San Diego whale watching is a tradition at the end of the year and the beginning of a new one. Beginning in December, California gray whales leave the colder waters of Alaska behind, heading south towards the warmer environment of Baja California. If you plan your vacations for this time, you'll have the chance to enjoy a whale watching tour in San Diego. Before they reach Mexico, the giant whales travel close to the coast of California's second largest city.
San Diego whale watching is truly an amazing sight to behold. Thousands of the friendly whales, make the 5,000-mile journey, one of the longest annual trips in the whole animal kingdom. Even at 35 to 40 feet long and weighing more than 30 tons, they favor shallow water close to the shore.
At the height of the season, which comes a few weeks after the start of the year, some 200 whales can be spotted a day. And with more than 70 miles of beaches, maritime attractions, and abundance of tours, Baja whale watching from San Diego is top notch.
When whale watching is one of your favorite things to do, you have many options. On land, you could do some San Diego whale watching at the Birch Aquarium at Scripps. During whale-watching season, this attraction perched along the shore in La Jolla is a fantastic place to spot the gentle giants on the move. The aquarium hosts a variety of events and exhibits throughout the season, designed to teach you more about the whales and ocean life.
Another choice for Baja whale watching From San Diego is the city's national park. The Cabrillo National Monument enjoys a scenic locale along the Point Loma peninsula; you can soak in the views from the enclosed observatory with giant glass windows. You'll also find exhibits and listening stations so you can learn about what makes gray whales so special.
For even more details, and an even closer look, consider booking a whale watching tour in San Diego. Several different excursions leave the shore behind and travel into the water, where the views are even more amazing. The aquarium joins with the San Diego Harbor Excursion for cruises narrated by expert naturalists.
The San Diego Natural History Museum and Hornblower Cruises operate narrated tours between December and the middle of April. Passengers also have a chance to watch a video and see an exhibit devoted to the whales.
Your other choices for a whale watching tour in San Diego include extended tours that head into the waters of Mexico and the wildlife sanctuary on Coronado Island. If no whales are spotted, the company will allow you the chance to take another trip. Kayaking tours launch from the shores of La Jolla and a replica of the first America's Cup winner has become a wonderful setting for watching whales.
Several special events center around the migration. The Big Bay Whale Days celebrates Baja whale watching from San Diego with cruises, excellent dining, and chance to visit the USS Midway Museum and the San Diego Maritime Museum. The annual celebration is held at the end of January along the bay in Embarcadero.
Cabrillo hosts an annual Whale Watch Weekend and Intertidal Life Festival a few weeks following in February. Park rangers are on hand to share their knowledge and show you the best places to look for gray whales on the move.