Top San Diego Whale Watching
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The coastal city of San Diego is a main stop on the migratory patterns of gray, blue, and humpback whales as they make their way from Alaska to Baja California and Mexico each year. Here’s how to witness some of the 25,000+ whales that make the trip annually.
When to Go
Whale-watching tours run from January to April during the peak season for sightings, although enormous blue whales can be seen throughout the year and into summer. San Diego may be famous for its warm weather, but it’s best to wear layers to protect from wind and water while out on the boat.
What You’ll See
Gray whales and humpbacks can often be seen with their small calves in tow, while the enormity of the blue whale’s spout alone is worth seeing. Whale-watching cruises often also encounter dolphins, sea lions, seals, and other marine life off the San Diego coast.
How to Go
Tours typically depart from San Diego Harbor, one of the best places to take a whale-watching excursion in Southern California. It’s best to avoid caffeine in advance of your outing and take precautions to prevent sea sickness. Customize your trip by choosing a whale-watching tour by sailboat, a kayaking adventure from La Jolla Cove, or a wildlife boat tour guided by a marine biologist from the Birch Aquarium.
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Go whale watching from San Diego aboard a replica of a historic sailing schooner that won the world’s first America’s Cup sailing competition in 1851. Throughout your cruise, your expert guide shares informative commentary about gray whales, dolphins, and other marine animals, along with details about the US Navy sites you pass as you head out on the Pacific Ocean.
Face masks required for travelers in public areas
Face masks required for guides in public areas
Hand sanitizer available to travelers and staff
Get the best chance of seeing whales and dolphins on a private boat tour. Your party will have the run of the boat, including an enclosed cabin, an observation tower, and a restroom. Your experienced USCG-certified captain knows the best places to spot wildlife and will provide engaging commentary on the local marine ecosystem.
San Diego provides the perfect launching point for a whale-watching tour in California. Cruise on the Pacific Ocean in a sturdy boat with a professional crew, looking for gray whales as they migrate along the coast of North America. Dolphins, seals and seabirds are often spotted during this whale-watching tour and the crew provides informative commentary about the marine animals and environment. Bonus: if the crew does not find any whales during your cruise, you receive a complimentary ticket for another trip.
Search for grey whales in the water off San Diego aboard a restored wooden ship on this tour. Your captain and crew know the best places to find these massive animals; you can relax and enjoy the scenery on the ride. Sip wine or beer and soft drinks, munch on snacks, and listen to guided commentary on whale biology and behavior.
What people are saying about Whale Watching in San Diego
San Diego Whale Watching Cruise"While we didn’t see any whales,we did see a pod of pacific dolphins! A huge 500 plus pod. It was awesome! Crew was fabulous!! Highly recommend. Learned quite a bit. Beautiful boat."..."
Private Family Whale & Dolphin Adventure"We saw everything we had hoped to see and more.......so many pods of dolphins playing and right up by the boat and under it, gray whales blowing and rolling, sea lions, and a wonderfully exhilarating trip out/back on the powerful boat. There were four of us, and loads of space/viewing area up top and on deck. Excellent for small private groups. Captain Rich was excellent - very knowledgable and chilled out. If not summer time, bring a jacket (pretty chilly when going fast). The only feedback i offer for the benefit of future trippers - the captain/boat operator does not have your contact details, so if there are weather issues that cause delay you won’t know this until you are waiting - we spent over an hour on the dock waiting due to fog out at sea (which was not obvious to a non-mariner/clear skies) had i known, we would have done something else with the early morning. I stress - this did not take from the trip or our appetite to join Captain Rich again to see the Blue Whales in July/August."..."
Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
What are the best Whale Watching in San Diego?
What Whale Watching in San Diego are taking additional safety precautions?
What Whale Watching in San Diego are good for avoiding crowds?
- Belmont Park
- Old Town San Diego
- San Diego Museum of Art (SDMA)
- El Campo Santo Cemetery
- Gaslamp Museum at the Davis-Horton House
- SEA LIFE® San Diego Aquarium
- San Diego Convention Center
- Mingei International Museum
- Liberty Station
- Heritage Park
- Museum of Photographic Arts
- San Diego Zoo Safari Park
- Fleet Science Center
- Ocean Beach Pier
- Pacific Beach
- B-Street Pier & Cruise Ship Terminal
- Karl Strauss Brewing Company
- Del Mar
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