Whale Watching in Southern California

San Diego Whale Watching in America’s Finest City – An infographic by the team at Marriott San Diego Hotels

When I was a wee child, I was slightly obsessed with ocean life.  I’m not really sure what started this obsession, but it was intense.  I have a feeling that it started because we always lived in a coastal community.   The famed ocean wildlife artist Wyland was painting a mural, and I can remember making my mom take me down there a couple times a week to watch!

One of my very favorite things to do is to go whale watching.  I was lucky enough to grow up in Southern California, in an area that happened to be on the migratory path of the majestic Gray whale.  Because of my obsession, we used to go on one of the fantastic whale watching tours each year.  Of course, looking back on it now, I realize that, perhaps, my family fed into my obsession.  Hmmm…

Anyhoo…We’d generally get up on a cold and dreary Saturday morning and head down to the pier a couple towns over.  We’d generally leave out of Dana Point or Newport Beach, both of which are just slightly north of San Diego.  This would be usually be very early in the morning, before the coastal fog had burned off for the day.  We’d queue up with about a hundred or so of our fellow whale watching enthusiasts and board the sightseeing ship for the morning.  And out to sea we go!

We’d generally head out towards Catalina Island, which is an island off the coast of Southern California.  It’s not far from San Diego, either.  Maybe 25 miles or so north.  Usually, we’d see at least a few Gray whales and some young calves.  A couple times, we saw large pods of whales, which is both exciting and a bit frightening!  I mean, think about it.  If these whales felt that they were in danger, they could easily capsize our sightseeing boat!  Of course, any decent boat will get close enough to see without interfering with the migratory paths.  Most ship captains really respect, and have a healthy fear of,  the creatures of the deep blue.

Gray whales aren’t the only creatures that you may see on a whale watching expedition.  Oh no.  We’ve also seen dolphins frolicking alongside the boat, sea birds have paid visits, and even various types of fish have been spotted.

I was selected for this opportunity by Clever Girls Collective, however all content and opinions expressed here are my own.


  1. ellen beck says

    I have never seen a whale before and I think it would be fun and interesting to see one. I didnt know that many moved along the coast.

  2. Carolann Leibenguth says

    I have never been to California but I grew up in Ct. and we used to go on whale watches and it always amazed me the beauty of such a huge animal.

  3. Julie Wood says

    When I heard that whales were being abused when I was a child, I went on whale walks to earn money to stop it! I think whales are beautiful creatures that God created. I have been to San Deigo and saw the whales. They are beautiful and magnificent!

  4. Jennifer Hiles says

    It must have been so cool to live near the ocean. My husband has never been and he doesn’t understand the beauty of it. I’m determined to get him there so he can see why everyone loves it. Wow, I really didn’t realise how large and heavy whales are!!!

  5. Brooke F. says

    I love animals and have yet to see these animals in their natural habitat. This just may be my destination for vacation!

  6. says

    I would so love to do this! Thanks for the great info – I’ll be sure to use it when next in California.
    Following you on Twitter so hopefuly see you there sometime!

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