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How to Get the Best Experience Whale Watching in SoCal

Southern California is a wonderful place to see different species of whale. In the past, whale watching was mostly a winter and spring activity to track migrations of Gray and Humpback whales. However, over the past decade, more of the open-ocean species have begun coming to shore, allowing for year-round viewing of a variety of whale species. Looking to catch a glimpse of the majestic whales of the area? Consider buying a used boat or yacht in San Diego and be prepared for whale watching season every year!

Where to Go

Many whale species migrate from Alaska to Mexico, and as a result, can be seen from a handful of destinations off the coast of California. Some of the best whale-watch venues include Ventura and the Channel Islands, as the waters in the area are rich in nutrients and feed many species of whales. In fact, the Channel Islands are one of the few places around the globe where you can observe several species all in one trip. If you’re not sure where to go, make some calls to the different whale watch outfits, and see who has both calm seas and lots of sightings. Depending on the season, this answer will differ.

When to Go

The season you choose will depend on the species of whale you’d like to see. Gray whales are most frequently seen in the winter, as they head to their Baja breeding ground. Humpbacks are a spring species, as they head toward their summer birthing territory in Alaska. In fact, a majority of the spectacular breaches and tail flops that are seen during whale watching come from humpbacks. Year round species include blue whales, fin whales, and minke whales. These species are harder to predict the locations of than the migratory species, but they are residents, and therefore always a possibility.

Bring a Guide

If you’re not familiar with whales, it’s good to get an idea of what you’re looking for before you go. Different species can be determined by the shape of their blows and fins. Either bring a guidebook, or print out an online version like this to be sure you know what you’re looking at. If you can’t identify the species on your own, take pictures and bring them back to an expert on shore to confirm them later!

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