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Blue Whale Watching in San Diego

Encounter the World's Largest Mammal Up Close

During the summer and fall, marvel at pods of migrating blue whales, plus gray whales, dolphin and other sea life, as they pass by San Diego's coastline.

Thar She Blows! In Pursuit of These Elusive Creatures

Reaching lengths of nearly 100 feet, the blue whale is a sight to behold as it breaches the waters of the Pacific Ocean. During the summer and fall months, blue whales migrate from their southern tropical breeding grounds to the cooler waters of the North Pacific to feed on the rich supply of krill. Luckily, these pods of blue whales pass by San Diego as they travel thousands of miles north. From luxurious private charters to affordable group cruises, San Diego provides plenty of ways to get up close with these magnificent creatures.

What To Expect

Most blue whale watching tours start in San Diego's Big Bay and since the migration takes place out in the deep waters of the Pacific, Blue Whale Watching cruises can last up to four hours.

When exiting the bay, most cruises pass massive active and retired military vessels like the USS Midway Museum, and historic landmarks that dot the Bayfront like the lighthouse at the Cabrillo National Monument.

In terms of wildlife, expect to see plenty of blue whales, finback whales (the world's second largest whale), humpback whales, dolphins and sea lions.

To help you identify the amazing fauna you will encounter, many cruise companies provide printed information guides and some even have naturalists from local museums like the San Diego Natural History Museum or the Birch Aquarium at Scripps to narrate the cruise. Crew members will also be on the lookout for spouts to make sure you don't miss these amazing creatures.

What to Bring

Make sure to bring a camera, preferably one with a zoom lens to capture close up shots of a blue whale as it breaches the water.

Clothing-wise, bring sunglasses, a hat, sunscreen and a jacket to put on as the weather cools farther out onto the water.

Don't worry about packing any food. Most tour companies will provide either complimentary or for-purchase snacks and drinks on board.

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