GET TICKETS FOR DANA POINT WHALE WATCHING Thru Apr. 30
Dana Point Whale Watching—Dana Point
Harbor, the pride of the Southern California small craft harbor system, offers
easy access, free parking and the small town feel locals tout to those who come
to enjoy a boat ride during the Whale Watching season and throughout the year.
Whales are a particular passion in Dana Point. As you drive along Pacific Coast
Highway in Laguna Beach, you'll see a whale mural and whale sculptures at Wyland's
Southern California gallery. South of Laguna in Dana Point, you'll find
the heart of Whale Watching in the
The Whale Capital of The West. Seasonal whale watching and a spectacular
festival with a parade, contests, vendor booths, entertainment and many
fun things to do is held annually in Dana Point. Festival of the Whales is one
of California's best eco-friendly events in its mission to honor the sea
creature through education and celebration. Be sure to check out the
Festival of the Whales, the
parade, campfires, races, shows, bands, and more.
Each winter, thousands of California Gray Whales leave the cold
Arctic Seas and follow the coastline to the warm, calm waters of
Southern California and Baja. This 5,000-mile migration brings
much of the pod past Dana Point, where pods of Giant Grays can
be easily seen and photographed. Many believe Dana Point is a
reference “landmark” for the whales and is famous as a gathering
area; they trace one of nature’s longest migratory paths. The
Gray Whale has become symbolic of the vast, mysterious and
fragile marine resources of the Pacific Coast. The Gray Whale is
the most accessible for human observation. During their southern
migration, they tend to hug the shore. This allows for visitors
to approach the whales in a peaceful manner, letting us make
more intimate contact with them. Today’s whale watchers hunt
with cameras and binoculars, not harpoons. Due to the unique
shape of Dana Point Harbor, it is ideally located for easy and
quick access to board a boat and be in the open ocean in 5
minutes. Whale watching has, in fact, become a traditional
winter activity in California. Dana Point Harbor is the official
“Whale Watching Capital of the West”.
After driving by the Henry Dana sculpture
that's located in a little community park on the water, we got our sea bearings
and were off for an adventure we've never tried—a whale watching cruise.
While whales can sometimes be spotted as you drive along the California coast or
on a boat trip to the local islands such as Catalina, the best opportunity to
see the California Gray Whale occurs during the annual migration on special
whale watching boat tours. Some of the largest animals on earth travel approximately 10,000 miles
on this trip, offering a treat as they pass by Dana Point. For those who want to
see the flume with its beautiful conical shape spew a huge mist of fine spray
into the water or obtain a peak-a-boo
look at this magnificent 35-ton creature with its dark gray skin covered with
splotches of color, you can't beat a special whale watching cruise departing
Dana Point Harbor.
The incredible migration of the majestic
California Gray Whale from Alaska to Mexico begins in December and continues
through March. During this peak season, 40 to 50 whales pass by Dana Point each
day, using the Dana Point Headland’s 200-foot cliffs near the harbor as a
landmark to check their migration path.
While locations such as San Pedro in Los
Angeles County have excellent sea programs that include the American
Cetacean Society's Baja Whale Adventures, such trips typically cost
several thousand dollars and require five to ten days of your time. From Point
Fermin, views of the whale migration lack the intimacy that you can enjoy in an
up-close, first hand experience on the Dana Point whale watching excursion.
It takes only 5 to 10 minutes to arrive at
the open seas in Dana Point and in tour boat time, that can actually add up
to 30 or 40 additional minutes to watch the giant sea mammal. Whale watch
cruises typically run between two and three hours and in most harbors, it takes
a good 15 to 20 minutes to navigate the channel before entering the Pacific
Ocean. While there's no guarantee that you'll see a whale, having
additional time to look is a great advantage when departing Dana Point. The
skillful captain and his crew, along with keen spotters on the boat train their
eyes to find signs of whales. On the day we went out, a group said it was
the third trip and the best of three they'd been on as we watched a whale for
over 30 minutes. According to one local Dana Point citizen, the whales have been
visiting and hanging around Dana's coastal headlands while slowly making
the long journey south.
It's every photographer's dream to capture
this giant of the sea as it surges in a graceful arch out of the ocean,
providing the perfect picture. That, unfortunately, happens rarely, but
one local photographer who persisted, managed to obtain such a photo during the
2006 season after three
years of effort. On our tour, we took the photo shown above and several others of
similar quality. The photo itself is not spectacular but the experience
is. Nothing can surpass the joy of riding on a boat on a perfect Orange County,
California, afternoon. That alone is reason to celebrate but when you are
treated to a view of giant whale, the massive size of the animal puts things in
perspective. On this tour, you see
great views of the south Orange County coastline in such cities as San Clemente,
where street navigation can be confusing at times. See
view of the San Clemente Pier taken from Whale
Whale sightings have been above and beyond the normal count in recent seasons,
which means the public has an ideal window of time right now to get up close and
personal with the majestic California Gray Whale. In addition to whales, you'll
probably experience sea lions lazily lounging on a buoy and maybe even a pod of
dolphins, a real treat!
The boat tour on Dana Wharf Sportfishing &
Whale Watching is first class. From the pristine vessel with its snack bar and
protected indoor seating, to its outdoor decks, the excursion is perfect for
singles, families, tourists and vacationers, seniors, and all who share an
interest in the ocean which comprises three-quarters of Planet Earth.
The cost of a whale watching cruise varies
with prices below (obtained in 2006) providing a guideline. Pricing and tour availability
is subject to change. Always call first before going so you'll know exactly how
much the tour will cost when you make your reservation.
To get to Dana Point Wharf, 34675 Golden
Lantern, Dana Point, from North Orange County and/or the Los Angeles area, take
I-5 South and exit Pacific Coast Highway. When you exit, take a left at the
second signal, Dana Point
Harbor Drive. Take your next left at Golden Lantern. Golden Lantern will turn to
the left and dead ends into the parking lot. Parking is free and plentiful. If
you're coming from the South, exit at Beach Cities and follow the same
Dana Wharf Sportfishing & Whale Watching
Ocean Institute Marine Mammal Exploration Cruises
$25 adults, $22 kids 4-12. Join scientists for an action-packed cruise designed
to teach you everything you want to know about whales, dolphins and sea lions.
Or, join us for Thar She Blows sailing excursions aboard the tallship Spirit of
Capt. Dave’s Whale & Dolphin Safari
See, hear, and talk to the whales aboard a sailing catamaran with an underwater videocam and hydraphone.
$55 adults, $35 kids (children 2 and under are free). 2 1/2 fun-filled hours.