When I think about LA and the Pacific Ocean, I honestly don’t think very far off the coast. I’ve been to the beach, kayaked in harbors, but never really into the ocean. I’ve also been on short cruises to Catalina and such but, since learning about all the whales passing through LA in their seasonal migrations (blue whales, humpback whales, and even orcas swim by?!), I told myself I had to look this up. So I started logging the best whale watching expeditions from Los Angeles.
Many species of whales migrate yearly because of variations in the ocean at different times of year. The whales that come by the southern California coast swim from Mexico to Alaska and back so they can have baby whales in warm waters and plenty of food to eat in the colder waters. Because of that, it’s best to go whale watching in the winter (I know it’s over now but they’ll be back next year). The question is then how, and where? Here are some recommended whale watching cruises.
1. Marina del Rey Sportfishing (Marina del Rey)
This three hour tour departs from the bustling Marina del Rey. This company gives the whale tours from the “Big Whale”, a large and sturdy boat that is said to minimize seasickness. When a spotter sees a whale, the “Big Whale” follows to that point to get up — close views of the marine creatures. Tickets are $35 for adults and $15 for children.
2. Spirit Cruises (San Pedro)
Spirit Cruises is one of the largest recreational cruise lines in Southern California, and has educational two hour whale watching cruises. The boat goes down the coast looking for whales, often running into dolphins along the way too! A child can come on board for free with a paid adult (usually tickets for kids are $16 each, and $33 for adults). While you’re cruising out of the port, you can also look at all the other different kinds of boats that stop by.
3. Tallship American Pride (Long Beach)
“American Pride”, the official historic tallship of Long Beach, is every history buff’s dream. This majestic ship from the olden days (maintained well for safety, of course) will take you out onto the waters to find California grey whales. While you’re cruising, there’s also much to do — including fun opportunities for restless kids, such as an animal touch tank and helping at the steering wheel. The basic experience is $35 for adults and $25 for kids, but there are different packages such as the Sunday brunch whale watch ($55/$45) and Saturday BBQ whale watch ($45/$35), each three hours long.
4. Voyager Whale Watch (Redondo Beach)
As a fan of history and nature, it always makes experiences more exciting for me when I know a little background information about what’s going on. So, listen to your guide (each boat is led by a naturalist from the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium / American Cetacean Society) tell you about the coastline or other marine animals you might run into on your quest for finding whales! The three-hour cruise is $35 per person.
There are many other opportunities to view whales in the Southern California area in addition to these, but oh “whale” — these are the best I found!