Info For Dana Point Whale Watching Visitors
Newport Landing offers multiple whale watching cruise times daily to view whales and dolphin in the waters off Dana Point & Laguna Beach. Conveniently departing from Newport Beach, CA, a short distance away for many of our visitors coming from Orange County and Greater Los Angeles areas including South Bay, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, Dana Point, Seal Beach, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, and Newport Beach. Newport Landing has been in business for over three decades and continues to be the premiere whale watching cruise provider in southern California. The whale watching is so good that 2-2.5 hour whale watching cruises are all the time needed for fantastic sightings of whales & dolphin.
Newport Landing has been taking visitors and locals from Dana Point on whale watching trips for over 30 years. The amount of sea life we see off the coast of Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, & Dana Point is infinite. There are over twenty species of birds, California Sea Lions, five species of dolphin including Orca, seven species of baleen whales including Blue Whales the largest animal to live, Mola mola, at least six species of shark, flying fish, and on rare occasion's sea otters, False Killer Whales, Pilot Whales and Sperm Whales have been seen.
Whale Watching for Dana Point Visitors
The most well-known and commonly seen whale is the California Gray Whale; which migrates past Newport Beach through Dana Point from December until April. Dana Point whale watchers can depart from Newport Harbor at multiple times during the day for one of our excursions. Gray Whales will make a 12,000 mile round trip from the Bering Sea down to Baja Mexico. During the southbound migration Gray Whale mothers typically will give birth north of Los Angeles, so our passengers have an opportunity to see week old Gray Whale newborns. Then on the way back up north there is a second chance to see these calves.
In the summer months until the end of November, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, & Dana Point has Humpback Whales, Minke Whales, Finback Whales and different species of dolphin feeding here. Though, Dana point whale watchers come to see the largest animal on the planet, the Blue Whale. At 100 feet and 100 tons, sometimes even larger, Blue Whales steal the show. These magnificent whales can eat 8,000 pounds of krill per day. Yet they couldn't swallow anything larger than a volleyball ball. The playful and curious Humpbacks dazzle Dana Point travelers, by breeching or displaying their large fins.
Sea Lions, sharks, an array of birds, and Mola mola are also seen on our whale watching trips. There is always something cool to see and the education is always worth it.
- Sunscreen and Chap Stick: Even if it is cloudy out the day of your trip, the UV rays are reflecting off the water's surface and can still burn or affect your skin. Wear sun block during the winter as well; the sun is strong during these months.
- Jackets and layers: We recommend that everyone wears layers when out on the water. It may be hot at the dock or in the harbor, but when we get on our way out in the open ocean or along the coastlines of Dana Point & Laguna Beach the wind picks up. Estimate that the ocean is going to be about 10 degrees cooler than on land.
- Water: There is water & other beverages for purchase onboard for $2 or bring your water either will make sure you stay hydrated. The sun and time out on the boats can get long.
- Binoculars: Whale watchers enjoy having binoculars with them to assist in the search of whales, see intricate detail of both whales and dolphin, or just to view the scenic coastlines of Laguna Beach & Dana Point. We rent binoculars in the office, so get them while checking in before your trip.
- Cameras: Digital recording is always a great way to capture your spectacular trip on the water. Commemorate the beautiful coast of California and whales with your own personal cameras and pictures. Just keep in mind there is more condensation in the air on the ocean and coastal cloudiness can also contribute so keep digital recording equipment dried off and when not using in case or carrier.
- Cash or Credit Card For Beverages & Food Onboard: Most of our boats accept cash and credit card to purchase snacks or beverages at our galley/bar. We offer cookies, candy, muffins, chips, water, soda and a full bar (on most whale watching boats).
Blue Whale - Large Blue Whales are the size of a Boeing Jet, weighing up to 150 tons and can go up to 100 feet long. Over 50 people can stand on a Blue Whale's tongue with its heart being the size of a standard car. Whale watching off Dana Point, visitors will have the opportunity to view the largest animal that has ever existed on Earth. Its throat can take in up to 50 tons of water in one gulp and the blow can be up to 30 feet when surfacing for air. Blue Whales can consume up to four tons of krill in a single day by sieving the krill from the water sucked into their mouths. A comb-like structure hangs from the upper jaw to filter their food; the plates are called baleen made from the same material as human fingernails, Keratin B.
