Sightings Every Day

Whale Watching Season Starts December 10

Purchase Tickets

Whale Watching Report 2016 - 2017

DateMorning CruiseAfternoon CruiseNotes
01/16/20173 Gray Whales, 25 Pacific White-sided Dolphins, 5 Common Dolphins, 5 California Sea Lions8 Gray Whales, 25 Pacific White-sided Dolphins

Morning Cruise:
A beautiful sunny day with calm, glassy waters. As we left San Diego Bay we came across a mixed group of several types of sea birds, Pacific White-sided dolphins, and California Sea Lions. Shortly after we spotted a single gray whale that surfaced several times than fluked once. Captain Ricky decided to leave this shy whale and found a mother-calf pair of Gray Whales. The mother traveled slowly with her calf, which was probably only a couple days old. All guests were able to enjoy several very close looks at the pair when they surfaced close to the boat.

Afternoon Cruise:
Wow, what a great afternoon! We had some very close sightings of a cow-calf pair. We also saw a pair of adult gray whales and another group of 4 adult grays. The group of four adults showed us their flukes several times and also showed some mating behaviors. We also spotted about 25 Pacific White-sided Dolphins.

01/15/20173 Gray Whales, 4 Humpback Whales, 100+ Common Dolphins5 Gray Whales

Morning Cruise:
A perfect, sunny day! We came across 2 Gray Whales just outside of San Diego Bay. After heading west we came across a huge bait ball with 3 Humpback Whales feeding together along with California Sea Lions, Common Dolphins, and various sea birds. We also spotted one more Gray Whale on our way back in.

Afternoon Cruise:
This afternoon we spotted 3 individual and one pair of Gray Whales. The whales were very active and fun to watch with four breaches, some spyhopping, and a lot of rolling on the surface.

01/14/201710 Gray Whales, 20 Pacific White-sided Dolphins, 20 Common Dolphins5 Gray Whales, 100+ Common Dolphins, 20 Pacific White-sided Dolphins

Morning Cruise:
We started out with calm seas and sunny conditions. In the beginning of our trip we saw a group of 5 gray whales (4 adults and 1 juvenile). As we continued our cruise we spotted another group of 3 gray whales and an additional pair as we were heading into the Bay.

Afternoon Cruise:
We enjoyed another successful trip with 5 gray whale sightings, all adults. We followed each until they made their way into Mexican waters. The trip also included sightings of some playful Common and Pacific White-Sided Dolphins.

01/13/201711 Gray Whales, 50+ Pacific White-sided Dolphins18+ Gray Whales, 50+ Pacific White-sided Dolphins

Morning Cruise:
Captain Jules quickly found us a group of 5 Gray Whales that we watched for a while. A little later, we spotted another group of 6 Gray Whales. Guests also enjoyed the antics of Pacific White-sided Dolphins scattered throughout the area.

Afternoon Cruise:
Gray Whales were out in full force on this trip! We spotted at least 3 groups and a total of at least 18 Gray Whales with many more blows spotted in the distance. Some of the whales were slapping their pectoral flippers and rolling together at the surface, which are courtship/ mating behaviors. One whale even breached twice about a half mile in front of us! Also saw scattered Pacific White-sided Dolphins during the afternoon.

01/12/20176 Gray Whales, 20 Common Dolphins8 Gray Whales, 20 Pacific White-sided Dolphins, 10 Common Dolphins

Morning Cruise:
Cloudy, chilly and rainy conditions didn't stop us from finding 6 southbound Gray Whales mixed in with about 20 Common Dolphins. By noon, the sun was peaking through the clouds. A great morning!

Afternoon Cruise:
The predicted afternoon rainstorm stayed away and it turned into a fabulous day! We quickly encountered a group of 3 Gray Whales and later came across a second group of 5 Gray Whales. Pacific White-sided Dolphins and Common Dolphins rode the bow of the Adventure Hornblower, delighting the guests.

01/11/20178 Gray Whales, 50+ Pacific White-sided Dolphins, California Sea Lions3 Gray Whales, 50+ Pacific White-sided Dolphins, 100+ Common Dolphins, 1 Mola Mola

Morning Cruise:
Although it was a drizzly morning, it was perfect conditions for whale watching. Captain Earnesto found us a total of 8 gray whales, with 2 separate cow-calf pairs. Guests were also excited to watch feeding activity that included seabirds, California Sea Lions, and Pacific White-sided Dolphins.

