Whale and Dolphin Watching Adventure Tour
Our most popular trip!
Join us for an adventure like no other!
The original whale watching company in Orange County!
Dana Wharf Whale Watching began in 1971 and was the first whale watching company in Orange County. We are the premier year-round whale watching facility in Southern California. If you are coming to whale watch you want to do it from Dana Point with Dana Wharf the pioneers of the industry.
Adults (ages 13 to 54): $45.00
Children (ages 3 to 12): $29.00
Seniors (ages 55 and older): $35.00
Military (Active duty must show valid ID at check in): $35.00
Toddlers (ages 2 and under): FREE
1/2 PRICE TUESDAYS all year round!
Half price off the usual adult fare!
Sunset cruises are only $29 on select dates!
Please note that Tuesday trips generally sell out, so for a less crowded boat please book a full-priced ticket for a different day of the week.
About the Whale and Dolphin Watching Adventure Tour
Join DANA WHARF OC’s first (and locals favorite) whale watching company and delight in the exciting sights and sounds of the magnificent ocean creatures at Dana Wharf. Known as a landmark for marine life sightings, Dana Wharf’s Whale and Dolphin Watching Adventure Tours offer rare glimpses into a huge variety of underwater wildlife and gorgeous scenic views you’ll never forget.
This season we saw over 1500 Gray Whales, and last summer we saw over 750 Blue Whales. Every trip is a new experience, so be sure to come out often! Whale Watching season is year round, marine mammal sightings are guaranteed, meaning that if you do not see a whale OR dolphin, we’ll give you a voucher for a free trip!
Trips may be aboard our Ocean Adventure Catamaran , the only Catamaran with a raised viewing EYE SPY platform not a net so you never get wet!!
Every trip is a new experience, so be sure to come out often! See attractions such as:
• Gray Whales (November – May) – These friendly Whales are up to 65 feet!
• Blue Whales (May – November) – They can grow up to 100 feet long and weigh up to 100 tons – you will not believe your eyes if you’re lucky enough to see on of these impressive marine mammals!
• Dolphins – take memorable photos as schools of playful dolphins frolic around the boat!
• Sea lions, pelican and other sea faring birds
All of our cruises are narrated by our expert marine naturalist captains who will educate you on the abundant ocean life on our coast. Trips are all 2 hours long, plenty of time to discover the world that lies beneath!
Special 4 Hour and 8 Hour Trips departs at 8am , half day adventure or all day adventures on our fast , luxury vessel the Ocean Adventures Catamaran to search for whales of all kinds and many more cetaceans we see led by our all star crew Captain Frank Brennan or Captain Corey Hall, lead naturalist Jason Kunewa and photojournalist Carla Mitroff, SPECIAL GUESTS may include Captain Todd Mansur , Bernardo Alps , Alisa Schulman-Janiger , Doug Thompson, Dr. Lei Lani Stelle , and many more you never know who may surprise you.
(We will have a galley open for other beverages and food. Pre paid reservation required at time of booking. sorry no discount of any kind are accepted on this trip! See schedule for dates)
GUARANTEED MARINE MAMMAL SIGHTINGS- If you don’t see a good showing of marine mammals (whale or dolphins), get a free Marine Mammal Rain Check to come back for another trip!
- Questions About Tickets/Policies
Do I have to purchase tickets in advance?
Advance purchase is strongly recommended, and trips often sell out quickly. To maximize your chances of getting the day and time you prefer, please buy your tickets well in advance. Tickets can only be purchased with a Visa, Mastercard or American Express.
Can I have some more information on the DVD that is available for sale with my ticket purchase?
Absolutely! The DVD is a video entitled “Sharing the Shores off Dana Point”, shot by Dana Wharf’s Captains and crews with video , go pro and drones. This original DVD features 26 minutes of breathtaking and authentic footage of marine life sightings from Dana Wharf, including Gray Whales, Humpback Whales , Killer Whales, Blue Whales, dolphins, sea lions, birds and more. This DVD is fully narrated with music throughout ! This video is sure to wow friends and family alike, and makes a great souvenir from your trip.
What happens if it rains?
We do run in light rain, but if it becomes extremely windy we might have to cancel the trip for safety reasons. If the trip has already left the dock and conditions become unsafe, we will issue a “whale check” that will allow you to come back another time for another cruise!
Are children allowed?
Yes! We have no age limit for our whale watching cruises. Everyone is welcome, and our boats are very safe with high rails. Children two years of age and under are free of charge, but require a ticket because our boats can only hold up to a certain amount of people and we cannot exceed that number even for toddlers or infants.
Is this cruise suitable for pregnant women?
While we don’t put a limitation on who may or may not attend, pregnant women should always consult with their doctors before participating in any active activities.
If this trip is sold out can I get on a waiting list?
Unfortunately, we do not have waiting lists for our trips. If the date and time you want is sold out, please choose another date and time from the schedule for this activity.
How early should I arrive to check in before the trip?
Please arrive no later than 30 minutes before the cruise departs.
- Questions About Whale Watching
Are we guaranteed to see whales?
Sightings are guaranteed, meaning that if you do not see a marine mammal (whale OR dolphin), we’ll give you a voucher for a free trip!
