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Where To Go Dolphin Watching

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

Dana Point, California, is home to a magnificent amount of marine mammals. The marine life seen aboard a boat ride during the Dana Point dolphin and whale watching season can range from seals, sea lions, and sharks, to gray, blue, and humpback whales, but one family of marine wildlife leaves both seasoned and novice whale watchers astounded at their phenomenal presence. 

This group of marine animals is known as dolphins, members of the cetacean Delphinidae family. With five different species of dolphins residing outside the Dana Point Harbor, many whale and dolphin watching passengers sport up one of our most commonly asked questions, such as where is the best dolphin watching near me. 

If you’re new, local, or visiting the Dana Point Orange County area, then we have good news for you! Dolphin spotting in Dana Point is the best place to see dolphins, making your dolphin watching near me search a cinch. 

Dolphin sightings are both breathtaking and abundant along our Southern California coastline. With more dolphins per square mile than anywhere else in the world, your dolphin and whale watching boat tours can get you up close and personal with these remarkable specimens who zip, dive, jump, splash and swim up, down, and all around your boat.

Your dolphin cruise in the whale watching Southern California area may make for one of the best dolphin watching near me experiences of your life for many reasons. 

One reason being the handful of dolphin species seen in our waters. These species include the long and short-beaked common dolphins, who measure in at 6 to 9 feet long and can weigh anywhere between 150 to 500 pounds. These dolphins swim in pods that typically number between 200 to 1,000 members, and at times in mega-pods of up to 10,000 strong! We have over 400,000 common dolphins along our coast making your dolphin watching near me dolphin cruise an exceptional experience when these cetaceans are nearby.

Bow riding common dolphin looks at photographer from underwater

Another species includes the bubbly and beautiful bottlenose dolphins. Often familiar to many due to the famous face of Flipper who was a bottlenose dolphin, these cetaceans are a joy to say hello to. The coastal and offshore bottlenose dolphin cruise along our coast, measuring in at 8 to 12 feet and making for some of the most playful, clever, and social dolphins seen aboard a dolphin watching near me whale watching tour. 

Wild Jumping bottlenose dolphin

Risso’s dolphins can also be seen aboard a dolphin cruise in Dana Point. Being one of the most unique looking and largest dolphins seen during a dolphin watching near me excursion, these somewhat shy and coy cetaceans are truly a sight to see. Reaching lengths of 10 feet long and weighing 1,100 pounds, their dark gray and white scarred body patterns make them a remarkable sight to behold.

Wild Risso's dolphin jumping in the air near Dana Point, California

Last but not least, pacific white-sided dolphins also touch down in our SoCal waters. This particular species of dolphin is one of the most gorgeous creatures to set eyes on during our wildlife watching tours. Their 300 to 400-pound bodies are colored with stunning shades of black, gray, and white. A local favorite among those searching for dolphin watching near me tours, these beauties speckle a smile upon the faces of any onlookers who catch a glimpse during their dolphin cruise.

A wild Pacific white-sided dolphin near Dana Point, California

Whether you spot common, Risso’s, pacific white-sided, or bottlenose dolphins during your ocean voyage, these curious cetaceans will not leave you disappointed. The even better news is that this family of flipper wearing friends is not the only reason that your dolphin watching near me search will bring you to the Dolphin and Whale Watching Capital of the World® in Dana Point. 

Additional reasons that bring your dolphin watching near me search to Dana Point, California, includes the warm, mild, and world-famous weather in Orange County, along with the breathtaking scenery and landscapes. These reasons make your dolphin safari even more sensational, adding to the serene and superb moments aboard your dolphin cruise.

Unlike anywhere else in the world, our romantic harbor and nutrient-dense waters filled with fun-spirited animals make our home a sure win for an unforgettable day. Dana Point dolphin watching not only makes for the best tours on the west coast but outshines even the best tours in the east, including trips in Key West. 

Bottlenose dolphin jumps in front of passengers during Dana Point whale watching trip with Captain Dave's

Key West is known for its sandy beaches and swim with dolphins tours, but our eco-friendly tours allow passengers to dodge the harmful impact of swimming with dolphins and instead give you the unique opportunity to get up close and personal with these cetacean cruisers in intimate, respectful, and unforgettable ways.

Not only will the incredibly abundant sightings, ‘sunsational’ weather, and picture-perfect scenery along our Southern California coastline leave you breathless, but our five-star team aboard our incredible vessels may seal the deal on your dolphin watching near me search. Each one of our one of a kind dolphin watching vessels is fully equipped with everything one would need to take a close peek at the wildlife just an arms reach away.

With over five different vessels to choose from, our boats feature ample cushioned seating for all passengers on board, along with amazing views from almost any angle or seat on-board. 

These views are enjoyed both above and below the surface of the water, where fellow dolphin watchers can catch an eye to eye look at the wildlife in our underwater viewing pods, featured on Manute’a. Other options include our super fast and super fun Fast Cat and AllsWell Zodiac tours, along with our upscale motor yacht, ORCA, and our largest fleet member, Hoku Nai’a. We can’t forget about one of our most classic members, the catamaran sailboat DolphinSafari, either. 

Zodiac-style boat Fast Cat with dolphins swimming under the bow

With year-round trips that go out daily, along with breathtaking sunset cruises and a personalized private charter to choose from, the dolphin and whale watching safaris aboard our one of a kind, safe and comfortable vessels make for some of the best results when looking for the best dolphin watching near me.  

So come aboard and join us as we trek out to say hello to the multiplicity of magnificent dolphins along our gorgeous coast.

Until then,

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