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San Diego Whale Watching

A Breaching Baby Gray Whale in San Ignacio Lagoon, in Baja Mexic

When you see the magnificent whale for the first time, gliding gracefully through the ocean waves, you are truly awed by the experience. It makes you realize, as you stand their looking over the railing, wind in your hair, salt-sea spray on your face, how small human beings really are.

These fantastical creatures, some the size of basketball courts, have made this annual 10,000 mile journey between the frigid arctic waters of their feeding grounds down to the tranquil sea of Baja California for many millennia, and will continue to do so for millennia to come, with relatively little change. The whales make the journey every year in order to give birth to their young in a safe, warm environment where their chances for survival are at their best. In its lifetime, an average gray whale swims the distance to the moon and back.

ken shelby (2)The mothers leave their feeding grounds in October and start their journey back in March. That means that here in San Diego, we have a wonderful opportunity to see the mothers-to-be on their way down to Baja California and, months later, see those same mothers and their new babies as they journey home.

The predictable parade of gray whales along the California coast affords excellent whale watching opportunities. Prime time for whale watching off San Diego is December through January for the southern migration, and February through March for the northward migration. Gray whales generally travel alone or in pods of two or three: at the peak of migration, a dozen or more individuals may be seen together. They cruise slowly through near shore waters at a speed of two to six miles per hour, giving you ample time to enjoy watching them.

whale tail with barnaclesIn San Diego, you have your choice of whale watching excursions. Most boast knowledge marine experts who provide excellent information as they narrate the tours. No matter which whale watching tour you join, you will have an amazing experience that truly changes the way you look at life, nature, and even your own place in the scheme of things. Here are the top San Diego whale watching companies:

  • Hornblower Cruises and Events proudly partners with the San Diego Natural History Museum with narration by Captains and trained Naturalists. More info… (619) 686-8715
  • Flagship Cruises and Events embarks with the ocean experts from the Birch Aquarium. More info… (619) 234-4111
  • The famous sailing yacht AMERICA, docked at the San Diego Maritime museum, includes free admission to the museum with all tours. More info... (800) 644-3454 
  • H & M Landing provides 3-hour offshore cruises or a 6 hour Nature Cruise until May. More info...  (619) 222-1144
  • Get up close and personal on an ocean raft adventure with Xplore Offshore (858) 361-9494

Don’t miss the opportunity to get a close-up look at these majestic creatures! 

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