As hundreds of majestic California Gray Whales make their annual trek along the West Coast, up to 50 a day will pass by the seaside community of Dana Point, California. During whale watching season, which runs roughly December through March, nature lovers know to head to the 200-foot cliffs that make up Dana Point Headland’s for the best land views of the migrating whales.
During the peak migratory period, in early March, the community Dana Point rolls out the red carpet during its annual Dana Point Festival of Whales. Attracting more than 100,000 visitors a year, this is one of Southern California’s largest seafaring celebrations.
The festival highlight, of course are a variety of whale watching excursions offered by local organizations, where certified naturalists detail the whales’ movements through their natural migration path. Sunset whale watching excursions, offering cocktails and wine, can also be booked. One catamaran operator even offers eye-to-eye underwater viewing pods, that let guests head underwater to view the whales and dolphins in action.
Visitors can also hike through the Headlands Conservation Park, with its three-mile-long public trail system, that offers excellent scenic overlooking the Nature Interpretive Center.
As impressive as the number of whales that pass through the area, is how much the community comes together to celebrate the annual event.
Visitors can hear the history of the area on a walking tour of the town center, sample the winning entries in a clam buy real levitra online chowder cook off, explore a day of Polynesian culture and entertainment–including a luau, see vintage woodies (wooden cars) and antique boats on display, participate in a beach clean up or join a pancake breakfast.
A rubber ducky derby benefits the Dana Point Women’s Club scholarship fund, or watch as castles, whales and other ocean creatures spring to life at the annual sand castle building contest, hosted by OC Parks.
The Dana Point Harbor Association will present interactive displays and demonstrations showcasing environmental programs and issues related to protecting and preserving our oceans, or for a historical perspective of the oceans, join the Ocean Institute’s Tallship Sailing Adventure, where guests can learn how time has shaped man’s perception of the Gray Whale.
The Dana Point Symphony will present a Symphony Spectacular aboard the Brig Pilgrim. This ocean themed extravaganza will include singers, dancers, the chorus from South Orange County School of the Arts, and high-flying aerialist dancers from the Luminario Ballet of Los Angeles.
Want to sharpen your art skills? Learn from one of the masters of marine art in a dockside presentation aboard the “Ocean Adventure” Catamaran. Renowned environmental artist Wyland will offer art lessons via video feed, demonstrating how he has created some of the world’s most well-known marine wildlife paintings
Kids activities including fishing clinics, and an adventure expo filed with hands-on activities such as Stand Up Paddleboarding, kayaking and snorkeling. Families can also enjoy a free showing of Finding Nemo under the stars.
Dana Point, Calif.
March 1-2, 8-9, 2014