Afternoon Cruise:
Rainy conditions didn't stop us from finding 3 southbound Gray Whales. One very shy whale was found just outside San Diego Bay. Guests also enjoyed watching Pacific White-sided and Common Dolphins. We also spotted a Mola mola (ocean sunfish), which is an unusual sighting for this time of year.

01/10/20172 Gray Whales, 1 Humpback Whale, 50+ Pacific White-sided Dolphins, 50+ Common Dolphins1 Gray Whale, 1 Humpback Whale, 50+ Pacific White-sided Dolphins, 50+ Common Dolphins

Morning Cruise:
We ventured out in beautiful, calm seas to find 2 Gray Whales, a Humpback Whale and both Common and Pacific White-sided Dolphins.

Afternoon Cruise:
We first encountered a gray whale about a mile and a half from the shoreline. The whale gave us a great show, we could even see its eye and the barnacles and whale lice on its head. Guests also enjoyed watching Common Dolphins and Pacific White-sided Dolphins. We also spotted a Humpback Whale that slowly traveled south.

01/09/20174 Gray Whales, Common Dolphins, Pacific White-sided dolphins2 Gray Whales, Pacific White-sided Dolphins, Common Dolphins

Morning Cruise:
Although it was a drizzly and cloudy morning, conditions were still calm and great for whale watching. Guests enjoyed watching 4 Gray Whales and about 100 playful Common and Pacific White-sided Dolphins.

Afternoon Cruise:
Calm conditions continued as our captain found us 2 southbound Gray Whales and about 300 dolphins.

01/08/20175 Gray Whales3 Gray Whales, 5 Orcas

Morning Cruise:
We had two interesting encounters this morning. With sunny weather and calm waters, we saw two pairs of gray whales. The first an adult and juvenile with light playful behavior, the second a mom and newborn calf with mom using hips and flippers to support calf with breathing. In addition, we had scattered white sided dolphins totaling about 40.

Afternoon Cruise:
Very calm day on the water. Sighting of a cow calf pair and a solitary adult Gray whale. A rare sighting of 5 orcas, 4 female and 1 male were spotted near the boarder.

01/07/20177 Gray Whales, 2 Humpback Whales, 100+ Pacific White-sided Dolphins, 100+ Common Dolphins4 Gray Whales, 50+ Pacific White-sided Dolphins, 100+ Common Dolphins

Morning Cruise:
Today was one of the best days on the water! When we started out we found a Gray Whale mother and calf! The calf was very young and the mother swam slow to let the calf catch up. We watched the mom and baby for a bit then headed off in search of other whales. We had a lot of fun watching Gray Whales swim with Pacific White-sided Dolphins. Every time the whales dove so did the dolphins. Everyone enjoyed watching the whales rolling and diving We left those whales at the Mexican border and went to watch a couple of humpback whales. We also saw Common Dolphins, California sea lions, pelicans, cormorants, and terns.

Afternoon Cruise:
The weather became even clearer for the afternoon cruise. We found our first pair of Gray Whales just after leaving the harbor. The whales were fluking and snorkeling which is an elusive behavior. We then found another pair of whales that were easier to watch. We also enjoyed watching Pacific White-sided and common Dolphins. Throughout our cruise we also enjoyed wonderfully exciting people, most who never had seen whales. It was an amazing day watching whales!

01/06/20175 Humpback Whales, 3 Bottlenose Dolphins, 1,000 Common Dolphins, 35 Pacific White-sided Dolphins, California Sea Lions7 Gray Whales, 50 Pacific White-sided Dolphins, 1,000+ Common Dolphins

Morning Cruise:
Morning guests observed a few coastal bottlenose dolphins in San Diego Bay, followed by good looks at a juvenile humpback whale. Captain Eric moved on as a large flock of birds was observed feeding in the distance, and everyone was in for a real treat: Four adult humpback whales lunge feeding at the surface along with approximately 1,000 common dolphins in the area, 35 Pacific white-sided dolphins and hundreds of shearwaters, gulls, pelicans, and sea lions all involved in a feeding frenzy. One of the humpbacks approached the Adventure very close, took a dive and surfaced on the other side.

