2023 Summer Whale Watching Report
|6/26/23||9 Blue Whales
100 Common Dolphins
|On the way out to the 5-mile mark, we saw about 100 playful common dolphins. Before we even got to Mile 5, we were seeing blue whales. They were everywhere! Nine blues got close enough to the boat to see their bodies and their outlines while swimming just below the surface. We had good views of their enormous blow holes and a few flukes. We all enjoyed hearing them breathe. We also saw at least 8 more blows in the distance. We didn't have to go past 5 miles, because there were plenty of whales to keep us busy. There were also lots of California brown pelicans, and 3 submarines docked at the Naval Base!
|6/25/23||12 blue whales
400 common dolphins
|. As we made our way out from the harbor to the area in the Pacific Ocean known to see the Blue Whales, we came across some bate balls that had lots of pelicans, dolphins, and various other birds. There were several (400) common dolphins seen (some were long beaked) in various mega pods. The captain then maneuvered the boat to where we were in a feeding circle to see lots of blows and was completely surrounded by Blue Whales near and far. This cruise also saw around 12 blue whales and of those Blue Whales we saw two flutes that received applause from the guests. As we came to our final look at these Blue Whales, one came within a few yards of the stern for an excellent guest experience.|
|6/24/23||3 Blue Whales
200 Common Dolphins
1 Mola Mola
|It was an amazing day whale watching with sightings of 3 blue whales in the same area. We could hear their breath and saw a couple of tail flukes. We also saw about 300 common dolphins and a Mola Mola that was exciting to watch as it fed on the surface.|
|6/23/23||1 Blue Whale
2 Fin Whales
|We journeyed out about six miles and encountered a Blue Whale and two Fin Whales. All three of passengers I asked told me their favorite part of the cruise was seeing the three hundred or so Common Dolphins. Specifically the ones we saw frollicking adjacent to the ship.|
|6/19/23||9+ Blue Whales
1 Humpback Whale
1000 Common Dolphins
200 Offshore Bottlenose Dolphins
|It was an amazing day on the water for today’s summer cruise! Captain Rick took us out towards the nine mile bank and we quickly encountered a large pod of 1,000+ common dolphins. We soon began seeing spouts and they did not stop! We were surrounded by Blue Whales and had multiple close encounters with whales right up near the boat with many fluking and showing off their impressive tails. At several points we would have two or three Blue Whales surfacing at the same time all around the boat. We saw at least two calf/cow or juvenile/adult pairs. A true highlight was a very friendly and playful Humpback Whale that breached at least 25 times and put on a spectacular show for everyone. We also had a great look at large pod of about 200 offshore bottlenose dolphins that were very active. After the morning June Gloom burned off we were treated to blue skies and everyone had an incredibly memorable day!|
|6/18/23||6 Blue Whales (1 cow-calf pair)
200 Common Dolphin
10 Bottlenose Dolphin
|Beautiful Day - June Gloom on the way out San Diego sun on the way in. Lots of dolphin activity in the way out. Once we found the Blue Whales there where spouts all around us.|
|6/10/23||3 Blue Whales
1 Fin Whale
|What a start of the whale watching season! Whale blows surrounded the boat. Whales so close you could hear them breathing. Another sight not often seen - Rizzo and Bottlenose Dolphins swimming together - about 10 of each. Lots of fish in bait balls attracted pelicans, dolphins, and the whales. Blue whales - the largest mammal on earth; fin whale - Greyhound of the ocean. SD Natural History Museum whalers showed biofacts and answered questions from passengers. A Whale of a day!|
2022-2023 Winter Whale Watching Report
|Date||Morning Cruise||Afternoon Cruise||Notes|
|4/16/23||2 Whales, 50 Dolphins||Morning: Not far out of the bay, we spotted the spout of a juvenile gray whale. We stayed with him for a few cycles, but didn’t want to spook him so we headed west where there were reports of other whales. After a while, we came upon a Fin Whale. We stayed with the Fin for at least six cycles. Many times we got a very good look at the arched back and distinctive fin. While the whale was down we were entertained by common dolphins. We also had a variety of migrating birds land on deck, warblers, hummingbirds, a lazuli bunting. Captain Chad called it a “Fall Out” which means the birds were tired from there journey and dropped in on us for a rest.|
|4/15/23||4 Fin Whales
25 Common Dolphins
1 Blue Whale
1 (baby!) Mola Mola
|Morning: Captain Chad took us towards the nine mile bank and we quickly encountered a pair of Fin Whales that gave us many good blows and looks, including some surfacing very close to the boat where the whale’s unique two-tone appearance was very visible. We journeyed on and found a group of playful common dolphins and a pair of blows behind us, but we traveled one because we could see a large blow in the distance which turned out to be a Blue Whale, potentially the first of the season! Excited guests got a great look at it. We also enjoyed a look at a cute baby Mola Mola sunning itself on the surface.|
|4/11/23||3 Fin Whales
1 Mola Mola
1 Juvenile Gray Whale
100 Common Dolphins
|Morning: The day was cold and gray, but we came across 3 Fin whales about 9 miles out. They started out elusive but did come within about 50 feet of the boat, right off the bow. We had some good sightings. There were also a large pod of common dolphins feeding in the area and they obliged us by coming right up to and all around the boat. We did also see a mola mola while waiting for the whales to resurface. On the way back to the dock we were able to get a few glimpses of the juvenile gray whale hanging out at Ballast Point.|
|4/9/23||2 Fin Whales
50 Common Bottle Nose Dolphins
|Morning: We spent about an hour about six miles from shore while two fin whales swam and spouted around our boat. There were approximately 50 common bottle nose dolphin that swam with the whales.|
|4/8/23||2 fin whales, 400 common dolphins||3 Fin Whales: a single adult, and an adult female with a calf
500 Common Dolphins
1 Gray Whale
|Morning: We saw 2 fin whales, possibly one adult and one juvenile, who stayed with us for quite a while, offering clear sounds of their breathing and close views of their backs and dorsal fins. We saw one pod of about 100 common dolphins while out and then, on our way back, we had a second larger pod stampeding toward us, with at least 300 more dolphins.
