Best SoCal places to go whale watching right now

Humpback whales can be seen in Southern California waters in summer. <span class="copyright">(National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)</span>
Humpback whales can be seen in Southern California waters in summer. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

Southern California does have a summer whale-watching season. Most people think seeing whales is limited to winter, when Pacific gray whales make their annual migration along the coast between Mexico and Alaska. In summer, you have a chance to see different species.

Half-day or daylong tours provide an opportunity to see blue, humpback and minke whales — and spend time at sea on a hot day. Blue whales migrate from mid-June through October as they follow krill, one of their favorite foods.

Tours usually include a naturalist to help identify whales and other wildlife such as dolphins and seals. It’s worth looking at different tour websites to get a feel for what to expect. Davey’s Locker in Newport Beach, for example, posts daily sightings such as the huge pods of dolphins (more than 1,000) that turned up this week.

In keeping with coronavirus safety rules, boats sail with fewer passengers to allow for social distancing. For example, Island Packers Cruises in Ventura takes 56 people on a boat that usually holds 150. Masks are required too. Make sure you read the rules for each tour provider before you go.

Here’s a list of whale-watching tours offered this summer in L.A., Orange, Ventura and San Diego counties. Prices listed are for adult tickets.

Los Angeles County

  • L.A. Waterfront Sportfishing & Cruises, 1150 Nagoya Way, Berth 79, San Pedro; two hours; $40-$45, with $10 discount for online purchase

  • Harbor Breeze Cruises, 100 Aquarium Way, Dock No. 2, Long Beach; 2½ hours; $35, with $10 discount for online purchase

  • Redondo Beach Sportfishing & Whale Watch, 140 International Boardwalk; 2½ hours, $50

  • Marina del Rey Sportfishing, 13759 Fiji Way, Marina del Rey; three hours; $50

Orange County

San Diego

Ventura and Channel Islands

  • Island Packers, 1691 Spinnaker Drive, No. 105B, Ventura; 3½ hours, $68

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