With over 70 miles of coastline to offer, it's little wonder that whale watching in San Diego is so popular. At the height of the whale watching season there can be a few hundred whales passing through these waters on a single day. If you're planning a San Diego vacation, be sure to take one of the whale watching cruises, like those offered by Hornblower Cruises.
Alternatively you can usually see whales from the shoreline, if you know where to go.
From December through March tens of thousands of California gray whales make their migration from the chilly waters of Alaska to the warmer lagoons of Baja California in Mexico. They do this so that the female California grays can give birth to their young in better conditions, and to allow them to grow before making the return journey. The time when the most whales are passing by San Diego is the middle of January.
During migration the whales travel over 5000 miles, the longest distance that any mammal migrates on an annual basis. Many come within a few miles of the San Diego shoreline, and a whale watching trip lets you get right up-close. Ever looked into the eye of a whale? That's how close, if you get lucky. But you don't have to go to sea to watch the whales, as there are some terrific shoreline viewing platforms too.
A great place for whale watching from land is at the Cabrillo National Monument. This state park is on the Point Loma peninsula, and has a glass-enclosed observatory where you can watch for the whales throughout the December-March season. There are also interpretative displays.
The Birch Aquarium at Scripps (The Scripps Institution of Oceanography) puts on special exhibitions during the whale watching season. Visitors can see the whales from the aquarium's tide-pool plaza, which overlooks the ocean. It's an especially good place for a family whale watching day out, as there are educational activities for children – and you get to visit the aquarium too!
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To help you in choosing your Pacific Coast Highway hotel, guesthouse, inn, bed-and-breakfast, resort, motel or other accommodations, we've prepared our Pacific Coast Highway Hotels Guide. In it we do mini-reviews of accommodations along the Highway, from Seattle to San Diego, through Washington, Oregon, and California.
In all there are over 200 hotels listed, complete with 8 pages of color maps showing the towns where our recommended hotels can be found. There are both alphabetical and geographical indexes, helping you plan your journey.
We also include color photos of all the hotels that are our Personal Favorites. Here's the link to read more about our ebook guide to Pacific Coast Highway hotels.
The 2018 edition of our Hotels Guide is available for the Kindle, with maps and photos in color, if you have a color reader. You can buy it in the US Kindle Store and in the UK Kindle Store and around the world.
If you want a paperback edition of the 2016 guide with only black and white photos and black-and-white maps, it costs $6.99 at the US Amazon Book Store and £4.99 in the UK Amazon Store.