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Reviewed 24 August 2015

My wife and I were spending a few days in San Clemente with no concrete plans and a couple of friends of ours recommended we check out Captain Dave's Safari. I have always been interested in doing a whale watching tour but have always been nevervous because I am not a "seafaring" person. We finally decided to give it a try and called them up out of the blue one morning and got on the 11:00 a.m. tour. We went to the local grocery store and bought some "Bonine" to help with sea sickness and took it an hour before the tour was to start.

The check in process was very easy and they had us on the boat right at 11:00 a.m. There were probably about 30 of us on the boat ranging from small children to older couples.

Here are some things I learned from our first "Dolpin and Whale Watching Excursion"

1. If you are prone to sea sickness....The ocean is definately rougher when you are in it then looking at it. If you have any propensity towards sea sickness be sure and take medication before you go. The boat was about 50 feet long but it still did alot of rocking and rolling. We didn't throw up but even with with Bonine we still had moments of "quesyness". The back of the boat is definately the place to sit. It is much more stable than the front of the boat.

2. I thought they relied upon sonar to find the whales. Not true. They rely upon reports from other whale watchers. It was not nearly as scientific as I thought it was. Because of that we saw some whales spout from a distance (1/4 to 1/2 a mile) and we saw the tail fin of a humpback whale but that was our extent of whale sightings. Don't expect that if you go on a whale watching tour that the whales will be surfacing right next to the boat....Not true. It is a crapshoot as to when and where they surface....based on sightings and luck.

3. Even without really great whale sightings...the dolphin pods made up for it. We spent probably 30 - 45 minutes "playing" with a large pod of dolphins (hundreds of them). That was worth the whole trip. They are such beautiful and fun creatures. Well worth going just for that experience. Make sure you go to the front of the boat to watch them swim along with the boat. They were awesome.

4. The crew on the boat was wonderful. Very knowledgable and helpful. I really enjoyed the fact that they took the time to educate us about the whales and the dolphins and other sea creatures.

Overall, we were grateful we went. I would recommend going. Again, make sure you take sea sick pills and sunscreen. You may wish to also consider bringing binoculars. Anyway we had a great time.

Date of experience: August 2015
Thank Alan B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
ArielleA, Owner at Capt. Dave's Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari, responded to this reviewResponded 30 September 2015

Hi,

Thank you so much for taking the time to tell us about your dolphin and whale watching safari.

You made a good decision to take advantage of a motion sickness remedy before your trip knowing that you are prone to sea sickness. While many people are not affected by nausea because they find that our catamarans with their twin hulls are much more stable than a regular boat, ocean conditions can still cause some passengers to experience discomfort. At our check in area we offer a variety of remedies including Dramamine and Bonine as well as other non-medicinal options for those who are concerned. Following your example and enjoying the ride in the back of the boat with lots of fresh air also helps, and in general, the earlier the trip, the smoother the ride will be. For that reason, if you know you're prone to motion sickness, we recommend reserving a morning safari and the earlier the better. If you start to feel queasy during the safari please let one of our crew members know. They're happy to help.

I’m happy you had the chance to enjoy a large, playful pod of dolphins, as well as a humpback whale sighting. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to see a number of different whales off our coast, and at varying distances from our boats – some will be farther away, as you saw them, but others are much more interested in us and have been known to regularly come quite close, just like the dolphins do. In fact, just this past weekend a juvenile Humpback Whale came so close and took such a liking to our boat that the Captain couldn't leave! Since it's up to the animals, not us, to determine how close they are to the boat, binoculars are not usually necessary but they can be helpful if the animals are shy.

You are correct that we do not rely upon sonar to locate the whales, as doing so would in fact injure them! Our experienced crew relies upon good old-fashioned eyeballs to spot the animals, and are successful for the vast majority of our trips. It’s wonderful to read that you were pleased with our crew’s level of service, as it is important to us to provide a dolphin and whale watching safari that is both fun and educational.

We’re so glad you had a great time, and we hope you’ll visit us again soon!

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Reviewed 22 August 2015

everyone involved with the whale watch was helpful and professional and friendly. we saw 4 whales and a bunch of bottle nose dolphins. it was cool to be so close to the water.

Date of experience: August 2015
Thank jayneCO
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
ArielleA, Owner at Capt. Dave's Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari, responded to this reviewResponded 30 September 2015

Hi,

Thanks for leaving us a review!

I’m glad to read that you liked your dolphin and whale watching trip. We do pride ourselves on being able to connect people with the beauty of the ocean in a very up-close and personal way with our unique boats and experienced, well-informed crew. Is there anything that you think we could improve upon to earn a 5-star review from you next time? We’d certainly appreciate your suggestions.

I’m so happy you had fun and hopefully we’ll see you again soon!

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Reviewed 22 August 2015

I love going whale watching with Captain Dave's. For the past two summers I have been out with this group and have marveled at seeing blue whales out on the ocean. Be sure to get there early because summertime parking is hard to find, but there are accommodations for whale watchers. The underwater viewing pod is a feature that other vessels don't have.

Date of experience: August 2015
Thank Diane L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
ArielleA, Owner at Capt. Dave's Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari, responded to this reviewResponded 30 September 2015

Hi,

Thank you so much for your review, and for being one of our valued returning guests.

I’m so pleased that you enjoy our dolphin and whale watching trips, and that you saw some amazing Blue Whales! Summer is a very busy season for us and as you mentioned, parking in Dana Point Harbor can be challenging at times. During the summer months or on holiday weekends we recommend that guests arrive 60 minutes ahead of time to make sure they find a parking spot in either of the two lots nearby. Unfortunately there are no separate parking accommodations for whale watching passengers at this time. Also, in general, guests who book for an earlier morning trip will have an easier time with parking and traffic in general.

Thanks again for your review. Do you have any suggestions for us on how we may improve and earn a 5-star review from you next time? We’d appreciate your input!

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Reviewed 18 August 2015 via mobile

Beautiful calm day on the ocean with multiple pods of Dolphins. Great hosts with knowledge and good sense of humor.
Well worth it and best photo of me and hubby ever ...

Date of experience: August 2015
1  Thank c d
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
ArielleA, Owner at Capt. Dave's Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari, responded to this reviewResponded 21 August 2015

Hi,
Thank you for leaving us a review about your dolphin and whale watching trip! I'm very glad to read that you liked the safari, our crew, and the souvenir portrait too. Is there anything we can do to improve and earn a 5-star rating from you next time? We sincerely appreciate any suggestions you may have!

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Reviewed 14 August 2015 via mobile

What a fantastic trip with Captain Dave. He had an excellent instinct as to where the whales would be and the timings on the whales rising to the surface. We stayed out an extra 90 minutes beyond what we were told. We had superb views of the blue whales, and 3 species of dolphins. Absolutely loved our trip with Captain Dave' dolphin and whale safari. Highly recommended.

Date of experience: August 2015
1  Thank JennyForbes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
ArielleA, Owner at Capt. Dave's Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari, responded to this reviewResponded 30 September 2015

Hi,

Thank you very much for your review and recommendation.

It’s gratifying to read how much you loved your dolphin and whale watching safari with Captain Dave. He has decades of experience working with marine life, and is passionate about making sure each trip is unforgettable for his guests. It sounds like your trip was extraordinary with so many sightings and extra time out on the water! I’m glad you were able to see Blue Whales this summer. I hope you’ll join us again!

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