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What You Can Expect To See Whale Watching This Fall/Winter Season

One of the most popular activities in San Diego is boating. Vacationers will often rent or charter boats for reunions, birthdays, anniversaries, etc.

While there are miles of brilliant coastline and unobstructed ocean views to take in, one boating excursion beats all others: whale watching. Most people never get the chance to see whales in their natural habitat, but at certain times of the year, San Diego is a prime location to spot the majestic sea mammals.

Is Fall/Winter a Good Time for Whale Watching?

The fall and winter months provide some of the best whale-watching opportunities. From November through April, tourists can see hundreds of whales as they migrate from Alaska to Baja, California.

Earlier in the Fall, tourists have no guarantees of seeing whales. The species taking part in earlier migrations are limited, offering few opportunities for sightings. However, tourists will have several opportunities to see a migration comprising nearly 20,000 whales from mid-December through April. Tour guides can almost guarantee vacationers will see at least one whale during these months.

What Whales Migrate During the Fall/Winter?

During the Fall, tourists will have the opportunity to spot humpback whales or killer whales. November is the peak migration season for humpback whales.

Humpback whales can travel 5,000 miles during fall migrations, swimming from tropical breeding grounds to colder, more plentiful feeding grounds.

In the winter, tourists will have the privilege of witnessing one of the largest mammal migrations on the planet. Gray whales travel 10,000 miles from Alaska to Baja and back. If tourists visit San Diego in mid-December, they have a fair chance of spotting one or more gray whales.

How To Spot a Whale

Being out on a boat gives tourists the best chance to spot a whale and get a close look at the animal. However, many people have luck spotting the massive creatures from the shoreline.

The best way to spot a whale is to stand at the shoreline and scan the horizon. Watchers should scan slowly, ensuring to pay attention to subtle changes in the water.

When scanning, vacationers should look for blowholes or water spouts; they should also look for tails breaking the water. A good rule of thumb for viewers is to watch other boats. If a boat or several boats are not moving, they likely spotted something in the water, especially during peak whale watching season.

What To Bring With You Onboard

For tourists heading out on a whale watching tour, there are a few things to bring onboard to ensure the most enjoyable trip. The bare necessities are a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses. Binoculars can also help, as many sightings are of whales in the distance. Also, if travelers want to have a keepsake, they should bring a camera with extra batteries. Finally, depending on the length of the tour, a tourist may wish to bring snacks and a water bottle.

Other Marine Life To Keep an Eye Out For

While the purpose of going whale watching is to see whales, tourists will often get to see many other marine animals as well. Many boat tours will come across groups of bottlenose or common dolphins. Some lucky guests will also get the chance to see sharks, sea lions, or sea turtles. Sea turtles are among the rarest animals tourists will get an opportunity to see, making the experience extra special if it occurs.

San Diego is home to some of the best whale watching tours, and its location provides excellent opportunities for plentiful sightings in the full and winter seasons. Contact a tour guide to discuss dates and charter opportunities.