Finback Whale - Another amazing spectacle for Dana Point whale watchers, Finback’s are the second largest animal in the world after the Blue Whale. Growing up to nearly 78 feet and weighing 60 tons. Finback Whales are the fastest baleen whale, nicknamed the “Greyhound of the Sea”, capable of top speeds of 23 mph. Finbacks are long lived with an average life span of 85-90 years old! Their mouth holds 800-900 baleen plates to feed on fish and krill, eating up to 2-3 tons a day.
Grey Whale - California Gray Whales are the eighth largest species of baleen whale, generally weighing somewhere between 35 to 40 tons, and reaching 35 to 45 feet in length. Gray Whales travel over 8,000 miles a year from their feeding grounds in the Bering Seas. These baleen whales use their baleen plates to strain crustaceans or amphipods from the muds in the cold arctic waters during summer months. In fall and winter they travel south to Baja California to breed. Whale watching Dana Point travelers will have the chance to see the California Gray Whale during this extensive migration.
Humpback Whale - Humpbacks are the most loved whale by Dana Point whale watchers. They are the most acrobatic and playful baleen whales we find off the coast of Southern California. The Humpback Whale weighs on average about 25 to 35 tons, females being larger at 40-50 feet. Humpbacks will typically feed in polar waters during the summertime but many individuals find prey down through the western United States coast. The southern migration starts in late fall, to subtropical and tropical waters to breed. The pectoral fins of these whales are the largest in body proportion, reaching 1/3 of its body length. Often we can see displays of these dark gray and white fins, soaring out of the water.
Sperm Whale - Adult Sperm Whales can weigh up to 50 tons and grow to be 50-60 feet in length. Dana Point visitors would be one of few to see these toothed whales. Named for their spermaceti organ the Sperm Whale has the largest brain of any animal in existence, with their brains weighing up to twenty pounds! Naturally, with their large brains, Sperm Whales also have the largest heads of any animal, comprising a third of the whale's body. Their heads often feature prominent scars from the giant squids that they specialize in hunting on.
Minke Whale - Minke Whales are the most common baleen whale in existence, numbering nearly 800,000 individuals globally. Our whale watches near Dana Point have good chances of spotting this species which is the second smallest baleen whale, at 30 feet and weigh 10 tons. Minke Whales swim at a rate of 5-16 mph, but can sprint up to 18-21 mph when chased by Orca. Minkes are torpedo shaped and have white bands on their fins making them easy to identify.
Common Dolphin - Common Dolphin are the most common species of whale Dana Point whale watchers can see and live in every ocean. They can weigh about 190 pounds and grow to 5 to 6.5 feet. Common Dolphin can form megapods which reach over 5,000 individuals. Common Dolphins are known to be one of the most intelligent and social animals on Earth. They are highly energetic, often leaping out of the water and bow riding in the waves of our boats.
Bottlenose Dolphin - Whale Watching Dana Point guests may encounter Bottlenose Dolphin both inshore and offshore. Bottlenose Dolphins typically weigh between 600 and 1,000 pounds and some are known to be as long as 12 feet, but most are about 10 feet. Bottlenose Dolphin lifespan is about thirty to fifty years. Bottlenose Dolphin use echolocation like all dolphin to locate their food source, consisting of fish, squid, and octopus. They eat anywhere from thirteen to thirty-three pounds food a day.
Risso Dolphin - Risso's are able to dive for 30 minutes to depths of over 1,000 feet, this is due to their main food source, squid which live in deeper waters. Whale Watching Dana Point visitors may also see Risso's Dolphin, which have thick bodies covered in white scars, from attacks by the squid, and narrow tails. They weigh anywhere from 660 to 1,100 pounds and are 8.5 to 13 feet in length, with blunt noses. They are also found in pods, varying from 5 to 50. They can be seen harassing other whales or dolphin.
Pacific White Sided Dolphin - Male Pacific White-side Dolphins weigh up to 440 lbs and get about 6.5 feet and females weigh up to 330 lbs and reach 5 feet. Whale Watching Dana Point patrons really enjoy the sighting of these shy but acrobatic dolphin. Pacific White-sides are the most colorful dolphin we see, having the most elaborate patterns ranging from black, gray and white. Their main prey are small schooling fish and have been seen feeding with Common Dolphin.
