The County of Orange, OC Parks and Dana Point Harbor invite you and your family to experience the 47th Annual Festival of Whales at Dana Point Harbor on March 3rd and 4th and March 10th and 11th from 8 a.m. to 4p.m. We were invited to go whale watching and check out the festival and the first thing we noticed was how convenient parking was located and how accessible the harbor is for visitors. There is plenty to do at an affordable cost!
Visitors at the festival can explore Dana Point Harbor during the gray whale’s annual winter migratory ritual, and enjoy exciting activities including whale watching, sand sculpting, live music, the Dinghy Dash, Art in the Park, delicious harbor eats and educational hands-on activities. Event is free and open to the public. You can also grab a bite to eat at the local café which offers food, bagels, pastries, coffee and some alcoholic beverages. I was able to purchase a bagel for $3.50 which is super affordable. There is also classic cars on display at the harbor. You can also buy merchandise nearby at the festival’s merchandise table.
Whale watching excursions depart every hour on the hour from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. from the wharf during both festival weekends, offering views of majestic ocean life found off the coast of Dana Point. Prices and trip durations vary. We went on a two hour boat ride and saw a couple of whales and some dolphins and sea lions. We saw the tails of the whales but if you’re lucky you may see their whole body come out of the water as well. We do want to mention that you may get seasick as the boat does sway a lot. It’s worse if you sit at the top part of the boat. We had a party of four, and only one of us got sick but it wasn’t unbearable. Just make sure you aware that this can happen. The whale watching excursions also offer some food items, coffee, hot chocolate and beer and some cocktails. There is also information on whales given over the loud speaker so you may learn a thing or two about whales while you’re on the excursion. We saw quite a few whales so it’s definitely the perfect time to go. One thing we learned was that whales can fast for seven months while they are migrating and only eat five months out of the year.
There is so much to do while on a whale watching excursion. My niece took so many pictures of the sea life and she had a bag of popcorn as well. My two friends stayed on the side of the boat looking for whales and took a ton of selfies as they enjoyed the sea and sky as their backdrop. Who knew you could take a mini photoshoot on a boat? They are too funny! I really enjoyed just going out to sea and spending the day with my friends and niece. We all had fun in our own unique way. If you take little ones, be sure to stay close as you are out to sea and the boat does sway a lot.
Parking is available in different lots throughout the Harbor. All lots are serviced by free shuttles, running from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day of the festival with extended service hours the morning of the parade on March 3 and the afternoon of the Whale of a Concert on March 11. If you are only going whale watching and skipping the festival, you can park right at the harbor and you get 4 free hours to park there. It’s super convenient and you can grab a pastry and coffee before you dock.
I would recommend that you check out the free festival and if you’re up for it, go whale watching. Do take warm clothes as it tends to get chilly on the boat. We all brought jackets and were glad we did as it got pretty chilly. We are so lucky to be able to live so close to the coast that we can experience whale watching excursions and at the same time we can teach our little ones about the importance of conservation and the appreciation of our wildlife. I hope you can take the family down to Dana Point for some awesome fun.
We were invited as members of the media to go whale watching. All thoughts and ideas remain our own.