More than 20,000 gray whales will migrate from Alaska toward Baja California this winter to give birth before heading north in the spring.
San Diego has 70 miles of coastline directly on the migration path, a perfect opportunity for whale watching -- a popular activity in America's Finest City.
Birch Aquarium at Scripps, Cabrillo National Monument and Torrey Pines State Reserve are all excellent viewing spots from land with sweeping panoramas of the Pacific.
Cabrillo National Monument’s annual Whale Watch Weekend takes place February 20-21 and includes whale watching from the recently redesigned Whale Watch and Kelp Forrest Overlook, tide pool exploration and a presentation on the Marine Protected Areas.
For a closer look, San Diego Whale Watch, Hornblower Cruises, H&M Landing, Sail San Diego, Flagship Cruises and a host of other local companies offer whale watching tours.
Hornblower Cruises sail on large yachts and visitors receive live narration on whales from the captain and trained naturalists from the San Diego Natural History Museum. Their 3.5-hour cruises offer hot food, a full bar and souvenirs. They give free cruises for visitors who don’t spot a whale the first time.
San Diego Whale Watch takes guests out to sea on the Privateer, the only boat in San Diego used solely for whale watching. They are the only San Diego company to gives whale tours all year long, and they give a free cruise if guests don’t see a whale or dolphin on their initial trip.
H&M Landing, in the whale watching business since 1953, offer 3.5-hour tours with a hot food and beverage service while guests listen to a narrative on whales.
Sail San Diego’s captains are trained naturalists. Their 3.5-hour tours accommodate small groups and they offer hot beverages during the journey.
Flagship Cruises gives educational tours led by an expert naturalist from Birch Aquarium. They guarantee a whale sighting or guests ride free again.
Whales generally travel alone or in pods of two or three, but may be seen in groups during peak migration times, according to the Birch Aquarium.
The gray whales' migration season lasts from mid-December until April with peak migration in the middle of January.
Blue whale watching is from the middle of June until September.