Killer Whale (Orca) - These famous black and white dolphin are commonly referred to as the Killer Whale because most of them prey on other whales. Each Killer Whale eats over 500 pounds of food a day and have been known to even swim onto beaches to catch seals and sea lions. Whale watching near Dana Point, Orcas are rare usually seen in January, but have an outstanding reputation with the public. Orcas live and hunt in pods of sometimes 30 individuals. There are many things scientists need to learn about Orca pods and their migration. We have seen pods from Alaska and from Mexico but Orcas can be found worldwide reaching every ocean.
California Brown Pelican - Once on the endangered list it has since been removed with healthy populations along California. California Brown Pelican is the smallest of the eight species of pelican, although their wing span is about 6 feet. Studies show Brown Pelicans can go blind from hitting the water at high speeds when diving for fish. The lack of sight hinders their ability to hunt and therefore starve to death. However, most pelicans can live and fish for up to thirty years without going blind. Brown Pelicans will join feeding frenzies with dolphins and other birds, scooping up huge schools of fish that the dolphin bring to the surface.
Shearwaters - Southern California is home to the Black-Vented Shearwater where 30-50 thousand winter along the nearest-shore escarpments off Dana Point (large concentrations just north of the harbor). They fly close to the waves, their flight more fluttery than that of other shearwaters and marine birds. They feed by snatching food from the water's surface and sometimes by diving. They also swim beneath the surface, aided by their wings; these small birds can dive to 30 feet catching fish from schools. When taking off for flight from the water shearwaters will run across the surface. This can sound like rain hitting the water. A group of shearwaters are collectively known as an "improbability" of shearwaters.
Cormorant - Cormorants can be seen year round although the summer and fall months have the most sightings. This seabird pursues and catches fish under water. When the Cormorant catches sight of its prey, it dives swiftly into the water. They dive from the surface, though many species make a characteristic half-jump as they dive, presumably to give themselves a more streamlined entry into the water. Some cormorant species have been found, to dive to depths of as much as 145 feet.
Pelagic Gulls - There are several species of gulls that are commonly viewed on almost every whale watching excursion including the California Gull, Western Gull, Heermann's Gull and Herring Gull. Gulls or Sea Gulls are not shy and will follow a ship for some distance. When hunting they will twirl downward and open their wings at the last minute before hitting the water.
Terns - Terns are small super-fast birds that are commonly viewed along the coastline of Dana Point. The Royal and The California Lesser tern are two of several types that are seen here. They can hover above the water until the moment comes for them to dive in and snatch up a fish. Their uniquely shaped wing allows for quick turns and aids their agility.
The Mola mola or Common Ocean Sunfish, are one of the most unusual looking creatures on Earth. Huge and vertically flat, these silvery-gray fish have small mouths and a rounded tail that looks like just part of the massive body. Topping out around 6,000 pounds, Mola mola’s are the world's largest bony fish. They grow to a maximum of about 10 feet long and are often taller than they are long, up to 14 feet. They will lay on the surface, like a silver dollar, and wait for birds to pick parasites off their skin.
Though rare and difficult there are several species of sharks that can be seen while whale watching including Mako Sharks, Blue Sharks, Thresher Sharks, and juvenile White Sharks.
Mako sharks are seen with some frequency on whale watching cruises. They are the fastest species of shark reaching speeds of 43 mph and usually their fin is spotted as they zip through the water. They can grow to over 1,000 pounds, but many are juveniles from 60 to 100 pounds.
Blue sharks love the deep open ocean and can swim up to 1,000 miles in a short time. Occasionally seen while whale watching they are harder to spot due to their coloration and smaller size in compared with other sharks of our region.
Thresher sharks are seen while whale watching especially during the spring months during the gray whale migration. They are typically seen around huge schools of anchovy and sardine. They are the only shark to hunt with its tail, they will whip their powerful tails to stun schools of fish. The tail can be the length of their own body, doubling them in size.
Great White Shark
Spring and early summer seem to have the highest number of sightings in our area. One of the rarest of sharks sighted during a whale watching cruise. Only a couple sightings a year occur and full grown adults are even rarer. One of the apex predators they can grow to 20 feet in length.
While they do not actually fly, they will swim up to 30 mph and launch into the air, using their specialized fins to glide for up to 1/4 mile. Its tail fins will vibrate to taxi along the surface. During the summer and fall months large schools of flying fish frequent our waters and especially later in the afternoon. Dozens can be spotted launching themselves and gliding as the whale watching ship cuts through the water off Dana Point.
