Whale watching cruises in Orange County run from Dana Point and Newport Beach. Seasonal sightings along the coast include blue whales and gray whales. Any time of year, you may also see fin whales, humpback whales, minke whales, and orcas.
Dana Point is famous for sightings of dolphins by the thousands. If you want to know more about them, check the Guide to Whales and Dolphins of the California Coast.
Best Time for Whale Watching in Orange County
Whale watching season in Orange County is nearly year round, but some of the whales are there only part of the year.
Blue whale season is May through November. Gray Whales are there from November through April. The big pods of dolphins often seen at Dana Point are around all year long. So are the sea lions, making for a high probability of seeing a marine animal no matter when you go.
Whale Watching Cruises from Dana Point
Dana Point is the most popular spot for whale watching in the OC. It's easy to know that from the enthusiastic reviews from people watched whales from there. That could be because of Dana Point's two-mile-wide, east-west facing coastline. I draws the whales and dolphins closer to the shore. But whatever the reason, Dana Point is the place to go for a fun whale watching cruise.
Captain Dave's is a very highly rated whale watch operator in Dana Point.
They have the best-equipped boats - and the best guest reviews - I've heard of in all of California. Their catamaran is equipped with underwater hydrophones so you can hear the animals' calls. And underwater viewing pods give you a better, eye-to-eye look.
According to experts, gray whales breach - that's the spectacular jump-out-of-the-water and make a big splash move - more often near Dana Point and Laguna.
That's another reason to make the trip down to Dana Point if you can.
Whale Watching Cruises from Newport Beach
You can also have fun on a whale watch from Newport Beach if that's more convenient. Whale watching tours in Newport Beach include Dana Wharf Fishing and Whale Watching, Davey's Locker and Ocean Explorer Cruises.
Some of these companies add on extra charges for fuel, something to check for, so you know what to expect regarding prices.
Newport Landing partners with Riter Aviation to offer unique whale watching trips from an airplane. See the details at their website.
Whale Watching from the Shore around Dana Point and Orange County
The best place for Dana Point whale watching from land is from the trail along the headlands near the marina, but it's not the only place you can try. For more ideas, check this list of the best whale watching parks in Orange County.
More things Whale-Related in Orange County
The annual Dana Point Festival of Whales occurs in March, with so much to do that it stretches over two weekends.
How to Make the Most of Whale Watching in Orange County
No matter where you watch the whales, some things are the same. Get tips for picking the best cruise and ways to have the most enjoyable experience in the California Whale Watching Guide.
Whale watching trips are somewhat expensive. You may be tempted to go for the lowest price, but that could be a mistake. If you're looking for that trip of a lifetime, your whale watch may not be the time to go bargain-shopping.
If you're looking for a whale watching discount, you may find one using services like Travel Zoo, Groupon, and others. Here's something to think about before you look for them: I've seen lots of online complaints and reviews that talk about hidden costs and poor quality. In fact, it seems like the poorer the quality of the trip, the more likely you are to find a discount.