Dana Point Festival of Whales 2014

My family attended the Dana Point Festival of Whales in Dana Point, California last weekend. My daughter is absolutely fascinated by marine animals and we have spent the last few years seeking out educational opportunities to teach her more about them. Learning about animal conservation and the amazing people that spend their lives working with animals was so much fun at the The Dana Point Festival of Whales. Our last visit to Dana Point was in 2005 and I can’t believe we waited so many years to return with our daughter. The Festival of Whales was a great reason to visit and put this beautiful beach town back on our list of favorite Southern California travel destinations.

Dana Point Festival of Whales March 2014

We began our stay in Dana Point at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel. The beautiful resort is set on a cliff side directly above the ocean and has amazing views. 

Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel from beach

We spent a few hours at the pool and then walked down to the beach to watch the sunset.

Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel beach at sunset

Saturday morning we had an early whale watching tour with Captain Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari. My daughter’s first time on a whale watching tour was outstanding. We saw a group of sea lions, a gray whale, and hundreds of dolphins.

Captain Dave's Dolphin and Whale Safari in Dana Point

Then we went with new friends we met on the whale watching tour to explore the festival activities at the beach.

Baby Beach in Dana Point

By recommendation of our new local friends, we had lunch at The Harbor Grill. After a yummy lunch and time relaxing with friends, we went to the Ocean Institute to check in for our afternoon Whale’s Tail sailing adventure.

Tall Ship tour at the Ocean Institute in Dana Point

We went back to our room to enjoy the ocean breeze and go to bed early for another day full of Dana Point adventures. We were up early to go back to the Ocean Institute. We spent a couple of hours at the science center and had an interesting morning with plenty of hands on learning opportunities. My daughter’s favorite activity was participating in a squid dissection.

The Ocean Institute in Dana Point

Then we attended an interactive tide pool hike with a guide from the Ocean Institute. Although my husband and I have explored the Dana Point tide pools before, it was very helpful to be on a guided walk with our daughter. She paid very close attention to the safety instructions and was fascinated by all the creatures she found.

Interactive tide pool hike at the Ocean Institute in Dana Point

Our afternoon was fun with a stop by Dana Wharf Sportfishing & Whale Watching to visit with Donna. She had previously sent us a copy of her book and my daughter had fun learning about whale watching with The Amazing Adventures of Captain Don. Getting to meet the book author was great for my daughter! We also spent some time interviewing Captain Tom. The kid friendly crew on the boat added to my daughter’s amazing experience learning from people so committed to educating little minds about marine animals.

Dana Wharf Whale Watching in Dana Point

We spent our final evening in Dana Point at the Dana Point Marina Inn, the only hotel with walking access to the Dana Point Harbor. We had an excellent view of the marina from our room.

Marina view from Dana Point Marina Inn

The Dana Point Festival of Whales was a great experience and taught my daughter so much about marine animals in their natural environment. We definitely will not be waiting so long to come back again!

Dana Point visit 2014

Learn more about the Dana Point Festival of Whales by connecting with them on Facebook and Twitter.

Disclosure: My family was invited to attend the Dana Point Festival of Whales and were assisted in making all activity and accommodation reservations. Complimentary hotel accommodations were provided by the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel and Dana Point Marina Inn. We received a complimentary whale watching tour from Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching. The Ocean Institute provided complimentary tickets to the Whale’s Tail Sailing adventure, the guided interactive tide pool hike, and admission to the science center. Dana Wharf Whale Watching arranged my daughter’s interview with Captain Tom and sent her home with two new stuffed animal friends, a gray whale she named Drea and a sea lion she calls Coocoo. All opinions are entirely my own. 

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