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Whale watching
Photograph: Courtesy Newport Landing/Slater Moore

Where to go whale watching in Los Angeles

Grab a pair of binoculars and head to these places for whale watching in Los Angeles and Orange County

Michael Juliano
Written by
Michael Juliano
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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. Rather than venture to Catalina Island or far-out destinations like San Francisco, why not look in our own backyard? From Marina Del Rey and Long Beach to Newport Beach and Dana Point, there’s plenty of harbors both in Los Angeles and nearby that act as a jumping off point for whale watching adventures.

We’re lucky enough to sit in the path of blue, humpback and, most notably, gray whale migrations. These year-round cruises bring you up close and personal with various species of whales, dolphins and sea lions, while tour guides share their knowledge of the marine mammals that inhabit the Pacific waters. Choose between different types of excursions, like luxury catamaran cruises, sunset tours and public or private underwater safaris. There’s even a high-speed sailboat tour with a submarine-like viewing pod for you to experience marine life below water as you cruise around the harbor. If you’re looking for unique date ideas or ways to entertain the family, these outdoor activities are something to remember. 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 (From $16 half-price offer; 2hrs)
Davey’s Locker Sportfishing & Whale Watching (From $28; 2.5hrs)
The Fun Zone Boat Company ($15; 45mins; harbor cruise)
Newport Coastal Adventure (From $56.50; 2hrs)
Ocean Explorer Cruises (From $28; 2.5hrs)

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Marina del Rey
Photograph: Eric Chan/Flickr

Marina del Rey

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 (From $900; 3-4hrs; Up to 20 people for private charter; Public tours will be available again starting summer 2021)

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Redondo Beach

Redondo Beach

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 ($40; 2.5hrs)

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All prices per person unless otherwise noted.

Looking for whale watching tips?

  • Things to do
  • City Life

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. 

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