Like any coastal location, Los Angeles is an excellent place to go whale watching. In the winter, you can watch migrating gray whales make their way between Alaska and Mexico. In the summer, you'll see gray whales.
No matter where you watch the whales, some things are the same. Get tips for picking the best cruise and ways to have the most enjoyable experience in the California whale watching guide.
Whale Watching Cruises in Long Beach
A downside of whale watching from Long Beach is the long, slow trip you have to make through the harbor before you reach open water. But that is offset by the quality of the trips.
The Aquarium of the Pacific runs seasonal gray whale watches and blue whale cruises. They're operated by LA Whale Watching, whose boats are custom made for whale watching, and there's a marine biologist on board to explain things.
Whale Watching Cruises in San Pedro
San Pedro is home to the Port of Los Angeles, located near the tip of the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Several companies offer whale watch trips from there, and they all make a long, slow journey out of the harbor into open water before the whale watching can begin.
- The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium hosts trips during the gray whale migration.
- Spirit Cruises does a harbor tour, and they also offer two-hour whale watches in season,
- LA Harbor Sportfishing has a big boat that goes out a couple of times a day when the whales are migrating,
Whale Watching Cruises in Other Parts of the Los Angeles Area
- Redondo Sport Fishing runs a couple of cruises a day from December through mid-April, leaving from the Sports Fishing Pier in Redondo Beach Marina.
- Marina Del Rey Sportfishing runs whale watches and eco tours year round.
It's not a cruise, but it sounds like fun. Newport Landing partners with Riter Aviation for whale watching from the air, departing from the Santa Monica or Torrance Airports. See the details at their website.
Orange County whale watching is mostly from Dana Point and Newport Beach and it's all summarized in the Orange County whale watching guide.
Whale Watching from the Shore Around Los Angeles
The best places for whale watching from land in the Los Angeles area are the places where the whales come closest. Any place with the word "point" in it is a good place to try. These are a few of the best:
San Pedro and Palos Verdes: Along the coast between the Point Fermin Lighthouse and the Point Vicente Lighthouse, a deep channel provides a migratory path for the whales, making the high coastal cliffs one of the best places to watch them. The Point Vicente Interpretive Center in Rancho Palos Verdes is where the L.A. Chapter of the American Cetacean Society goes for their annual whale census project.
At Leo Carrillo State Park in Malibu, rangers sometimes host special whale watching walks in April and May
Northern Malibu Coast: Just north of Zuma Beach, you can find some nice places to sit in the sand dunes and watch for passing whales and at Point Dume, you can find some great, sheltered spots where you can sit and look out over the ocean for them.
More things Whale-Related in the Los Angeles Area
If you want to know more about the animals you can see, check the guide to Whales and Dolphins of the California Coast.
In March, Rancho Palos Verdes celebrates a Whale of a Day
Created by marine artist Wyland, Whaling Wall #31 is located on North Harbor Drive in Redondo Beach
A 63-foot-long fin whale skeleton, all 221 bones of it hangs in the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County entrance area, but don't worry that an animal met an untimely fate just for the exhibit. It died in 1926 at the hands of Humboldt County whalers and has hung at the museum since 1944.
A life-sized blue whale replica hangs in the downstairs gallery of the Aquarium of the Pacific.