Sure, you’ve relaxed at the best beaches in Los Angeles, but have you ever actually ventured out onto the water? Whale watching in Los Angeles is one of the best ways to experience the natural beauty of the Pacific, not to mention the marine life that sits just below its surface. We’re lucky enough to sit in the path of blue, humpback and, most notably, gray whale migrations. Whether you’re a quick jaunt from the ocean or making a day trip from Los Angeles out of it, here’s where you can go whale watching in Los Angeles, as well as a few spots in Orange County.
Places for whale watching in Los Angeles
Newport Beach (home to both the Balboa and Catalina Island ferries) has a number of competitively priced whale watching tours and, unlike L.A.’s popular ports, the majority are more than mere harbor cruises.
Newport Landing Whale Watching and Sportfishing ($16 half-price offer; 2hrs)
Davey’s Locker Sportfishing & Whale Watching ($32; 2hrs)
The Fun Zone Boat Company ($14; 45mins; harbor cruise)
Newport Coastal Adventure ($66.50; 2hrs)
Ocean Explorer Cruises ($26–$51; 2.5hrs)
Dana Point Harbor sits at the bottom of a bluff along an affluent stretch of the Orange County coast. Though cruises here can be a bit pricey, the whale watching is spectacular.
Long Beach’s Rainbow Harbor is a popular spot to take a stroll or to board a cruise. It’s also home to the Aquarium of the Pacific, which offers combo museum and boat tickets through Harbor Breeze Cruises.
Home to chartered yachts, booze cruises and parasailing, Marina del Rey’s cruises are more catered toward leisure than wildlife spotting. That said, you can still find a few boats in search of sea lions, dolphins and sometimes whales.
Marina del Rey Sportfishing ($35; 3hrs)
The Redondo Beach Pier always seems to make headlines for close-to-shore whale sightings. That’s not to say you can just stroll out onto the pier and see humpbacks breaching or pods of killer whales swimming by, but Redondo is a useful destination for those looking to stay in the South Bay.
Redondo Beach Whale Watching ($35; 2.5hrs; Dec–Apr)
All prices per person unless otherwise noted.
Looking for whale watching tips?
You’ve heard enough anecdotes about kayakers off the Redondo Pier paddling up to humpbacks and binocular-clad spotters watching pods of orcas off Palos Verdes—it’s time to go actually whale watching for yourself. Whether you’re celebrating the gray whale migration or embarking on a tour later in the year, here are five things you should know before leaving the marina.