When is whale watch season?
It’s always whale watch season at Dana Wharf! Gray Whale season starts the day after Thanksgiving every year (Nov 28), and typically runs until the end of April (April 30). January to March are the peak times for Gray whales, and coincide with our annual Festival of Whales. Blue Whale season runs from May until November. Whatever the season, we also typically see pods of dolphin, sea lions, squadrons of pelican and other sea faring birds.
What is the best time of the day to see whales?
Whales migrate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There is no “best” time to see whales, but the weather on the water tends to be calmer in the morning.
How close do we get to the whales?
The Marine Mammal Protection Act requires that we stay 100 yards away from the whales, but some may swim right up to the boat! Dolphins usually come very close, but we do not touch, swim with, or feed the wildlife.
How far does the boat go out?
Gray whales are coastal navigators, so usually we travel about a mile offshore. The same is generally true for Blue whales. The boat does have the range of up to 7 miles if needed.
- Our Location
Where exactly is Dana Wharf located within Orange County?
Hopefully these landmarks will help you to find us better: Dana Wharf is located 40 minutes south of Disneyland in Anaheim, 1 hour south of LAX airport in Los Angeles, and 60 minutes north of Sea World in San Diego. We are basically in the heart of Orange County!
- Questions About the Boat
Will I get seasick?
While our vessels are very safe and stable, we will be in the ocean. If you are susceptible to motion sickness, you might want to consider taking preventative measures beforehand.
Which boat will we be going on?
Our Ocean Adventure Cruises and whale watching cruises usually take place on our luxurious Dana Pride, complete with inside and upper deck seating, a full galley, and cash bar.
Are there restrooms on board?
Yes, there is a clean marine head on board.
Is there shade on the boat?
Yes! Indoor seating and awnings are available. If you plan on staying outside to have a better view of the whales, please dress appropriately with a hat, sunglasses, and/or sunscreen.
Is the boat safe?
Absolutely. In addition to modern safety equipment (EPIRB, Life Floats, Life Jackets, etc.) our vessels are constantly maintained and inspected once a year by the United States Coast Guard, a Division of Homeland Security.
Is the boat wheelchair accessible?
If you would like to come whale watching with us in a wheelchair, please contact us and we will make arrangements to accommodate you.
Are there life jackets on board? Do I have to wear one?
We do have life jackets on board, but it is not required for any passenger to wear one during the cruise.
Will there be room on the boat to stow my belongings?
There is limited room to stow your belongings on board. Please only bring what is absolutely necessary for the trip.
Can I smoke on the boat?
Smoking is permitted in designated smoking areas.
Are dogs allowed on board?
We do not allow dogs on board, with the exception of service animals.
- What Should I Bring
Can I bring my own food and/or beverages?
You are welcome to bring a “brown bag” lunch, however you may not bring ice chests or alcoholic beverages on board. Alcoholic beverages are available for purchase on board.
What kinds of food and beverages are available in the full-service galley?
The boats offer a variety of grilled sandwiches such as cheeseburgers, grilled cheese, BLT, and burritos. They also have soda, water, and beer. On the Dana Pride we offer a fully stocked bar including hard alcohol (please remember you may not bring your own alcohol on board).
How much money should I bring?
While no money is required from you on board, if you’d like to purchase food or beverages at the full service galley, or souvenirs, please bring extra money (approximately $20). While the store on-land accepts both cash and credit cards for souvenir purchases, food and drink on the boats’ galleys will need to be purchased with cash only.
How much should I tip the crew if any?
There is no gratuity required, but a recommended amount would between $2-$5 per person. The crew works hard to make your trip enjoyable!
Can I bring an ice chest?
No ice chests are allowed on board. We will make exceptions for special diets, however.
- Private Charters
Can I book a private charter?
Yes, all boats are available for private charters. Please contact us for more information.
About Dana Wharf
Dana Wharf Sportfishing & Whale Watching is dedicated to helping locals and visitors alike enjoy the unique wonders of Dana Point Harbor and the Orange County coastline. The warm waters right out of Dana Point Harbor are flourishing with sea life including whales, dolphins, harbor seals, and California sea lions. Our thriving coastal waters provide bountiful fishing of sand bass, calico bass, halibut, bonito, yellowtail, yellowfin tuna, bluefin tuna, and dorado. Whether you’re looking for boat rentals in Dana Point to enjoy a private boat charter, sailboat or catamaran, coming for an awe-inspiring whale watching cruise or wanting to create memories onboard our sportfishing charters, one thing is for certain: your trip through the beautiful and scenic Orange County coast will be unforgettable. Dana Wharf is conveniently located in Dana Point, Orange County, just south of Newport Beach, Huntington Beach and Laguna Beach – about 30 minutes south of Disneyland, an hour south of Los Angeles and an hour north of San Diego.
Proud Partner of the World Cetacean Alliance
The World Cetacean Alliance (WCA) is the world’s largest Partnership working to protect whales, dolphins and porpoises (cetaceans). Partners of the WCA aim to conserve and protect cetaceans and their habitats in the world’s oceans, seas and rivers, to ensure their continued survival.