4 Best Whale Watching Tours In Monterey – Choose Your Best Monterey Whale Watching Adventure

whale's tail showing out of the water

Monterey is a notable destination for whale watching, offering year-round opportunities to see whales. Sometimes you can even spot them from the shore around Big Sur or at Monterey Bay.

But if you’re adventurous enough to resist the cold, wind and the possibility of seasickness, a boat trip in Monterey Bay will surely bring you exciting whale sightings and other marine life such as dolphins, sea otters and sea lions.

Whale-watching tours in Monterey take place year-round. But what you see depends on the time of year and sea conditions. Each season brings different whale species.

There are two main whale-watching seasons. From December to April, gray whales, dolphins, and orcas are commonly seen. From April to December, humpback whales, blue whales, dolphins, and orcas take center stage.

Here are the most exciting whale watching tours in Monterey that you can’t miss if you are in this part of the world!

My Top Pick

#1 Top Pick
Humpback Whale Jumping over the Sea

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Monterey Whale Watching Tour By Princess Monterey Whale Watching

✅ 2-3 hours

✅ big boat

✅ both outdoors and indoors

Best 4 Whale Watching Tours In Monterey

huge whale jumping out of the water

1. Monterey Whale Watching Tour By Princess Monterey Whale Watching

⭐️ RATING: 4,5/5 Stars | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 2-3 hours | ✅ Book it!

This whale watching tour is a big boat tour. It is between 2 and 3 hours.

It runs all year round 3 times per day – 9:00 AM, 12:30 PM and 15:30 PM.
 
The boats available for this tour have several decks so that you can enjoy your time both outdoors or indoors according to your preferences. Every boat has its restroom on board, and you can even choose a seat in the upper deck section for an extra fee. 
 
What is even more impressive about this tour is that it is offered on two of the biggest boats of the entire Monterey fleet, 110′.

Each tour allows for a maximum of 140 people on board, and children younger than 3 years old are not allowed. 

➡️ Check Prices and Availability!

whale's tail showing out of the water

2. Whale Watching Tour By Chris’ Fishing Trips & Whale Watching

⭐️ RATING: 4,5/5 Stars | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 3 hours | ✅ Book it!

This Whale Watching Tour by Chris’ Fishing Trips & Whale Watching is another three-hour adventure that you will not regret diving into.

They run all year round, 2 times a day and start at 10:00 AM or 1:30 PM.

Their boats are between 53′ and 70′ where you can sit comfortably and enjoy the marine show. All boats have bathrooms. 
 
Your narrator will also be the captain of the boat, and you will receive all the information you need to understand the habitat and the lifestyle of the beautiful sea creatures you see.

The captain will lead you right where the whales are showing up.

➡️ Check Prices and Availability!

whale jumping out of the water

3. Tours By “Discover Whale Watch”

⭐️ RATING: 45/5 Stars | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 3-3,5 hours | ✅ Book it!

“Discover Whale Watch” has 2 morning tours that are absolute best. The one in winter starts at 10 AM and the one in warmer months starts at 9 AM. During winter you have coffee and tea included in the price.

I believe that mornings are the the best part of the day for whale watching. But if you can’t catch a morning tour, they also have an afternoon tour that runs all year round.

Keep in mind that the wind tends to become wilder in the second part of the day. So dress in layers if you choose an afternoon tour.

All their tours take about three hours and 30 minutes, and you will be guided through the entire experience by a naturalist who will offer you valuable information about what you are seeing and will answer all the questions while you are searching for whales. 

During their tours you get the chance to witness biologists and naturalists doing scientific research of local wildlife.

The crew will also show you how to take astonishing pictures and make the most out of this incredible adventure. 

What I liked most about their tour is that the crew was very respectful to the sea life. They kept the distance from sea life and also collected littler on the way back. All while educating us on how it harms sea life.

When I was there it was also a smaller boat. Less than 30 people. And the best part of it is that you can easily move around the boat as you wish. This feels like a more personal experience.

4. Whale Watching Tour From Moss Landing By Oceanic Expeditions

⭐️ RATING: 5/5 Stars | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 3 hours | ✅ Book it!

This one is the most expensive option out of all tours mentioned above. And is the best one for those who is concerned about being sea sick. It starts from Moss Landing and you get to the deep waters faster than from Monterey.

The tour takes approximately three hours, and there is a pickup option. 

It is a 6-person tour, which allows for a more personal and intimate experience. The captain will be your guide as well and take you where those whales like to play the most. So, you can count on an astonishing experience that will bring you as close as possible to the marine wildlife. 
 
Besides whales, you can have the chance to see dolphins, sea lions, otters and other residents of this part of the ocean. You might also come across some beautiful seabirds like shearwaters or albatross, which can be very exciting, too. 

➡️ Check Prices and Availability!

What To Wear Whale Watching In Monterey

Always keep in mind that regardless of the weather on shore, it will be colder and windier out on the water.

To make the most out of your whale-watching experience, you have to be dressed weather-appropriate before anything else. 

Note that the weather is as unpredictable as wildlife.

It is typically colder in the winter and early in the mornings, but as the day progresses, the wind usually gets more robust. 

So dress in layers and take a waterproof jacket with you. No sandals or flip-flops, only closed toed and non slip shoes as the deck can get wet.

Take a beanie and sunglasses. Don’t forget sunscreen.

Also, it might be wise to get some medication for seasickness just in case.

The Best Time Of Day For Whale Watching In Monterey Bay

Choose the morning tour as the wildlife is typically more playful and active during the first part of the day.

Also, mornings might be a better choice as the ocean is calmer, and you can expect less wind and waves. 

But if you can’t make it for one of the morning tours, the afternoon ones are known to be quite successful, too.

Is Whale Watching Better In San Francisco Or Monterey?

San Francisco is also great for whale watching, but I recommend Monterey.

Final Thoughts

You might aim for whale sightings, but you will for sure be surprised by other sea creatures. The experience is truly ‘whale-y’ special.

Make sure you are dressed weather-appropriately, and take binoculars if you have them.

Look and listen for a blowhole to get the best pictures. You are in for a great adventure. 

Read More:

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