Afternoon Cruise:
Afternoon guests also had a special trip. A total of seven gray whales were observed, four of which were adults traveling close together, exhibiting some mating behavior. Pacific white-sided dolphins accompanied the gray whales--appearing to leap out of the water, almost landing on the whale's heads! One of the whales even spy-hopped.

01/05/20172 Humpback Whales, Pacific White-sided Dolphins, Common Dolphins2 Gray Whales, Pacific White-sided Dolphins, Common Dolphins

Morning Cruise:
We had gray skies with intermittent showers as we searched for marine life most of the morning. Two humpbacks gave us a view of their flues and pectoral fins and a nice breach. We also spotted quite a few Common Dolphins and Pacific White-sided Dolphins.

Afternoon Cruise:
The rain didn't stop us from having a fun afternoon! We saw two Gray Whales traveling southbound, a group of Pacific White-sided Dolphins, and several large groups of common dolphins who were very active and bow-rode for a while!

01/04/20174 Gray Whales, 100 Pacific White-sided Dolphins10 Gray Whales, 50 Pacific White-sided Dolphins

Morning Cruise:
Beautiful calm day. ! southbound gray whale was spotted near the Mexican border and 2 more Gray Whales off of Point Loma that were diving and showing their flukes. The trip was capped off with a herd of about 100 Pacific White-sided Dolphins.

Afternoon Cruise:
Our beautiful, calm day continued with multiple sightings of Gray Whales. We saw a total of 10 Gray Whales including a cow-calf pair. As we headed back into San Diego Bay, we were escorted by about 50 Pacific White-sided Dolphins to everyone's delight!

01/03/201711+ Gray Whales, 20+Pacific White-sided Dolphins, 3 California Sea Lions2 Humpback Whales, 50+ Common Dolphins

Morning Cruise:
It was a nice clear day. Just as we approached Buoy SD1, we saw an individual whale and not too long after another one. As we went a little further, we found another group of whales and we counted nine in the pod. We stayed with them about 15 minutes and were able to see a few more individual whales at a distance. While observing the larger pod, we saw a few whales mating. In addition, while we watched the larger pod, we saw dolphins (Pacific white sided) playing, a few sea lions and lots of seabirds.

Afternoon Cruise:
While the ocean was smooth and not a lot of wind made for ideal conditions for spotting gray whales, we found none. A few small groups of common dolphins passed by us early in the cruise.
Late in the cruise, we spotted first one, then a second humpback whale. They were lunge feeding among two large concentrated food sources. Dolphins, sea lions and sea birds were also feeding with them. The long wait paid off with spectacular displays by the humpback whales and dolphins, some of whom followed the ship back towards the harbor at the end of the cruise.

01/02/20174 Gray Whales, 50 Common Dolphins, 50 Pacific White-sided Dolphins2 Gray Whales, 1 Humpback Whale, 1000+ Common Dolphins, 1 Red-footed Booby

Morning Cruise:
A beautiful morning with 4 south-bound whales, many flukes and one breach. 50 Common and 50 Pacific White-sided dolphins kept the boat company through out the cruise.

Afternoon Cruise:
An amazing day on the water! We followed 2 gray whales traveling together and got close up sightings of both at the same time. Later, we were treated to a humpback feeding along with a mega pod of Common Dolphins as hundreds of seabirds flew around. To cap it off, there was a beautiful sunset as we rode into the dock.

01/01/20173 Gray Whales, 10 Pacific White-sided Dolphins7 Gray Whales, 10 Pacific White-sided Dolphins

Morning Cruise:
Happy New Years! After the big storm yesterday the seas were still a little bumpy. Captain Chad found us 3 southbound Gray Whales. One whale was traveling at a fairly quick pace, approximately 6kmp. A large variety of birds were also seen.

Afternoon Cruise:
Guests were treated to a total of 7 Gray Whales. Multiple times whales could be seen on both sides of the boat at the same time. One whale showed very nice heart-shaped blows. There were even about 10 Pacific White-sided Dolphins.

12/31/20164 Gray Whales, 30 Pacific White-sided Dolphins3 Gray Whales

Morning Cruise:
About a mile offshore we spotted a pod of 4 southbound gray whales. Guests also enjoyed a good showing of about 30 Pacific White-sided Dolphins.

