Published: Oct 28 2019
Dana Point is one of the most popular spots for whale watching in Southern California, and its location is ideally situated for wildlife watching. With a coastline that is two miles wide, Dana Point is ideal for spotting whale migrations all year round. Whale watching is a fantastic activity to experience in Southern California, whether you're traveling or are a local.
While whale watching happens all year round near Dana Point, you’ll see different types of whales depending on the time of year.
Having been wiped out on the Atlantic Coast, gray whales can only be seen along the Pacific Coast. The best time to see gray whales is from about November through mid-May as they migrate between Alaska and Baja California.
If you’re planning a summer trip to Orange County or Southern California, you won’t be disappointed. May through November, you can spot the majestic blue whales. They’re easy to spot in clear conditions due to their ability to blow water as high as 40 feet into the air and tend to swim slowly. During these summer months, blue whales migrate to colder polar waters to feed.
Depending on the time of year, you’ll find the following kinds of whales:
One of the best things about whale watching in Dana Point is that you’ll have the opportunity to experience much more than just whales. From relaxing ocean views to the scent of the saltwater, you can also spot dolphins and sea lions almost all year-round. Occasionally you might see elephant seals, harbor seals, jellyfish, and sea turtles.
For birdwatchers, Dana Point is also great for viewing endangered marine birds like brown pelicans. Blue herons and cormorants are also frequently spotted.
Sharks are also seen periodically, including hammerhead sharks, mako sharks, blue sharks, and great white sharks.
More rarely, you might see basking sharks or devil rays.
Whether this is your first whale watching excursion or you’re simply on a quest for a rare glimpse of a species you’ve never seen before, there are some items you should always pack:
Though most travelers think California and immediately think of bikinis, shorts, and sandals, it’s often much colder – and windier – at sea. No one wants to be shivering while waiting to spot wildlife, so dressing accordingly can go a long way in ensuring you’re comfortable for a day on the ocean! We suggest wearing a shirt, a sweatshirt or long-sleeved warm shirt, and a jacket along with full-length pants and sturdy shoes with non-marking soles.
While gratuity is not required for most whale watching tours, it’s customary to tip your captain in cash based on your experience. Fifteen percent is a good rule of thumb.
If you’re worried about getting seasick, here are some tips:
Can’t get enough of the water after your whale watching adventures? You’re in luck – you can find everything from yacht rentals and fishing charters to kayaking tours and surfing lessons.