Monterey Bay is known for its abundant sea life and whale watching. Most local whale watching voyages depart out of Fisherman’s Wharf, with a lesser number departing out of Moss Landing to the North. Moss Landing is the jumping off port for marine research and this is where you will find the personalized whale watching operators that offer small groups or private charters. During a whale watching trip, participants can expect to see various species of whales, such as humpback whales, gray whales, and orcas, as well as other marine life such as dolphins, seals, and sea birds.

Whale watching tours entail boarding a boat, in most cases one designed for whale watching in mind. These are motorized vessels, usually running 50-100 feet in length. Smaller vessels allow closer views of the whales, but larger boats offer food and beverage services and are smoother. There are known feeding spots where whales are known to hang out and the boats normally head for these areas on departure. Along the way captains will seek out schools of dolphins as they are just as entertaining as the whales to watch. Dolphins like to ride along the bow of the boat and if you are on the front of the boat you can watch the action.

While the crew looks out for whales, it is also customary for passengers to look at well. If you see one yell out whale and indicate where it is. A good number of whales are first spotted by passengers. It takes a careful eye to look for the water spout that looks like a stream of mist vertically out of the water. They are easier to see in calm water, but nearly impossible when the ocean is rough with white caps.

When you come upon a whale or a pod of whales the captain will maneuver the boat close so they can be viewed, but not so close they are disturbed. Whales will stay near the surface for only a few minutes before they dive for food. You’ll be bobbing and drifting while you wait for the whales to resurface. Sometimes they pop up far off and by the time your boat maneuvers to the location they have already gone down.

While whale watching can be a spectacular outing, it can be horrible experience for those that are unfamiliar with traveling aboard small vessels on the open ocean. Once the whale watching boats leave the protected bay the ocean can be quite treacherous. There are countless online reviews slamming the various whale watching companies for going out in rough seas, but in most instances the poor reviews are unwarranted. If you get motion sickness you best stay away from whale watching voyages or plan ahead and take sea over the counter sickness pills or prescription patches. Prescription medication can be obtained from your doctor, or through one of the various virtual care medical providers. The important thing is to take or apply your medication well before departure because taking it just before departure will not keep you from getting ill.

Few tips for seasickness:

  1. Stay off the top deck. The motion will be greater at the top.
  2. Don’t eat big meal before departure and stay away from greasy foods.
  3. If you have to vomit do it off the rear of the boat so you don’t get vomit spraying back at you.
  4. The back of the boat on the lower deck has the least movement. Keep your eyes on the horizon to the rear.
  5. If you are feeling ill do not go inside the boat.

It is important to dress warm and in layers. Even if it is a nice day in Monterey, it will be cold out on the ocean. Strongly suggest wearing long pants. Keep in mind the air temperature typically runs about 50 degrees on the ocean, this combined with the wind and high humidity makes for a cold experience. Be prepared.

Whale Watching Boat Companies in Monterey County
Princess Monterey Whale Watching
Departures out of Monterey Fisherman’s Wharf with two large vessels. Visit their web site here.
Discovery Whale Watching
Departures out of Monterey Fisherman’s Wharf. Visit their web site here.
Chris’ Fishing and Whale Watching
Departures out of Montrey’s Fishman’s Wharf. Visit their web site here.
Fast Raft
Smaller boats for a more personalized and up close small group experience. Departures out of Moss Landing north of Monterey. Visit their web site here.
Blue Ocean Whale Watching
Owner operator business with departures out of Moss Landing. Visit their web site here.
Sancturary Cruises
Owner operator business with departures out of Moss Landing. Visit their web site here.