This post was most recently updated on December 17th, 2021
Did you know that gray whales make the longest migration of any mammal on the earth? Every year, they make the 10,000 mile round trip from food-rich waters of the arctic to the warm-water bays of Baja California for mating and birthing. San Diego’s prime location offers front-row seats for viewing this incredible migration in both directions. San Diego whale-watching is spectacular!
Since January is the peak of the migration period, my husband and I decided to join a whale-watching tour just this past weekend. It was truly an amazing experience, and I highly recommend it! I wanted to enjoy the whales without worrying about getting the best angle, but I have a few photos to share that could convince you to take the tour yourself.
You might want to know how much this will set you back. Fortunately, we were able to snag a Groupon special with San Diego Whale Watch. It’s still available as I write this, so check it out here. Whenever you take a tour, you are guaranteed to see whales, so if it’s an off day and there are no whale sightings, you’ll get a free pass to come back and try again another time. Even though we did see whales and lots of dolphins, we were still given a complimentary 50% off pass for a return trip. I’m thinking I’d love to go again! So, why would I want a repeat? I’ll tell you!
First, I learned so much. Jeremy, a certified marine biologist, was on board to tell us what we were seeing. He shared fascinating facts about the gray whale migration and population statistics. He also told us about the sea birds and different kinds of dolphins in the area.
Beautiful San Diego weather
Secondly, the weather was absolutely beautiful–about 65 degrees and all sunshine. That’s San Diego for you! Clear views in all directions. It was easy to see whale spouts miles in the distance. And it was a great day to be on the ocean; the swells were mild, the air was clean, and everyone on board was happy. (I didn’t see anyone suffering with seasickness–but if that’s a regular problem for you, there are seasickness pills sold onboard.)
Whale-Watching is Unforgettable
And most of all, it was nearly a spiritual experience to see these dolphins and whales in their natural habitat, just being themselves! At one point we had sighted a pod of gray whales. They had gone down on a sounding dive and we weren’t sure where they would surface again. All of a sudden they came up about 50 yards off the port side of our boat. The captain immediately cut the engines and let the whales swim away from us. With the engines off, we could hear nothing but the sound of whale spouts and their vocalizations. I felt reverence in that moment and realized I had tears streaming down my face. At another time, we were surrounded by over a hundred common dolphins who were frolicking in the wake of our boat, joyfully jumping and showing off. Their obvious joy was contagious!
Good to know
So now, if I wait till March to go whale-watching, I may see the very same gray whales making their way back towards Alaska. But according to Jeremy, there are lots of different kinds of whales plying the waters off the coast of San Diego all year long. If you decide to go, check out the above link to Groupon to see if you can still take advantage of a great price. Wear closed-toe shoes and clothing in layers (it’s a little breezy out on the open sea). Put on some sun screen and wear a hat if you like for sun protection. The best place to be? On the lower level, at the front of the boat. That’s the best view for seeing the playfulness of the dolphins. But you’ll be able to see from anywhere on the boat. And definitely take a camera!
Click on any of the pictures below to enlarge: