10 tips for whale watching in Dana Point

Have you ever gone whale watching? If not then you need to treat yourself and give it a try. We have been whale watching around the world, in fact, we just returned from Oslob Philippines for whale watching, and we have to say that data point is still our favorite with a much better experience and more sightings than anywhere else we have been. California has some of highest concentrations of dolphins and whales of any area in the United States, and whale watching in Dana Point is some of the best in California. Here are some tips to make it an unforgettable experience.

Book in advance

Depending what you want to see, do some research, or ask the tour company when is the best time to see what you want particular whales or dolphins you want. Dolphins tend to be more populous in the warmer months and whales a bit more in the colder ones. Though that doesn’t mean you can’t see both at any given time.

Arrive early

Unlike a party where it’s good to be fashionably late, you want to get to the boat early. If you want to get the best seats arrive early, and then when everyone else arrives on time, you will already be there.

Wear appropriate clothes

Southern California is generally a warm and comfortable place, you might come out of the hotel to a lovely hot SoCal day, but once you get on the water, it can get a lot chillier fast. Even if you don’t think you need it, bring an extra jacket, a waterproof one would be ideal. A windbreaker is a good idea as well. A baseball cap with a brim helps cut own the glare so you can see the dolphins or whales better. As a side note, if you are not used to the California sun, wear sunscreen.


If you are prone to seasickness, your wondrous adventure with nature might suddenly feel like an excerpt from a Steven King horror novel. Even if you aren’t prone to seasickness, it is a good idea to bring alone some seasickness medicines just in case. We use ginger, as we have found that works wonderfully and its natural, but of course, check with your doctor as a disclaimer.

Keep your hands inside the boat

Dolphins are wild animals, as much as you love to see them and they seem happy and friendly, which for the most part they are, they are still wild. For example, when you see a wild dog, you have to use common sense, it might be friendly, but it might be having a bad day and bite you. Dolphins are no different, so please, no petting the animals.

Get a lanyard for your camera or phone

We know you want to take photos and remember the experience, we all do, there is nothing quite like seeing a whale breach the water and getting a picture of it. However, unless you want your camera to possibly join other cameras on the bottom of the ocean, leaning over water with wet spray is not a good way to do it. Get a lanyard, so if your camera or phone slips, you won’t lose it.

Video over photos

Warner reflects, and though you can see through the water when you are there, and see dolphins just below the surface, when you get your pictures back later it looks just like you took a picture of water. You can barely see anything else but glare and water. Take a video to get the full motion and have a better chance of relieving the moments.

Ask questions

Your guides love talking about whales and dolphins; they are a font of knowledge and will give you stories and background. They will tell you about each whale or dolphin species and what their habits are. Whale watching is not just sitting in a boat, it’s a learning experience. If you show interest, the guides are happy to be talking about their favorite subject.

Don’t be disappointed

Unfortunately, this is nature and nature is unpredictable. You might have a trip where you don’t see any whales or dolphins, it happens. A skilled guide will give you the best chances of getting you to what you want to see, but if it doesn’t happen, you just have to enjoy the day out on the water and hope for better luck next time.

Relax and enjoy

That is the most important thing, dolphins and whales come when they want, not when you want. So just relax and enjoy the trip, listen to the guides tell you all about the ocean area and the various species, just enjoy the day and good things will come.

Dana Point is a lovely place and has some of the best whale watching in the world in our opinion. A good tour guide, and a nice boat, with some great weather, and we can’t think of a better way to spend the day. I hope our travel tips helped you.