Afternoon: The passengers were excited to finally spot the Fin whales. We followed the mother and calf for some time. The 3rd Fin whale could be seen in the distance traveling ahead of the mother and calf. We then spotted the 500 Common Dolphins engaging in a feeding frenzy along with numerous sea birds. Then, on the way back to the dock, the young Gray whale showed itself briefly near Ballast Point in the harbor. Additionally, several sea lions were seen sunning on the bouys both on the way out to sea and on the way back to the dock.
|4/5/23||30 Common Dolphins||Morning: The weather was beautiful, but we did not see any whales. We did see approximately 30 common dolphin in a small feeding frenzy.|
|4/2/23||1 Fin whale
1 Juvenile Gray Whale
500 Common Dolphins
|Morning: About 7 miles off-shore we came upon a Fin Whale, who provided us multiple views. Everyone on boat had plenty of opportunities for viewing and taking photos/videos. We also came upon a large group of Common dolphins.
As we entered into San Diego Bay, we sighted the juvenile gray whale hanging out near the shoreline.
|4/1/23||25 Risso Dolphins
50 Common Nose Dolphins
|Morning: Today was a fantastic day on the water with two rare sightings. We started with seeing approximately 25 Risso’s dolphin that actually swam toward our boat and stayed with us for about 15 minutes. Then we saw a fin whale that actually came up next to our boat twice and gave us a full body view as it swam parallel to the boat. The whale turned to it’s side as he if was trying to observe us! Fin whales are known to be “elusive” and we typically only see their dorsal fin and a small portion of their back before they take off. For this one to show itself and stay with us for as long as it did was amazing. On our way back to the bay, we saw about 50 common bottle nose dolphin who surfed and jumped in our wake.|
|3/30/23||2 Fin Whales
1 Gray Whale
|Mom/Calf Pair of Humpback Whales
2 Adult Humpback whales
|Morning: Once at the 9 mile bank, we spotted a Fin Whale. We stayed with it for 3 breath cycles & were able to get a nice look at it. We then spotted an additional Fin Whale close by and a Gray Whale in the distance.
Afternoon: Even though it was an overcast day, we saw a mom/calf pair of humpback whales about 3 miles off the coast. We stayed with them for about 30 minutes before heading due west toward the nine mile bank. We didn't get far before seeing what we thought was a very small pod of dolphins. However, it turned out to be about 8-10 sea lions rushing towards the boat. They soon realized that we had no food and so they carried on. At about 6 miles out we came across 2 more adult humpback whales and stayed with them for about 45 minutes.
|3/28/23||2 fin whales
1 humpback whale
200 common dolphin
10 bottlenose dolphin
|Morning: Leaving the bay, we came upon a small pod of bottlenose dolphin that chased the boat for a while. A little later, we sailed through a pod of common dolphin that put on a good show for the passengers passing around and under the boat. We soon spotted 2 fin whales that appeared to be juveniles by their size. After watching them for some time, it was time to return to the dock. On the way back, spotted a humpback well surrounded by feeding dolphin and seabirds.|
|3/27/23||1 fin whale, 100 common dolphin||Morning: We spotted a fin whale about 12 miles out from Pt. Loma. The guests were thrilled with the great view of the fin whale as it arched and dove. We had an encounter with about 100 common dolphins.|
|3/24/23||1 gray whale||Afternoon: Captain Rick got word of a spout not too far from the mainland so we didn't have to venture out too far into the ocean. We were lucky enough to find an adult gray whale who appeared to be feeding. The whale would take a few breaths at the surface before arching its back and diving down to feed. At one point, the whale was seen at the surface with a plume of mud trailing behind it, a tell tale sign of feeding behavior. Since this whale was going nowhere in a hurry, we stayed with the whale for about two hours, watching it as it enjoyed a midday snack. Guests were even treated to a few up close breaths as the whale surfaced just a few meters from the boat. When it was time to return to shore we said goodbye and left the whale to continue grabbing a bite before it continues it's migration back up to the Arctic.|
|3/20/23||1 Minke Whale
2 Gray Whales
1 Mola Mola
10 Common Dolphins
100 Off-Shore Bottlenose Dolphins
|Morning: We saw very little until the end when we saw two Gray Whales spout, one Minke spout and show us their back, and a big Mola Mola.|
|3/19/23||40 Rizzo’s Dolphin
800+ Common Dolphin
1 Humpback Mother & Calf
1 Gray Whale, North bound
|5 humpback whales, 1500 common dolphins||Morning: First we came across a pod of about 40 Rizzo’s Dolphin. After watching them for awhile we saw hundreds of Common dolphin about a half a mile away so went to play with them. The dolphin raced over to the boat and soon we were surrounded by a very active pod, jumping and bow-riding. Suddenly they all started heading away from us toward Point Loma at great speed. We followed them to find a huge dark mass in the water – a bait ball! It was being attacked from all angles – hundreds of terns with there shrill calls filled the skies. As they dove in after the fish their splashes joined those of the huge pod of dolphin that we had followed to the area. Then in the midst of all this amazing action, a humpback was lunge feeding with her calf at her side! On the way back toward the harbor we came across a Gray whale, heading home, following the edge of the kelp forest. What a wonderful, exciting, morning on the Great Pacific – 2 species of dolphin and 2 species of whale.
Afternoon: Under cloudy skies with calm seas, we headed toward flocks of birds diving and dolphins joining in the feeding on a bait ball. Three humpbacks - adults/juveniles - took advantage of the feeding frenzy, and were quite active, diving and fluking. Later we saw a cow/calf pair of humpbacks moving without specific direction. The Captain announced a "stampede" of dolphins coming at us, like a fast-moving wave of at least 1500, as far as the eye could see.
2 whales, 1000 dolphins
|1 juvenile humpback||Morning: Captain Rick heard of a cow/calf pair of humpbacks out at about 9 miles. Out there, we were treated to a show. They cruised along together with the mother fluking and the baby breaching. We got to see this cycle around 9 times. Eventually it was time to go, but before turning back we went out a little farther to see about 1,000 common dolphins feeding and frolicking in every direction.
