Add dates
California

Dolphin & whale watching

Our most recommended California Dolphin & Whale Watching

Monterey Bay: Whale Watching Tour

1. Monterey Bay: Whale Watching Tour

Discover a variety of whale species in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary on this cruise from Monterey. Uncover one of the world’s best locations for whale watching due to its deep submarine canyon close to shore. With whales spotted almost every day, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Set sail from the Old Fisherman’s Wharf. Catch a glimpse of the hundreds of Californian Sea Lions inside the harbor as the boat leaves the dock. Take advantage of the view and snap a photo to capture the memory. Pass the historic Cannery Row as you leave the harbor and enter the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Search for feeding humpback whales, a variety of dolphin species, porpoises, blue whales, and fin whales. Listen as the onboard biologist provides fascinating insights into the creatures of the bay and what is being done to protect them. During the summer/ fall season, the tour will focus on feeding whales that come to the bay to feast on small fish and krill. Spot humpback whales daily but keep an eye out for blue whales, fin whales, gray whales (finishing migration), orcas and a variety of other dolphin species. During the winter season, the tour will focus on migrating whales at the south end of Monterey Bay where gray whales pass by. Return to your starting point at the end of your tour.

Monterey: Whale Watching Cruise

2. Monterey: Whale Watching Cruise

Get up close and personal with some of California's marine life on this whale-watching cruise in Monterey Bay, departing from Moss Landing. See humpback, orca, gray, and blue whales, and get the chance to spot a friendly dolphin. Start your cruise in the quaint fishing village of Moss Landing. From here, depart from the harbor and listen to your marine biologist guide talk about the local area and its abundance of sea creatures. In the harbor, you can spot the beloved Monterey Bay sea otter and numerous species of seabirds as you listen to the sealions' bark. Continue into the open waters of Monterey Bay, one of the top whale-watching destinations in the world. The bay's unique ocean floor allows for frequent upwellings of food, meaning you can see both resident and migrating whales year-round. Learn more about the area from your naturalist guide and spot whales including humpback whales, gray whales, killer whales, blue whales, sharks, and other sea life such as mola mola, sea turtles, and jellyfish. Finish your cruise with a relaxed ride back to the port in Moss Landing and get one last glimpse of the wildlife of Monterey Bay.

Monterey: Sunset Whale Watching

3. Monterey: Sunset Whale Watching

Enjoy the wildlife, then relax as you take in the beautiful sunset over Monterey Bay on a sightseeing cruise. Meet your guide at the wharf and climb aboard the boat to start your tour. Spot whales, dolphins, and a wide variety of marine wildlife in Monterey Bay. Whales are seen every day in this area. Listen to your marine biologist or naturalist guide as they share interesting information about the animals you see, the natural history of the local area, and conservation. Witness scientific research in action as marine biologists and naturalists collect sighting data to learn about the local wildlife. Then, sit back and relax as the sun sets, reflected in the water, providing lasting memories and incredible photo opportunities. Finally, return to the wharf and dry land.

Newport Beach: Whale and Dolphin-Watching Cruise

4. Newport Beach: Whale and Dolphin-Watching Cruise

Head out on a whale and dolphin-watching cruise from Newport Beach. The waters surrounding Newport Harbor offer deep nutrient-rich waters that attract all types of marine creatures. With a 96% success rate, almost every trip has the opportunity to see whales or dolphins. Look out for giant blue whales (during the summer and fall months), finback whales, gray whales (winter and spring months), minke whales, humpback whales, several types of dolphin (including giant rizzo dolphin over 14 feet in length), seals, and all sorts of other marine life. Most whale-watching cruises take in the scenic backdrops of Laguna Beach, Huntington Beach, and Newport Beach while viewing the gentle giants just a few hundred yards from shore. Due to the geography of the Orange County coastline that surrounds Newport Harbor, ocean conditions are incredibly calm. The captain and crew have backgrounds in marine biology and can provide details about the marine creatures, environment, and ecosystems.

Monterey: Whale Watching Tour with A Marine Guide

5. Monterey: Whale Watching Tour with A Marine Guide

Hop onboard one of the largest vessels in Monterey for a guided whale-watching tour. Leave the harbor and head out into Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary in search of whales, dolphins, and other marine wildlife that migrate through the waters of the Pacific Ocean. Relax in the heated cabins of the 110-feet Princess Monterey and the 100-feet Atlantis Monterey. Grab a snack or drink from the onboard bar, enjoy spacious indoor and outdoor seating, and never miss a moment with a 360-viewing walkaround deck. With deep nutrient-rich waters just offshore, Monterey Bay hosts humpback whales and blue whales during summer and fall. Gray whales pass by the coastline as they navigate one of the longest migrations of a marine mammal during winter and spring, while dolphins come to the bay throughout the year. Every trip is different, so whether it’s your first time on a marine wildlife cruise or you’re a whale-watching veteran, see what Monterey Bay has in store for you.

Monterey: Monterey Bay Dolphin and Whale Watching Boat Tour

6. Monterey: Monterey Bay Dolphin and Whale Watching Boat Tour

Discover the diverse wildlife of Monterey Bay on a guided dolphin and whale watching boat cruise. Feast your eyes on massive gray whales, watch playful dolphins leap from the water, spot turtles skimming underneath the waves, and learn about the ecological landscape of the bay's oceanic habitat. Begin your tour by meeting your captain and boarding the boat at the Old Fisherman's Wharf. Sail into Monterey Bay, watching for birds and otters along the wharf's shallow banks. Learn about local efforts to protect what is considered to be one of the most ecologically diverse bays in the area. As you sail further away from the shoreline, watch for harbor seals, bottlenose dolphins, humpback whales, elephant seals, and even sharks. Catch sight of gray whales leaping alongside the boat and curious killer whales, with their characteristic black and white coloring, swimming nearby.

