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Your Complete Guide To Whale Watching Season 2024

whale breaching

If you are wondering when the San Diego whale watching season is, you are in luck because there is a good chance you will see whales no matter when you visit. However, there are some things to know about whale watching, such as what times of the year you will see specific whales and what types of tours there are. Find out what you can expect in 2024.

Is There a Whale Watching Season in San Diego?

The great thing about San Diego and other areas in Southern California is that whale-watching season is all year long. The warm waters and abundant food attract whales throughout the year, although specific types of whales are only present at certain times.

If you schedule a trip to San Diego, do not worry about being able to see whales because there is a great chance you will see some. If you book with Next Level Sailing and do not see a whale on your excursion, you can return for free another time!

What Time Are Whales Most Active in San Diego?

Although you should be able to see whales at any time, you may be asking, when is whale watching season more active? For example, mid-December through the end of April are popular times to see gray whales. From May through August, summer is a great time to see various types of whales and other marine life. The fall season does not disappoint, either. If you have lots of vacation time or live in Southern California, it is fun to schedule whale-watching tours for different times of the year to see a wide variety.

animal on the water

Types of Whales You May See

Considering when whale watching season in Southern California begins, you should schedule your tour based on the type of whales you are most interested in seeing. In winter, you are more likely to see gray whales as they migrate to warmer waters to give birth and then back to Alaska to feed. 

Expect to see blue, fin, and humpback whales in spring, summer, and fall. Blue whales are the largest in the ocean and the largest creatures ever on Earth. You may be able to identify fin whales by their long, sleek body and V-shaped head. Humpback whales will entertain you with their tail slaps and frequent breaches.

All year round, you should be able to spot minke whales. These are smaller whales whose movements are graceful. You may even be able to spot orcas. Although it has been rare to see killer whales around San Diego, spottings increased significantly in 2024. The theory is that El Nino has increased the water temperatures around the coast of Southern California, and prey is abundant, so they have moved from their regular waters in Mexico.

How To Make the Most of Your Whale Watching Tour

When booking your whale-watching tour, remember that you can book a general tour or schedule a private charter for a special event or get-together.

Dress for the weather, considering it may feel cooler once you are on open water. Things to bring include:

  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Lighter jacket
  • Camera
  • Binoculars (optional)

You are welcome to bring your own food and drinks, although most tours include snacks, water, and soda. 

How To Protect Whales in 2024

The guidelines for protecting whale populations are similar in 2024 as in 2023. Boats should approach from the side, never cut off a whale’s path, and may not get closer than 100 yards from the whales. While observing, do not make abrupt movements or shout. Also, refrain from attempting to feed them, as this is highly illegal.