Afternoon: We saw a juvenile humpback and got great views of the pectoral flippers through the water and it fluked a couple of times. Later we searched for some dolphins but weren’t able to find them so we went back the same humpback and got some more great views of the flippers and tail fluke.
|3/17/23||2 Gray whales
1 Humpback whale
300+ common dolphin
|Morning: We had barely exited the bay when the captain identified a humpback whale and 2 gray whales we would be watching. The two gray whales, who appeared to be juveniles, gave everyone a great show as they moved leisurely north. After watching them for a while, we passed through a pod of common dolphin in a feeding frenzy. Together with the accompanying gulls and pelicans, it was a fantastic sight. We then moved on to watch the humpback, which also appeared to be a juvenile. After another pass through a dolphin pod, it was time to head back.|
|3/16/23||Pod of Short Beaked Common Dolphins
1 Pair of Eastern Pacific Gray Whales
|Morning: After 10 minutes our vessel headed west under calmer conditions about 2 miles off of Point Loma we encountered a pod of Short-beaked Common Dolphins who were feeding and hunting small bait fish. The Captain circled twice so guests could observe the dolphins behavior. Guests noticed that there were a few calves in the mix. The Adventure continued westward as the clouds lifted and the sun came out which made the weather pleasant. About 3 miles further west we sighted several spouts and we traveled to the area and determined that there was 1 pair of Eastern Pacific Gray Whales, a cow and calf pair along with an adult escort. After observing for 20 or so minutes we lost sight of the adult Gray Whale who most likely decided to venture away from the pair of whales. Guests on board enjoyed seeing the calf with its mom and how the mom guided the calf through the water. The escort reappeared and another adult Gray also joined the caravan of Gray Whales as they continued their journey back to the Chukchi Sea and Barents Sea.|
|3/14/23||1 Fin whale
1000+ Common dolphin
|Morning: We came upon a large pod of more than 1,000 common dolphin that surrounded the boat for about 20 minutes. We were approaching our time limit when we were fortunate to spot a fin whale. Everyone got a good look at the whale over the course of a few cycles of surfacings and dives.|
|3/13/23||3 Gray Whales
75 Bottlenose Dolphins
750 Short-beaked Common Dolphins
|Morning: About 750 Common Dolphins played around the boat as they fed on a large bait ball. A mother, her calf , and a young escort showed themselves as they were heading north. About 75 Bottlenose Dolphins swam near the boat for a short period of time.|
|3/12/23||2 Gray Whales
|2 adult Humpback Whales, w/ one calf
500+ common dolphins
|Morning: Our cruise started off well with 2 bottlenose dolphins in the harbor. When we left the bay we entered a fog bank. Visibility was limited as we headed west towards the nine mile bank. On our way out we saw a group of about 20 bottlenose dolphins. Many of them played in the bow wake. When we got out to the nine mile bank we slowed and searched for blows but didn’t see any. Eventually we had to start heading back. At about six miles out we saw a cow/calf pair of gray whales. We were able to follow them for a few cycles before heading back in.
Afternoon: Captain Chad found a trio of humpback whales, one of which was a very energetic calf. We observed this group for a while and saw the calf breach and tail slap. The adults were rolling and we got a good look at their pectoral fins. The whales waved goodbye with a great look at their tail flukes before we continued our journey. After leaving the whales, we came upon a large pod of common dolphins who enjoyed playing with our boat.
|3/11/23||2 pilot whales
2 mola mola
30 bottlenose dolphins
5 sea lions
1000 common dolphins
|Morning: Almost the first thing that happened was we came upon a large nursing pod of common dolphins, swimming and jumping all around the ship. We travelled with them for a while, then went to search for gray whales. We found another group of mammals which turned out to be a mixed group of two pilot whales, lots of bottlenose dolphins and a few sea lions all together feeding. One of the pilot whales was missing most of its dorsal fin but otherwise looked healthy and strong. Even though we did not see gray whales there was still a lot to see!|
|3/10/23||3 Fin Whales
1 Bottlenose Dolphin
|Morning: Although the skies were mostly cloudy, the ocean was flat and winds were calm, making it a bit easier to spot several fin whales in the distance. We saw one adult, and then what appeared to be a mother/calf pair. One bottlenose dolphin swam by.|
|3/9/23||1 north bound juvenile gray whale
1 mola mola
100 common dolphin
|Morning: We saw 2 separate pods of common dolphins that swam close to the boat. Many passengers got a good look at a mola mola on the port side of the ship that stayed on the surface of the water as we passed by. One juvenile gray whale was spotted on our way back into San Diego Bay. It mostly stayed below the water as we waited for it to surface. We saw it surface twice before we had to continue back to port.|
|3/6/23||1 Mother/Calf Humpback pair
1 adult Humpback
1 Mola Mola
700 Common Dolphin
|2,500 Common Dolphins
1 Mother/Calf Humpback pair
3 Adult Gray Whales
|Morning: Captain Rick headed straight for the nine mile bank. On the way we passed a Mola Mola. At 11 miles out we encountered a widespread pod of 700 Common Dolphin. As we were enjoying their cavorting, First Mate Brian spotted a whale spout about 2 miles further out. The spout turned out to be a Mother/Calf pair of Humpback whales, there was a lot of fluking, the calf even showed its flukes a couple of times, there were also two spy hops. As we were returning to the harbor we spied a lone Humpback, but did not have the time to stop.
Afternoon: Early into the cruise, we came across a bait ball with at least a hundred seabirds and a mega pod of about 2,500 common dolphins feeding. Everyone was excited to watch the dolphins leaping and bow riding. After watching the dolphins for at least 30 minutes, the crew saw some spouts in the distance to the west. We left the dolphins to head west when the captain noticed two humpbacks (a mom/calf pair) near the bait ball! We stayed and watched the humpbacks for about 30 minutes and enjoyed seeing the beautiful flukes and a couple of tail slaps. The captain then continued westward to about 11 miles offshore and toward more blows. We eventually encountered 3 adult gray whales heading north. We watched them until it was time to head back to the dock. We did see more blows in the distance to the south on our way in, and spotted the two humpbacks again
|3/5/23||1 Minke Whale||Morning: Once we departed San Diego harbor, Captain Chad turned West into a light breeze and headed offshore toward 9-Mile Bank. Part way to the Bank, we saw spouts to the South; however, the ship did not pursue these whale(s) as they were South of the US-Mexico boarder line. After reaching the Bank, the Captain throttled back and we searched for whales. Just before turn back to port we saw one Minke whale - a few quick surface puffs, then the small, elusive Minke was gone.|
|3/4/23||5 Humpback Whales
300 Common Dolphins
|3 Adult Gray Whales
2 Adult Humpback Whales
50 Bottlenose Dolphins
|Morning: After a cloudy start with nothing in sight, we came upon 5 humpback whales who delighted us with their proximity and activity. About 14 miles out, we drifted with them for quite a while, as they seemed to be playing around the boat, showing up on one side and then swimming to the other side. At least 300 common dolphins joined the party, swimming and also leaping through the air around the boat. There were two more whale spouts seen in the distance, with the best guess by the Captain that they were likely Fin Whales.
