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California

Dolphin & whale watching

Our most recommended California Dolphin & Whale Watching

Monterey Bay: Whale Watching Tour

1. Monterey Bay: Whale Watching Tour

Discover a variety of whale species in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary on this cruise from Monterey. Uncover one of the world’s best locations for whale watching due to its deep submarine canyon close to shore. With whales spotted almost every day, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Set sail from the Old Fisherman’s Wharf. Catch a glimpse of the hundreds of Californian Sea Lions inside the harbor as the boat leaves the dock. Take advantage of the view and snap a photo to capture the memory. Pass the historic Cannery Row as you leave the harbor and enter the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Search for feeding humpback whales, a variety of dolphin species, porpoises, blue whales, and fin whales. Listen as the onboard biologist provides fascinating insights into the creatures of the bay and what is being done to protect them. During the summer/ fall season, the tour will focus on feeding whales that come to the bay to feast on small fish and krill. Spot humpback whales daily but keep an eye out for blue whales, fin whales, gray whales (finishing migration), orcas and a variety of other dolphin species. During the winter season, the tour will focus on migrating whales at the south end of Monterey Bay where gray whales pass by. Return to your starting point at the end of your tour.

Monterey: Whale Watching Cruise

2. Monterey: Whale Watching Cruise

Get up close and personal with some of California's marine life on this whale-watching cruise in Monterey Bay, departing from Moss Landing. See humpback, orca, gray, and blue whales, and get the chance to spot a friendly dolphin. Start your cruise in the quaint fishing village of Moss Landing. From here, depart from the harbor and listen to your marine biologist guide talk about the local area and its abundance of sea creatures. In the harbor, you can spot the beloved Monterey Bay sea otter and numerous species of seabirds as you listen to the sealions' bark. Continue into the open waters of Monterey Bay, one of the top whale-watching destinations in the world. The bay's unique ocean floor allows for frequent upwellings of food, meaning you can see both resident and migrating whales year-round. Learn more about the area from your naturalist guide and spot whales including humpback whales, gray whales, killer whales, blue whales, sharks, and other sea life such as mola mola, sea turtles, and jellyfish. Finish your cruise with a relaxed ride back to the port in Moss Landing and get one last glimpse of the wildlife of Monterey Bay.

Monterey: Sunset Whale Watching

3. Monterey: Sunset Whale Watching

Enjoy the wildlife, then relax as you take in the beautiful sunset over Monterey Bay on a sightseeing cruise. Meet your guide at the wharf and climb aboard the boat to start your tour. Spot whales, dolphins, and a wide variety of marine wildlife in Monterey Bay. Whales are seen every day in this area. Listen to your marine biologist or naturalist guide as they share interesting information about the animals you see, the natural history of the local area, and conservation. Witness scientific research in action as marine biologists and naturalists collect sighting data to learn about the local wildlife. Then, sit back and relax as the sun sets, reflected in the water, providing lasting memories and incredible photo opportunities. Finally, return to the wharf and dry land.

Monterey: Whale Watching Tour with A Marine Guide

4. Monterey: Whale Watching Tour with A Marine Guide

Hop onboard one of the largest vessels in Monterey for a guided whale-watching tour. Leave the harbor and head out into Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary in search of whales, dolphins, and other marine wildlife that migrate through the waters of the Pacific Ocean. Relax in the heated cabins of the 110-feet Princess Monterey and the 100-feet Atlantis Monterey. Grab a snack or drink from the onboard bar, enjoy spacious indoor and outdoor seating, and never miss a moment with a 360-viewing walkaround deck. With deep nutrient-rich waters just offshore, Monterey Bay hosts humpback whales and blue whales during summer and fall. Gray whales pass by the coastline as they navigate one of the longest migrations of a marine mammal during winter and spring, while dolphins come to the bay throughout the year. Every trip is different, so whether it’s your first time on a marine wildlife cruise or you’re a whale-watching veteran, see what Monterey Bay has in store for you.

San Diego: SeaWorld Skip-the-Line Park Admission Ticket

5. San Diego: SeaWorld Skip-the-Line Park Admission Ticket

Discover the underwater world at SeaWorld San Diego, with animal encounters, interactive exhibits, and thrilling rides. Get up close to marine life and enjoy educational animal presentations for the whole family to enjoy. Upgrade your ticket to include a dining pass to eat all day at SeaWorld. Experience thrilling rides such as Electric Eel with its high-energy twists and loops, or Manta, with two thrilling launches that send riders soaring in the spirit of the world’s largest ray. For kid-friendly fun, enjoy Tentacle Swirl, Sea Dragon Drop, Elmo's Flying Fish, and so much more. Admire the animals at SeaWorld such as beluga whales, walruses, penguins, sharks, and orcas as you learn about these incredible creatures. Enjoy interactive exhibits such as the Explorer's Reef Touchpools and Sea Lion Point. Explore the Sesame Street Bay of Play where you can meet your Sesame Street friends. If you choose to upgrade to the all-day dining bundle, you can get an entree, a side/dessert, and a drink every 1 hour at Shipwreck Reef Café®, Calypso Bay Smokehouse, Mama Stella’s® Pizza Kitchen, Big Bird's Bistro, Coral Market, Shark Market, Orca West Market, and Pretzel Shop.

