale watching excursion can catch close encounters with these 40 to 50-foot, 90,000-pound barnacled bejeweled beauties as they hug the coastline during their remarkable travels. The best time for whale watching Dana Point locals know to catch a glimpse of gray whales is between late November and mid May.

If you and your loved one favor these whales as our Captain Dave’s team does, then the winter and spring months are a sure win when looking into the best time for whale watching.

As the gray whales conclude their migration past our sunny SoCal hometown around the month of May, the largest mammals on the planet, the blue whales, begin to make their appearance.

Blue whale tail seen during Captain Dave's Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari in Dana Point, California

These extraordinary creatures measure in at nearly 110 feet and can weigh over 300,000 pounds, making them a breathtaking sight to behold. Blue whales touchdown in our local waters between the months of May and October, where they feed on one of the smallest crustaceans, krill. While the best time for whale watching can be anytime throughout the year, if you prefer to take a peek at these incredible giants, then the early summer months through October will be your best bet.

In addition to gray whales and blue whales, several other species of spectacular whales can be seen in Southern California throughout the Dana Point whale watching season. These whales include the high spirited, energetic, and graceful “winged” whale, the humpback whale. These 25 to 40 ton, 50 foot long animals are famously known for their fascinating acrobatics and friendly demeanor. To our delight, humpback whales make our day when it comes to the best time for whale watching, as they can be seen all year-round, along with their baleen whale relatives, the fin whales.

Breaching humpback whale at sunset

The fin whale is the second-largest baleen whale, following the blue whale. Fin whales reach lengths up to 70-80 feet and weigh as much as 80 tons. They are known for being fast and sleek, nicknamed the greyhound of the sea. As they zip around our waters all year long, the days we greet them make for the best time for whale watching.

The fun we find while seeking out the best time for whale watching does not end with year-round visits from humpback and fin whales. The minke whale, one of the smallest baleen whales at 26 to 30 feet, also makes year-round visits during the Dana Point whale watching season.

Along with sperm whales, pilot whales, Orcas (commonly known as killer whales), and false killer whales, all these whales and dolphins are what make any time throughout the year the best time for whale watching, and Dana Point the Dolphin and Whale Watching Capital of the World®.

Killer Whale Mother and Calf copyright Dolphin Safari

The joy doesn’t stop with whale sightings though, as we have the privilege of getting up close and personal with pods of dolphins that number up to 5,000 strong. With five different species of year-round dolphins, including the long and short-beaked common dolphin, pacific white-sided dolphin, bottlenose, and Risso’s dolphins, these clever and curious cetaceans cultivate both claps and cheerfulness aboard daily, year-round, safari’s.

Sharks, sea turtles, seals, sea lions, and soaring pelagic birds also say their hello’s throughout the year, making Dana Point an incredible place to not only spot dolphins and whales, but to greet the vast amount of various critters that share the space we call home.

As you make plans to set out on the open ocean to spot the spectacular sea creatures close by, we hope you will find joy in doing so. With the opportunity to greet these animals on the daily, anytime throughout the year, you and your loved ones may be pleasantly surprised in sharing space with them during an unforgettable safari. Take a deeper dive and learn how to whale watch like a pro!

With comfortable vessels equipped with high-tech features and an ocean-loving crew, our team will be elated to enable you to check that bucket list item off, while making your time spent at sea the best time for whale watching.

Capt. Dave's catamaran Manute'a and a dolphin stampede

Until next time,

Your Friends at Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari