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Orca Sightings: Can You See Killer Whales Off The Coast Of San Diego?

Its iconic black and white appearance causes shivers up the spines of passionate whale watchers. Orcas, also known as “Killer Whales,” are described as the mecca of all whale sightings. These whales are often associated with San Diego due to Sea World’s main attraction, the Orca Encounter, where you can watch orcas perform and learn more about them in general. However, observing one of the ocean’s most magnificent creatures is extremely different in a show setting versus in their natural habitat. So, other than the Orca Encounter, many curious whale watchers ask the following question: Can you see killer whales in San Diego?

The answer is yes-but they’re harder to spot. Although there is a large population of killer whales as a whole, orcas are more widely spread out geographically, which only makes it even more exciting to witness a killer whale sighting in San Diego! Typically whale watchers venture to San Diego to watch the great migration of grey whales that pass through on their journey from Alaska to Baja, California. However, San Diego is one of the few cities along the coast that does have a more dense population of killer whales compared to other parts of the world. There is a higher chance at spotting orca whales in San Diego during feeding times when their prey has a large population as well. The best time to see killer whales while whale watching is late summer – fall. 

Although orcas come with an intimidating reputation, they are not all that interested in preying on humans. Orcas got their nickname of “Killer Whales” from sailors who witnessed them attack large sea creatures. They were referred to as “whale killers” by the sailors, which eventually changed to “killer whales.” Adult male orcas are typically 20-26 feet and weigh between 8,000-12,000 pounds. Adult female orcas are typically 16-23 feet and weigh between 3,000-6,000 pounds. Even though their species is more spread out compared to other whale species, their large size combined with their unique coloring makes for undeniably one of the most exciting whale watching experiences you could ask for. 

At Next Level Sailing, our experienced team of sailors do whatever they can to have passengers witness a killer whale sighting in San Diego. Even if there aren’t any roaming around during your trip, our sailors ensure you will at least spot one whale. If you don’t, we promise to take you out on another whale watching trip free of charge until you do. We focus on the best experience possible for our passengers and pride ourselves on having an extremely stable boat to avoid sea sickness and a ruined trip out on the water. We are so confident in our abilities that we will even offer a free meal at a nearby restaurant if you do fall victim to motion sickness. Sign up to work with the best at Next Level Sailing!