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Whales Take Center Stage at This Annual Festival

A Ton of Nature, Up Close and Personal

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Celebrating Our Gentle Creatures
Dana Point Festival of Whales

People run 10Ks all the time. But what if the 10K was actually 10,000 miles? That’s the distance countless pods of determined humpback, gray and minke whales make each year as they migrate from Mexico to Alaska with a few pit stops in Southern California along the way. In keeping with our philosophy of greeting Dana Point visitors like they’re family, we’ve celebrated all things whale through the annual Festival of Whales for nearly 50 years.

At the Dana Point Festival of Whales, which usually takes place in early March, it’s about getting up close and personal with the marine wildlife that dots our horizon each spring. It’s about understanding marine life habitats and protecting these delicate areas for generations to come. And it’s about coming together with family to celebrate the stunning beauty and scenic wonder of our home we call Dana Point.

Learn more about the annual Dana Point Festival of Whales and how you can make your own migration to the Whale Watching Capital of the West this spring.

Whale Watching During the Dana Point Festival of Whales

There’s no question whale watching takes center stage during the spring in Dana Point. But there’s so much more to see during this annual celebration, including dolphins, starfish and other aquatic locals we’re proud to share this region with.

As for the whales, there are “tons” to see. From the smaller minke whales to mid-sized humpbacks and gigantic (but gentle) gray whales, the Dana Point Festival of Whales offers a rare opportunity to see some of nature’s most elusive creatures in their own habitats.

There’s a lot to be seen from the beaches and scenic cliffs of Dana Point, too, but you can’t beat the prime vantage point of being on the water, cruising slowly among the whales. Hop on a two-hour ocean excursion led by naturalists and experienced captains who know everything there is to know about the annual whale migration. Narrated tours will help you better understand their fragile habitats and the importance of preserving the region’s delicate underwater ecosystems. Tours are available in a variety of lengths, with some scheduled for early morning whale watching and others perfectly timed to help you take in a breathtaking Southern California sunset. Special discounts are available for children, seniors and military members. The more intrepid in your group might opt for stand-up paddleboarding, which brings you even closer to the whales.

Events During the Dana Point Festival of Whales

Of course, it wouldn’t be a festival without a parade, street fair, kids’ activities and other fun diversions. During the two weeks of the whale festival in Dana Point, local vendors bring out their best wares and display them in a street fair at La Plaza Park. The same day, the Festival of Whales parade kicks off with floats, balloons and local groups winding through the streets of Dana Point and along the Pacific Coast Highway. There are also craft fairs, an Ocean Awareness Day, dining, drinks, music and more. Free shuttles are available throughout the festival’s duration, so you can sit back, enjoy the ride and maybe even catch a glimpse of a whale pod along the way.

If you’re staying more than a day, make sure to book a room early for your visit. The event attracts more than 100,000 visitors over its nine days. Find the perfect accommodations and book your trip now.