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Guide to Whale Watching for Seniors – Preparing for a Whale Watching Trip

a person sitting on a dock next to a body of water

It is good for seniors to stay active, and there are many whale-watching trips and bus tours for the elderly. San Diego is a great place to whale watch, as the warm waters attract various types of whales throughout the year. The whales you see depend on the time of year but rest assured; you will see many sea creatures and have a great time. To have the best adventure, knowing what to expect and how to prepare is recommended. 

Choosing the Right Whale-Watching Charter

There are numerous options when deciding which charter to choose. Some factors to consider include the size of your group, if you are celebrating anything special, and the amount of time you want to spend on the water. Some companies offer both public and private charters, while others may only offer public ones.

Consider the type of boat you want to go out on. Some are more sheltered, as they have indoor space, but it is more difficult to see the whales. Some may be speedier but are not as comfortable to get in and out of. Big yachts are often the most popular vessels for whale-watching as they provide a smooth ride, seating, good views, and a restroom. Some charters even allow dogs on board!

Prepare & Allow Extra Time

One whale-watching tip is to allow yourself extra time to find the charter and check-in. Traffic and parking may be harder to find depending on the time of day, and you do not want to miss your trip. Allowing for extra time is also helpful if you forget some of the items you wish to bring. Many tour companies offer supplies, such as sunscreen for purchase or are located near a store. Before embarking on your trip, check on the website to see what they offer guests and what they recommend bringing.

a bag of green grass

Items to Bring

When whale watching in San Diego, there are certain items you will want to bring with you for the best experience. These include:

  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Binoculars
  • Camera
  • Clothing layers


Consider bringing beverages and food depending on the specific charter. Some whale-watching trips for the elderly include snacks and nonalcoholic drinks, while others provide alcohol and heartier food items. If your trip does not provide refreshments, pack a picnic, snacks, and any beverage you enjoy. If you have glass bottles, bring plastic cups along.

Ensure Comfort

Being out on the water is more fun when you are comfortable. Wear shoes that do not come off easily and will not slip on the boat’s deck. . What you wear also makes a big difference. Even in the middle of summer, it can feel much cooler out on the water, so plan accordingly. It is often overcast on the water when it can be 80 degrees on land. With this in mind, bring a warm jacket, even in summer months. You can always take it off if you get too warm. Wear or bring thick layers if you are going in the fall or winter months.  It is highly recommended that you bring gloves, wear warm socks, a hat, and a  scarf.

a flock of seagulls flying over a body of water

Tips for Spotting Whales

When joining whale-watching trips for the elderly, your mission is to see some whales! Your tour guides will be on the lookout for these giant creatures and regularly communicate with guides on other boats. However, you can also keep an eye out for them. Look for spouts of water coming out of blowholes. You may also be fortunate and see one breaching. Be prepared to see whales such as blue, gray, humpback, and killer, and other sea life, such as dolphins, sea lions, seals, and pelicans.