Whale Watching

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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 want to Whale Watch, do it from Dana Point with Dana Wharf, the industry pioneers.

Our Most Popular Trip!

Whale and Dolphin Watching Tour

2 Hours

Visitors can take a voyage with Orange County’s original whale watching company. Riders on one of Dana Wharf’s many vessels often see whales, dolphins and sea lions while embracing the majestic coastline of Dana Point, all these excursions are narrated by expert naturalists. In addition, Dana Wharf is endorsed by renowned wildlife Artist Wyland.

Adults: $49 • Children: $29 • Seniors & Military: $39
Seniors only $24 in November (Mon – Fri)

Whale Watching & Event Specials


Year-Round Specials
  • 1/2 PRICE TUESDAYS all year round!
  • Half price off the usual adult fare!
  • Sunset cruises are only $29 on select dates!

Click Here to join Our Email Club for Special Offers and Latest Updates!

  • December 28th, 8am to 4pm
  • Limited to 30 passengers (Normal capacity is 59)
  • Adults $119, children $79
  • This is during the start of the Gray Whale season migration
  • Kids Fish or Whale Watch FREE with purchase of a full price adult ticket during December
  • 2 children up to age 12 are free with purchase of adult whale watch ticket
  • 2 children up to age 14 are free with purchase of adult fishing ticket (1/2 day or 3/4 day trip)

Private Whale and Dolphin Watching Tours Available!

See the whales, dolphins, other sea life, and breathtaking coastal views during your private and unique experience at Dana Point. Your Captain and Marine Life Expert will be your personal narrator during your 2-hour adventure.

Whale Watching Events


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Boat Parade of Lights

December 6th, 7th, 13th, & 14th at 7pm
Get up close and personal with all the ships at the Annual Dana Point Harbor Boat Parade of Lights.

These 90 minute holiday cruises feature holiday music, up-close views of all the boats participating in the parade, beautiful harbor scenery and a cash bar.

Our fleet will join private boaters from all over Orange County as we decorate our boats. Don’t miss the opportunity to become a pra of this one-of-a-kind holiday experience.

Whale Watching Field Trips

Field trips available Monday – Friday. Reservations required. Trips depart 10am, 12 noon and 2pm daily.

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.

Take advantage of our school field trip rate of $14 per person. This rate is for both students and chaperones (a savings of $15 per person)! Group rate is for groups of 20 or more.

Wyland’s Whale and Dolphin Adventure

Wyland says, “The coolest thing you can do is go to Dana Wharf in Dana Point and take a Whale Watching trip with your family!”

From January thru April every year we have special Wyland’s Whale and Dolphin Adventure Art Lessons in the Wild trips for kids!

  • Saturdays • January 30th – April 30th
  • Art Lesson & VIP Boarding • 9am – 9:45am
  • Whale Watching • 10am – 12pm

Pelagic Bird Watching

January 10th | 8am – 12pm

This 4-hour long adventure will give us more time to travel farther offshore in search of pelagic birds, whales, and dolphins. Each trip will have a local Bird Expert on board. At the end of our trips, we will recap what we saw and make sure that we log what everyone saw as well. This trip is the perfect outing for the beginning birder or the expert or for anyone that just loves the longer adventure.

Pelagic Bird Watching Image 1

Animals We Encounter


Rare Encounter: Gray Baby Orca!

Sept. 15 2019 – Orca Alert! on the Ultimate 8 hour Whale Watch departing from Dana Wharf in Dana Point , Ca. Passengers aboard the Ocean Adventures Catamaran got a rare treat as described by our guide Alisa Schulman-Janiger “We watched 11 Bigg’s transients, including CA216s with CA216C and her pale gray newborn CA216C1, between Catalina Island and Dana Pt. We also saw a fin whale, offshore bottlenose, and common dolphin.” Huge thanks to Capt. Todd Mansur and spotter plane pilot Carl Sparounis! (CA Killer Whale Project) ! Drone pilot was Matt Larmand.