Newport Beach: Luxury Whale Watching Catamaran Cruise

6. Newport Beach: Luxury Whale Watching Catamaran Cruise

Set sail on a 50-foot catamaran yacht in search of wild marine wildlife on this cruise from Newport Beach. Enjoy the 360 degree walk-around deck that ensures that you never miss a moment with the whales. Keep your eyes peeled for giant blue whales, humpback whales, and pods of dolphins. Board the ship and set sail from the landing. Get up close to different whales and discover facinating details about these creatures from your naturalist guides that are eager to share their knowledge with you. Let your captain take you to places where the whales are more active to increase your viewing chances. Head to the front of the ship and look for bow riding dolphins which will glide just below your feet on one of the dual bows. Feel the excitement of watching these playful creatures frolic in their natural environment. End your tour at the meeting point where it began.

Newport Beach: Whale and Dolphin-Watching Cruise

7. Newport Beach: Whale and Dolphin-Watching Cruise

Head out on a whale and dolphin-watching cruise from Newport Beach. The waters surrounding Newport Harbor offer deep nutrient-rich waters that attract all types of marine creatures. With a 96% success rate, almost every trip has the opportunity to see whales or dolphins. Look out for giant blue whales (during the summer and fall months), finback whales, gray whales (winter and spring months), minke whales, humpback whales, several types of dolphin (including giant rizzo dolphin over 14 feet in length), seals, and all sorts of other marine life. Most whale-watching cruises take in the scenic backdrops of Laguna Beach, Huntington Beach, and Newport Beach while viewing the gentle giants just a few hundred yards from shore. Due to the geography of the Orange County coastline that surrounds Newport Harbor, ocean conditions are incredibly calm. The captain and crew have backgrounds in marine biology and can provide details about the marine creatures, environment, and ecosystems.

Newport Beach: Ultimate Whale Watching Adventure

8. Newport Beach: Ultimate Whale Watching Adventure

Take a 2-hour dolphin and whale watching tour from Newport Beach. Cruise in an open boat that offers 360-degree views from anywhere onboard, allowing everyone a to have close encounter with nature. Admire the stunning coastal landscape and look out for whales, dolphins, and other marine wildlife.   Board a custom-built RIB, perfect for whale watching. The boat has a maximum capacity of 15 people, giving each passenger a piece of the action. See dolphins come almost close enough to touch. The boat can travel at speed and cruises up to 14 miles from port to ensure the highest success rate of animal sightings.

Santa Barbara: Catamaran Coastal Cruise

9. Santa Barbara: Catamaran Coastal Cruise

Experience the beauty of Santa Barbara on this coastal catamaran cruise. Sail along the coast and breathe in the salt air, with the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Channel Islands surrounding you as the backdrop. Try to spot local marine and aerial life and relax in the sun with friends and family. Bask in the afternoon sun as you sail the Santa Barbara coastline on a catamaran. Climb aboard and set off, with the Santa Ynez Mountains calling in the distance. Over a dozen beaches and stunning villas line the ocean-carved coastline, making the best view of Santa Barbara, from the ocean. Enjoy a unique experience with family and friends, spotting California sea lions, otters, seals, dolphins, and many coastal birds. Lear, about local life and why this city is a popular place to visit year-round.

San Diego: Whale and Dolphin Watching Cruise

10. San Diego: Whale and Dolphin Watching Cruise

Embark on a marine life adventure on a dolphin and whale watching tour off the coast of San Diego. Keep a lookout for gray whales, blue whales, common dolphins, and more as you glide over the Pacific Ocean's dark blue waters. San Diego is one of the best locations to watch whales year-round. Gray Whales migrate winter-spring from feeding grounds in Alaskan waters to calving lagoons in Baja California and back. In summer, the legendary Blue Whales, the largest animals on Earth, commonly feed off-shore of the San Diego coast.  You may also spot Fin, Blue, Humpback, and Minke whales during the summer whale watching season. Additionally, you'll often see pods of Dolphins including Risso’s, Common, Pacific White-Sided, and Bottlenose Dolphins. Your captain will also highlight other wildlife such as Sea Lions, various fish like Mola Mola (Sunfish), and a variety of marine birds such as Herons, Terns, Pelicans, and Gulls.  View these extraordinary mammals in the wild on this spectacular cruise. The expert crew will help you locate these creatures and additional marine wildlife, such as dolphins and sea lions. Learn about marine life and local environmental efforts from professional captains and whalers who work at the San Diego Natural History Museum.  You may even spot a whale calf traveling with its mother as they return from the Arctic. This is a fantastic and exhilarating journey for all age groups. Guaranteed whale or dolphin sighting. If you don't sight some type of whale or dolphin during the cruise, you'll be issued a pass that's good for another San Diego whale watching or harbor cruise. San Diego is quickly becoming one of the world’s best whale watching locations. The city is home to whales, dolphins, and sea birds, and features one of the world's most beautiful coastlines.  Enjoy live educational narration from captains and trained naturalists employed by the Natural History Museum.  Watch blue whales and dolphins in comfort on a large, fast, and stable boat!

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What people are saying about California

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 71 reviews

Isaiah, our tour biologist and guide, and the captain and crew did a fantastic job! They made sure we were in the best position to view the magnificence of the whales and at the same time learn about their lives and their habitat. We highly recommend Monterey Whale Watching Tour Group. What a wonderful experience!

One of the best days of my holiday! Very well organised, plenty of space on board and brilliant, knowledgeable staff!

We had multiple whale sightings.Narration from a marine biology major was informative.Creq was friendly and helpful.

Saw at least 12 humpback whales. Experience of a lifetime you won’t be disappointed at all.

Wonderful guides that help you understand what the animals are doing.