Don’t Miss Whale Watching Season in San Diego
If you’re into the beach and sun then you may be surprised to learn that every year from December 15 through April 1 is the best time to visit San Diego, at least as far as whale watching is concerned. This four-month timeframe is when at least 25,000 Pacific grey whales make their annual ocean migration from the South Arctic to Baja California with a stop over along the coast of this southern California community.
Visitors to San Diego during whale watching season are spoiled for choice if they want to go on a harbor cruise adventure to look for the graceful creatures of the deep. Available cruise options range from intimate trips on small sailing boats to luxury excursions on gigantic charter yachts with enough room for a traveling family reunion.
During the whale migration season, Pacific grey whales are the most common sighting followed closely by blue whales and fins, pilots, orcas and minkes also make an appearance. As for other local marine life, harbor visitors should also be able to catch a glimpse of such exotic species as Pacific white-sided dolphins, sea lions and bottlenose dolphins.
While the private trips on the smaller 40- to 46-foot yachts may seem a little pricey, these customized trips have much to recommend them as each passenger is treated like royalty while conducting their search for the whales, porpoises, dolphins and pelagic sea birds that infest the San Diego harbor area. Complimentary snacks and drinks are usually available too. The captains, part tour guide and part ship’s commander, are experienced folk who put on quite a show explaining local history, ocean trivia and sharing information about all the sea-life that are found along the way. In between whale sightings, the captain and his crew are also available to answer questions from passengers.
Those who prefer traveling in the lap of luxury and observing whales from the comfort of lavish yachts have plenty of options. Whale watching charters cruise the local oceans with such amenities as state-of-the-art sound systems and climate-controlled decks. The crew aboard these charter yachts are trained to care for passengers and pay attention to even the smallest details. This is a definitely a different type of adventure and tourists may want to plan for a longer trip. Whale watching in the afternoon, dinner at sunset followed by a moonlight cruise around the harbor.
When it comes to planning your whale watching excursion, it pays to do your homework. Each cruise programs offers different features. Some of the unique “extras” that you might find include: microphones that allow passengers to listen to the whales communicating under water or coupons to the aquarium. Some tours are led by guides from the nearby Birch Aquarium who provide interesting grey whale fact sheets, filled with information about the whales’ daily life.
The most important thing to look for when booking a cruise is whether or not the tour company offers a guarantee. Some tours will offer a voucher that allows passengers to cruise again for free if no whales are sighted during the tour.
A whale watching cruise in San Diego is something that should be on everyone’s to do list if they are spending time in southern California. Don’t miss the opportunity to observe these breathtaking creatures up close, it doesn’t come around every day.
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