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Ariel Drone footage of a rare gray baby orca with the pod. Very rare and delightful sighting off the coast of Dana Point California.

Whale Sightings Log

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Wonder what you will have a chance to see on your Whale Watching trip in Dana Point? Here is a list of all the cetaceans (whales and dolphins) you may encounter, depending on the time of year:

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Calendar of Availability


More Whale Watching Info


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! These whales visit year round Fin Whales, Humpback Whales, Minke Whale and more

• Dolphins – take memorable photos as schools of playful dolphins frolic around the boat!

• Sea lions, pelican and other seafaring birds plus possible sightings of Sharks ( Mako, Hammerhead, and Great White)

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.

Seasonally we see over 1500 Gray Whales, in the summer we see Blue Whales. Year round we see Fin Whales, Minke Whales, Humpback Whales and even shark. 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 that never expires!

Balloons Blow provides information to educate people about the destructive effects released balloons have on animals, people, and the environment, and strives to inspire and promote an eco-conscious lifestyle.

For more information visit https://balloonsblow.org

Also, we’ve seen an increasing amount of plastic pollution on our adventures. Plastic is not only clogging our landfills but is finding its way into our waterways and oceans at an unprecedented rate. For more information visit COSTA SUNGLASSES Kick Plastic to help reduce the amount of plastic we use and to mobilize a movement.

2018 Whale Sightings

1670 Gray Whales (59 Cow/Calf Pairs), 256 Blue Whales (6 Cow/Calf Pairs), 109 Fin Whales (1 Cow/Calf Pairs), 187 Humpback Whales (1 Cow/Calf Pairs), 200 False killer whales, 30 Orca, 27 Minke Whales, 1 Mako Shark, 3 Bryde’s Whale, 2 Hammerhead Shark

2017 Whale Sightings

65 Fin Whales, 959 Gray Whales, 82 pairs of Gray Whale cow/calves (these are in addition to the single whales), 177 Humpback Whales, 8 pairs Humpback cow/calves (also not included in single whales), 73 Minke Whales, 9 Killer Whales (Orcas), 38 Blue Whales, 2 Bryde’s Whales, 13 Sei Whales, 37 Great White Sharks

2016 Whale Sightings

1363 Gray Whales, 390 Humpback Whales, 120 Fin Whales, 40 False Killer Whales, 61 Minke Whales, 118 Blue Whales, 2 Brydes Whale, 120 Killer Whales (Orca), 4 Basking Sharks, 12 Mola Mola (Ocean Sunfish), 6 Elephant Seals, 5 White Shark, 2 Mako Sharks, 3 Green Sea Turtles, 7 Hammerhead Sharks, 1 Pelagic Stingray, 1 Blue Shark, 1 Striped Marlin

2015 Whale Sightings

952 to Gray Whales, 419 Blue Whales,  75 Fin Whales,  76 Minke Whales, 116 Humpback Whales, 90 False Killer Whales, 156 Pilot Whales, 100 Sperm Whales, 21 Bryde’s Whales, 29 Orcas, 5 Great White Sharks, 12 Mako Sharks, 13 Hammerhead Sharks, 1 Thersher Shark

2014 Whale Sightings

1027 Gray Whales, 50 Fin Whales, 29 Minke Whales, 41 Humpback Whales, 386 Blue Whales, 80 False Killer Whales

2013 Whale Sightings 

598 Gray Whales, 32 Fin Whales, 49 Minke Whales, 21 Humpback Whales, 375  Blue Whales, 11 Killer Whales

Our sightings log is updated every Monday! Please note that there is NO better time for seeing whales or dolphin as they both move 24 hours/day!

Dana Point Whale Watching Adventures

If you don’t see A GOOD SHOWING of whales or dolphin, you will get your ticket back and are invited to come out again with us! These “Mammal Checks” never expire.

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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.