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A Complete Guide to Whale Watching Tours & Cruises in San Diego

a whale swimming in a body of water

If you are visiting Southern California, participating in a San Diego whale-watching tour is highly recommended. It doesn’t matter which month you are there, because you can see whales anytime. Before scheduling your trip, there are some things to be aware of.

What is the Best Month to See Whales in San Diego?

In truth, there is no ‘best month’ to take a San Diego whale-watching tour. The question to ask yourself is if there is a particular type of whale that you want to see, as that helps determine the best months for your interests.

May Through October

June through October off the coast of Southern California is a lively time. Blue whales, the largest of Earth’s creatures, begin to appear around May or even early April. A blue whale spout can be spotted miles away on a clear day.

Humpback whales are also around during the summer months. They have knobby heads and long pectoral fins. If you spot this whale, enjoy the show it puts on with its acrobatic tricks, such as tail slaps and breaches.

Fin whales, the second largest whales, are also in the water during these months. Their long, streamlined bodies allow them to swim at impressive speeds.

Just remember, May is gray, and June is gloomy in San Diego. It is definitely worth it to see blue whales, but be sure to bring your layers because it can be chilly during those months. 

December through April

Winter through early spring is popular for those who want to spot gray whales. These magnificent creatures migrate the furthest distance, and there is a good chance that you will see baby gray whales swimming alongside their mothers.

All Year Long

Certain ocean animals can be spotted at any time of the year. Minke whales are one example; although smaller than many other whales, they are graceful and playful. Killer whales, while rare, may also be seen at any time of the year.

Is Whale Watching in San Diego Worth It?

It is hard to find anyone who says it is not worth it. Not only do whale-watching tours allow you to spot various types of whales, but you also may see dolphins, sea turtles, sea lions, and various marine birds. You also are out on the open water, which is freeing and refreshing.

animal on the water

Where Can I See Whales in San Diego?

It depends on which type of whale it is. Gray whales are commonly spotted from the coast and in shallower waters. Blue whales are found in deeper waters because they feed on krill, which tend to live in deeper water due to vertical migration. The good news is that your captain knows where to go to spot whales.

Types of Tours Offered at Next Level Sailing

There are many types of San Diego cruises available. Although whale watching is popular, there are also sunset cruises and private boat charters. Rent one for various events, such as bridal showers, rehearsal dinners, birthday parties, and corporate events.

What to Bring on Your Whale Watching Tour

If you sign up for a tour, dress in layers, as it can get cooler on the water, even in summer. Bring sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, and your camera.

Snacks and non-alcoholic beverages are complimentary during your voyage, but feel free to bring your own food and drinks, keeping in mind that red wine is not allowed.

You can also bring your four-legged friend when booking a Next Level Sailing tour. Just make sure you select a dog ticket at check-out and that your dog is on a leash at all times!