San Diego is one of the top places in the world for whale watching. With almost 70 miles of Pacific Ocean shoreline, it is smack dab in the heart of the Alaska-Mexico whale migratory path. Seeing these amazing animals in their native environment is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that everyone should take advantage of. Hence, take a whale watching tour to get close to these marine creatures and witness them for yourself. 

Since San Diego’s whale watching tours are available all year, the most fantastic time to witness this natural phenomenon is during the annual migratory seasons. Furthermore, many whales dwell off the coast of San Diego — minke whales, orcas, fin whales, and the rare humpback can potentially be seen in their ocean home all year – while blue and gray whales can also be seen throughout their excursions to give birth, feed, or breed. It is one of just a few places along this vast coast where whales gather in more significant numbers.


When To Take A Whale Watching Tour In San Diego

San Diego has a unique location that lets you watch whales almost year round. Two species of whales have two primary seasons, although other whales or marine creatures may be observed all year. Gray whales may be observed in the winter and spring, which lasts from mid-December through April. At the same time, blue whales may be seen in the summer and fall, or, from May through September when the observation period is in effect. Furthermore, throughout the year, small whales and dolphins may also be observed.


Best Whale Watching Tours In San Diego

Whale watching tours in San Diego also includes some ancillary sightseeing as you sail around San Diego Bay, passing Coronado, where you can see pelicans and gulls util you reach the Pacific Ocean. Here are the best whale-watching tours in San Diego.

San Diego Whale Watch

The whale watching tour in San Diego starts at Mission Bay. The launching site is convenient since it is readily accessible from all points north of San Diego, including Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, and La Jolla, where you can make your way out to sea within a few minutes by sailboat.

On this voyage, make sure to look for whales. Follow the captain’s directions and the experts on board, who are well-versed in the finest spots to witness these marine creatures. This whale watching tour leaves once every day at 12.30 p.m. The maximum number of passengers permitted on the ship is 100.

Hornblower Cruises

The Hornblower tour is one of the biggest whale-watching boats in San Diego. The yacht has two stories and plenty of internal and outdoor spaces. The excursion is conducted in collaboration with the San Diego Natural History Museum, and the skipper and whalers are underwater life specialists.

Also, they will provide you with a wealth of knowledge on whales and the efforts undertaken to protect a natural habitat ideal for their existence. Furthermore, the trip lasts 3.5 to 4 hours and leaves from the Port of San Diego twice daily at 9.30 a.m. and 1.30 p.m.

Flagship Cruises

The main level and second-story patio of Flagship Cruises’ double-decker vessel, provides 360-degree views. Birch Aquarium specialists will give live commentary on whale life and attempts to protect these species on this whale viewing trip. Moreover, this whale watching cruise lasts around 4 hours and is offered twice daily, at 9.30 a.m. and 1.30 p.m.


What You Should Look For When Whale Watching

Now that you know when to take a whale watching tour and where to go to observe whales, here’s what you should look for.

  • The Flukes

When whales dive, their tails often rise above the water’s surface. The tail contains two lobes known as flukes.

  • The Footprint and Knuckled Back

You could witness a whale’s knuckled back rise and fall as it dives back into the ocean after it surfaces to blow out air. When it submerges, you’ll see a quiet area of water known as a footprint.

  • The Spout or Blow

When whales release heated air from their lungs via their blowhole into colder ocean air, they produce a white-looking spout that may reach up to 15 feet. This can be visible from land and is often misidentified as water.


More Exciting Activities For Whale Lovers

If you’re a whale enthusiast, there are plenty of activities to do in and around San Diego. At SeaWorld San Diego, you can get up close and dance with beluga whales, orcas, and bottlenose dolphins, as well as a wide variety of exhibits showcasing other marine species and exciting attractions. On the other hand, Birch Aquarium is ideal for marine life lovers, aspiring marine biologists, and anybody looking for a fun family day out. There are interactive displays as well as over 60 fish and invertebrate habitats.