San Diego

San Diego Winter Whale Watching Expedition

San Diego, United States

From $57.20

Select Date and Travelers

You will not receive a refund if you cancel.
  • 4 hours (approx.)
  • Mobile ticket
  • Offered in: English


San Diego provides the perfect launching point for a whale-watching tour in California. Cruise on the Pacific Ocean in a sturdy boat with a professional crew, looking for gray whales as they migrate along the coast of North America. Dolphins, seals and seabirds are often spotted during this whale-watching tour and the crew provides informative commentary about the marine animals and environment. Bonus: if the crew does not find any whales during your cruise, you receive a complimentary ticket for another trip.
  • Morning or afternoon whale-watching cruise, from San Diego
  • Look for gray whales in the wild as they migrate along the coast of California
  • Learn about the migration from the Arctic to the breeding grounds of Baja California
  • Travel with an experienced crew who shares fascinating facts about the Pacific Ocean's marine life
  • Interaction with volunteers from the San Diego Natural History Museum
  • Spot other marine animals including sea lions, seals, seabirds and dolphins

What's Included

  • Comfortable outdoor and indoor seating
  • Port and Service Fees
  • Local taxes
  • All gratuities
  • Food and drinks (available to purchase onboard)
  • Hotel pickup and drop-off

Meeting And Pickup

Meeting point

  • City Cruises San Diego Whale Watching & Harbor Tours
    970 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101, USA

    Boarding: Pier 2. Parking: City Cruises does not own or operate any parking lots in the area. For Pier 2, ACE Parking lot on the pier next to the USS Midway Museum.

End point

This activity ends back at the meeting point.

What To Expect

Between December and April the gray whale travels approximately 6,000 miles along the North American coast, from the cold waters of the Arctic to the warmer waters of Baja California. There, they give birth to their young and prepare them for the return migration to the north. As the gray whales head to the Arctic, the young calves are often seen swimming alongside their mothers.

See these majestic marine mammals on a morning or afternoon whale-watching tour from San Diego. Make your own way to Navy Pier to board your boat, a sturdy and well-equipped vessel with both indoor and outdoor seating areas. Head out on the waters of the Pacific Ocean with your expert crew who provides informative commentary about the marine life that you may encounter, including different species of dolphins, seabirds, sea lions, seals and—if all goes according to plan—gray whales.

Choose from a morning or afternoon tour that works with your schedule. At the end of your tour, your captain returns you to Navy Pier.

Guarantee: Viewing whales in the wild is a breathtaking experience, however mother nature can be unpredictable. If whales are not sighted during your tour, you'll receive a 'whale check' for another complimentary whale-watching or harbor tour.

Additional Info

  • Confirmation will be received within 48 hours of booking, subject to availability
  • There are Personal Floatation Devices on board for all guests, as per Coast Guard requirements. You do not need to wear life vest or the provided PFD's during the course of this cruise. However, if you would prefer to have children wear the PFD's during the course of the cruise, please advise so at the time of booking in the Special Requirements box.
  • Cruises are wheelchair accessible depending on which pier they depart from. Please let us know if you require a wheelchair accessible cruise so that we can confirm that your requested cruise date has wheelchair accessible departures.
  • Wheelchair accessible
  • Stroller accessible
  • Service animals allowed
  • Near public transportation
  • Infants must sit on laps
  • Most travelers can participate
  • This tour/activity will have a maximum of 300 travelers

Cancellation Policy

This experience is non-refundable and cannot be changed for any reason. If you cancel or ask for an amendment, the amount you paid will not be refunded.

  • This experience requires good weather. If it’s canceled due to poor weather, you’ll be offered a different date or a full refund.
  • This experience requires a minimum number of travelers. If it’s canceled because the minimum isn’t met, you’ll be offered a different date/experience or a full refund.

