I had the opportunity to take my family whale watching in Dana Point with Dana Wharf Whale Watching…and what a treat! It was such a fantastic experience, I want to tell you all about it.
First of all, Dana Point Harbor is absolutely gorgeous – if you haven’t had the chance to spend time down there, GO! It so fun to walk around, see all of the boats, window shop, and eat.
Dana Wharf Whale Watching recommended that we arrive at around 4:30 to check-in…and of course with my two little darlings, we ran in at 4:42…and were greeted with smiles and directions to Dock #1.
We Found Whales!
As we boarded their flagship 95 ft. Dana Pride boat for our 5 p.m. cruise, my kids could hardly contain their excitement. It was a very warm afternoon, so we couldn’t wait to get out on the water. Plus, my son is currently obsessed with the ocean, sea life, and boats. So this was a BIG deal for him. The captain had his top window open as guests were boarding, so the kids were able to wave “hi.”
Right at 5 p.m., we were on our way. Since Dana Wharf sits right inside the mouth of the harbor, we reached open waters in just three minutes. We enjoyed the cool breeze and the kids loved “boat” watching as we headed out to find some whales…and whales we found!
As we headed up the shore toward Laguna, the captain spotted a whale…so we cruised over and found a beautiful mama whale with her calf. It doesn’t matter how many pictures you look at in a book or on the web – there is nothing like seeing one of these majestic creatures up close and personal.
All Dana Wharf Captains are certified Naturalists by the American Cetacean Society and they are really passionate about the marine mammals. They share their knowledge and experiences, making the adventure educational and fun!
The boat quietly floated and everyone got their cameras poised. And we had the opportunity to take pictures and observe. We even got a little “show” – the baby decided to “wave” with its fin, and the mommy whale bobbed up and down, moving in big, fluid motions. I was amazed at how close to shore they were! Of course, my son wanted to go IN the water and play with them (nice try, kiddo!).
We were one of many families on the boat – the cruise is definitely family and kid-friendly. In fact, we found out about their Dana Wharf Kids Club.
Dana Wharf Kids Club
Kids 14 and under can join the Dana Wharf Kids Club where they are encouraged to experience the many adventures of the ocean in an environment conducive to their age. The best part? The annual membership is only $39, with a portion of proceeds benefiting the Gray Whale Foundation, a non-profit organization. And, there’s more than $100 value in trips and merchandise!
Kid members receive:
– 1 FREE 1/2-day sportfishing trip for themselves and an adult
– 1 FREE 2-hour Whale Watching excursion
– Kids Club T-shirt or Hat
– Kids Club Pin
– Official Membership Card
– 25% Discount on all merchandise
– $10 off all Fishing Trips on 1/2 & 3/4 day Fishing Trips*
– $10 off all Whale Watching Excursions*
I also found out that every Sunday from 12:45-5:15pm, they offer free fishing trips for kids! Rental gear is included – wow! Just make sure to make reservations, as space is limited. One free child per paying adult. A free fishing clinic is held dockside every Sunday from noon – 12:30, too!
Some Fun Facts
– Dana Wharf Whale Watching is the originator of whale watching in Orange County, starting back in 1971.
– Trips are all 2 hours long – and sightings are guaranteed! If you do not have a sighting, you will receive a voucher for another tour – FREE.
– Dana Wharf Whale Watch supports the research of Dr. Lei Lani Stelle, Associate Professor of Biology at the University of Redlands. Dr. Stelle and her students are investigating human impacts on marine mammal populations in the Southern California Bight.
They survey our local waters to record sightings of all species, record their locations with GPS, note behaviors, and take photographs to identify individual animals. These observations are then mapped with GIS to examine relationships between oceanography, human activities, and animal habitats.
They do birthday parties, too. Check out the details – so fun!
Celebrate your birthday on a fishing trip! Our package is for the member and up to 9 friends.
1/2 day fishing trip
Rental rod and tackle
Kid’s Club t-shirt
$5 food voucher for our on-board snack bar
Special Bonus: One free 1/2 day trip will be awarded to the child who catches the largest fish in the group!
Contact them at:
(949) 496-5794 x 7 to book a birthday (or for more information)
$40.00 per child
Whale Watching Details
2-Hour Whale Watching Adventure Cruise – trips depart daily
Adults – $45
Kids (3-12) – $25
Kids 2 and under are FREE!
Remember that Tuesdays are 1/2 price all year long – every trip (fishing and whale watching!).
They also have 4:30 Pre-Sunset Specials – all tickets are just $25!
Click here to check out what you can see on your tour.
I hope you have a GREAT experience whale watching – I know I did! And, I can’t wait to sign my kiddos up for their Dana Wharf Kids Club…