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Get Close to the Biggest Animals on Earth

A Spectacular Sea Life Show

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Unmatched Access to Marine Life
Dana Point Whale Watching

Dana Point whale watching is more than spectacular—it’s world-class. As the Dolphin & Whale Watching Capital of the World® and the first Whale Heritage Site in the Americas, Dana Point is the best location for watching year-round whales embark on one of the longest migrations by any mammal. Not to mention, Dana Point sees the greatest concentration of blue whales and dolphins on earth.

It’s Always Dana Point Whale Watching Season

When is Dana Point whale watching season? There’s no such thing. There are ample opportunities to spot dolphins, whales and other marine life all year long, in Dana Point. Of course, you can see different species of whales depending on the time of year. This prime location is going to be the best chance for spotting the numerous types of whales that travel along the shores of Dana Point, California.

Gray whale season extends from November through April. Gray whales make for one of the longest of all mammalian migrations, averaging 10,000-14,000 miles from above Northern California, through the Pacific Ocean, towards Baja California. Of course, this means the gray whale migration passes right through Dana Point, making for incredible whale watching.

Blue whale season lasts roughly from May through November. Seeing a blue whale while whale watching in Dana Point is a rare treat. The largest mammal on earth, blue whales can reach over 100 feet long and weigh over 100 tons. They make appearances just off the coast in Dana Point. Be sure to have your camera ready to catch an epic shot of their tails coming out of the water (lobtailing).

During the year, visitors who go whale watching in Dana Point may also see fin whales, minke whales, humpback whales, and orcas. Whale watching in Dana Point is also famous, thanks to the pods of dolphins that swim alongside the boats. Common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, Risso’s dolphins and Pacific white-sided dolphins all play along the Dana Point coastline.

Needless to say, Dana Point is the perfect place to spot whales, dolphins and other marine life. Whether you choose to take a guided boat tour, enjoy any of the boat rentals available or explore from the shore, you can have a full day of whale watching all year long.

whale watching in Dana Point

Whale Watching California

The desirable Southern California weather, especially between Los Angeles and San Diego, makes Dana Point the most ideal whale watching California offers.

What Is the Best Time of Day for Whale Watching in California?

Morning is the best time of day for whale watching in California. Weather is the key component to ideal whale watching conditions. Typically, there is less wind in the morning making for calmer seas, which is most enjoyable for both marine life and boat tours. Late afternoon can also be an option for better whale watching as the winds typically start to die down and the tides start to roll back deeper onto the shores.

Where Can I Go Whale Watching in Orange County?

Going whale watching in Dana Point is as simple as heading to Dana Point Harbor. Though there are many options when it comes to whale watching in Orange County, there are three primary whale watching tour operators located in Dana Point: Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Safari, Dana Wharf Whale Watching and the Ocean Institute.

Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari

Experience the world’s only Eye-to-Eye Underwater Viewing Pods while whale watching in Dana Point. Aboard Captain Dave’s high-tech Sailing Catamaran, you can see and hear whales and dolphins up close in their own underwater environment. Captain Dave, an award-winning filmmaker and author, has also outfitted his vessel with three Eye-Spy Dolphin Nets and micro-museum. With less than 50 people on the boat during every voyage, the 2.5-hour tours are never crowded, giving everyone a cushioned place to sit with plenty of elbow room. Captain Dave also offers special whale watching tours in Dana Point, such as small group trips on a fast and fun zodiac catamaran. Faster speed means more time enjoying the whales and dolphins!

Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching

Starting in 1971, Dana Wharf Whale Watching was the first whale watching company in Orange County. Dana Wharf Whale Watching offers year-round whale watching in Dana Point. If you are coming to whale watch, you want to do it from Dana Point with Dana Wharf, the pioneers of the industry. They are so confident you’ll be wowed, they guarantee mammal sightings. If you don’t get a good showing of marine mammals–whales or dolphins–you’ll get a free Marine Mammal Rain Check to come back for another whale watching tour in Dana Point.

Whale Watching at the Ocean Institute

With a focus on education, the Ocean Institute’s marine educators take visitors of all ages out on the R/V Sea Explorer in search of whales, dolphins and sea lions. Learn about the ocean from top to bottom while searching for some of the world’s largest and smallest creatures during the 2.5-hour long whale watching adventure in Dana Point. The Ocean Institute provides the only whale watching in Dana Point that allows your family to be marine biologists for the day.

Whale Heritage Site

Feel good about whale watching in Dana Point.

Dana Point is proud to be the first Whale Heritage Site in the Americas, as designated by the World Cetacean Alliance (WCA)-- the world’s largest marine conservation partnership, dedicated to the promotion of safe and sustainable whale watching.

Whale Heritage Sites give you a transparent and easy way to select responsible whale and dolphin watching destinations.

Here's your VIP invitation to experience these animals in their natural habitat, in an authentic and respectful way.

Whale Watching California