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Whale Watching In San Diego: Fall 2022 Edition

a person flying through the air while riding a wave in the ocean

San Diego is a fun-filled family destination with many activities for all ages. One of the most exciting things you can do while you are in San Diego is a whale watching cruise, a perfect way for the entire family to see something new and make a memory to last a lifetime. Fall is the perfect season to head out and see amazing marine life.

Why Is Fall Good for Whale Watching in San Diego?

The fall months of September, October and November are the best times for whale watching in San Diego and throughout California.

During the fall months, blue whales are migrating from their southern tropical breeding grounds to the cool waters of the North Pacific in search of krill to feed on. Pods of blue whales travel through San Diego waters as they travel thousands of miles north throughout autumn.

Additionally, the fall weather in San Diego is perfect for being outdoors on the water. Temperatures during the day are in the 70s and the lows rarely, if ever, dip below 60 degrees. With an average of only three rainy days in the entire season, almost every day is the perfect day to go whale watching.

What to Bring

Taking the right items with you can ensure a pleasant trip. Bring items that will keep you comfortable, but do not overpack and burden yourself with items that you won’t use.

A small backpack or string bag is a perfect vehicle for bringing everything you’ll need for a day of whale watching. Be sure to pack:

  • A camera with a zoom lens to capture close-up shots
  • Binoculars, if you have them
  • Sunglasses with UV blockers
  • A hat with a brim to shade your face
  • Sunscreen
  • Medication or acupressure bands, if you are prone to seasickness
  • A jacket or sweater, in case the weather cools while you are out on the water

Be sure to wear closed-toe shoes with rubber soles for safety on the boat, and dress in layers if you can to accommodate fluctuating temperatures between land and sea.

Check with your tour company to be sure that snacks and water will be available during your cruise. If the tour company you choose does not include these amenities you should plan on bringing both, as most whale watching tours last for at least four hours.

What to Expect to See

San Diego is one of the best places in the world to see marine life. During the migration season, more than 20,000 gray whales will pass along San Diego’s coastline; additionally, San Diego waters are home to countless flora and fauna that your tour operator will point out to you.

There are different varieties of whales that you may see during your whale watching tour. Whale species that frequent the San Diego waters include:

Blue whales

Weighing up to 200 tons and measuring up to 100 feet long, blue whales are the largest animal known to ever have existed. These gentle giants cruise the oceans in search of krill, their only food source.

Finback whales

The world’s second-largest whale, finback whales weigh up to 50 tons and measure up to 70 feet long, and like all large whales remain an endangered species. The waters off San Diego are one of the few places on earth to see these magnificent creatures.

Humpback whales

Humpback whales can measure as long as 50 feet and weigh 30 tons. They are known for their haunting and melodic “singing”.

Minke whales

At 18 feet long and 6 tons, this species may sound small compared to its mammoth cousins, but this baleen whale is still an incredible sight to see.

In addition to whales, there are many other types of marine life that you may be able to spot on your tour. Some of the most exciting things that you may see include:


These marine mammals are perpetual fan favorites, especially for children. Playful and curious, spotting these creatures is always a treat. Four species of dolphin are common in the San Diego waters:

  • Common dolphins
  • Bottlenose dolphins
  • Pacific white-sided dolphin
  • Risso’s dolphin

Sea lions 

Look for these creatures along the shore on rock formations, where they hang out in large pods of up to 1,000 at a time.


Also known as killer whales, orcas are famous for their black and white markings and their status as apex predators, making them the most powerful animal in the ocean.

Whale Watching Tips for When You’re Out At Sea

A whale watching tour is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many people. To make the most of this opportunity, follow these tips for when you’re out at sea.

Talk To the Crew

Crew members are experts, and will be more than happy to answer all of your questions and give you their favorite whale watching tips.

Put Your Camera Down

You’ll want to take pictures to remember everything, but put your camera down every so often and soak in the experience.

Be Patient

Wildlife does not appear on schedule. Be patient while your crew finds the wildlife you would love to see.

Next Level Sailing

The most important thing you can do to ensure the trip of a lifetime is to choose the right tour company. Next Level Sailing has served over 200,000 customers since 2006 and offers a no-seasickness guarantee, setting them apart from all other tour providers.

Other reasons to choose Next Level Sailing:

  • Highly qualified and trustworthy crew members guide every tour, providing invaluable information and assuring the safety of everyone on board.
  • We sail aboard a 139-foot racing yacht that accommodates 77 people, with plenty of room to move around and see everything.
  • Safety is a top priority, with regularly scheduled Coast Guard inspections and premium safety equipment on board.
  • Private dining options and live music are available.
  • Charters are available for private parties like weddings, rehearsal dinners, corporate entertaining, reunions, film production, or any other reason you can imagine.

If you are in San Diego during the fall, do not miss the opportunity to join Next Level Sailing for a whale watching tour and make the memories of a lifetime.