Afternoon: Captain Chad took us out to the 9 mile bank where we saw a pod of 3 adult gray whales headed northbound. In the vicinity were 2 adult humpbacks also. On our way out to the 9 mile bank we also came upon a pod of around 50 bottlenose dolphins that stayed with the boat a while and were bow riding.
|3/2/23||2 Fin Whales
1500 Common Dolphins
|Morning: Captain Dave heard reports of whales and dolphins “up North”, so we headed in that direction. Along the way we encountered two pods of Common Dolphin totaling 500 animals, we didn’t spend much time with them as we wanted to try to find the whales. As we neared the location where the whale had been sighted, we came upon a mega-pod of 1000 Common Dolphin. Their spouts blended together and formed a “hazy mist” over the area. At one point there were at least 12 of them swimming within inches of the bow Finally we were able to spot the whales blow, which turned out to be 2 Fin Whales. We watched 3 different surfacing events before we had to head back into port.|
|2/28/23||1 Bryde Whale||Morning: The captain spotted a whale’s blow approximately two miles from shore and steered the ship toward it. We saw two more blows north of the first sighting and then the whale came to the surface. However, all we could see was a quick blow and the whale’s dorsal fin making it difficult to see any other remarkable traits. The captain believed it was a Bryde’s whale, but the whale was gone before we knew it.|
|2/27/23||1 Gray Whale
1500+ Commong Dolphins
5 Bottlenose Dolphins
1 Mola Mola
|Morning: Captain Dave found many large groups of Common Dolphins that were very active; several pods of 500+ were spotted. We found one adult gray whale making its way south and had many good looks as it went on its way and this whale liked to show its fluke!|
|2/19/23||2 Gray Whales
1 Humpback Whale Cow and calf pair
1000 Common Dolphin
|2 adult Gray Whales
1 juvenile Gray Whale
Several Common Dolphins
|Morning: Soon out of the harbor we came across 2 Southbound adult Gray whales that were taking long sounding dives. After a few good looks at those we traveled West where we came across a humpback with calf. It was beautiful to watch them together, always touching, synchronizing dives and showing flukes. The underside of the calf’s fluke nearly all white and the much larger mother’s fluke very little white with barnacles at the edges. In the same area, to top off the morning, there was a huge pod of Common dolphin that surrounded us and rode the bow wave.
Afternoon: Spotted a juvenile gray whale at a distance when the captain decided to look elsewhere for closer whales. We eventually followed two adults for about an hour. From talking to people onboard it was clear that many had never seen a whale before and the passengers' shrieks of delight when the whales fluked made for a fantastic shared experience. A few common dolphin rode the bow wake as we passed North Island on the way back.
|2/18/23||2 Gray Whales: a cow/calf pair
200 Long-beaked Common Dolphins
|3 Gray Whales
2,000 Common Dolphins
California Sea Lions
|Morning: After steaming north as far as Mission Bay, we hooked up with a cow/calf gray whale pair, and followed them for a good while. Then we headed offshore to hook up with a very spread out line of Common Dolphin, Long-Beaked. Everyone got great looks at both the whales and dolphins; it was especially notable to hear their blows.
Afternoon: We had some of the expected sightings of California sea lions and double-breasted cormorants on the bait barge heading out of San Diego Bay. There was a massive megapod of dolphins sighted in the distance and Captain Eric headed for them. We got to spend nearly the rest of the cruise in the Pacific among or within sight of this megapod of 2,000 common dolphins. Shortly after reaching the and traveling among the megapod, three Grey Whales were spotted swimming North very near to one another. We spent about 20-30 minutes following these Grays before it was time to head back to the dock. On the way back to the bay, there was a single Gray whale spotted in the distance headed South, we did not follow this whale due to time limitations. The megapod of Common Dolphins only fell out of sight about 20 minutes outside of the bay.
|2/17/23||2 Gray Whales
50 Risso’s Dolphins
25 Common Dolphins
5 Bottlenose Dolphins
|2 Gray Whales
375 Common Dolphin
|Morning: Captain Dave gave everyone a real treat when he brought us up to a large pod of Risso’s Dolphins very early in the cruise — This group of 50+ was very close to shore and very active and playful, with lots of leaping, tail slaps and breaching. We followed a pair of southbound migrating gray whales for a while and had several great heart-shaped blows (sometimes in sync) and many flukes. We spent some time with a smaller group of common dolphins and everyone enjoyed a bonus sighting of about 5 bottlenose dolphins riding the boat’s wake as we re-entered the harbor!
Afternoon: We started the cruise by passing a navy submarine on its way back to shore, a rare and marvelous sight! We then came across a large pod of common dolphins. Later in the cruise we encountered a smaller pod of dolphins exhibiting mating and feeding behaviors. It wasn’t until the final moments out at sea that we saw the blows of a cow and calf pair of Gray Whales. As the boat turned back toward shore we saw tall spouts of possible humpbacks in the distant horizon.
|2/15/23||75 Long Beak Common Dolphins
||Morning: Unfortunately no whales were sighted but a lot of dolphins and cormorants.|
|2/12/23||3 adult Gray whales
|2 Humpback Whales
1 Gray Whale
1000 Common Dolphins
|Morning: Spent the first part of the trip along side a juvenile consistently showing flukes. then traveled south to meet up with 3 adult whales, two showing some mating activity.
