Where To Watch Whales In San Diego

San Diego is one of the best places in North America to see a variety of whales. With its pristine culture, beautiful beaches, innumerable parks, and mild climate, San Diego is a whale-watchers dream.

There are some great places to watch whales in San Diego both from land and by boat. Birch Aquarium Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the Cabrillo National Monument are just some of the places to watch whales from land.

The coastline in San Diego covers an area of 70 miles. San Diego is an ideal destination for watching whales throughout the year. When you are visiting this city, then do not forget to include a whale watching tour on your priority list. This city is home to many marine mammals. Every year a variety of whales migrate to the area.


It is said that whale watching started in San Diego, with Cabrillo National Monument was the first place to be declared as a public venue for whale watching.

If you are looking for some info on whale watching, then this piece will five you the information you need.

How To Watch Whales In San Diego?

There are various ways to watch whales in San Diego. To observe them close up, booking a cruise trip is the best option. Whale-watching boat trips are great for watching whales as they swim around, and some will come close to the boat.

However, if you are happy watching whales from a distance, then finding a good place to watch them from shore is also a good option. 


There are a few benefits of choosing a cruise or boat over watching whales from shore. Being closer to them, you may not need to use binoculars to see them. It is also easier to take better photos of the whales when you are closer to them.  

Another reason is that some whales, such as blue and gray whales, do not like to swim too close to shore. To spot these large whales, you will really need to go on a boat.  

If you are taking your boat out, make sure you read up on the local laws and whale etiquette to avoid prosecution. Also, be attentive to notice any change in the emotions of the whales. Some whales can be highly aggressive, so make sure you know how to notice this, such as when they show a change in their swimming pattern.


Where Can You Watch Whales In San Diego?

There are some great spots in San Diego that offer a great place to view whales in the water. San Diego is a great place to watch whales, as many can be seen at any time of the year.  

The whale watching spots you find will vary depending on which whales you would like to see.

Birch Aquarium Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Cabrillo National Monument, Torrey Pines State Reserve, and Ellen Browning Scripps Park are just a few of the perfect spots for whale watching. 


These spots deliver a fantastic view of the whales, although you may need binoculars to see them. Some whales stay quite far from the coast, so it is not easy to see them clearly from shore. You will find many species according to the season. In winter, you can watch gray whales in large numbers.

The Whale With and Kelp Forest Overlook is a fantastic place to watch gray whales, as is the Old Point Loma Lighthouse.

Birch Aquarium is a popular place for whale watching delivering an epic experience to every nature lover. The experts at this spot supply quality knowledge about whales.

You will get experts at each of the mentioned spots, but there is something special at Cabrillo National Monument. There you can find the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, which is great for observing whales. 


In the daylight, it is easier to see the whales. Birch aquarium and Torrey Pines State Reserve are based in the scenic village of La Jolla, about twenty minutes from the center of San Diego.

What Are The Best Months For Whale Watching In San Diego?

You can watch whales year-round because of the many different species of whales in the area. The season you go will depend on which whales you see, so plan accordingly. In every season, different species of whales migrate to the Pacific Ocean in San Diego. These whales have made San Diego one of the best places to watch whales in North America.


The perfect time for watching whales in San Diego is from mid-December to April. Winter is the best time to visit the coasts of San Diego. This is the time when gray whales join together to travel to the coastlines of San Diego.

The season for blue whales and gray whales vary as per the climate conditions. During April or May, whales swim in the pacific ocean with their calves. If you want to see the relationship between the mother and her young calve, then these are the best months to visit.

Gray whales are best watched when traveling south from Alaska to Baja, California. The whales are much closer to the shore, with some extremely close, but most about half a mile out. They can be seen from December to January.

When they make their return northwards they are traveling faster and much further out to sea.

In the summer and autumn seasons, blue whales pass through San Diego for breeding and feeding. They swim far from shore, so you have to join a whale-watching cruise trip.


Seeing a blue whale is something that everyone should do once in their life. Seeing the biggest animal that has ever lived on Earth will, at the same time, make you feel proud, humble, a little bit scared, and incredibly small. Between mid-June and September, you can expect to see dolphins, fin whales, humpback whales, and minke whales.

Between mid-February and April, gray whales migrate to the northern region towards the shore to protect their babies. During these three months, you can watch them closely from the shore.

Which Whales Can You See In San Diego?

Gray Whale

Some gray whales migrate 10,000 miles from the Bering sea and Chukies sea to the lagoons of Baja, California. This is where females give birth to their young. Their migration period starts from Mid-December to April. They go back to the north in spring after spending the winter in the warmer waters of Baja, California.

Every year, gray whales make a journey from Alaska to Mexico to give birth to their babies. The warm water helps in making calves stronger and makes their first few months easier.

Data supplied by Birch Aquarium in San Diego states that gray whales usually like to travel alone or with three to four whales. Their average speed is approximately six-miles per hour. Their weight ranges from 30-40 pounds, and the length of their body is 30-50 feet.

Humpback Whale

Humpback whales belong to the category of baleen whale and are part of the rorquals. They can be recognized by their long throat grooves during feeding. They can be found in every ocean all over the world. In Latin, a Humpback whale is known as Megaptera Novaeangliae, which means the big wing of New England. 


The calves of humpback whales communicate with their mothers by using a sequence of cries, howls, and moan. They migrate after summer to other coasts, which have a mild winter climate. In San Diego, you can observe mothers and calves swimming together quite often.

Killer Whale

Killer whales are actually dolphins. They are one of the easiest ‘whales’ to spot, due to their black and white markings. Killer whales are also known as orcas. Their favorite food includes salmon and herring. 

Orca whale exhales in the sunlight

Killer whales are quite intelligent, and this can be seen in their way of hunting. They are adept at stalking their prey and are an apex predator. They are socially active, hunting in packs, and this has led them to be called the ‘wolves of the sea.’ This makes them a dangerous predator.

Blue Whales

The blue whale is one of the most well-known whales. They are the largest mammal on Earth and the largest creature that has ever lived on Earth. They are not very aggressive but extremely strong. Blue whales feed on krill and can consume four tonnes of krill every day.

The longest blue whale recorded was 108 feet long. Female whales weigh more than males, ranging from 90-150 tonnes. Their dorsal fins are small and triangular, measuring only one foot. 

Blue whale

Blue whales can be seen passing off the San Diego coastline. They are found in every ocean but reach San Diego in the spring and summer season. They love deep water, and the pacific ocean becomes a suitable place for them to live in the summer season.


San Diego is a fantastic place and a great place to see experience a variety of species of whale. Remember to take a camera with you to take pictures of these great animals. Whales are fascinating when swimming, and you may be lucky to see them jump out of the water.  

Every moment spent with whales will make you look at the world a bit different, and coming with your family will create some moments you will all treasure for a lifetime.


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Bryan Harding

Bryan has spent his whole life around animals. While loving all animals, Bryan is especially fond of mammals and has studied and worked with them around the world. Not only does Bryan share his knowledge and experience with our readers, but he also serves as owner, editor, and publisher of North American Mammals.

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