Whale watching in Dana Point is more than spectacular—it’s world class. Known as the “Whale Watching Capital of the West,” we have the best year-round whale watching, including the greatest concentration of blue whales and dolphins on earth.
From Dana Point Harbor, gray whales can be seen just seconds away by boat, and nearby are gigantic and gentle blue whales, fearsome killer whales and marine life in their natural habitat that will have you saying “Ooooh” and “Aaah.” It’s a cliche, but it’s true. We all but guarantee you’ll reach storage capacity on your smartphone thanks to all the photos and videos you’ll take during a whale watching tour in Dana Point.
Going whale watching in Dana Point is as simple as heading to the Dana Point Harbor. There are three primary whale watching tour operators: Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Safari, Dana Wharf Whale Watching and 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 scientists for the day.
Experience the world’s only Eye-to-Eye Underwater Viewing Pods while whale watching in Dana Point. Aboard Captain Dave’s hi-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, research quality hydrophone 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 place to sit with plenty of elbow room. Captain Dave also offers special whale watching tours in Dana Point, such as small group drone trips where you can take aerial photos of whales, dolphins and more.
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.
A Dana Point whale watching season? There’s no such thing. Dana Point offers whale watching year-round. Of course, you can see different species of whales depending on the time of year.
Gray whale season extends from November through April. The gray whale makes one of the longest of all mammalian migrations, averaging 10,000-14,000 miles through the Pacific Ocean towards Mexico. Of course, this means they pass 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.