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

24440 Dana Point Harbor Drive Dana Point , CA 92629
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Grab your camera and binoculars and be on the lookout for dolphins and whales! This narrated ocean excursion will teach you about Dana Point’s abundant marine life, from sea lions to birds and more. Take advantage of the ship’s Eye-to-Eye Underwater Viewing Pods to see what it’s like to swim along with dolphins. Listen to the hydrophone to also hear whale and dolphin vocalizations!

Good To Know

from Ashley, one of our Dana Point Travel Experts
  • Offers a stable ride and up-close wildlife viewing.
  • Features Eye-Spy Trams Nets, Underwater Viewing Pods, micro-museum, and more.
  • Tour duration: approximately 2.5 hours.
  • Fun for families of all ages.
  • Includes a covered cabin area for protection from the elements, two bathrooms, and cushioned seating.
  • The Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari accommodates up to 49 passengers per trip.
  • The Zodiac tour accommodates up to 12 passengers per trip.


from Captain Dave's Dolphin & Whale Safari
During this narrated tour, you'll learn more about Dana Point's year-round magnificent whales, dolphins, sea lions, sharks, birds, and more.

Manute’a (pronounced mah-noo-tay-ah) is the primary vessel used for our daily whale watching trips. This high-tech, high-speed catamaran sailboat offers the world’s most unique dolphin and whale watching experience.

Manute'a features Capt. Dave's exclusive Eye-to-Eye Underwater Viewing Pods. The two "Pods" give you the extraordinary experience of feeling what it's like to swim with dolphins and whales, underwater, without getting wet! This vessel also features a hydrophone to listen 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. Never crowded, Manute’a carries up to 49 happy passengers with plenty of elbow room and comfortable seating for all.

The Fast Cat is our upscale zodiac (rigid hull inflatable catamaran) perfect for adventurous types seeking a small group tour that will have you incredibly close to the ocean’s surface and within arm’s reach of wildlife. Grab your GoPro and hop aboard this fast and fun dolphin and whale watching excursion, with up to 12 passengers, for an intimate 2-hour look at Southern California’s year-round whales and dolphins. With speeds up to 30 knots, you’ll spend less time looking for animals and more time enjoying them! U. S. Coast Guard inspected and certified for safety. Features heavily padded seats and large sunshade. During this narrated tour, you'll learn more about Dana Point's year-round magnificent whales, dolphins, sea lions, sharks, birds, and more.

And Mrs. Capt. Dave’s legendary, delicious Triple Fudge Brownies are served!

Reserve San Diego Customer Reviews

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TripAdvisor Reviews
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Jacksonville, Florida
"Best Bang for Your Buck"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed March 21, 2019 NEW
Captain Daves is a little more expensive than some of those up by Balboa, but you get what you pay for and Capt. Daves delivers. Dana Point harbor is beautiful. The Catamaran was a wonderful craft from which to view the surroundings and the marine life. The skipper and crew of 4 ensure everyone's safety and are courteous and always at the ready to help. They are all very knowledgeable of what you are seeing. We were fortunate enough to see 5 gray whales, seals, a sea lion lounging on a buoy, dolphins and several water birds. A great vacation memory and experience made possible by Capt. Dave's craft and crew.
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Carrie C
"So much fun!"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed March 21, 2019 NEW
We had a blast on our dolphin and whale watching cruise with Capt. Dave. We saw a pod of bottle nose dolphins and three gray whales. It was a very special day. Thank you!
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Grand Junction, Colorado
"Dolphin and whale watching tour"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed March 19, 2019 NEW
It was a fantastic experience. Great and accommodating crew. My kids loved it! We saw lots of dolphins from the front deck of the boat, and the underwater cabin allowed some close up views as well. If it is chilly outside, taking a blanket is definitely helpful!
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Empire, Michigan
"Fun Time!"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed March 19, 2019 NEW
Everything was enjoyable about this trip. The crew was very informative and obviously knew where to find whales and dolphins. The bonus was seeing sea lions on the way back to the slip. It was very cool to see the whales and dolphins, hundreds of dolphins. The browning was the icing on the cake.
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Akron, Ohio
"Fast Cat is the Best"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed March 18, 2019 NEW
Being on such a small, fast vessel there isn't a bad seat on the boat. We were able to cover so much ground, and see so much more. We saw our first whale within minutes of leaving the harbor. We followed him for quite a while until we saw another one. So beautiful. I didn't even take photos because I just wanted to be present in the moment. Then we went super fast. The ocean was blue and beautiful. We ended up in a pod of about 100 common dolphins. They were everywhere. We saw another breed of dolphins and more sea lions on our way back in. Steve and Daniel were excellent. They definitely deserve more triple chocolate brownies .... which were super killer, btw.
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Captain Dave's Dolphin & Whale Safari is located at 24440 Dana Point Harbor Drive Dana Point , CA 92629
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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?
We recommend 30 minutes ahead of time. Between June – September, we suggest arriving 45 minutes in advance to ensure parking ease at Dana Point Harbor.  If it’s a holiday or Festival of Whales, please allow one hour because whales tend to double park.

What should I bring with me?
You’re welcome to bring beer and wine on our 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 where you can purchase cold beverages, delicious sandwiches, yummy snacks and refreshing ice cream.

Guests should bring sunglasses, cameras, (or extra space on the smartphone), film or memory cards, binoculars, sunblock, small children, caps, and visors. Jackets and windbreakers are always good, too.

Because this vessel offers a fast and bouncy ride, plastic bottle beverages that can be closed and easy-to-eat dry snacks that won't be swept away by the wind, such as granola bars or cookies, are recommended. To prevent spills please do not bring open cans of drinks.

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?

Is there a bathroom on the boat?
Yes! The Manute’a 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.

How far out to sea do you go?
Our vessels usually go out about 3-5 miles, but we have gone up to 8 miles from shore on occasion, depending on where the whales and dolphin are. We 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, we 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 safari turns up zero whales or dolphins, you can return for FREE within one year from the date of the trip!

IMPORTANT: Your “no sightings” ticket is non-transferable and expires one year from the date of your “no sightings” safari. Please use your free ticket before the expiration date!

Are the boats safe?

Do you allow pregnant women? 

How old does my child have to be?
Children of all ages are welcome aboard our boats. All of our vessels are safe and certified by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Can I bring someone who is in a wheelchair?

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.