We wandered beyond the I.E. to the Dana Wharf in Orange County this past weekend for some whale watching adventures. If you are looking for a relaxing and fun day trip activity, considering heading down the 91/261/I-5 to Dana Point for a wonderful day at the wharf.
On our trip, the water was smooth and gorgeous. Even though the day was a bit overcast, there was a lot to see. Rest assured: these guys know how to find the whales for your viewing pleasure. Since the start of this Gray Whale season (November 2011 through April 2012), they have seen 451 Gray Whales, 24 Killer Whales, 128 Fin Whales, 5 Minke Whales, 8 Humpback Whales, and 8 Blue Whales on outings. On our boat ride at the end of the season, we saw two pairs of gray whales (both mother and calf pairs) — they were adorable! We found the first pair not long after leaving the wharf and followed them for about 15 or 20 minutes. We then headed in the direction of our second pair of whales who entertained us with their playful, tandem movements and sprays. We also a bunch of seals and sea lions playing near our boat and near a buoy. We were also able to get quite close to the whales and seal lions for many picture perfect moments, though you have to be quick with your camera’s shutter button.
The Dana Pride, our 95-foot vessel for the day, had plenty of room for everyone; even with a full boat, everyone could easily fit on one side of the deck and take pictures of the gentle giants in the sea. Those who got chilly or needed to rest could go below to the dining room where snacks and beverages were available for purchase. We also enjoyed the tour guide’s friendly and informational direction and we actually learned quite a bit about the animals we saw at sea.
We’d say that this is an excellent day trip adventure for groups of friends, couples, and families alike. Although the Gray Whale season is wrapping up, the Blue Whale season starts in May and runs through October. You won’t want to miss those gentle giants. Depending on the day of the week, you can go out at 10:00 a.m., noon, 2:00 p.m., 4:00 p.m. or 5:30 p.m. Parking at the Dana Wharf is free, but it can be competitive on busy days, so arrive with enough time to park and enjoy walking the wharf while you wait for your trip to take off. There are many shops and restaurants at the wharf to check out before or after your whale watching ride.
Learn more and purchase your tickets on their website.