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Whale Watching in Monterey Bay

Updated on July 23, 2013
Humpback Whale
Humpback Whale | Source

Monterey Bay Whale Watching

Imagine standing on the deck of a boat with your camera, as you witness one of the most fascinating sea mammals surface the waters. Whale watching is a unique and educational experience for both adults and children.

Monterey Bay is a popular whale watching location due to the fact that it contains the largest and most productive canyon in North America. The canyon reaches an amazing depth of 12,000 feet, allowing deep water species such as whales to migrate to and feed on the abundance of fish and squid. Other marine animals such as dolphins and sea lions can also be seen in the same area.

The whales will give you a performance of your lifetime, slapping their tails 500 feet away from the boat. They exert different motions, including slapping their fins against the water, lie on their backs, and hop vertically above water.

Quick Facts About Humpback Whales!

  • Did you know that humpback whales have a life span of only 45-50 years?
  • They are considered endangered species, with only 10,000 to 15,000 humpback whales left worldwide!
  • Humpback whales eat about 2000 lbs of fish a day!

The other different types of whales that you might observe include: Gray Whales, Fin Whales, Killer Whales, Blue Whales, Minke Whales.

Keep your camera and camcorder ready to catch them performing an acrobatic movement called breaching, propelling their massive body really high above the water. Sometimes they twirl around and slap the water on their way down.

Among the whales that are seen, the most commonly observed are humpback wales. Humpback whales are very intelligent and curious animals, and often approach the boats. By law, the captain cannot move the boat until the whales have moved away!

A smaller boat for whale watching in Monterey California
A smaller boat for whale watching in Monterey California | Source

Have you been whale watching before?

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The Boat Tours in Monterey For Whale Watching

To truly appreciate these amazing creatures, you must go to their environment and the best way to do that is to plan a boat tour. Like I mentioned, whales are curious creatures so they will swim up to the boat. Rather than watching them from afar, it would be worth it to book a boat.

Your family will board on a typical 100 foot boat that offers cabins with large windows for viewing. The boats that are designed for whale watching are very stable, with large open decks for everyone to view. There are smaller vessels that are available for a more intimate smaller group. Taller boats with open decks are better because you can see the whales better. Some boats are better than others depending on the speed, captain, knowledge of the naturalists.

The boats take you to the whale viewing area where you'll experience the thrill of 45 ton whales surfacing near your boat. The experienced captains know how to approach these animals safely and encourage them to come closer.

The captain will stop the boat at about 200 ft away from the whales. This is the time to take out your video camera and record the whales as they approach you!

The tour guides, also called "naturalists" on board will entertain you with some fascinating facts about the animals behaviors, different species classifications, and their migration patterns. This is a great opportunity for your children to learn about the wildlife.

The whale watching cruises usually take about 2-3 hours long.

Watch this amazing video during a whale watching trip!

Other Marine Animals That You Might See During Whale Watching

  • Bottlenose Dolphins,Risson's Dolphins, Northern Right Whale Dolphins, Common Dolphins,
  • Sea Otters
  • Harbor Seals
  • Harbor Porpoise, Dall's Porpoise
  • Seabird Species
  • Sea Turtles
  • Sharks

Tips for First Time Whale Watching

  1. Best time to go is April-Nov. During the summer/fall months of April-November, you will be able to see different types of whales, including the humpback whales, minke whales, killer whales, mighty blue whales, as well as different species of dolphins. Other sea mammals also feed in the area including sea lions, seals, pelicans, sharks, and sea turtles!
  2. Dress warm! It's always much colder on the water than it is on land. If it looks sunny, it's often colder because of a breeze on the bay. Weather conditions can be different than on land. It's a good idea to wear a waterproof jacket, gloves, and even a beanie.
  3. Wear sunscreen and shades. You will be exposed to the sun since the boat is going to be out in the middle of the ocean. It's extremely bright and sunlight will reflect off the ocean. Bring sunglasses and sunscreen! Remember, you can still get a sunburn on a foggy day.
  4. Take sea-sickness medication. Prepare for your whale watching excursion by taking seasickness medication at least an hour before boarding your boat. This will give the medication time to take effect and ensure that you can enjoy the whale watch without getting queasy. If you prefer to avoid medications, ginger tea or capsules can be an effective and natural anti-nausea remedy.
  5. Optional: Bring your own snacks and drinks. There are snack bars available on the boats, but you can also bring your own food.
  6. Wear flat, rubber-soled shoes. The deck is likely to get wet as you sail, which can be slippery and dangerous. Wear rubber-soled shoes! Do not wear leather-soled shoes, flip flops, or high heels.
  7. Secure your camera or binoculars. Make sure your camera, camcorders, or binoculars have a strap!

Monterey Bay Whale Watch:
Monterey Bay Boat Charters, 84 Fishermans Wharf # 1, Monterey, CA 93940, USA

get directions

Sanctuary Cruises 7881 Sandholdt Rd. Moss Landing:
Sanctuary Cruises, 7881 Sandholdt Rd, Moss Landing, CA 95039, USA

get directions

66 Fisherman's Wharf #1 Monterey:
66 Fishermans Wharf, Monterey, CA 93940, USA

get directions

96 Fisherman's Wharf #1 Monterey:
96 Fishermans Wharf, Monterey, CA 93940, USA

get directions

Where to book your whale watching adventure!

A. Monterey Bay Whale Watch

B. Sanctuary Cruises

C. Randy's Fishing Trips

D. Princess Monterey Whale Watching Cruises

"Goodbye...come visit us again soon!"


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