Whale watching in and around Los Angeles is a thrilling local phenomenon that’s worth doing at least once in your lifetime. Now that we’re well into the winter, gray whale migration is about to take off along the California coast. Even from land, you could catch them spouting, slapping their tails (known as “lobtailing”) or breaching. We’ve put together a guide to local whale migrations and boat tours in Los Angeles. Read on for everything you need to know.
When can you see whales in Los Angeles?
“Whale season” is almost year-round on the California coast because we see a series of staggered whale migrations in this area. Our proximity to the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary allows us to predict the presence of gray whales, blue whales, and humpbacks, among others. Here’s a breakdown according to Whale Alert West Coast.
Winter/spring: Gray whales
Gray whales are the most frequent visitors along the California coast in the winter and early spring, with over 15,000 of them traveling between their feeding grounds in the Arctic and the warm lagoons in Mexico. Gray whales can be seen in local waters from December through February during their southern migration, and from mid-February through May on their northern migration. They make one of the longest migrations of any mammal.
Summer/fall: Humpback whales and blue whales
Humpback whales migrate from their winter calving and mating grounds off of Mexico to their summer and fall feeding grounds off of central California. They often move around depending on the density of anchovies, sardines, and krill, but you can spot them between May and August.
Blue whales are a rare and thrilling sight, as they are the largest animal on the planet. They generally migrate in local waters between May and September.
Boat tours for whale watching in Los Angeles
You’ll find that there’s a good selection of whale watching tours in Los Angeles. Here are a few popular options.