Year-Round Whale Watching
Why whale watch?
It's so great for the mind and soul to hop on a boat and enjoy an abundance of marine life that is not trapped in a tank. Not only is Orange County right along the gray whale migration route which takes place January through May, but in the summer we see blue and humpback whales that come here to feed, as well as minke and fin whale sightings year-round. We also get to see several dolphin species including common, pacific white-sided, bottlenose, risso's, and the more rare sighting of orcas.
How many options are there?
While you may see many whale watch tours advertised online, according to the cities of Dana Point and Newport Beach as well as The U.S. Coast Guard, there are 5 legally operating companies: Dana Wharf, Davey's Locker, Dolphin Safari, Newport Coastal Adventure, and Newport Landing.
How are whales found?
Many people think spotter planes are used but that is false. The best way to find whales is by simply going out on the ocean and scanning the horizon for spouts created from the whales breath, also looking for big areas of bird life. Some whale spouts can be spotted from 5 miles away!
Do the different tours work together?
Online there is competition but on the water, all the boat captains help each other out by communicating via VHF radios. If one company returns to the harbor, another company will likely watch the whale which will in turn help that original company when they come back out to sea on their next trip. The boats from Newport Landing/Davey's Locker and Newport Coastal Adventure all have secret radios in order to help keep the non-legitimate boats from constantly following them and harassing the animals, there are no other boats out of Newport Beach besides Newport Landing/Davey's Locker and Newport Coastal Adventure that work together to find whales so if you book a tour out of Newport Beach on any boat other than those, your odds of finding whales are greatly reduced. Dana Point uses a public VHF channel which the Newport Beach boats also use to communicate. Smaller operating whale watch tours DO NOT communicate with other boats although they may say they do.
Here are photos and videos taken off the coast of Orange County