Afternoon Cruise:
Heavy rain decreased the visibility for most of the second cruise. We did spot a single gray whale about a mile off Point Loma and then spotted a pair of gray whales moving along the kelp line. One of the whales even breached!

12/30/20161 Humpback Whale, 2 Gray Whales, 100+ Pacific White-sided Dolphins, 100+ Common Dolphins, 1 Harbor Seal3 Gray Whales, 50 Pacific White-sided Dolphins, 200 Common Dolphins

Morning Cruise:
This morning's cruise started off raining, but ended up being a beautiful day to see whales and dolphins. We saw up to 120 Pacific White Sided dolphins. We also saw 2 individual gray whales traveling south. We saw multiple flukes and had a great day out on the water!

Afternoon Cruise:
We went out west pretty far and spotted some fluke prints, no spouts, but as we waited for something to come up, we saw a new born baby grey popping around the surface for about 30 seconds before the mother then surfaced underneath the calf lifting the calf to the surface on its back so it could breath. The calf may have only been a few hours old! Truly a breathtaking, unforgettable moment! The pair swam together like this for about 20 minutes, with the calf up on the moms back and breathing together. As we headed back in to the bay, we also saw another full grown grey on the way in with lots of tail flukes, and 200 commons, and 50 pacific white sides. Great day!!

12/29/20165 Gray Whales, 1,000+ Common Dolphins5 Gray Whales, 20 Pacific White-sided Dolphins, 25 Common Dolphins, 30 Bottlenose Dolphins

Morning Cruise:
Spectacular sunny day with flat seas. We watched 5 very active Gray Whales as they were heading south at the Mexican border. We also saw a mega pod of Common Dolphins (~1,000) that surrounded the boat.

Afternoon Cruise:
A beautiful, sunny, warm, calm day. We saw a group of 3 gray whales and a group of 2 Gray Whales, all heading southbound. From the latter group, we saw mating behavior accompanied by a handful of Pacific White-Sided Dolphins. We also had about 20 Pacific White-Sided Dolphins, 25 Common Dolphins, and 30 Bottlenose Dolphins riding the bow of the boat.

12/28/20161 Gray Whale, 35 Pacific White-sided Dolphins, 10 Common Dolphins5 Gray Whales, 1 Humpback Whale, 250 Common Dolphins

Morning Cruise:
A beautiful sunny morning provided our guests with sightings of 1 southbound gray whale with additional blows in the distance. We had 35 Pacific White Sided dolphins and 10 Common dolphins. At one point, a couple of the Pacific White Sided dolphins were 'bow riding' the gray whale! There were also many seabirds feeding, including brown pelicans dive bombing into the water!

Afternoon Cruise:
The beautiful sunny day continued with guests sighting 5 southbound gray whales (3 different groups) and 250 common dolphins. As we were headed back to the bay, a report of a humpback in the area resulted in the boat taking a detour back to the south. The humpback was quite elusive, but passengers were thrilled to have seen 3 different cetaceans during the cruise!

12/27/20164 gray whales2 gray whales

Morning Cruise:
We headed out with calm seas and great conditions for sighting 4 gray whales.

Afternoon Cruise:
Captain Mike found us a mother-calf pair of gray whales. It is always a treat to see newborn calves, which are often born during the southward migration past the southern California coast. The mothers guide their calves to the protected lagoons in Baja California, Mexico. In these lagoons, the calves to grow and gain strength for the journey north in a few months.

12/26/20163 Gray Whales, 150 Common Dolphins5 Gray Whales, 30 Common Dolphins, 25 Pacific White-sided Dolphins, 2 California Sea Lions

Morning Cruise:
A beautiful sunny morning with a slight breeze provided our guests with sightings of 3 southbound gray whales (2 together and one single.) The whales were accompanied by 150 common dolphins. There were also many seabirds feeding in the kelp beds.

Afternoon Cruise:
The beautiful sunny day continued with guests sighting 5 southbound gray whales (3 different groups), 30 common dolphins, and 25 Pacific White-Sided dolphins. Not to be outdone, were two California Sea Lions in the mix with the dolphins.

12/25/2016NANA

Cruises cancelled due to high sea swells.

