If you are looking for an epic whale watching excursion, California is the place for you. What makes California one of the best destinations for whale watching in the world is the amazing gray whale migration between Alaska and Mexico. Each year, tens of thousands of gray whales make a 6,000-mile journey from feeding grounds in Alaska to breeding grounds in Baja California, Mexico. This epic journey is definitely the highlight of whale watching in California, but there is always an opportunity to other marine life such as blue whales, killer whales, humpback whales, and dolphins during whale watching excursions as well.
Below are some of the best places to whale-watch on the California coast!
Los Angeles is one of the best places in California to spot gray whales from mid-winter to May. Just off the Long Beach coast, there are several ships that set out on daily whale watching tours to see the majestic giants of the ocean! If you plan a whale watching trip in Los Angeles in early fall, there’s a good chance you can spot blue whales as well. Regardless of the season, there’s always a possibility to see common and bottlenose dolphins, humpbacks, and orcas as well.
San Pedro, Los Angeles is one of the best locations to actually spot whales from land. The Palos Verdes Peninsula is the premier location where viewers can witness the gray whale migration from land during the winter and spring months. So, if you or any of your family members have a propensity toward sea sickness, this will be a great option for you to still get to see some whales and other marine life!
San Francisco is another exciting destination for whale watching in northern California. One popular port for whale watching excursions is Pier 39 and Pier 41 located on North Beach. Here, you can find gray whale cruises that run daily between the months of December and May. An added bonus to these tours also includes sights of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, Sausalito, and much more. Aside from the majestic whale sightings, another crowd favorite are the lively sea lions that inhabit this area – always a favorite!
San Diego was one of the first places in the world to be declared as an official location for organized whale watching, so it’s no wonder why it’s one of California’s top whale watching destinations today. In 1950, it was discovered that the gray whale migration could be seen clearly from the Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego and this remains true today as well.
Although whales are visible December through March, the peak time to whale watch in San Diego is during the middle of January. Around this time, Pacific gray whales make their migration past San Diego to Baja California, where they give birth in the shallow lagoons before returning to Alaska.
The ocean waters of Santa Cruz, located just north of Monterey Bay, are extremely diverse and lively. Although Santa Cruz is known for great surfing waves, beach-front parks and piers, it’s also another great destination to view whale migrations throughout the year. Just off the coast, you can view a number of different whale species including gray whales, blue whales, and humpback whales. Year-round, you have the opportunity to view other sea friends such as dolphins, sea turtles, and seals as well – to name a few!
Another prime whale watching location off the coast of California is the ocean waters of Orange County. The two most popular harbors for whale watching in the O.C. are Newport Harbor and Dana Point, where amazing marine life can be encountered. A prime season to view the annual gray whale migration off the Orange County coast is December through April. If you are interested in witnessing the blue whale migrations, these can be seen May through October. There are a number of whale watching excursions that occur along this coast, year-round, allowing you to see many different whale species as well as other sea creatures such as dolphins, seals, otters, sea turtles, and more.
For more information on some of the best California destinations to whale watch, contact Harbor Breeze Cruises. For decades, we have been one of California’s top-trusted whale watching cruise guides, providing magical marine life experiences and creating lifelong memories for the whole family. Contact us today!