Gray whales have their migrating period between December and April, making winter and early spring the prime time for enthusiasts and researchers to get out onto the coast for a special sighting. Over 20,000 Pacific gray whales begin their journey leaving the frigid waters of Alaska to the warmer waters of Baja California to breed and give birth. The entire round-trip journey is from 10,000 to 12,000 miles, making it one of the longest migration journeys for any animal. The migration also occurs annually, so if you’re looking to see a gray whale or maybe even a dolphin this year, these are our best tips.
Best spots to go whale watching
1. Point Loma
The whales pass through Point Loma and Cabrillo National Monument with Mid-January being the peak of migration although they’re visible up until April. For the best views, Kelp Forest Overlook and Old Point Loma Lighthouse offer the heights needed to catch a whale sighting and their tip: bring binoculars. There’s no best time to see the whales as they swim 24 hours so head over when you can, look west from the park overlook, and look for the blow or spout or fluke of the tail.
Location: 1800 Cabrillo Memorial Dr, San Diego
Along La Jolla, you can see the gray whales from the La Jolla Cove cliffs or if you want a special and close-up view, take a kayak tour through the Seven La Jolla Caves and cross your fingers for a glimpse of a gray whale’s blow, a mist that blows up from the water to let you know there’s a mammal below. Weather permitting, they depart at 9am and the tour lasts 90 to 120 minutes.
3. Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
North of La Jolla are the high cliffs of Torrey Pines that provide an elevated view of the ocean. This gorgeous state park is famous for its coastal cliffs, a popular hiking spot. From the top, you can enjoy gorgeous views of the city
Location: 12600 N Torrey Pines Rd, La Jolla
4. Birch Aquarium Terrace
The Birch Aquarium is part of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography at UCSD in La Jolla. They’ve got a wealth of information for curious whale watchers and from the Birch Aquariu Terrace you can get gorgeous panoramic views of the La Jolla coastline.
Location: 2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla