Whale-watching is a popular tourist activity along the Pacific Coast. In California good whale-watching can be found December through March off the Southern California coast such as around Catalina Island in Los Angeles, with opportunities to view blue whales, greys, humpbacks, fin back whales, and dolphins. In spring, summer, and fall at the Farallon Islands off San Francisco, Monterey Bay, one may see humpbacks, greys, and blue whales.
California Whale Watching Calendar
December through February: Grey whales southbound from Alaska to Mexico. The entire population of grey whales (over 20,000) swim past the west coast twice a year, traveling between summer feeding grounds in the Bering and Chukchi Seas and nursery/breeding lagoons in Baja California, Mexico. Grey whales are medium-sized, up to 45 feet long. Their dark, slate grey skin is covered with white patches caused by barnacles and parasites. They have no dorsal or back fin.
February through April: Grey whales northbound from Mexico to Alaska. Mothers with calves travel last, staying closer to the shore and moving slowly, making this one of the best times to see them. * June through October: Blue whales and humpback whales can be seen along the Big Sur coast, and around the Channel Islands. Blue whales are largest animal on earth, 70 to 90 feet long, with a heart the size of a small car. They're blue-grey in color, long and streamlined, with light grey mottling. Humpbacks are 50 to 55 feet long, dark-colored with distinctive bumps on their noses.
April to early December: Humpback whales along the central California coast.