What Is
Whale Watching?

Whale watching is a truly magnificent experience where you get the opportunity to observe whales, dolphins, and other sea creatures in their natural habitat. Whale watching is a very popular tourist attraction on all coast fronts around the world, where friends and family can gather together to witness the breathtaking sight of the largest mammals in the world. Although primarily a recreational activity for tourists, whale watching can also serve as an educational experience thanks to knowledgeable cruise tour guides and other naturalists on board. Learn more about whale watching in Los Angeles, whale watching in Long Beach, whale watching in Santa Monica, & whale watching in Newport Beach below.

Whale Watching:
A Brief History

The practice of organized whale watching first began in the United States in 1950, when a national monument in San Diego was found to be a migration destination for gray whales. The marvel attracted tens of thousands of visitors the first year and the industry continued to expand from there, beginning in the West Coast and eventually building popularity on the East Coast. In 1985, popularity spread to England and eventually many people were visiting New England to view the dense Humpback whale population.

Due to the enormous popularity of whale watching, it serves a significant economic importance in developing countries. It’s estimated that worldwide, organized whale watching generates over 2 billion dollars in revenue per year, employing almost 15,000 people.

English Video Spanish Video

Protecting the

Giant Species

Due to the popularity and growth of the whale watching industry in certain harbors, there is strong evidence to suggest that tourist whale watching can adversely affect the ecology of whales and their migration patterns if cruise boats do not follow rules in place to protect the species. To avoid negatively affecting the whales and their environment, cruise ships should abide by their harbor’s local regulations, but below are some common rules:

whale jumping out of the water onto its back on Long beach whale watching cruise

1. Slow Down

It’s important to minimize boat speeds in the presence of whales and dolphins so as not to take them by surprise and harm them. Keep in mind, as humans we are in their territory and should look out for all of the sea creatures -- not the other way around. Be sure not to circle whales or come in between them, as this can disturb their migration patterns.

2. Approach
From the Side

When you spot a whale, it’s important to approach them from the side and ride parallel with them, so as not to disturb their trajectory. If a boat intersects a whale’s path, it can disturb their eating habits and prevent them from getting in deeper waters.

common whales on Long Beach whale watching cruise
Sperm whale on Long Beach whale watching tour

3. Don't Swim
With the Animals

Swimming with dolphins and whales is prohibited in many places of the world (excluding parts of the Caribbean). Swimming with the dolphins and whales can disturb them and sometimes present chemical hazards from sunscreen, etc.

4. Don't Encourage
Dolphins to Swim

Sometimes cruise captains can coerce dolphins to “bow-ride” with the ship as they congregate by the dozens and follow the ship’s current. As cool as this sounds, it’s very dangerous for the dolphins as they can get harmed under the boat. There are many other local regulations to whale watching depending on the area, so be sure to check yours to take the optimal safety precautions for your whale watching cruise.

Gray whale under water on Long Beach whale watching cruise

The Whale Watching: Experience

The whale watching experience begins before you get on the boat, preparing for the excursion and exciting journey ahead! Make sure to check out this list of items to bring on a whale watching tour. Some essentials include sunscreen, sunglasses, binoculars, and a raincoat. If you or anyone in your party are prone to sea sickness, be sure to take a motion sickness pill such as dramamine 30 minutes to an hour before you step on the boat, so you can feel at ease for the duration of the excursion. Check out these other whale watching tips and tricks, so you can get the most out of your experience on the sea.

Whale watching tours typically take about ½ a day to complete, so they can be lengthy. Because these are animals of the ocean, it takes time to locate them to enjoy the majestic sight. That being said, please be patient. Although cruise ships can never “guarantee” you will see a whale, the likelihood to see other magnificent creatures is very high and well worth the journey. So just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride!

Harbor Breeze

Whale Watching Cruises

Harbor Breeze has been the West Coasts’ leading whale watching tour guide in Los Angeles , Long Beach, Santa Monica, & Newport Beach for years. With decades of industry experience, we guarantee you and your party will have a blast with us on our cruise, observing all the wonders of the ocean and learning about different types of sea creatures. Contact us today to reserve your spot on the boat. All aboard!