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Best Western Laguna Brisas Spa Hotel - (949) 497-7272 - Low rise Resort Inn situated opposite beach, adjacent to shopping area. This is a great value for the Laguna Beach area with partial ocean views. The beach is within walking distance. Recommend staying in one of the rooms that do not face the South Coast Highway if noise is bothersome to you.
Montage Resort & Spa - (949) 715-6000 - With sweeping panoramas of the Pacific Ocean, this elegant 262 - room resort offers the 20,000-square-foot oceanfront Spa Montage, three sparkling swimming pools, destination dining and over 20,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor meeting space.
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Laguna Cliffs Inn - (949) 497-6645 - This is a very quaint three-story motel. It has a pool, but it is small. Good location away from noise and crowds, yet close enough to walk to beach, restaurants, and galleries. Recommend requesting a room on the top floor, as there is lots of noise below.
Casa Laguna Inn - (949) 494-2996 - This was formerly an historic home/artist colony. The property is located just a mile or so off of 133 on South Coast Hwy 1 and it is just up and out of the crazy bustle of shops and restaurants. Library of classic movies on DVD, and DVD players in all rooms! There is also complimentary wine and cheese; hors d'oeuvres. This is an ideal destination for a romantic getaway. Victoria beach is 10min walk away and gorgeous. All rooms equipped with free internet.
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Capri Laguna Inn on The Beach - (949) 494-6533 - This location is within walking distance to all main attractions, restaurants, shops & the center of town. For the price, the rooms here are up to par.
Inn At Laguna Beach - (949) 497-9722 - Oceanfront Inn located 1 block from downtown stores and restaurants & 12 miles from John Wayne/Orange County Int'l Airport. This location has a rooftop patio with heaters for the evening chill. The pool area is just fantastic with a great hot tub for all your lounging needs.
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Little Inn By The Bay - (949) 673-8800 - The pier and beach is a 10 minute walk away. Smaller, older Inn, but the rooms are nice and it's close to all the Newport action. Each distinctively decorated guest room in the 18-room Little Inn By the Bay invites comfort and relaxation, as it's one of the most affordable hotels in Newport Beach. Whether a weekend get-a-way or a mini vacation, the Little Inn is a nice place to stay.
Marriott Suites Newport Beach - (949) 854-4500 - Each suite offers high speed internet access, dry bar and our Revive Bedding Collection for a good night's rest. The courtyard overlooks Newport's Back Bay and holds events for up to 120.
Sutton Place Hotel - (949) 476-2001 - Sutton Place Hotel is the industry favorite for business people seeking amenities and a close proximity to the Orange County business scene near John Wayne / Orange County Airport.
Radisson Newport Beach - (949) 833-0570 - Located just a 1/2 mile from the John Wayne Airport, and offers a FREE shuttle ride away, we offer the perfect location for both business and leisure travelers.
- Dana Point Weather Forecast
- Dana Point Whale Watching Sightings
- Comprehensive Information On Whales And Other Marine Life
- Whale Conservation
- Dana Point Ocean Institute
- Scripps Institution of Oceanography
- Other Like Activities To Whale Watching In Dana Point Area
- Pacific Marine Mammal Center
- Orange County Coastkeeper
Whale watching coupons for Dana Point visitors. Save 60% with this $16 whale watching cruise special. Newport Landing's Dana Point whale watching coupon is a great offer that can be used on any of our whale watching & dolphin cruises. The whale watching cruise coupon is valid for up to 10 persons per coupon and is valid for any of our 2.5 hour whale watching cruises offered year round multiple times daily departing from Newport Beach. View the annual gray whale migration during the winter and spring months and the giant blue whales during the summer and fall months.
|Dates||Cruise 1||Cruise 2||Cruise 3||Cruise 4|
|Nov - Feb (Mon - Fri)||10:00 am||1:00 pm||n/a||n/a|
|Nov - Feb (Sat & Sun)||9:30 am||12:00 pm||2:30 pm||n/a|
|Mar - Oct (Daily)||10:00 am||1:00 pm||3:30 pm||6:00 pm*|
|Adults (Ages 13 - 59)||$32.00||$36.00|
|Juniors (Ages 3 - 12)||$26.00||$30.00|
|Toddlers (Ages 0 - 2)||Free||Free|
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