Voted the world's most unique whale watching adventure, check out Captain Dave's Whale and Dolphin Safari schedules and rates below.

Orange County Whale Watching Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Our boats are safe, extremely stable, and designed especially for you to get up close and personal with the awesome dolphins and whales of Orange County. You can be close enough to smell their breath!

Frequently Asked Questions:

What should I bring on my Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari?

Think of your trip as if you were going boating with a small group of friends. What would you like to have along? Water? Soda? Snacks and Sandwiches? We have a variety of assorted beverages, sandwiches, and snacks available for purchase when you check in at our Dolphin Deck. You’re welcome to bring beer and wine but we do recommend plastics cups. If you bring alcoholic beverages, we ask that you consume them responsibly and be respectful of others.
Other items you might like to have with you: Cameras, extra film or memory cards, binoculars, sunscreen, cap or visor. A jacket or windbreaker is a good idea to have too. For your convenience we sell all of these items and more at our Dolphin Deck when you check in for your Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari.

What should I wear on my Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari?

It’s generally about 10 to 15 degrees cooler out on the water, even when the sun is out, so a good idea is to layer your clothes. A shirt, sweatshirt and jacket make a winning combination. Whenever possible, wear tennis or deck shoes, preferably with non-marking (non-black) soles. If it looks like it may rain, you might bring a rain poncho. A hat or visor to protect your head and eyes is a good idea too. Jackets, ponchos, and hats are available to purchase at our Dolphin Deck if you forget anything.

Is there a bathroom on board?

Yes, all of our boats have a restroom. Our most frequently used vessel, Manute’a, has two bathrooms. They are slightly below deck so you must be able to climb down a small boat ladder – three rungs – to get to them. Lily, our new power catamaran has one bathroom located on the lower deck. and ORCA each have one bathroom. There are also bathroom facilities on land to use prior to boarding.

Can I take video or photos during my whale watching trip?

Of course! Feel free to share photos and video of your whale watching trip on our Facebook page too. We love to hear from you!

How far out do you go?

Usually no more than 3 to 5 miles, but we can go up to 8 miles from time to time, depending on where the dolphins and whales are. We are always in view of the gorgeous Southern California coastline.

How old does my child have to be and how much will it cost?

Children of all ages are welcome aboard all of our boat. Our whale watching boats are 100% safe and certified by the United Stated Coast Guard. And kids are our good luck charms! To a dolphin, their children are the most important thing in the world. So dolphins are interested in babies of any species, and seem to be especially attracted to human children just like we’re attracted to baby dolphins. We frequently see dolphins cluster around one of the Underwater Viewing Pods if children are in there! We also have life vests for children, but you are welcome to bring your own. Children are safe anywhere on the boat as long as you are with them.

We don’t have an age limitation, however, we do notice that occasionally children under 3 years old get bored or fall asleep. We do go out of our way to make the trip more fun for them using miniature scale models of the whales and dolphins, as well as letting them see and touch actual whale baleen and whale vertebrae. Sometimes we are even able to let them take a turn at steering the boat!

How far ahead of time should we check in for our Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari?

We recommend you arrive 30 minutes ahead of time. Between the months of June and September we suggest arriving 45 minutes in advance due to parking congestion in Dana Point Harbor. During the Festival of Whales and on any holiday we recommend allowing one hour because it can get REALLY busy!

What should I do about sea sickness?

If someone in your group has had problems with motion sickness in the past or you are concerned, consult your pharmacist. There are some new and improved ways to avoid this and they should be able to help you. If you do decide to take something, make certain that you do so at least one full hour prior to the trip’s departure. Eat lightly beforehand, avoid spicy foods, carbonated beverages, get plenty of sleep the night before and avoid alcohol the night before.

We have Dramamine, Bonine, Ginger tablets, Ginger Ale soda, and Pressure Point Wristbands available to purchase at our Dolphin Deck when you check in.

What's the best time of day to locate the whales and dolphins?

It’s just about the same on each trip. The morning trips are calmer because there is less wind, so we can spot disturbances in the water more easily. However, the later trips have the advantage of knowing the history from the prior trips. It’s really up to you!

Is the boat safe?

Yes! “Manute’a”, our 50-foot sailboat catamaran, and “Lily”, our 62-foot power catamaran, are U.S. Coast Guard approved to carry up to 49 passengers and are roomy even when the capacity is full. Our original 35-foot catamaran “” is U.S. Coast Guard approved for 26, but we usually limit the trips to 20 so there’s some extra elbow room. Because those boats have two hulls, they’re extra stable and don’t rock from side to side like a traditional monohull. There’s ample room on board with enough seating for everyone in the cockpit. We’ve had paraplegics and quadriplegics, pregnant mothers, and 6-week old infants on board. All catamarans gives a very smooth ride. Our 6-passenger motor yacht “ORCA” is also U.S. Coast Guard approved and safe!

Can we bring someone in a wheechair?

We do our best to accommodate every passenger that wants to go. Unfortunately many boats are not handicap accessible, including ours. Please call us at 949-488-2828 for more information of if you have any questions.

What if it rains or gets foggy?

If it’s safe, we go! Fortunately, we don’t usually get much rain here in Southern California. But for those times, the captain will make a decision as to the safety of the voyage just prior to departure time. You should be prepared and at the dock, ready to go! We do have rain ponchos available for purchase or feel free to bring your own. The cockpit of “Manute’a” is covered and can be enclosed on three sides, so most folks stay pretty dry even in a surprise downpour.

Can I cancel my whale watching trip?

No. All reservations are non-cancelable. If you have unforeseeable circumstances that require you to cancel your whale watching reservation please notify us in advance by calling (949) 488-2828.

Will I get wet?

No, there is no water coming over the sides, or ‘tipping’ of the boat. Folks who stay in the cockpit will be quite dry. However on our sailboat catamarans, and Manute’a, the forward area (bow) are low to the water and feature our Eye-Spy Dolphin Nets so that you can get closer to the dolphins. While the boat is underway, the “splash zone” will definitely be turned on so plan on getting at least your feet wet. While we’re with dolphins and whales the boat will slow down considerably and you’ll probably not get wet all. Our new luxury power catamaran, Lily, has a bow that is higher off the water and is enclosed with Lexan® glass for wind protection so it’s unlikely you’ll get wet, though a little spray from the ocean is possible.

What if we don't see whales or dolphins?

Then you’ll have had a great 2 1/2 hour adventure aboard a boat, seen the beautiful coastline, enjoyed the fresh air and had a wonderful chance to relax and be refreshed! (And you’ll have had one of Mrs. Capt. Dave’s famous brownies too!) On your next trip we will offer you a 50% discount and if we don’t see whales or dolphins on that trip either, then you don’t have to pay for the third trip.

Remember that Capt. Dave locates dolphins well over 95% of the time throughout the year on our Dolphin and Whale Watching Safaris.

Should we tip the Captain and crew?

Only if you really want to, but it is never expected. If you have enjoyed your whale watching trip it's always appreciated!

If you have any other questions or concerns don't hesitate to call us at (949) 488-2828.