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Dana Wharf Whale Watching Is a SoCal Must Do

We visited as a guest of Dana Wharf

As a Southern California native, I truly believe going whale watching is a childhood rite of passage. I went to see the whales in the third grade on a school field trip. No whales were watched that day unfortunately, but it was a nice change of pace from sitting in a classroom. I remember learning about various types of ocean plants and sea life, and the day made a lifelong impression on me.



Given that whale watching field trips are no longer in our local school’s curriculum, my husband and I were excited to get a new opportunity to see some whales with our two girls as a guest of Dana Wharf Whale Watching. Sure, the girls have been on a few cruise ships and on the Catalina Flyer, but never on a coastal adventure specifically to spot and learn about whales and ocean life.



Dana Wharf Whale Watching offers a delightful outing that’s just right – just the right amount of time with just the right amount of education. Purchasing tickets is easy at the dockside kiosk and can be done up to 5 minutes before departure provided the tour has space available. Tours depart every two hours like clockwork, and getting on and off the boat is a breeze. You can opt to sit inside near the snack bar where hot dogs, chips, and drinks both kid and grown-up friendly are plentiful. Once you get outside the harbor past the rock reef (covered with cute sea lions and gulls) and into the open ocean, it’s time to find your spot on the rail. There is plenty of space and every view is a good one. The captain does a nice job of narrating the journey with the right amount of facts and stories about the types of whales, recent sightings, and ocean lore.



Our particular tour day in late January day was unusually perfect. Totally calm water, and temps of 78 degrees on the water. Yes, this is why we live in SoCal! The captain obviously had the experience to quickly find a spot where he felt grey whales might be hanging out, and they were. Only a few minutes of floating there, but not too close, and suddenly a Loch Ness-like hump appeared! And then some spray! The collective gasps of delight from all of us on the boat gave everyone a chuckle but also served to inform every time a whale surfaced.



We appreciated the captain getting a great view that was not too close so as not to disturb the whales’ space. It is their home, after all, and we were politely intruding. Other private boats were not as respectful, driving right up to where a spray of water or a hump was spotted. The contrast showcased the experience and mindfulness of the Dana Wharf Whale Watch crew as not just a business but as an educator and respectful observer to these majestic creatures.



As an added treat, a couple of dolphins joined us for the last ten minutes of the journey. The two-hour cruise breezed by while every minute was filled with sightings. And as an added bonus, a discount off our next whale watching adventure was passed out as we disembarked the ship. We’ll definitely be back.


Book your family’s next adventure: Dana Wharf Sportfishing & Whale Watching

Cost: Adults – $45, Kids – $25
Located at: 34675 Golden Lantern, Dana Point, CA 92629
Phone: (949) 496-5794

Karen Bremer is a North Orange County native. She’s a mom, freelance writer, and owner of Her company Bee Creative specializes in products for scrapbooking, card making, and paper crafting online and in person at consumer shows in major cities around the country. Married for 16 years with 13 and 11-year-old girls, her business provides the flexibility she needs to be a dance mom, room mom, and girl scout leader among other titles. Free time? She’s never seen it and wouldn’t change it for the world.
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  1. Family Guide to the 2015 Dana Point Festival of Whales | OC Mom Blog | OC Mom Blog - […] the festival is the big beautiful whales in the waters surrounding Dana Point Harbor. We recommend Dana Wharf Whale…

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