Whale watching season in San Diego is from December through April when California gray whales journey from the chilly Alaskan seas to the warm water lagoons of Baja California. Recently, however, several whale watching companies have expanded the range of sea outings, and visitors to San Diego have the unique opportunity to glimpse marine life including several species of whales and dolphins year round on cruises out of San Diego’s harbors.  Click for Whale Report of Sightings for 2014.

The peak of whale watching season is still December through April when tens of thousands of California gray whales come within a few miles of the San Diego coast on their 5,000-mile southern voyage, the longest known distance any mammal migrates on an annual basis. Guests on a winter cruise may witness this passage as these “peaceful giants of the sea” swim to warmer climates to birth and rear their young, one of nature’s most extraordinary events.Whale watching excursions now tote the opportunity to see humpback, fin and minke whales in fall and summer, along with frequent year-round sightings of bottle nose, pacific white-sided and common dolphins. With 70 miles of coastline, San Diego makes an ideal location for viewing this impressive parade of marine life.

From December 26, through April 15th naturalists from the Birch Aquarium at Scripps partner with Flagship Cruises & Events to venture out on twice-daily public cruises from San Diego Bay to locate gray whales. Two 3.5-hour cruises depart daily at 9:45 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Birch Aquarium naturalists narrate the tours, and guests receive gray whale fact sheets. Indoor and outdoor seating is available as well as a full galley on board. Reservations are recommended. Ticket prices are $37 for adults on weekdays and $42 for adults on weekends, and $18.50 for children on weekdays and $21 children on weekends.

Hornblower Cruises and Events offers 3.5-hour deluxe whale watching adventure cruises in partnership with the San Diego Natural History Museum from December 14th through mid April 2014. Passengers receive a professional narration on the whales’ migration and other marine life, and the boat features snack bars, binocular rentals, climate-controlled indoor seating and a museum-curated whale exhibit with fossils and video. Expeditions depart daily at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.; ticket prices are $37 for adults and $19.50 for children (4-12 years old) on weekdays and $42 for adults and $21 for children (4-12 years old) on weekends. Discounts are available for seniors, groups and military personnel. Hornblower guarantees to take guests out to sea again for free if no whales are spotted. 

Next Level Sailing are offering a unique whale watching experience aboard the America, a historic replica of the world’s first America’s Cup winner. The 139-ft. long sailing yacht is perfectly suited for whale watching due to its low sleek lines, deep keel for stability and the ability to quietly approach the whales under sail without using noisy engine power. The 4-hour whale watching excursion departs daily at 11 a.m. from the San Diego Maritime Museum, located at the downtown waterfront along San Diego Bay. Excursions cost $65 for adults and $34 for children (ages 12 years old and under) on weekdays and $85 for adults and $44 for children (ages 12 years old and under) on weekends. Price includes admission to the San Diego Maritime Museum, snacks and a narration about whale migration habits and the history of the America.


Photo above by Joe Dutra.

San Diego is a top spot for whale watching in the world!  Whale Watching in San Diego is exhilerating!  We recommend the best way to see whales up close, safely and in their natural habitat aboard one of several excellent and professional Whale Watching boat companies in San Diego. 

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Blue Whale Watching Cruises

Blue Whale Watching in San Diego begins in mid-June  through September.

Hornblower Cruises will begin Blue Whale watching in 2014 starting on July 5th with one cruise daily every Saturday and Sunday.

H&M Landing and San Diego Natural History Museum work together to give whale enthusiasts a first class whale watching experience. 10 am - 4 pm.

Also, Next Level Sailing, offers Blue Whale watching on Yacht America, Call 800-644-3454

Join the 

Gray Whale Coalition to help protect the future for whales! 

Photos by Joe Dutra (Captain on Hornblower Cruises, Whale Watching specialist)