Don't wait any longer! Go on a Monterey Bay Whale Watch!
I dreamed of seeing whales in the wild for nearly my entire life up until 2021! I finally realized that my dream was within easy reach when we moved to the Bay Area earlier that same year. After finally getting our housing situation under control, my birthday was right around the corner so I thought, what better gift than to get on a boat!
After two whale watches, and a third coming soon, I decided it was time to put together some tips and information to ensure you have a phenomenal experience!
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What kind of marine life can I see in Monterey Bay?
A unique aspect of Monterey Bay is the submarine canyon, and it happens to be one of the deepest canyons on the west coast of the US. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute says that the underwater topography rivals the size and magnificence of the Grand Canyon! You can learn more about submarine canyons here: Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Most whale watching websites from the Bay tell prospective visitors that wildlife may include humpback whales, killer whales (orcas), gray whales, blue whales, sperm whales, Risso dolphins, long beaked common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, Dall’s porpoise, mola mola (ocean sunfish), jellyfish, sea turtles, sea lions, sea otters, pelicans, and much more.
We have personally seen humpback whales, sea lions, mola mola, jellyfish, turtles, seals and plenty of birds!
Which Whale Watching Tour Company Should I Choose?
The really nice thing about the Monterey Bay whale watching community is that it is tight-knit. Every established tour company out there knows, respects and looks out for one another. They communicate with each other consistently and will give a heads up if something exciting is going on! Monterey Bay is one of the few places in the world where you can whale watch year-round.
That said, we currently have experience with two companies so far! Here are my top recommendations based on personal experience, and who I would also like to take a whale watch with in the near future.
Princess Monterey Whale Watching
Our first and second experience whale watching was with Princess Monterey. They are based in a great location at the end of the historic fisherman’s wharf. They have two large boats: A 110 ft Princess Monterey, and a 100 ft Atlantis Monterey. We have been on both! They are very clean, spacious, and have large, heated cabins with plenty of seating and big windows. You can walk the entire way around each deck for a 360 degree experience. They are very serious about safety and have a fantastic crew that is readily available for any questions or concerns.
The trips are narrated by Marine Biologists or Naturalists who are both educated and very passionate so you can hear the excitement when there is activity nearby!
96 Fisherman’s Wharf, Monterey, CA 93940 • 831-372-2203 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Sea Goddess Whale Watching
We were able to set sail with Sea Goddess in August! We stayed in Santa Cruz instead of Monterey, so I decided to consider a different whale watching tour. Sea Goddess is based in Moss Landing, which is very close to the submarine canyon. I like big boats and I cannot lie, so their boats are another reason I chose Sea Goddess.
The reviews were consistent with our experience. The boat was clean and spacious with a friendly crew! In fact, talking with the deck hand, John, was a memorable part of the trip for my older son. We got to see plenty of humpback whales, friendly sea lions, a seal and an otter.
I would absolutely recommend Sea Goddess if you are staying on the North side of the Bay.
7881 Sandholdt Rd, Moss Landing, CA 95039 • 831-920-1499 • email@example.com
How much does it cost?
As I mentioned, both of our trips so far have been with Princess Monterey.
For our trip on August 15th, 2021, we paid $212.00 total for 2 adults and 2 children. This included a $12 booking fee online.
For our trip July 16th 2022, we paid $201.40 total for 2 adults and 2 children. This included a $20 coupon.
If you go to book online at Princess Monterey, the current rates for August are $70/adult and $45 for children 3-11. For a party of 2 adults and 2 children, it would cost $243.80 which includes a $13.80 booking fee.
To set sail with Sea Goddess, which with the same party, costed $216.12. This price included a $5 off each ticket coupon with promo code shared below and was originally $238.88. You are also able to include a tip on the online order if desired at the time.
Sometimes, promo codes or deals are available and I will share them here if I find them!
Princess Monterey: Guests and members of the Monterey Bay Aquarium will receive a $10 discount per person with proof of a Monterey Bay Aquarium ticket purchase. Whale watching tickets must be purchased in person so that you can show your Aquarium receipt to receive the discount. Check in 30-45 minutes prior to departure.
Sea Goddess: Use code INSTASGWW for $5 off each ticket when you book online!
What Should I do if I feel seasick?
My youngest son has given us plenty of experience here! The first time he went out on the boat, he fell asleep pretty quickly so we didn’t realize that what he was experiencing was seasickness. The ride was fairly smooth so I thought maybe he was just tired and the motions and sounds made him want to take a little nap. The second whale watch, the next year, was on much rougher seas, where many people weren’t feeling great. That is when I realized that seasickness may have been the culprit all along.
My older son has had motion sickness on twisty roads in cars so I thought he was more likely to get seasickness too! It took us a few times before we finally found Sea Bands and children’s dramamine.
Things To Remember!
It is COLD out there! The first time, we thought we were prepared but weren’t prepared enough. We ended up buying the kids these really cozy gloves that they sold on the boat. More often than not, it is foggy, so you will not be able to rely on the warm sun. Though it is a pleasant surprise sometimes!
Wear your sunscreen! Just because it’s cold and foggy outside does not mean you won’t get burnt! Pack your chap stick too!
Charge your phones and camera batteries the night before! Don’t get caught with a dead phone or camera, you will be so disappointed. Better yet, buy a phone tether so that you don’t accidently wing your phone off the side of the boat. I have used this tether for years and it has saved me on a few occasions. Make sure your cameras SD card is in your camera, and has space!
Don’t forget your binoculars! We forget these every time. It never fails.
Confirm check in times! You don’t want to miss your boat so be sure to check specific guidelines for each company as they may differ.
Check age and expectant mother restrictions! Most of the whale watching websites that I looked at didn’t force you to include ages of the children. They will turn you away if their policy states that they cannot take children under 3 years old or pregnant women.
Not quite ready to get on a boat?
If you aren’t ready to get on a boat in Monterey Bay for whale watching, there are some great Captains and photographers that you can follow on Instagram to get an incredible, up-close look without heading into the Bay.
I love this guy. His videos are incredible and his commentary is so much fun. When I’m ready to take the next step onto a smaller boat, I’m going straight for Discovery Whale Watch with Captain Danny!
If you want a personal experience with whales, this is the boat to get on! Captain Slater Moore is a professional photographer, filmmaker and drone pilot that offers private whale watching trips on his 20ft Cabo.
Have an entire weekend to spend in the area? Check out our local guides!
Fascinating family day trips around the Bay Area are easy to come by if you know where to begin! 2021 was the first year that