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What is the Best Time of Day to Go Whale Watching?

There is nothing better than a day out on the boat. Especially in beautiful San Diego where the weather stays warm into the Autumn months, it’s a necessity to plan as many trips to the water as possible. Whale watching in San Diego, in particular, is the perfect activity for visitors and locals alike. But what time should you whale watch?

According to expert San Diego whale watchers, the answer is anytime! However, there are some things to expect depending on the different times of day. 


There is something very special about being out at sea in the morning. One reason for this is the waters tend to be more calm. However, The Yacht America was built to maintain a level sailing experience at all times so no matter what the conditions are like at sea, have no fear about getting sea sick! In addition, if you’re looking for great lighting for scenic photography, we recommend going out in the early morning. A lot of people tend to ask, “Are whales more active in the morning or night?” The answer is there is no answer! Whale patterns are unpredictable when it comes to the time of day, but with more light, of course it’s easier to spot the whales. 


Although there isn’t a guaranteed time of day for best whale watching, it’s true that between 11am-3pm PT in San Diego, the beautiful blue waters are captivating. As well, the best months for whale watching in San Diego tend to be mid-December to March since that is when gray whales migrate from Alaska to the warm waters of Baja, California. Since those months aren’t always the warmest, the afternoon is preferred when the sun is beating down. Of course, it’s still chilly out on the water, so remember to bring a jacket!


As previously stated, there is no perfect time of day to go whale watching. Their patterns are unpredictable; for example, if two types of whales run into each other in the sea, it could throw off the usual migration pattern. However, there is something to be said about a night cruise. Catching the sight of a gray whale in the winter or a blue whale in the spring as the sun sets is incomparable! 

When deciding your preference for the time of day you want to go out on the water, there are a couple of things to put into consideration. Something to keep in mind is whether you find yourself getting sea sick and checking out how rough the water is at different times of day. However, our team at Next Level Sailing is so confident in the stability of our sailboat that we will even provide a gift certificate to a local restaurant if you get seasick. Something else to keep in mind when choosing the best time of day for whale watching is the weather so you dress accordingly. Early mornings and nights definitely pick up the wind and can have a chill. However, mid-day can be extremely hot with the sun beating down.

Typically, whale watching in San Diego is at its peak during the winter months. From mid-December to mid-March, you can watch more than 25,000 California gray whales migrate from the freezing waters of Alaska to the warm waters of Baja, California. However, this does not mean that whale watching in San Diego is a bust during the warmer months! The largest creatures on Earth, blue whales, are most commonly found off the coast of San Diego from May through November. Ranging from 90 to over 100 feet and weighing up to 200 tons, blue whales are a sight to see, especially since they are heading towards extinction. Blue whales typically reside farther out at sea, so taking a boat out to go whale watching in San Diego is ideal. Some other whales to look out for are the Pacific Gray Whale, Mighty Fin Whale, Minke Whale and the Humpback Whale

We are so confident in our whale watching tour guides that we even offer a 100 percent guarantee on seeing a whale while out on the water. If you don’t see one, we will take you out again so that you do!