Where To Spot Whales in San Diego

Do you want to see the world’s largest mammals in their natural habitat? You cannot go wrong with whale watching San Diego. Almost any time of year, whales navigate through the waters of the Pacific Ocean, just off the Southern California coast. It is almost like a whale superhighway, as different species make their way to mating or feeding grounds. Of course, not every vantage point or boat tour can guarantee gray or blue whale watching San Diego. To improve your chances, check out these spots around the city and beaches where people commonly spot whales.

On the Water

Get up close and personal with humpbacks, minkes, and fin whales by heading away from shore and hitting the open waters. Some species, especially gray and blue whales, are less likely to come close to land, so taking a La Jolla whale watching tour can get you closer to where the action is.

The best time to see whales is early morning when the seas are calmer. Be sure to check the weather report before your tour and avoid foggy or rainy days when visibility is limited. In addition, visit the tour company’s website to see if they post a whale-watching report. If there is no information about recent whale sightings, you may want to postpone your tour until more people spot whales in the vicinity.

Another option you may not have considered is taking a whale watching tour by kayak. This alternative sticks closer to the shoreline, which may work better if you are not comfortable on open seas. Plus, if you are fortunate enough to spot sea mammals on your venture, you may have a whale of a tale to share.

From the Land

Who says the only way to whale watch is going out in a boat? The shoreline of San Diego offers lots of prime viewing spots if you know how to spot a whale in the ocean. Like going out to sea, your best bet to see whales is on a clear, calm day. Take a pair of binoculars to help you identify the species or just for a better look.

Here are some beloved whale watching areas around San Diego:

  • Torrey Pines State Reserve has several trails with excellent whale watching vistas, including Razor Point Trail and Beach Trail. While not part of the state park, Torrey Pines Gliderport is right next door and has impressive views from the cliffs.
  • Cabrillo National Monument is south of Torrey Pines, and from this position, you can look out from Whale Overlook or Old Point Loma Lighthouse to watch the whales meander through the water.
  • Birch Aquarium at Scripps Park is in La Jolla, and at this attraction, you have both a perfect viewing spot from the Tide Pool Plaza that overlooks the Pacific. You may even get more information from an aquarium docent about recent sightings.

In The Know

Whether you stay onshore or venture out in a boat, you should make whale watching a part of your trip to San Diego. Nothing compares to the experience of seeing sea mammals in the wild, and it may just be the most memorable activity of your visit.