Due to the many dolphin species’ migratory habits, it is possible to go dolphin watching San Diego almost all year round. It’s an amazing opportunity for everyone to view these magnificent animals in their native environment.


The best way is to sign up for one of the many fun tours in San Diego that let you watch dolphins. Tour companies specialize in finding the ideal spots to see dolphins play, interact, and eat. This article discusses the optimal times for dolphin watching San Diego.


Why Visit San Diego to See Dolphins?

Taking a San Diego dolphin viewing trip should be high on your list of things to do in San Diego, with kids, or while scheduling San Diego excursions. This is one of our favorite outdoor activities, especially in the winter and first few weeks of spring.


With its 70 miles of coastline, San Diego is among the top destinations to go dolphin watching. Additionally, it has one of Southern California’s largest marine sanctuaries, and marine animals are drawn to the area’s rich habitat.


When in San Diego is the Best Time to See Dolphins?

Dolphins migrate from the north to the south toward the Mexican mainland between December and April. Knowing where to look can help you make the most of your dolphin-watching experience in San Diego. Start your observations toward the west, keeping an eye on the San Diego Bay and the ocean.


The dolphins swim at around five mph when they are actively swimming. They mainly swim around three-quarters of a mile away from the kelp beds, closer to the horizon, but some swim closer to the shoreline.


Nevertheless, there is no ideal time to watch whales or dolphins. However, the mornings are often quieter due to the weather on the ocean. Check out the detailed monthly dolphin sighting report below to get a better idea of what to look for when out on the water:


  • January: Since dolphins usually are in the middle of their journey from Alaska to Baja, California, January is one of the most incredible months to go dolphin watching San Diego. Additionally, seeing gray whales and humpback whales is also common.
  • February: Since February falls in the middle of the dolphin migration, it is undoubtedly the ideal month to go dolphin watching San Diego.
  • March: At this time of year, gray whales and dolphins are still the most common species seen. In addition to having blow holes, gray whales have dark gray bodies with white spots all over them that represent parasite scars. 
  • April: Even though the gray whale migration peaks in March, a few are sometimes sighted, even with their young. The birthing grounds of gray whales are in Guerrero Negro, Ojo de Liebre, and Laguna San Ignacio, all of which are in the Baja peninsula. Strong winds protect these lagoons from the elements and are often shallower, making them ideal places for gray whales to give birth.
  • May: As the start of the blue whale season approaches, May in San Diego is a thrilling month for viewing. They are the largest animal to have ever lived on Earth. Therefore you can readily detect them. They also have incredibly lengthy bodies with skin that is blue-gray in hue.
  • June: Since it’s still prime blue whale season, their sightings are more common.
  • July: In July, you can see fin whales and humpback whales in addition to blue whales. The second biggest species on Earth, fin whales, may be identified by their size. Since they have large pectoral fins and knobby skulls, humpback whales are frequently distinguished from other whales.
  • August: The final month you may see the blue whale and dolphins is often August. They exclusively swim in the deep water.
  • September: There are often more fin and humpback whale sightings in September. Blue whale sightings are unlikely but not unheard of.
  • October: When humpback whales begin their southward migration in October, San Diego is the best place to go whale watching. Additionally, you might anticipate seeing sizable dolphin pods. 
  • November: The peak month for dolphin migration is November. It’s even possible to see killer whales at this time.
  • December: During the gray whales’ journey from Alaska to Baja, California, it is the best month for dolphin watching San Diego.


Everyone wants to get a close look at the dolphins, but they are wild animals living in their natural environment. Although there is a good chance that the captain will take you to many locations to observe dolphins, there is no guarantee. Wait patiently and watch out for them. You could even be fortunate enough to spot a huge group!