Afternoon: We started the afternoon cruise by finding a feeding frenzy of pelicans. Upon arriving closer to the frenzy we noticed several dolphins feeding alongside the birds. We continued so see several of these feeding frenzies throughout the cruise.
It wasn’t long before we came across a Gray Whale headed South and a Humpback breach right in front of the boat! The remainder of the cruise we kept two humpbacks in sight, seeing several blows and flukes from the same animals. We even had the chance to see a large pod of dolphins travel through with the humpback blows in the distance.
|2/10/13||5 Adult Gray Whales
100 Short Beaked Common Dolphins
3 Bottlenose Dolphins
|4 Gray Whales
200 Long-Beaked Common dolphins
|Morning: Shortly after exiting the mouth of San Diego Bay we spotted 4 southbound adult gray whales. We watched them for a while and then a 5th adult gray whale joined the group. They would take a couple of breaths and then do a deep dive, often synchronizing their dives and showing their flukes simultaneously. We also occasionally observed some rolling (mating) behavior. As Captain Erik said, they were very showy gray whales. We eventually left the whales in search of dolphins and found a pod of approximately 100 short-beaked common dolphins almost immediately. The guests were beyond thrilled. Then we saw one of the whales that we had just left breaching! Oh the joy and excitement. We also saw three bottlenose dolphins in the bay as well.
Afternoon: Captain Eric took us a few miles east where we spotted a couple blows in the distance. As we reached the area we spotted 4 gray whales traveling slowly south. A large herd of scattered common dolphins were in the area too, with several mixed in with the whales. The whales were surfacing close together with a little bit of barrel rolling (courtship behavior). A couple times, one whale did a chin hop and surfaced upside-down. We remained with the whales and dolphins for the afternoon and everyone enjoyed close looks at the whales surfacing and fluking and dolphins surfacing near the boat. Seabirds were also in the area including a brown booby that circled over the whales a couple times. We headed into the bay to see sea lions lounging on the bait docks and the late afternoon sun highlighting the city.
|2/9/23||1 Juvenile Gray Whale
1 Adult Gray Whale
|Morning: Spotted one juvenile Gray Whale headed South- unpredictable, so moved on. Later stayed with an adult Gray for one breath cycle, then lost it. Saw several sea lions and one seal.|
|2/8/23||5 Gray Whales||Morning: Shortly after exiting the bay we found a curious juvenile gray whale. Then we headed north toward Mission Bay where we found a very shy, adult gray whale.Neither of these showed their fluke. As we were heading back we found three adult gray whales swimming just under the surface with multiple blows simultaneously all showing flukes|
|2/6/23||6 Gray Whales
1000+ Common Dolphins
|Morning: A truly incredible experience as we were able to encounter gray whales almost immediately after leaving the harbor! We stayed with the first pair for a while, then saw a few singles, but the real thrill came later in the cruise when we encountered a mating pair rolling and bobbing. Captain Rick kept the boat perfectly positioned and we sat almost entirely still for nearly 30 minutes as we watched this pair roll, slap their tails, spy hop and stay in nearly perfect sync. The whales were just next to the boat and guests were treated to a fantastic encounter, including a rare opportunity to even hear a whale vocalization! We also encountered a huge pod of common dolphins, many of which stayed with the whales.|
|2/5/23||4 gray whales
a single common dolphin
24 false killer whales
|10 common dolphins
1 gray whale
|Morning: Not long after reaching the open waters off Point Loma, we encountered a single gray whale heading south. We then spotted a pair of gray whales traveling together also heading south, that we were able to track for a good 15 minutes. It's always fun to watch them do a series of appearances at the surface before a final dive signaled by a salute of their flukes Not long after we encountered the gray whales our captain received a report from another boat of a sighting of, well, they weren't sure what they had. We were in for a super surprise once we reached the pods. We were able to follow a couple of small pods of false killer whales! It was such a rare treat. Captain Chad said he had never seen these animals in his 25 year career, not surprising since this species of dolphin tends to be found mainly in tropical regions. We were able to stay with them for at least 20 minutes. If it weren't for the fact that they were headed straight for Mexican waters we would have followed them longer but we had to turn around. Luckily, before making the turn, some of these magnificent creatures put on a display of aerial acrobatics that was spectacular. Onboard, the crowd loved it and those who are regulars on whale watching trips were more than impressed. We were incredibly fortunate to see such a scarce sight. Before heading back to the dock we still had a couple of more sightings. We were tailed by a single common dolphin for a while and watched a gray whale, possibly a juvenile, make a series of single dives, no snorkeling, but each dive ending with flukes in the air
Afternoon: Guests were able to see two different small pods of common dolphins and we finished our trip with a solo gray whale. The whale didn't appear to be trying to get anywhere in a hurry and spent a lot of time in the same area, so we were able to see several different breath cycled. We were treated at the end to a beautiful fluke as the whale went down for a long dive and we headed back to land.
|2/4/23||1 juvenile whale
1 whale/calf pair
500 common dolphins
|5 sea lions
3 gray whales
1 Mola Mola
200 Common Dolphins
|Morning: Under sunshine and blue skies on a picture perfect San Diego day, we saw a juvenile whale heading south, staying below for long periods before the next series of breaths and showing flukes. We were treated by at least 500 dolphins, who were very acrobatic in leaping through the air and slapping the water. Then a mother and calf came our way, staying close to each other and to the surface.
Afternoon: We saw a group of about 5 sea lions swimming together out in the ocean. Then we found 3 gray whales together. It was so fun to see all their blows and tails one after the other, especially when they glistened in the sun. The whales swam close enough to the boat we could hear their blows. We also found a big Mola Mola (ocean sunfish) basking in the sun. On the way back we found a pod of about 200 common dolphin. Some of them were stampeding in the distance, some were feeding nearby, and some surfing in our wake.
