Captain Dave's Dolphin & Whale Safari in Dana Point, CA

Capt. Dave's Dana Point Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari24440 Dana Point Harbor DriveDana Point, CA 92629
View on Map
Starting at
$95.00 $93.75
Total Price: $95.63 (USD)
You Save: $1.25
TripAdvisor user rating 5.00 out of 5 Based on 1858 reviews


Grab your binoculars for an unforgettable Dana Point whale-watching experience! These narrated cruises in Dana Point, CA, show the ocean’s abundant marine life, from whales to dolphins and more aboard high-speed boats. See what it’s like to swim with dolphins via the underwater viewing pods, and listen to the hydrophone for whale and dolphin vocalizations!

up to 2.5 hrs 1 or more people

Good To Know

  • Enjoy a high-speed, stable ride and up-close marine wildlife viewing in Dana Point, CA.
  • Witness majestic whales, playful dolphins, curious sea lions, sleek sharks, vibrant birds, and more.
  • These ocean cruises are fun for friends and families of all ages.
  • Tours last approximately 2 or 2.5 hours. Please check-in at least 45 minutes prior to cruise departure.
  • Manute’a catamaran features Eye-Spy Trams Nets, underwater viewing pods, a micro-museum, and more.
  • Zodiac-style boat features a speed of 30 knots or faster.
  • The Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari can accommodate up to 49 passengers per trip.
  • The Zodiac tour can accommodate up to 12 passengers per trip.
  • Onboard restrooms available on the Manute’a catamaran but not on the Zodiac-style boat.


from Captain Dave's Dolphin & Whale Safari
During the narrated tour, participants will gain insights into the year-round magnificent marine life of Dana Point, which includes whales, dolphins, sea lions, sharks, birds, and more.

The primary vessel for the daily whale watching trips is Manute’a, a state-of-the-art, high-speed catamaran sailboat that provides a truly unique experience for observing dolphins and whales.

Manute’a is equipped with Capt. Dave's exclusive Eye-to-Eye Underwater Viewing Pods, allowing you to experience the sensation of swimming with dolphins and whales underwater without getting wet. This vessel also features a hydrophone for listening to dolphin and whale vocalizations, three Eye-Spy Dolphin Tram Nets on the bow for an up-close and immersive whale watching adventure, and a micro dolphin and whale museum. Manute’a can accommodate up to 49 passengers, ensuring a comfortable and uncrowded experience.

For those seeking a more adventurous and intimate tour, the Zodiac Safari (rigid hull inflatable boat) is an excellent choice. This small group tour gets the participants incredibly close to the ocean's surface and within arm's reach of wildlife. With a capacity of up to 20 passengers, this fast and exciting dolphin and whale watching excursion reaches speeds of up to 30 knots, allowing you to spend more time enjoying the animals and less time searching for them. The vessel is U.S. Coast Guard inspected and certified for safety and provides comfortable seating with a large sunshade.

During the tour, participants can also indulge in the legendary and delicious Triple Fudge Brownies, courtesy of Mrs. Capt. Dave.
Star Map Pin Icon
Captain Dave's Dolphin & Whale Safari is located at Capt. Dave's Dana Point Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari24440 Dana Point Harbor DriveDana Point, CA 92629
Attraction Map Pin IconAttractions Hotel Map Pin IconHotels & Lodging

Frequently Asked Questions about Captain Dave's Dolphin & Whale Safari

When is the best time of day to see whales and dolphins?

There is no specific time! Dolphin, whales and all types of marine wildlife float, freestyle, glide, pose, dive, dip, and zip throughout the year, all day long. Morning trips are calmer because there’s less wind, and disruptions in the water are easier to spot.

How far in advance should I check in?

It is recommended to check in at least 45 minutes ahead of time. Check in and chill on the Dolphin Deck. Between June and September, on holidays, or the Festival of Whales, it is best to arrive 60 to 90 minutes in advance to ensure parking ease at Dana Point Harbor because whales tend to double-park.

What should I bring with me?

You’re welcome to bring beer and wine on their 2.5-hour Signature Safari, but for safety, please don’t forget the plastic cups. And as always, drink responsibly. You can also visit the Dolphin Deck to purchase cold beverages, delicious sandwiches, yummy snacks and refreshing ice cream. As for the Zodiac cruise, because of the fast and bouncy ride, drinks must be in containers that can be closed, such as reusable water bottles, and easy-to-eat dry snacks that won’t be swept away by the wind such as granola bars and cookies. Guests should bring sunglasses, cameras, (or extra space on the smartphone), film or memory cards, binoculars, sunblock, caps, and visors. Jackets and windbreakers are always good for the cruise, too.

What should I wear?

It is usually 10-15 degrees cooler on the water, even when the sun shines, so it’s a good idea to layer clothes. Wear tennis or deck shoes if possible, preferably with non-marking, non-black soles. And if it looks like rain, a rain poncho will help. A hat or visor is a good idea, too.

Can I take pictures or video?

Yes, there are plenty of photo opportunities on board.

Is there a bathroom on the boat?

Manute’a sailboat has two bathrooms. The bathrooms are slightly below deck so you need to be able to climb down a small boat ladder – just three steps – to get to them. Zodiac-style boat, however, does not have a bathroom on board.

How far out to sea do you go?

Captain Dave's vessels usually go out about 3-5 miles, but they have gone up to 8 miles from shore on occasion, depending on where the whales and dolphin are. They are always in view of the gorgeous Orange County coastline.

What should I do about seasickness?

Bonine, Dramamine, Ginger tablets. Ginger Ale and Pressure Point Wristbands are all available for purchase on the Dolphin Deck, but check in early to ensure maximum effectiveness.

What happens if it rains or gets foggy?

If it’s safe, you go! And although it rarely rains in Southern California, your captain will make a decision as to the safety of the voyage before departure if it does. Be prepared, at the dock, and ready to go!

What if we don't see whales or dolphins?

In the unlikely event your cruise turns up zero whales or dolphins, you can return with a complimentary ticket within one year from the date of the trip! Please note that your “no sightings” ticket is non-transferable and expires one year from the date of your “no sightings” cruise.

Are pregnant women allowed on the cruises?

Pregnant women are allowed on Manute’a sailboat. However, pregnant women are not allowed on the high-speed zodiac-style boat due to the potentially bouncy ride.

How old does my child have to be?

Children of all ages are welcome aboard their boats. All of their vessels are safe and certified by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Can I bring someone who is in a wheelchair?

Yes. Please make a note of your request for accessibility assistance in the comments section above when booking your tickets.

Will I get wet on the boat?

Depending on ocean conditions, your legs and feet could get wet on the bow while the boat is out to sea and going fast! However, the boat slows down in the presence of dolphins and whales and you’re less likely to get splashed.

Should I tip the captain and crew?

Only if you would like to, and please know it’s never expected. If you have enjoyed your whale and dolphin safari, gratuities are always appreciated.

How many people can the boats accommodate?

The Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari holds a maximum of 49 passengers per trip and the Zodiac tour can accommodate up to12 passengers per trip.