Monterey Whale Watching

Monterey whale watching has been referred to as a life altering experience. Seeing such majestic creatures in their natural habitats can certainly foster an appreciation for just how amazing the world really is. Especially unforgettable are the moments when a whale breaches. This act sees the immense creatures lifting their bodies out of the water. You can imagine the resulting splashes. Monterey Bay provides a popular habitat for various whale species, which only enhances the viewing experience, and you can also expect to see other marine animals while plying the area waters. Examples of such animals include Pacific white-sided dolphins, Risso’s dolphins, and Dall’s porpoises. Thanks to the diversity of the wildlife in Monterey Bay, Monterey whale watching has even been compared by some to going on a safari in Africa.

Whale Watching Season

If you want to do some Monterey whale watching, the best time of year to take a tour depends heavily on the kinds of species that you wish to see. While whales frequent the area waters throughout the year, there are specific seasons for individual species. The best time to see gray whales off the Monterey coast is from September to April, for example, while blue whales are in good supply from March to October. Also commonly sighted while whale watching off the Monterey coast are humpback whales and orcas, and while it is rare, you might also see minke and fin whales. April through October is the best time to see humpback whales, while March through July is the main orca season. Minke whales start to show up around mid-June and begin dissipating in late October, while fin whales are best viewed from late October to early March. Rounding out the species of whales that you might see while whale watching in Monterey are the rarely observed beaked whales and sperm whales. All of these general tendencies apply in other popular California whale watching destinations, such as the Santa Barbara and Ventura area.

Monterey Whale Watching Tours

Monterey Whale Watching Tours
Monterey Whale Watching Tours  Image: See Monterey

Monterey whale watching tours are offered by several area operations and can be a great addition to Monterey vacation itineraries. Many of the companies have offices at Fisherman’s Wharf. On the tours, experienced marine biologists and naturalists are usually on hand to provide insightful narrations, and there’s just something about getting out on the water for a while. If you are a novice to whale watching, there are some first-time tips that can come in handy. For starters, dress warm, as it is always colder out on the water than it is on land. Don’t be afraid to even go as far as to bring a knit hat and some gloves. Sunscreen and sunglasses are also recommended, especially since the ocean water tends to be bright and reflective on sunny days, and if you’re prone to sea-sickness, don’t forget your favorite remedy.

Other Monterey whale watching tips include wearing flat, rubber-soled shoes for better stability on deck and securing such things as cameras and binoculars with straps so that they don’t end up overboard. Finally, if you have kids in tote, be sure to bring something to entertain them on the side in case they get bored between whale sightings. For safety reasons and concerns, kids under the age of 5 are generally prohibited from taking Monterey whale watching tours, as are expecting mothers.

Top image: See Monterey
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