arrow-down arrow-left arrow-right arrow-up play-button plus tab-indicator dots close menu search facebook google-plus instagram pinterest rss twitter youtube rss-two heart Check FeaturedBadge linkedin minus apps placeholder linkedin
A Guide to San Diego

Whale Watching

Come see the Pacific Ocean's gentle giants

San Diego's Year Round Whale Watching Schedule

Winter & Spring Gray Whale Watching

Migration Period: Mid-December - April

Each year, more than 20,000 gray whales make a 10,000 mile round-trip journey from Alaska to the lagoons of Baja California, where the females give birth to their calves. After spending time in warm Baja California waters so their  young can  grow strong, they  make the journey north again in spring. The longest known distance any mammal migrates on an annual basis, it is truly an extraordinary spectacle to observe. With 70 miles of coastline directly in the migration path, San Diego is an ideal destination to see this impressive parade of gentle giants. According to the Birch Aquarium in San Diego, gray whales generally travel alone or in pods of two or three but more may be seen traveling together during peak migration season. These giants are roughly the width of a basketball court and cruise at an average speed of five knots (about six miles per hour).

Summer & Fall Blue Whale Watching

Migration Period: Mid-June - September

Blue whales, the largest creatures on earth and thought to be among the most endangered of the great whales, may be found off the coast of San Diego mid-June through September. In fact, the largest group of blue whales in the world, some 2,000 to 3,000, feed off the California coast during the summer months. These magnificent mammals, who can be 100-feet, give away their location by spouting a 30-foot column of water in the air that can be seen from miles away.. The migratory patterns of blue whales have been tracked from the Antarctic to California to Costa Rica. Changes in ocean temperatures and the abundance of krill over the past few years have attracted far more blue whales to San Diego's coast than in the past. Since blue whales tend to be found further out to sea than their grey whale cousins,  it's recommend to venture on a boat trip versus viewing from the shore in order to catch a glimpse of these incredible leviathans.

> Find out more about Summer and Fall Blue Whale Watching

By Land or By Sea

There are a number of different ways to experience whale watching in San Diego. A couple of great spots to view the grey whale migration from shore include the Birch Aquarium at Scripps, the Cabrillo National Monument and Torrey Pines State Reserve where the hiking trails offer expansive views of the Pacific. If you're interested in a closer look at these majestic creatures, a host of sightseeing and tour operators in San Diego offer a variety of whale watching excursions. This is also the best way to see a blue whale as they tend to stay farther out to sea. A whale watching trip is also a fun oceanic adventures and affords great views of San Diego's beautiful skyline from a different point of view. Many of the tour operators have extensive knowledge of the whales and their migration habits and will happily share this information during the tour. This is definitely a recommended activity for all ages and a great addition to your San Diego itinerary during the winter/early spring and summer seasons.

> Book a Whale Watching Excursion

For more information on whale watching in San Diego, California, view one of the articles or visit one of the tour operators below.


Find a place to stay

Book online or call 1-800-350-6205 to speak with a local expert

Deals just for you

Activity

$13 Whale Watching Cruise Special During Migration (Save $23)

Davey's Locker Whale Watching & Sportsfishing
Valid: Jan 17 - ongoing

Enjoy 2.5 hour whale watching cruises with multiple times daily to choose from. Departing from Newport Beach view gray whales on their migration along with finback whales, minke whales, humpback...

Promotional Gifts

Receive a FREE Tote Bag With Purchase of Ticket!

San Diego Beer, Wine & Spirits Tours
Valid: Oct 20, 2016 - ongoing

Book a Chauffeured Distillery Tour and receive a FREE canvas tote bag! Book your tour today by calling 858-551-5115. We are open every day from 9am-9pm (PST).    

Restaurants

$5 off Weekend Champagne Brunch Cruise on San Diego Bay

Hornblower Cruises & Events
Valid: Jan 4 - ongoing

$5 off any weekend Champagne Brunch Cruise aboard Hornblower Cruises in San Diego. This two-hour cruise features a bountiful brunch buffet, free flowing champagne and the best views of San Diego Bay,...

Related Articles and Features

Parks & Gardens

Photographing Balboa Park

Self-guided three-day photo itinerary

Balboa Park is one of the most widely photographed destinations in San Diego, and for good reason: It's simply stunning!

Discover
Family

Great Tours for the Whole Family

Let a local expert lead the way

Aboard a bus that changes to a boat and back again or take a whale watching tour. San Diego tours offer a unique way to see the sights and get to know the area.

Discover
Arts & Culture

Experience San Diego Arts with a Self-guided Tour

Art & culture itinerary that is rich in colors, flavors, and sounds

Discover why San Diego’s art and culture scene is rich in colors, flavors, and sounds and then plan a visit to see for yourself!

Discover
Tours & Sightseeing

A One-Day Royal Tour

Explore San Diego like a King

With its spacious parks and beaches, family-friendly attractions and terrific climate, San Diego is a perfect vacation spot for kids. With so much to see and do, it helps to have an itinerary planned in advance.

Discover

Plan a Whale Watching Excursion

Stay in touch

Sign up to receive the latest news, events, and updates about San Diego. Our monthly and weekly newsletters will keep you informed about the latest and greatest happenings in the destination.

Sign Up

Visitor planning guide

For the ultimate guide to planning your San Diego vacation, view and download the San Diego Visitor Planning Guide, packed with useful information that will help you plan the perfect San Diego getaway.

Read More

Explore

Plan

Stay

Follow Us

Language:

English | Change Language

Select your country or region

China Deutschland Great Britain Japan Mexico Korea USA

Or use Google Translate

Afrikaans Albanian Arabic Belarusian Bulgarian Catalan Croatian Czech Danish Deutsch Estonian Filipino Finnish Francais Galician Greek Haitian-Creole Hebrew Hindi Hungarian Icelandic Indonesian Irish Italian Japanese Korean Latvian Lithuanian Macedonian Malay Maltese Nederlands Norwegian Persian Polish Portuguese Romanian Russian Serbian Slovak Slovenian Swahili Swedish Telugu Thai Turkish Ukranian Vietnamese Welsh Yiddish