While sunshine, sandy beaches and street tacos are three things that come to mind regarding San Diego, the southern California city also is a hot spot for spotting whales year-round.
During the winter and spring months, gray whales can be seen in the area’s warm Pacific waters as the creatures migrate between Alaska and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. (Mid-December to April is prime time). The summer season brings blue whales, with up to 3,000 of the magnificent mammals feeding in an area a little farther off the San Diego coast.
Groups visiting the city can head out on San Diego whale-watching excursions offered by a pair of longtime NTA supplier members, Flagship Cruises & Events/San Diego Harbor Excursions and Hornblower Cruises & Events. These companies have many years of experience in helping travelers cross “seeing a whale” off their bucket list, and their tours also cover a broader range of marine animals and shorebirds.
Flagship Cruises, which was founded 104 years ago, employs naturalists from the Birch Aquarium at Scripps to provide narration for its whale-watching tours. During the prime months, 3.5-hour San Diego whale-watching excursions on the Marietta depart twice a day. The luxury yacht includes viewing areas on both its main deck and upper sun deck that allow groups better views of the whales.
Hornblower delights passengers during its San Diego Whale & Dolphin Watching Tour. With sailings at 9:30 and 1, the company spotlights not only migrating gray and blue whales, depending on the season, but also covers the area’s playful dolphins. Scientists from the San Diego Natural History Museum provide insights on the many creatures that groups see as they sail around the city’s harbor.
Both companies also offer a number of other regular departures—ranging from harbor tours and meal-themed cruises to special-event sailings—throughout the year.
Top photo: Hornblower’s San Diego Whale & Dolphin Watching Tour
Photo by Hornblower Cruises & Events