Sightings Every Day

San Diego Whale Watching Season Off to a Great Start

Purchase Tickets

San Diego is Top Whale Watching Destination

Now that the gray whales have arrived en masse off the San Diego coastline, Joseph Terzi, President and CEO of the San Diego Tourism Authority believes the time has come for America’s finest city to claim its rightful ranking as the world’s #1 destination for whale watching.

“Eco-tourism has become an increasingly more important component of San Diego’s economy,” Terzi said. Our region’s vibrant, year ‘round whale watching tours are a driving force. No other whale-watching venue can match the diversity of whale and dolphin species that our visitors can encounter throughout the year — against the backdrop of our spectacular geography and world famous climate. So I believe it’s high time that San Diego claims its title as the world’s best whale watching destination.”

Every year over 20,000 gray whales make a 10,000 mile round-trip journey from Alaska to the lagoons of Baja California where the females give birth to their calves. They spend a few months in the warm waters of Baja so their young are able to grow strong enough to begin the long journey back to Alaska in the Spring. It is the longest known distance any mammal migrates on an annual basis. With 70 miles of coastline directly in the migration path, San Diego is an ideal destination to see this impressive parade of gentle giants.

What most people may not realize, however, is that gray whales are only one of the several different species of whales that frequent the waters off the San Diego shores. Local whale watchers frequently encounter blue whales, finback whales, minke whales, humpback whales, and occasionally even killer whales (orcas) at different times throughout the year.


Starting December 14th, Whale Watching Tours Depart Twice Daily From Downtown San Diego

San Diego, California (Dec. 13, 2014) – Starting December 14th, Hornblower Cruises & Events will once again offer San Diego visitors and residents the epic experience of getting up close and personal with some of the most magnificent creatures on earth – guaranteed.  For nearly 25 years, Hornblower’s Captains have introduced thousands of passengers to the wonder and excitement of whale watching.  There is no better, safer and drier way to witness the whale migration as thousands of grays, finbacks and humpbacks migrate off the coast.  As Hornblower’s yacht heads out to the Pacific, passengers will also enjoy 360-views of the San Diego skyline, as well as sightings of sea lions, dolphins and sea birds.  Throw in the fresh salty air and the feeling of freedom that comes with gliding across the ocean — and passengers will make memories to last a lifetime.

Highlights include:

Interaction with Trained Docents from theNat (San Diego Natural History Museum): To make Hornblower’s cruise truly educational, volunteer naturalists from theNat provide ongoing commentary for spotting spouts, flukes, and massive whale tails, as well as information about whale behaviors.

A Comfortable (and Dry) Experience:  Unlike traditional small boat whale watching trips (where foul weather gear is a   necessary accessory), Hornblower provides the ability to view these beautiful creatures from large yachts, which provide unparalleled stability through the ocean waves. With top-level outdoor sundecks rising 30 ft. above the water and climate-controlled indoor levels, Hornblower yachts ensure optimal comfort and panoramic views for everyone.

Whale Sighting Guarantee:  If a whale is not sighted during a cruise, passengers will receive a pass good for a choice to return for another Whale Watching Cruise or a tour of the harbor instead.  Hornblower guarantees that every passenger will experience the exhilaration of seeing a whale break the surface of the water for the first time.

Food Service and Full Bar:  Passengers can purchase delicious snacks and lunch, complimented by a full bar service.

Reservations are now being accepted:

Times:  With two 3½hour cruises offered daily starting at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., everyone can find the perfect day for their adventure. Cruises leave from the San Diego Navy Pier at 970 N. Harbor Drive.

Tickets:  Weekend (Saturday and Sunday) costs are $44 for adults, $22 for children ages 4 to 12 and $42 for seniors and the military.  Weekday costs are $39 for adults, $19.50 for children ages 4 to 12 and $37 for seniors and the military.  Tax, service charge and landing fees are additional.  Children under 3 are free.  Discounts for groups of 20 or more and Hornblower Whale Club Card season passes are also available.  For more information and to make reservations, please visit or call 800-ON-THE-BAY

.San Diego Whale Watching Infographic

# # #

Hornblower Cruises & Events has been the leading charter yacht and public dining cruise operator headquartered in California for over 32 years. The company operates over 70 vessels, including the three largest dining yachts on the West Coast, and has ports in San Francisco, Berkeley, Sacramento, Long Beach, Newport Beach, Marina del Rey, San Diego, and New York City. Two Hornblower subsidiary businesses, Alcatraz Cruises and Statue Cruises, are National Park Service ferry concessioners to Alcatraz Island and the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, respectively. In 2014, Hornblower began operating the third subsidiary, Hornblower Niagara Cruises, out of Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. For more information visit:





Thar be Whales! Gray Whale Watching Season is off to stormy start!

With the Southern California storms mostly behind us along with the unusual swells, we are off on the start of another exciting Gray Whale Watching season. Captain Richard Goben, Port Captain is San Diego for Hornblower Cruises & Events called in Monday, Dec. 15 with the Whale Report.

“Good news, we have spotted gray whales today along with a pod of white sided dolphins, for a successful first cruise of the season!” Goben reported.

Whale watching is mid December through the end of April. Hornblower reported two of the most successful whale watching seasons in history for the past two years and are anticipating another outstanding year. Two cruises are offered daily in San Diego with convenient boarding in the heart of downtown San Diego at 970 N. Harbor Drive, San Diego, Ca 92101. Reservations are recommended especially during the weekends on whale watching as a very popular San Diego attraction.