Newport Beach: Ultimate Whale Watching Adventure

7. Newport Beach: Ultimate Whale Watching Adventure

Take a 2-hour dolphin and whale watching tour from Newport Beach. Cruise in an open boat that offers 360-degree views from anywhere onboard, allowing everyone a to have close encounter with nature. Admire the stunning coastal landscape and look out for whales, dolphins, and other marine wildlife.   Board a custom-built RIB, perfect for whale watching. The boat has a maximum capacity of 15 people, giving each passenger a piece of the action. See dolphins come almost close enough to touch. The boat can travel at speed and cruises up to 14 miles from port to ensure the highest success rate of animal sightings.

Newport Beach: Luxury Whale Watching Catamaran Cruise

8. Newport Beach: Luxury Whale Watching Catamaran Cruise

Set sail on a 50-foot catamaran yacht in search of wild marine wildlife on this cruise from Newport Beach. Enjoy the 360 degree walk-around deck that ensures that you never miss a moment with the whales. Keep your eyes peeled for giant blue whales, humpback whales, and pods of dolphins. Board the ship and set sail from the landing. Get up close to different whales and discover facinating details about these creatures from your naturalist guides that are eager to share their knowledge with you. Let your captain take you to places where the whales are more active to increase your viewing chances. Head to the front of the ship and look for bow riding dolphins which will glide just below your feet on one of the dual bows. Feel the excitement of watching these playful creatures frolic in their natural environment. End your tour at the meeting point where it began.

San Diego: SeaWorld Skip-the-Line Park Admission Ticket

9. San Diego: SeaWorld Skip-the-Line Park Admission Ticket

Discover the underwater world at SeaWorld San Diego, with animal encounters, interactive exhibits, and thrilling rides. Get up close to marine life and enjoy educational animal presentations for the whole family to enjoy. Upgrade your ticket to include a dining pass to eat all day at SeaWorld. Experience thrilling rides such as Electric Eel with its high-energy twists and loops, or Manta, with two thrilling launches that send riders soaring in the spirit of the world’s largest ray. For kid-friendly fun, enjoy Tentacle Swirl, Sea Dragon Drop, Elmo's Flying Fish, and so much more. Admire the animals at SeaWorld such as beluga whales, walruses, penguins, sharks, and orcas as you learn about these incredible creatures. Enjoy interactive exhibits such as the Explorer's Reef Touchpools and Sea Lion Point. Explore the Sesame Street Bay of Play where you can meet your Sesame Street friends. If you choose to upgrade to the all-day dining bundle, you can get an entree, a side/dessert, and a drink every 1 hour at Shipwreck Reef Café®, Calypso Bay Smokehouse, Mama Stella’s® Pizza Kitchen, Big Bird's Bistro, Coral Market, Shark Market, Orca West Market, and Pretzel Shop.

Santa Barbara: Catamaran Coastal Cruise

10. Santa Barbara: Catamaran Coastal Cruise

Experience the beauty of Santa Barbara on this coastal catamaran cruise. Sail along the coast and breathe in the salt air, with the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Channel Islands surrounding you as the backdrop. Try to spot local marine and aerial life and relax in the sun with friends and family. Bask in the afternoon sun as you sail the Santa Barbara coastline on a catamaran. Climb aboard and set off, with the Santa Ynez Mountains calling in the distance. Over a dozen beaches and stunning villas line the ocean-carved coastline, making the best view of Santa Barbara, from the ocean. Enjoy a unique experience with family and friends, spotting California sea lions, otters, seals, dolphins, and many coastal birds. Lear, about local life and why this city is a popular place to visit year-round.

  • Water activities
15 activities found
Sort by:

Frequently asked questions about California Dolphin & Whale Watching

What are other things to do than Dolphin & Whale Watching that are worth visiting in California?

The other unmissable things to do in California are:

Which California Dolphin & Whale Watching are taking additional COVID-19 precautions?

Other Sightseeing Options in California

Want to discover all there is to do in California? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about California

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 71 reviews

I had a great experience. There was lots of activity to observe the entire ride, from whales and sea otters to birds and other aquatic life. It was fascinating to watch the whales and other animals in their natural environment, a much different experience than simply seeing them in a zoo or on TV. I had limited expectations going in, but I wasn't let done at all. There was nearly an hour and a half of constant action on the water with the whales, so I couldn't have been happier. It's important to note that you don't want to go in with expectations that you'll see a whale jump your boat or anything you may have seen on TV. Those are once in a lifetime occurrences. The more realistic you are with expectations, the more impressed you will be. You see whales from a distance, but that doesn't make it any less fascinating or awe inspiring. You never know what might happen, and that's the fun of it as well.

Great experience saw lots of whales and seal lions … daughters were very sea sick and they usually aren’t , so something to keep in mind … the staff on board were excellent, kept us informed of where to view and even came to speak to passengers on board to see if anyone had any questions. Definitely worth the money for the experience

- saw a lot of whales (humpback & blue whales), dolphines, sealions - nice and entertaining crew (also learned a lot about whales) - good organisation - perfect price-performance-ratio

It was a great experience. We saw some whales, that was fascinating. Nevertheless, even marine biologists have no influence on the number of whales and dolphins that show up.

Fabulous experience, highly recommended. We saw over 10 whales , amazing trip !