School Field Trips

Gray Whale Watching Season School Group Special Nov-April

2-Hour Whale Watching Cruises For Only $14 Per Person!

It’s Gray Whale season at Dana Wharf! Since 1971, Dana Wharf has been offering the best in Dana Point Whale Watching. Dana Wharf is a family owned and operated business and the originator of whale watching in Orange County. Dana Wharf proudly takes over 25,000 children out whale watching every year! Join us for a two hour whale watching adventure during the Gray Whale season which runs from November through April. Known as a landmark for whale sightings, Dana Wharf’s tours offer rare glimpses into a huge variety of underwater wildlife that you’ll never forget! The giant Gray Whales may spy hop, breach, or fluke. Enjoy the playful dolphins and sea lions too!

whale spouting in harbor

Our Whale Watching trips are lead by expert captains as well as trained and certified naturalists with the American Cetacean Society of Orange County. In cooperation with ACS of Orange County, Dana Wharf will be offering pre-field trip presentations where we actually come to your students’ classrooms and give a talk about whales and dolphins! The pre-field trip program is based on availability and there is no extra charge, offered to Whale Watching groups of 100 or more only!

Take advantage of our School Field Trip Rate of $14 per person! This rate is for both students and chaperons!

Teachers, download our flyer to learn more!

This discount rate is valid on any whale watching trip Monday – Friday.

Contact Sheri L. Hockmeyer Shaw today with your preferred date and time! Trips depart from Dana Point from 10am, 12 Noon, and 2pm daily.
Sheri L. Hockmeyer Shaw, CTA
Director of Charter Sales
34675 Golden Lantern
Dana Point, CA 92629
949-496-5794 X2
[email protected]

several students with hands raised

5 people standing on dock near Dana Pride

breaching gray whale

Don Hansen, Owner and Founder of Dana Wharf Whale Watching

Don HansonDon Hansen’s love for the Gray Whale inspired thousands to come to Dana Point each year for the annual migration, the longest migration of any living mammal on earth! Today his children continue the tradition of offering Whale Watching from our large comfortable boats.


Gray Whales

An excerpt from The Gray Whale Foundation

The gray whale is a baleen whale that migrates between feeding and breeding grounds yearly. It reaches a length of about 15.2 m (50 ft), a weight of 36 tonnes (35 long tons; 40 short tons), and lives 50-70 years. The common name of the whale comes from the gray patches and white mottling on its dark skin. Gray whales were once called devil fish because of their fighting behavior when hunted.

Gray whale


The gray whale is a dark slate-gray in color and covered by characteristic gray-white patterns, scars left by parasites which drop off in its cold feeding grounds. Individual whales are typically identified using photographs of their dorsal surface and matching the scars and patches associated with parasites that have fallen off the whale or are still attached.

gray whale breaching near beach gray whale under water near surface


Two Pacific Ocean populations of Gray Whales are known to exist: one of not more than 130 individuals (according to the most recent population assessment in 2008) whose migratory route is presumed to be between the Sea of Okhotsk and southern Korea, and a larger one with a population between 20,000 and 22,000 individuals in the eastern Pacific traveling between the waters off Alaska and Baja California Sur.

Gray Whale Migration

Each October, as the northern ice pushes southward, small groups of eastern gray whales in the eastern Pacific start a two to three month, 8,000-11,000 kilometer (5,000-6,800 mi) trip south. Beginning in the Bering and Chukchi seas and ending in the warm-water lagoons of Mexico’s Baja peninsula and the southern Gulf of California, they travel along the west coast of Canada, the United States and Mexico. The western gray whale summers in the Okhotsk Sea, mainly off the northeastern coast of Sakhalin Island (Russian Federation).

For more information on Gray Whale Foundation & educational information, please click here.

Lead Naturalist and School Coordinator – Captain Todd Mansur

Captain Todd Mansur

In 1992 Captain Todd became Dana Wharf Whale Watching’s lead naturalist and conducts all of the pre-excursion in-classroom education for Orange County’s schools. This is also a major role for Todd as a Board Member of the Gray Whale Foundation.

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.

World Cetacean Alliance logoProud 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.