Whale bretching beside cruise
View of whales and downtown San Diego
Sea lions relaxing in the San Diego harbor
Dolphins are seen on whale watching tours
Grey whale blowing
Grey whale surfaces
Dolphin surfing a wave
Whale tail off of San Diego

San Diego Whale Watching Tours

Get an up-close view of spectacular whales and other sights along the San Diego coast, guided by experts from Birch Aquarium.
  • Season runs December through April annually
  • Only tour led by naturalists from Birch Aquarium
  • Comfortable ship with amenities and 360-degree viewing
  • See diverse marine life with amazing photo opportunities
Whale Tail Guarantee

Available Cruises Adult Child (4-12)* Senior/Military Book Now
Weekdays (Monday - Friday)
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Weekends (Saturday & Sunday)
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Departure Times

Early December to Mid-April
  • 9:30 AM - 1:15 PM
  • 1:30 PM - 5:00 PM
Boards 30 minutes prior to departure, all cruises are weather permitting.
Whale Watching Guide

Download our printable whale watching guide


Whale Watching Route

Each whale watching excursion is slightly unique. We follow the whales' migration path to bring you up close for the best sighting spots, which change every day. In the beginning of the season, the southbound whales swim closer to the coast, so the maximum distance is about 3-5 miles. Toward the end of the season, when the northbound whales swim further out, we can cruise up to 9-12 miles off the coast.

Whale Watching Map

Before You Depart

  • Chances of spotting a whale are exactly the same, whether you choose the morning or afternoon departure. Whales don't wear watches.
  • Same goes for the days of the week. Each day has an equal chance of sightings. Whales do not have calendars.
  • In the unlikely event that your departure is cancelled due to poor weather conditions, we do our best to contact you in the morning at the phone number you provide. We will reschedule your tour for another day if you like or provide you with a full refund—your choice.
  • Guests with wheelchairs can access the vessel and interior main deck. However, the exterior top deck and the restrooms are not ramp accessible.

What To Bring

We suggest dressing in layers. The temperature and winds can be unpredictable even if it's sunny out.

  • warm clothing
  • binoculars
  • camera
  • sunscreen
  • hat
  • medication - If you may be prone to seasickness, plan ahead. Medication only works when taken BEFORE boarding the vessel. Wristbands for motion sickness also can be effective. Either can be purchased at any drug store.

For more, visit our FAQ.