12/24/2016NANA

Cruises cancelled due to high sea swells.

12/23/20166 Gray Whales6 Gray Whales, 200 Common Dolphins

Morning Cruise:
The morning was cool and cloudy with calm seas. We saw a single gray whale close to Point Loma, then a group of three gray whales snorkeling close to the surface. A pair of gray whales were moving south parallel to the boat. The whales stayed close with frequent blows and tail flukes for well over an hour.

Afternoon Cruise:
We were treated to a constant flow of whale groupings ( one single, then in twos and threes). We also saw various groupings of dolphins. The passengers were delighted when some of the dolphins rode the waves from the boat.

12/22/20161 Gray Whale, 100+ Common Dolphinsno whales spotted

Morning Cruise:
Windy and rainy conditions prevailed today. Captain Jules was able to find one Gray Whale and more than 100 playful Common Dolphins.

Afternoon Cruise:
Unfortunately conditions worsened to very low visibility and no whales or dolphins were spotted on this cruise.

12/21/20163 Gray Whales, 100 Pacific White-sided Dolphins, 3 California Sea Lions5 Gray Whales, 80 Common Dolphins

Morning Cruise:
Observed 3 adult Gray Whales that were headed south along with lots of Pacific White-sided dolphins that were interacting with the whales. Due to the overcast sky, we were able to clearly see the beautiful white markings on the sides of the dolphins. A few California sea lions were also in the same area.

Afternoon Cruise:
Captain Earnesto headed north and found us 5 Gray Whales including a calf! One of the whales breached 5 times in a row. Everyone on the boat got a spectacular view! We also saw about 80 common dolphins on our way out.

12/20/20161 Humpback Whale, 500 Common Dolphins, 10 Pacific White-sided Dolphins1 Humpback Whale, 500 Common Dolphins

Morning Cruise:
Captain Eric headed out west to find a young humpback whale, a very large pod of Common dolphins and 10 Pacific White-sided dolphins.

Afternoon Cruise:
Lovely PM cruise. Saw a humpback, a calm juvenile with barnacle markings in tips of flukes.Guests were also thrilled to see a large pod of common dolphins feeding and putting on a grand show.

12/19/20162 Gray Whales, 2 Humpback Whales, 10 Pacific White-sided Dolphins1 Humpback Whale, 10 Pacific White-sided Dolphins

Morning Cruise:
Guests on board the Hornblower Adventure this morning were treated to great looks at two humpback whales, two gray whales, and about 10 bow-riding Pacific white-sided dolphins. Some even got to see a bottlenose dolphin that was being trained by Navy personnel, as we exited the harbor.

Afternoon Cruise:
Afternoon guests watched a young humpback whale, and also got to see the beautiful Pacific white-sided dolphins bow riding, as well. Conditions on the water were excellent; San Clemente Island could be seen in the distance.

12/18/20162 Gray Whales, 2 Humpback Whales, 30 Pacific White-sided Dolphins, 1 Mola Mola2 Humpback Whales, Common Dolphins, 50 Pacific White-sided dolphins, California sea lions

Morning Cruise:
A beautiful morning cruise with two gray whales heading south, snorkeling and fluking while the boat stayed with them for about an hour. A pod of about 30 Pacific White-sided dolphins surfed with the boat, and a mola mola made a short appearance!

Afternoon Cruise:
This afternoon we encountered a small pod of common dolphins soon after exiting the bay. While we did not see any gray whales, we were able to observe two Humpback whales who appeared to be feeding with a pod of roughly 50 Pacific White-sided dolphins, some sea lions and hundreds of feeding seagulls. Passengers were thrilled to see this wonderful sight!

12/17/2016NANA

Cruises cancelled due to high sea swells.

12/16/2016NANA

Cruises cancelled due to high sea swells.

12/15/2016Common Dolphins, Pacific White-sided Dolphins, 3 Harbor Seals, 2 Mola Mola, 1 Brown Booby1 Humpback Whale, 2 Gray Whales, 400+ Common Dolphins, Pacific White-sided Dolphins

Morning Cruise:
The morning was overcast and foggy with calm seas. While we didn't spot any large whales, guests did enjoy watching a diverse group of ocean wildlife. We spotted a Mola mola both on the way in and out of San Diego Bay. We also spotted a Brown Booby again on buoy 3 and 3 Harbor Seals just outside the Bay. We did see two dolphin species; Pacific White-sided and a group of playful Common dolphins that were bow-riding.