Traveler Photos

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Traveler Tips

I highly recommended taking one Dramamine before departs because the ferry moves a lot during the three hours.
122 reviews
Total review count and overall rating based on Viator and Tripadvisor reviews
Reviews by Viator travelers.
Showing 1-10 of 122 reviews
The only negative was the...
VICKY_H, Mar 2023
The only negative was the captain asking for tips on our way off the boat….. after spending $130 for our experience, I felt this was poor taste and unnecessary.
Great trip! Worth the sunburn! :)
Suzanne_D, Mar 2023
Before even embarking on the tour a nice museum employee named Ken came by where we were sitting and explained what we might see and what we could expect. He was so friendly and knowledgeable and answered all our questions. Once on the tour, the Captain and First Officer did a great job of pointing out sights and further explaining what to expect. We did see a couple whales (mother and baby) and a lot of dolphins as well as a sunfish. Just as we were heading back, one of the whales stuck their head up out of the water and then dived down, giving us a tail fluke wave goodbye! It was a great way to end the tour! Everything about this tour was top notch and I wouldn't hesitate to book it again next time I'm in the area.
Our own out to the west adventure !!!
Daniel_M, Mar 2023
We has a few hiccups during the trip but the good help from the staff got us thru and were able to give us options and very good results at the end like nothing had happened !! Thank you Viator for being there for us !! And making our vacation a good memory for life
Great tour
Sarah_S, Mar 2023
Great tour, saw about 100 dolphins, several seals, and a fin whale. Comfortable ride and boat. The guides were very helpful.
Needs better customer service
Ligia_G, Apr 2022
Booked a trip and it was cancelled do to mechanical difficulties. I have not received a refund. I called, I emailed and I've requested a follow up as I'm from out of town and am not able to come back
Great Relaxing Family Experience!
Fernando_C, Mar 2022
So nice and relaxing! No whales but we were given a voucher to come back free of charge. We got to see Seals, Pelicans, Bottlenose Dolphins and Common Dolphins. I thought there would be so many guests on the boat. But there was room for us all to spread out and walk around while the boat was in motion. We brought our 7 year old who had a blast as well.
Great morning on the water!
Cammie_G, Mar 2022
We followed a gray whale for a little over an hour and got to see the spout spray and tail fin. Also rode along beside a pod of dolphin which was amazing. Knowledgeable and friendly crew. Would highly recommend!
We had an awesome...
Eide_C, Feb 2022
We had an awesome experience ! My 9 year old love it! We loved the fact that we where able to move around.
All the whales!!!...
Currie_R, Feb 2022
All the whales!!! Wonderful experience!!! The guides were knowledgeable and friendly. Loved it and would recommend to all.
Nice tour with a great crew.
Art_Z, Apr 2021
It was a beautiful day but not a day for seeing whales of dolphins. But we did get a voucher for another visit. The staff was great!
Great whale and dolphin watching experience
MariaHiyas_Q, Apr 2021
We saw two gray whales, hundreds of birds amd dolphins. It was a great family experience in San Diego.
We saw whales!
Alan_N, Feb 2020
Lots of dolphins to see. Found a whale which was later joined by a second, but the entire trip was watching the same whale. Great narration and very great staff.
Great service
Richard_G, Jan 2020
We saw several whales,dolphins and birds. The captain gave a wonderful commentary. The boat was spacious and clean. All six of us had a great day.
Whale watching
MariaEugenia_R, Jan 2020
I bought the tickets online, and it was easy. I couldn't communicate by phone to confirm my reservation. I got there 30 minutes before, and I did not have any problem with my booking. The ferry is well equipped: tables, chairs, restrooms, a small bar that sells snacks, beverages (alcohol), Dramamine. You can pay with cards and cash. You can do the tour indoors and watch through the windows or being on the deck and enjoy the sun and the heavy and cool wind because they have chairs and tables there too. I highly recommended taking one Dramamine before departs because the ferry moves a lot during the three hours. I took one, and I did not feel any sickness during the trip. Indeed, it is hard to keep the balance for walking around. Thus, if you travel with kids, please keep your eyes on them. Three hours tour might not be enough if there are few whales around. However, it is also a long time because besides contemplating the sea, you don't have anything else to do there. The person in charge gave a lot of information about whales, the migration process, and their habits. Thus, besides to watch them, you will also learn about them. It was a nice experience to watch whales in their natural habit.
Loved, loved, loved it!!!
Jeannine_E, Apr 2019
We saw several spouts, and one huge whale. Already planning another trip next January or February when, hopefully, there will be more! All of the staff was extremely polite and helpful. The seas were calm - hope we have that much luck next year!
Ronni_F, Apr 2019
Are expectations were far exceeded on this tour. Captain Rick and Kyle were so informative and made the entire trip about finding the whales in our area, tracking them and following them. It was so cool having the whalers on board and hearing their thoughts! We will be back!
Crew and volunteers were great. Whales...
susan j, Feb 2018
Crew and volunteers were great. Whales were incorporative. We could not get close. Could only see whales backs, few tails and lots air blows from a distance. We got to see a group of dolphins which came up to ship, that was great. Got to see sea lions too. Weather was cold and rainy. Maybe more info about the harbor and the sights.
A wonderful experience! We saw A LOT of...
Marion F, Feb 2018
A wonderful experience! We saw A LOT of gray whales, sea lions, dolphins... Definitively the best whales watching ever!
We enjoyed our trip and saw 3 humpback...
Carol U, Mar 2016
We enjoyed our trip and saw 3 humpback whales and 1 fin whale. The captain was very good at pointing out the whales and hanging in the area while we all watched the show. I would recommend this tour! It was cold out on the water so be sure to bring a jacket if you go in February. Also the water was rather rough, so if you tend to get sea sick, be sure to take something!
Spectacular sights of whales on their...
Doris G, Apr 2015
Spectacular sights of whales on their way to the warm waters of Mexico for breeding. Never expected to see so many!! Great excursion! !