Whale watching in San Diego is a fantastic way to get out on the water and encounter this amazing part of nature. Whales are majestic creatures, and it is a true joy to see them in their natural habitat.

If you’re looking to try a San Diego whale watching excursion with your family, you probably have some questions. In this post, we’re going to discuss the top questions people ask about whale watching in San Diego, and provide helpful answers to each one. We’ll also see a way to make your San Diego whale watching experience truly unique.

It’s time to dispel your doubts and satisfy your curiosity!

Q: What Kinds of Whales Will We See?

This is highly dependent on the time of year, as there are a variety of whales that migrate in and around this area. San Diego is renowned for its beautiful Gray Whales, which you will see during the winter months of December to March. During this time period, you’ll also be able to see Humpback, Minke, and Fin Whales.

During spring and summer, the Gray Whales will be replaced by Blue Whales, the largest creatures on earth, along with the others mentioned above.

Once fall comes, the Blue, Fin, and Humpback Whales will also be joined by Orcas (Killer Whales).

Q: What’s the Best Time of Year for Whale Watching in San Diego?

You can go whale watching in San Diego at any time of the year and expect to see these incredible creatures. 

Of course, the time of year that you come will have a bearing on the kinds of wildlife that you’ll see.

As we mentioned above, winter is the time when the fascinating migration of Gray Whales takes place, bringing over 20,000 of them down from Alaska to the shores of Baja California. Before they leave in early spring, you can see the young Gray Whales wandering the ocean for the first time.

Here is an abbreviated schedule of San Diego whale watching:

Winter: Gray, Humpback, Minke, and Fin Whales

Spring and Summer: Humpback, Minke, Fin, and Blue Whales

Fall: Humpback, Minke, Fin, and Blue Whales, along with Orcas

Q: What if I get Seasick?

Seasickness can ruin your whale watching experience. If you know that you’re prone to seasickness, try taking preemptive measures to avoid it during your tour.

There are plenty of different ways to prevent motion sickness. Be careful about what you eat before your whale watching tour, avoiding foods that are heavy or spicy, and take care not to consume alcohol. Light meals are recommended. 

Over the counter medication for motion sickness, such as Dramamine, is also helpful.

While on board, sitting in a way that faces the direction of travel will help prevent seasickness. Also, try fixing your gaze on the horizon, or another fixed point.

Q: What is the Best Time of Day to See Whales?

Whales don’t have a time of day where they are more active. So, morning or afternoon tours are just as likely to show you some incredible whale sightings.

However, keep in mind that morning tours will often find the water much calmer, with very little wind. Afternoon tours may be a bit warmer than in the morning, but there will likely be more wind.

Q: What Tips do You Have for Photography on a San Diego Whale Watch?

Capturing these incredible sightings of whales on camera is a great way to remember your trip (and make your friends jealous!). Here are our top tips for cameras on board a whale watch:

  • Waterproof cameras and video equipment are ideal, as you don’t have to worry about them getting splashed.
  • DSLR cameras are still usable on a whale watch. However, just in case of choppy weather conditions, we recommend having something to cover your equipment and protect it from damage.
  • A zoom lens is your best option for onboard photography, such as a 70-200 to 70-400. Wide angle lenses are great for closer photography, such as if the whales approach the boat.

Q: How Close Can You Get to the Whales?

Federal whale watching guidelines must be adhered to by all boats. No boat can come closer than 300 ft. from a whale, nor can we block or follow them. If the whales choose to come closer to the boat, the boat will stop its engines. 

This allows everyone to enjoy whale sightings, while not disturbing these incredible beasts of the sea.

Q: How Should I Dress for Whale Watching in San Diego?

Though Southern California tends to be warm, remember that the temperature will change on the water. While San Diego might be experiencing weather in the 70’s, the water temperature is likely much cooler. When you get out on the ocean, the air temperature drops significantly to match the temperature of the water. This, combined with wind chill, makes a big difference.

If you want to really enjoy your tour without feeling chilly, make sure to layer up!

Q: What Other Animals Can You See on a Whale Watch?

That’s right, whales are not the only sea creatures you’ll be watching! Marine life is extremely varied off the coast of San Diego, so whale watching here is not just about the whales.

It’s very likely that you’ll find friendly pods of dolphins. These include common dolphins, Pacific white sided dolphins, Risso’s dolphins, and bottle-nosed dolphins.

Also, a great variety of birds can be found offshore, as well as sea lions, seals, sea turtles, and possibly even sharks!

A Unique San Diego Whale Watching Experience

Now that your questions are answered, you probably want to know: how can you make this experience truly unique?

San Diego whale watching tours aboard the luxury catamaran Adventuress are your answer.

This private yacht is the ideal option for creating a truly magical experience for you and your family. Watching wildlife while gliding across the waters in style; who could ask for more? Also, you’ll be able to listen to a Naturalist explain what you’re seeing and gain unique insights into the world under the waters.

Whale watching will never be the same after your experience on board the Adventuress. Contact us today to create your personalized whale watching experience.