Afternoon Cruise:
What a difference from the morning cruise! We saw a young Humpback Whale fluking and feeding along with hundreds of Common Dolphins near 9-mile Bank. We also had multiple sightings Common dolphins and Pacific White-sided dolphins. On our way in we lucked out even more with a sighting of a pair of southbound gray whales.

12/14/2016500 Common Dolphins1 Humpback Whale, 20 Pacific White-sided Dolphins

Morning Cruise:
Although no large whales were spotted, guests enjoyed watching a large herd of 500+ Common Dolphins.

Afternoon Cruise:
Captain Eric found a very active humpback whale and 20 Pacific White-sided dolphins on the afternoon cruise. Guests were excited to watch the humpback whale rolling and lob tailing (slapping its flukes on the water's surface.

12/13/20163 Humpback Whales, Common Dolphins, Pacific White-sided Dolphins, 2 Bottlenose Dolphins, Bonaparte's Gulls1 Humpback Whale, 1 Brown Booby

Morning Cruise:
We were treated to see Bonaparte’s Gulls, as well as three types of dolphins, a couple pods of Common dolphin with some Pacific White Sided and even a couple Bottlenose dolphin in the mix. No Gray Whales spotted this morning, instead we saw 3 giant Humpback Whales with beautiful tail flukes.

Afternoon Cruise:
The conditions on the water were good, although the winds made it a bit chilly. A Brown Booby was spotted on a buoy. Other birds were also seen, which appeared to be feeding on fish near the surface. No Gray Whales were sighted, but after going approximately 9 miles out, we found a Humpback Whale fluking and snorkeling.

12/12/201620 Pacific White Sided Dolphins, 25 Common Dolphins4 Gray Whales, 20 Pacific White Sided Dolphins

Morning Cruise:
Although no gray whales were spotted on the morning cruise, guests enjoyed watching two species of playful dolphins; Pacific White-sided and Common dolphins.

Afternoon Cruise:
We found 4 Gray Whales, with some beautiful viewing. Also about 20 Pacific White Sided dolphins.

12/11/20161 Gray WhaleCommon dolphins & Pacific White Sided dolphins

Morning Cruise:
42 Whalers from the NAT joined guests aboard the Adventure Hornblower for the beginning of the season. Captain spotted one Gray Whale about 6 miles offshore for guests to enjoy watching.

Afternoon Cruise:
Flat seas but unfortunately no whales. Saw some pods of Common dolphins & Pacific White Sided dolphins.

12/10/20161 Gray Whale, Common dolphinsNA

Morning Cruise:
Captain Chad spotted a Gray whale, our first whale sighting of the season, about 2 miles off the Crystal Pier. Guests enjoyed watching the whale and a small pod of Common dolphins during the cruise.

View More Reports »

The Peculiar Mola Mola

MOLAMOLA

When you think of a fish, the Mola mola is probably not what you’d picture. This strange fish has a somewhat circular body that is flattened from side-to-side with no caudal (tail) fin and rudder-like top and bottom fins, which the fish flaps to swim. Mola molas are found in temperate (cool) and tropical waters worldwide and are commonly seen on Hornblower Whale Watching trips off San Diego. It is also called the ocean sunfish due to its habit of lying on its side at the water’s surface. This bizarre behavior may help a mola mola warm up after a deep dive or be done to invite seabirds to peck parasites off its skin. The mola mola also often basks near kelp paddies or in kelp beds to allow small fishes to pick off parasites.

The mola mola is the world’s heaviest bony fish, reaching a maximum weight of 5,000 pounds (2,250 kg)! It remarkably attains this great weight on a diet tons of jellyfish, but also occasionally eats small fishes, squid and other gelatinous creatures such as salps. Although mola mola are not endangered, they often eat floating plastic bags—mistaking them for jellyfish prey—which can choke or suffocate these fish. You can help mola molas by making sure your trash (including plastic bags) is always properly disposed of so that it can’t reach the sea. Even better, bring and use reusable bags whenever you are grocery shopping. By taking these simple steps, you can help keep the oceans healthy for mola molas and other ocean wildlife.