|2/3/23||1 Mother/Calf gray whale pair
2 Adult gray whales
30 Risso’s dolphins
1000 Common dolphins
|Morning: We spotted the mother/calf pair as we were approaching buoy SD1. We only stayed with them for a short time due to heavy boat traffic. As we were heading north looking for whale spouts we saw a small group of Common dolphins, so went to investigate. They seemed to be more interested in feeding than playing with us so we continued north. But for the next 30 to 40 minutes, there was always a different group of Common dolphins swimming towards us. Then Captain Eric spotted a concentration of 500 common Dolphin. After leaving them we came upon a pod of 30 Risso’s dolphins, one of whom breached 5 times. Then we received a report from the America that they were with 2 adult gray whale so head south to see them, we saw them fluke a couple of times, but we were out of time and had to head in.|
|2/2/23||1 adult Gray Whale
1 juvenile Gray Whale
650 Common Dolphins
|Morning: After exiting the bay, we quickly found one Gray Whale traveling South. After staying with it for a few breath cycles, we moved on and found a pod of around 250 Common Dolphins. Later, we came upon a pod of 400-500 Common Dolphins. We ended our trip by spotting a juvenile Gray Whale, stayed with it for a couple of breaths & headed back.|
||4 bottlenose dolphins
7 gray whales
|Morning: Encountered four bottlenose dolphins at the edge of the harbor on the way out to the ocean. Within less than an hour and a half a set of adult gray whale flukes were sited. After several fluke sightings of these two gray whales, the Captain was informed by other ships in the area that more gray whales had been sited about four miles further north up the San Diego coastline. We headed there where another pair was observed. Additionally, three separate single gray whales were watched by our group. One of the single gray whales was grazing in a giant kelp bed.|
|1/29/23||5 gray whales||3 gray whales
3 Bottlenose dolphins
|Morning: Even with gray skies and drizzle, we spotted a couple of groups of Gray whales as they traveled south. They were somewhat elusive, but passengers were able to get some good views.
Afternoon: As we departed the bay, we were surprised with sun peeking through the gray clouds! The sun rays added a nice backdrop to the views of the 3 gray whales that we spent time with throughout the cruise. And, toward the end of the cruise, as we were returning to the bay, a few passengers spotted Bottlenose Dolphins that crossed the bow of the Adventure.
|1/28/23||6 gray whales
4 bottlenose dolphins
|Morning: We saw 2 single juvenile whales, and then a trio of adults. Another adult seemed to be heading toward the trio, trying to catch up. The trio was in sync with their blows and several deeper dives showing their flukes. After we re-entered SD Bay and were almost back to the dock, 4 bottlenose dolphins appeared and swam past the bow, welcoming us back.|
|1/27/23||9 Gray Whales
1 cow/calf pair
75 Pacific White-sided Dolphins
|Morning: We were about a mile out when we saw a large spout along with a smaller spout and identified our 1st sighting of the day-a cow and very young calf (4-6 weeks old approximately) heading south. It was so exciting for all onboard to see the behavior of the mom being protective and encouraging her calf to continue swimming toward the Los Coronado Islands, the gateway to the lagoons of Baja California Mexico. Captain Eric decided to continue our course heading in a westerly direction to sight more Eastern Pacific Gray Whales. Within 10 minutes we came upon a single Gray heading south at a steady pace. Guests on board got really great photos of the spout and fluke. We continued our journey and found a pair of Grays that were rolling with their flippers and spouting, Then a short distance from the pair we identified another adult Gray. A Whaler and guests who were in the back of the boat sighted another pair of adults spouting and fluking. Guests on board were so excited and thrilled to see a migratory pod of 75 Pacific White-sided Dolphins that came close to the Adventure enjoying the bow riding and surfing the waves in the back of the vessel. As the dolphins continued their time by the vessel 2 more adult Grays were quarter of a mile from the Adventure. The guests began shouting and pointing to more whales that were spouting and fluking in the distance. The Whalers on board call this amazing encounter "Whale Soup" as there were many more whales in such a short distance from the vessel.|
100 Common Dolphins
|Morning: After about two hours of no luck, we crossed the path of about 100 Common dolphins. They were active and playful, per usual. Luckily, just before heading back in, we got a tip from another ship & were able to spend several breaths with a lone Gray whale- headed South. No flukes (or much more than a peak of its blowhole and head,) but everyone on board was happy to have seen a whale!|
|1/23/23||8 gray whales: 7 adults, 1 juvenile||Morning: After spotting a singular gray whale we moved south to watch a pair for a while. We followed a pair of whales engaged in what appeared to be courting behavior. The two whales repeatedly rolled on their sides and swam around each other at a shallow depth. Their flukes often came out of the water sideways, making them look like fins. We followed them until we were close to the Mexico border, so the captain turned us north back toward the bay. As we were doing so we came across a mother and calf heading south.|
|1/22/23||3 Gray Whales including a mother/calf pair. 600 long-beaked
400 short-beaked common dolphins.
|1/20/23||5 gray whales (4 adult, 1 juvenile) 350 common dolphins||Morning: With early morning reports of a whale spotted a few miles off shore, Captain Rick was confident we would have a good day of sightings. We weren't disappointed, as within a few miles of leaving the harbor we saw a gray whale surfacing - it was the one who had been reported earlier in the morning! The whale showed off its quintessential heart-shaped blow and treated us to a shot of its flukes before diving below. We then ventured on and found a pair of adult gray whales who surfaced several times in each breath sequence and later on an adult and juvenile pair of grays. We finished the trip with hundreds of common dolphins who could be seen from every angle of the boat, including a nursery pod with some calves.|
500 Common Dolphins
|Morning: We caught up with two Gray Whales heading south and followed them until we had to turn around before we went into Mexican waters. Returning to the dock we encountered 500 Common Dolphins.|
|1/15/23||4 Gray whales
30 Pacific White-sided dolphin
200 Common dolphin
|Morning: A few Whalers had an unusual bird sighting - a Masked Booby. Soon out of the harbor we came upon a juvenile Gray whale but it kept changing direction so we moved on. A pod of Pacific White-sided dolphin joined us for awhile for bow-riding. It didn’t take long before Captain Rick found 2 more Gray whales, these were adults and we observed them displaying mating behavior. We had some really good views as they stayed close to the surface. All around us were Common dolphin, including quite a few young. On the way back to the harbor we spotted another single whale but it too was being illusive. The sky was full of seabirds, many diving close to the boat. At the bait docks we saw a number of basking sealions, a handful of egrets, and a Brandt’s Cormorant with it’s brilliant blue throat.|
|1/14/23||5 Grey Whales
Small pod of Pacific White Side Dolphins
1000 common dolphins
|Morning: As we got into open ocean we came upon three grey whales frolicking in the water together, joined by a small pod of pacific white sided dolphins. It was amazing to watch them play, coming up multiple times before their deeper dives. We had multiple fluke sightings. While we were watching the three whales close up there were also two grey whales in the distance.
