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Where Can I See Whales in California?

Humpback Whale Tail Flukes in the air with water dripping down

The waters along the California coast are home to an abundant amount of marine life. From beautiful Northern California areas such as Point Reyes to Santa Barbara, and gorgeous Southern California areas like Long Beach, Dana Point in Orange County, and down to San Diego, the sightings are spectacular.

Often friends and family forego adventuring in national parks or somewhere inland, to instead set off for the sea in hopes of spotting these spectacular sightings. As they do so, they frequently ask one of our most commonly asked questions, “Where can I see whales in California?”

Dana Point, California, is the Dolphin and Whale Capital of the World®

Being whale watching tour operators out of the Dana Point Harbor in Dana Point, the Dolphin and Whale Watching Capital of the World®, we are delighted to share that whales in California are both plentiful and present in our waters. This is true for various locations along the coastline, making your goal to find the best whale watching in California an easy one to meet.

Gray Whale Breaching Near Sailboat off Dana Point

Before discovering that opportune place to see whales in California, you may wonder what to even look for during a whale season in California. Depending on your favorite times of year to see whales in California, the whale sightings do change. Whale season in California varies depending on the month you board a whale watching cruise or take a look from land.

Gray Whales

For example, during the fall, winter, and spring whale season in California, one can have the opportunity to greet pacific gray whales during their annual gray whale migration. These whales migrate from their feeding grounds in the cold Arctic to the warm waters of Baja, Mexico, to mate and give birth to their calves. Whether aboard a whale watching trip or resting easy from land, this particular whale season in California is both popular and highly anticipated each year.

Gray Whale Copyright Dolphin Safari

Blue Whales

Gray whales are not the only whales in California though. During the Dana Point whale watching season of summer, the blue whales touchdown and feed in our local waters. These nearly 400,000-pound whales not only make for the largest whales in California but the largest mammal on the planet. This blue whale season in California usually begins in May and can run until October, landing them a spot as one of the favorite whales in California.

Blue whale heads towards Captain Dave's whale watching catamaran

Humpback Whales and More

Additionally, year-round whales in California include humpback whales, fin whales, and minke whales. Occasional visitors range from sperm whales, pilot whales, and false killer whales. Killer whales in California aren’t foreign to our local waters either, deeming our pacific coastline a prime place to set your eyes on some of the planet’s most magnificent mammals.

Passengers with Orca Whales in California

So whether you plan to look for whales in California during the spring, summer, fall, or winter whale season in California, your chances of spotting some are quite high. This leads us to share some of the most favorable places to see whales in California.

Whether you are traveling alone, with a loved one, or with a group of ocean-loving friends, your preferred location to take a peek may vary. If traveling in the Northern California area, locations such as Monterey Bay and Santa Cruz are wonderful areas to see whales. Local whale watching tour operators provide opportunities to see them aboard boats, but various lookout locations on land along the Northern California coastline can give one the chance to see a distant spout or whale fluke.

Elephant seals on the beach at San Simeon

Making your way south to the sunny and sandy beaches of Southern California? Great plan! The warmer waters along the coast of Southern California are filled with a handful of different whales throughout the year, giving both locals and visitors alike the chance to see them from a handful of different locations.

Often, travelers will stop in Long Beach or Newport Beach, California, to board a whale watching vessel where they can see the graceful yet enormous creatures that are swimming nearby. But if close to these areas, you may consider cruising a bit further south to visit the Whale Watching Capital of the World® in Dana Point, California.

Dolphin and whale watching capital of the world logo

This picturesque beach town, located midway between Los Angeles and San Diego, California, is world-renowned and famous for its incredible whale watching and nutrient-dense waters that bring a slew of whale species to the area. It is well known romantic harbor provides easy, quick, and efficient access to the vast array of marine wildlife right outside its jetty.

Not only could one see whales from a lofty lookout location on the famous cliffs of Dana Point which overlook the ocean, but year-round tour operators enable passengers to see these animals in unique and unforgettable ways.

For instance, Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari’s five-star team have been providing exceptional customer service and extraordinary experiences to numberless parties who join us. With over twenty years of experience while operating seven days a week, all year round, our tours allow curious onlookers to get up close and personal with a plethora of whales and dolphins.


Not only can these whales be enjoyed from a distance, but each member of our one-of-a-kind whale watching fleet gives land-living folk the once in a lifetime opportunity to view these amazing animals at remarkable, up-close, and respectful distances.

Home to the famous underwater viewing pods, our primary vessel, Manute’a, is a sure win when it comes to choosing a whale watching boat that gives passengers both above and below water views of the flipper wearing friends nearby. Other options include high-speed zodiac whale watching boats that get you in arms reach of the animals, a luxury motor yacht, and an upscale luxurious catamaran that gives you exceptional views while remaining safe, comfortable, and at ease.

So whether you’re a local in California or visiting for a day, week, month, or more, we hope you’ll stop by our place and join us for an amazing experience while accomplishing that goal to find the best place for whale watching in California.

We hope to see you soon!

Until then,

Your Friends at Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari