Is Whale Watching Worth It in the Winter?

Is Whale Watching Worth It in the Winter?

Winter may seem like an odd time to hit the ocean for whale watching. However, this time of year is actually ideal if your goal is to see as many whales as possible. In San Diego, the annual gray whale migration brings tens of thousands of these majestic animals within miles of shore. The climate is mild, so with a little preparation, you can be comfortable and warm on a trip whale watching La Jolla.

Is Whale Watching Worth It in the Winter?

See Beautiful Gray Whales

  • Between December and April, gray whales make an amazing migration from the krill-rich waters of Alaska to their warmer breeding grounds off the coast of Mexico. This migration occurs every year and is a prime opportunity to see whales in the wild. 

  • Gray whales are between 30 and 50 feet long and weight 60,000 pounds on average. This makes them the seventh-largest whales on Earth! This species has made an inspiring recovery after commercially hunting whales was banned in 1971. Younger generations of gray whales are becoming more curious and friendly toward boats. 
  • Since the same gray whales make this migration every single year, it's possible that whales you see now can show up again on next year's trip.  Whale watching in winter during the annual migration can be a tradition that connects you or your family to the wonders of nature. 

Chance To See Humpback Whales

  • Gray whales aren't the only types of whale you might see on a tour for whale watching California. Some families of humpback whales stay close to San Diego year-round. These whales are famous for their haunting songs that they use to communicate. 
  • Humpback whales are similar in size to gray whales, but they have a distinctive curved body shape. They form strong family bonds and have also recovered well from low population levels. Each humpback whale has a unique pattern on its tail like a fingerprint. Seeing one of these legendary creatures makes for a once-in-a-lifetime vacation experience. 

Worth It But Bundle Up

  • It's possible to see whales from shore in San Diego at various whale overlooks. However, for the best chance of seeing a whale and a closer view, whale watching boat tours are the superior choice. 

To fully enjoy a whale watching boat tour in winter, you'll want to come prepared. If you wear the same clothes you use walking around the city, the wind will prove distracting and uncomfortable. Make sure you embark on your whale watching tour with the following protective items:

         Long-sleeve thermal underlayer

         Heavy sweatshirt or sweater

         Jacket that resists wind and water


         Scarf or neck warmer

         Secure hat

         Thermal layer for your legs

         Pants that resist wind and water

         Bag that fastens securely to you

         Waterproof phone or camera case

In addition to these layers, you'll want to bring a snack and a water bottle. Alternatively, a San Diego private dinner cruise can be an unforgettable whale-watching evening.

Whale watching tours typically last several hours. Handwarmers, like those skiers use, can also be a smart choice. Staying warm and comfortable allows you to focus on all the whales you can see on a winter tour. 

Beat the crowds and see more whales by whale watching in winter months. These tours may be slightly colder than summer tours, but they are definitely worth it.