On our way back to the dock we came upon a large 1000 dolphin pod that stayed with us for over 15 minutes, jumping and eating a long the way. Finally, we passed the bait docks to view the California Sea lions.
|1/13/23||1 Southbound juvenile Gray Whale
1 small pod of 25 Common Dolphins
2 Southbound Adult Gray Whales
1 larger pod of 125 Common Dolphins
|Morning: The Adventure headed out of the San Diego Bay under cloudy skies until we reached the area where the ocean and bay water meet and the sun met us! We were just slightly past the tip of Point Loma when we encountered a juvenile Eastern Pacific Gray Whale heading south. This is an area where the Gray Whales sight Point Loma and turned toward the Los Coronado Islands as that is the passageway to the Lagoons in Baja California, Mexico. The captain followed the juvenile for about 20 minutes letting guests observe the spouts, body and fluke of the Whale. We then came into contact with a small pod of 25 Common Dolphins that came close to the boat delighting guests on board. The Adventure continued to the west and the Whaler Naturalists on board sighted 2 adult Gray Whales and of course we headed over to check these incredible whales out. We observed both Gray Whales fluking and their unique spout formation is mesmerizing to watch!! As our time came to a close we were very fortunate to have another encounter with a pod of 125 Common Dolphins that came close to ride the bow of the vessel and surf the back of the vessel too!|
|2 Gray whales
Pod of 95 Common Dolphins
50 California Sea Lions
1 Bottlenose Dolphin
|Morning: After going south for 2-3 miles, we first saw an adult gray whale, then a mother/calf duo, plus another adult after going farther south. We spotted one or two spouts in the distance, but too far to tell for sure if they were gray whales. Large pods of common dolphins joined us several times throughout the morning, totaling at least 400 overall. All the guests were thrilled with the close-up views, especially watching the mother whale taking care of the calf, keeping it close at all times.
Afternoon: Between 4 to 5 miles out, spouts were spotted in the distance to the West and we quickly found a pair of adult Gray Whales that were traveling South. The Adventure then traveled alongside the pair of whales for over an hour and were joined by a pod of around 95 Common Dolphins. The bait dock was occupied by about 50 California Sea Lions, all napping together, accompanied by 20 to 30 Cormorants and a Great Blue Heron. The City Cruises crew also reported seeing a Bottlenose Dolphin on the way back to the dock.
|12/31/22||1 Gray whale
2,000 Common Dolphins
|Morning: Soon after leaving the bay we encountered a huge pod of Common Dolphins that completely surrounded the boat and could be seen for a long way in front and back of the boat. Captain Dave's estimate was about 2,000 Common Dolphin. A single Gray Whale was spotted and we followed it for over an hour. She exhibited typical Gray Whale behavior, three blows and a fluke.|
|12/30/22||5 gray whales: 4 adults, 1 juvenile
2 bottlenose dolphins
|3 gray whales
80 short-beaked common dolphins
|Morning: No whitecaps or waves on the open ocean made for excellent whale-watching conditions. We followed a pod of three gray whales for more than an hour and were treated to fantastic views with the whales maintaining an almost continual distance of 100-200 yards of the beam. We could frequently hear the whales exhaling in the quiet air. Spotted two bottlenose dolphins as we passed Ballast Point on our return who rode the bow wake for a while.
Afternoon: We spotted the first gray whale, which was a subadult traveling south. We had several nice, close looks including fluking before it dove. We then went to see a second subadult that was traveling northwest and more elusive. The third gray whale was a very large adult that was very slowly swimming south. This whale surfaced several times right by the boat thrilling all guests onboard with great looks. This whale also fluked before diving. We finished off our trip with a nursery pod of common dolphins, including a few bowriding. As we headed into the bay, we passed by several navigation buoys with lounging California sea lions and a harbor seal popped its head above the water.
|12/29/22||3 Gray Whales
3 Humpback Whales
300 Common Dolphins
|Several pods of common dolphins - about 150 total||Morning: Departing on an overcast morning with light wind chop and a 4-6 foot west swell we were hopeful we’d sight some whales. Once clear of San Diego harbor, Captain Eric and his crew set a course that took us approximately 2 miles off Sunset Cliffs where we encountered three southbound Gray Whales. After tracking the whales south for about a mile, we encountered a large pod of Common Dolphins crossing our course. Soon we came upon Brown Pelicans diving into the water near another pod of Common Dolphins. In their midst, two Humpback Whales were feeding on a bait ball. Leaving these two whales, we saw another Humpback who saluted us with a pectoral slap on our way back to the harbor.
Afternoon: The sun peeked out a few times over the course of the otherwise cloudy afternoon. Although no whales were spotted, on the return trip from the 9-mile bank, everyone was excited to see a couple of pods of common dolphins that converged on the boat, swimming with us for a while, soaring over and through the water.
|12/28/22||50 common dolphins||Morning: A beautiful San Diego skyline after the overnight rain. Slowed to interact with a pod of common dolphins.|
|12/26/22||2 Gray Whales
Large pod of Common Dolphins
|Morning: 2 southbound gray whales encountered soon after leaving San Diego Bay. The whales breached several times and fluked repeatedly. We were with them for most of the morning except for a break to intercept a very large northbound pod of common dolphins.|
|12/25/22||2 humpback whales
150 common dophins
40 Pacific white sided
|Morning: Interacted with a playful pod of common dolphins. Our search continued until we came across 2 humpback whales, feeding and treating us to many flukes. Traveling as well was a pod of Pacific white sided dolphins and not to be left out quite a few sea lions masquerading as dolphins.|
|12/23/22||1 Gray Whale
600 Common Dolphins
|California Sea Lions||Morning: Turning northwest we found one juvenile gray whale just beyond the kelp beds south of Ocean Beach. The gray whale was very slowly moving south and spouting at approximately 2.5 minute intervals. A small runabout boat, which was constantly in front of the whale, appeared to cause the whale to go into the kelp beds. We departed the kelp beds and sailed 3 miles offshore to intercept pods of common dolphins with about 600 dolphins converging on a large bait ball to feed. We broke off from the dolphins and just before returning to the Harbor’s main channel we re-encountered the gray whale seen earlier. The whale was traveling south with a more typical 30-40 second surface interval. While we didn’t see the gray whale’s fluke, we did see a number of heart-shaped blows before a rapid return to port.
Afternoon: Sunny and hazy conditions in the bay turned into heavy fog as soon as we entered the open ocean. In the bay, we spotted a few California sea lions lounging around on the navigation buoys. The dense fog made it difficult to spot any whales or dolphins.
|12/22/22||4 Gray Whales
40 Common Dolphins
10 Pacific Whiteside Dolphins
One Mola Mola
|1 Gray Whale
100 Pacific Whiteside Dolphins
|Morning: The morning cruise featured beautiful skies and calm seas - Captain Eric took us out towards the nine-mile bank to look for some of the humpback whales that have been spotted in the area. While cruising around the bank we encountered a group of approximately 40 common dolphins and another pod of about 10 active pacific whiteside dolphins playing and darting around the bow of the boat. The crew heard from other boats in the area about a group of Gray Whales heading south so we headed back closer to shore and were treated to a group of four adult Gray Whales heading south. The group was fairly close to shore and we cruised with them for quite a while enjoying many great up close blows and flukes before saying adios as the group entered Mexico.
Afternoon: After seeing the group of Gray Whales heading south in the morning, Captain Eric ventured closer to shore for the afternoon cruise and scanned up and down the waters of Pacific Beach and Mission Bay looking for another group spotted earlier in the day. Skies were sunny and dotted with a few wispy high clouds and guests were treated to a rare “Cloud Bow” rainbow formation that reflected in the water and a large pod of approximately 100 Pacific Whiteside Dolphins. We followed the Cloud Bow to a Gray Whale! We spotted a very large adult (possibly pregnant female) heading south in a fairly rapid pace and cruised along as the whale gave us many close up blows and great views of its large back, the fluke print pattern and several tail flukes. When it was time to head back the whale said goodbye with a final nice fluke to end the cruise!
5 Pacific White Sided Dolphins
800 Common dolphins
3 possible gray whales (in the distance on way back in)
|Morning: We saw a few Pacific White Sided Dolphins and 50 or so Common Dolphins on the way out. Once further offshore, we spotted a Humpback who was probably feeding, as he was taking frequent breaths, but fluking most breaths. He u-turned once to go back through a feeding spot (lots of birds and dolphins hanging around.) On the way back in, we saw blows from at least 3 probable gray whales (bushy blows.) Finally, a pod of around 800 Common Dolphins came from all sides, bow riding and playing on all sides of the boat.|
|12/20/22||2 Humpback Whales
Many Common Dolphins
|1 Adult Grey Whale||Morning : We made for a southerly direction initially but when Captain Rick got word of a very large pod of common dolphins from the operators of a pair of Zodiacs, he changed course due west. Within 20 minutes we were in the midst of a very high-energy pod. We enjoyed their display of seemingly effortless movements for at least 20 minutes on both sides of the vessel. Then it was reported that whales were seen to the north of our position. When we reached the area where these sightings had been made, we saw the blows of at least three whales spread out over the water. One was just too far away but we were fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of one humpback whale and then to see a series of spouts that turned out to belong to a juvenile humpback whale. It was very exciting to see this youngster make its surface dives then give us a wave off of its fluke after each of several dives. It turned out that the whale that was too far out was a blue whale so they are still in the area, way cool.
Afternoon: We rode along with an adult grey whale, observing him at many different angles. It was a great experience! Afterwards we were able to talk with the group about whale facts, including showing how large the whale would be if he was sitting on the ship with us.
|12/10/22||2 Humpback Whales
3 Mola Molas
30 common Dolphins
|Today's first whale watching cruise of the winter season was simply spectacular! The sun was shining, the seas were glassy calm, the swell was a miniscule two feet and we saw WHALES. Captain Dave took us out to the nine-mile bank where we hooked up with two juvenile humpback whales. They came close enough to the Adventure Hornblower, for us to hear their blows, and after several passes and soundings, one whale bid us adieu with its flukes. We also got good looks at the ocean sunfish, aka mola mola and a small pod of common dolphin.|
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you do whale watching tours in San Diego?
You sure can! City Cruises offers some of the best whale watching tours around. Enjoy a narrated experience by our expert guides and see whales up close and personal. If you are looking to see specific whales, be sure to visit during the appropriate season!
How much is whale watching in San Diego?
Prices for whale watching tours in San Diego usually range from $60 to $75 per person. It depends on the day, time of year and a few other factors. It is well worth the experience!
When can you see gray whales in San Diego?
Gray whales can be seen in San Diego from mid-December to early April. This is the time of year when they migrate from Alaska to Baja California. Book your whale watching cruise for the winter season!
When can you see blue whales in San Diego?
Blue whales are more likely to be seen in the summer months, from June to September. This is the time of year when they migrate from Central America to California. If you want to see blue whales, book your whale watching tour for the summer!
How long are whale watching cruises?
They are usually about three and a half or four hours long. This includes time for boarding, the cruise itself, and disembarking.
What should you bring on a whale watching cruise?
Be sure to dress in layers as the weather can change quickly out on the water. It is also a good idea to bring sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, binoculars and cameras. And don’t forget your sense of adventure!
Will you see dolphins on the cruise in San Diego?
It is very likely! San Diego is home to a large population of common dolphins. They often swim alongside the whales, so you may get to see them up close.
What other wildlife will you see on the tour?
In addition to dolphins and whales, you might see California sea lions, seals, pelicans, birds and more. Keep your eyes peeled and your binoculars handy! San Diego is home to some of the best wildlife in the state.
What is the best time of day for whale watching?
The best time of day for whale watching is usually early morning or late afternoon. This is when the sun is not as harsh and the whales are more active.
When is whale watching season in San Diego?
The whale watching season in San Diego runs from mid-December to early April. This is when the gray whales migrate from Alaska to Baja California. The blue whale season runs from June to September, when they migrate from Central America to California.