Your Guide to Whale Watching in Santa Barbara CA

Do you remember the story of the white whale, Moby Dick? It’s a literary classic. The mere thought of this creature can obsess someone, as whales are fascinating creatures. We see them as huge but gentle, even interacting with humans at times. After all, they are warm-blooded breathing creatures – as are humans. They are intelligent – something human’s prize. Add resiliently – they’ve been around for a long time. The most incredible draw may be that they are mysterious. What goes on in a whale’s life? It’s not like you can observe them as you would a farm or pasture animal. Although immense, they are hidden from us by a vast and deep blue ocean. We may know some things about them, but more is probably unknown because of our limitations. The majority of people are not in a position to scan the ocean in search of a whale. However, having the availability to take a short voyage on the sea allows you an opportunity to view whales in their natural habitat. To get started, make use of your guide to whale watching in Santa Barbara, California.

Know what to expect

Whales are migrating animals, so don’t expect to go to any location at any time to see one. You also can’t expect to see a specific type of whale when you venture out to sea. Do a little research to find out when are the most likely times to be successful in capturing a whale visually.

When you estimate that close to 30,000 Pacific Gray Whales pass through the waters off Santa Barbara from mid-February through mid-May, the chances of spotting a whale are good. You might also be able to see Bottlenose or Risso’s Dolphins. And if things turn out right, Orcas may be spotted. Or perhaps Humpback, Minke, and Pilot Whales. Later in the year, from July through September, you can be on the lookout for Blue and Humpback Whales.

Whales aren’t the only thing you should look for. Other marine wildlife such as California sea lions and harbor seals are always entertaining. You’ll also enjoy sightings of different kinds of gulls, cormorants, and other aquatic birds.

Choose an Experienced Whale Watching Tour

  • The Condor Express: Please expect to be able to go on your excursion year-round as they offer tours daily. This 75’ catamaran has in-cabin for getting out of the elements or upper-deck seating for a panoramic view.
  • The Sunset Kidd: If you would prefer not to hear engines on your excursion, this will be appealing to you. Sailing on this 41-ft yacht may enable a close-up view of these giant creatures. As you get close, listen to them, catch their breath. It will be a memorable experience.
  • The Double Dolphin: This 50’ sailing catamaran will escort you to whale watching areas from mid-February through mid-May. Observing animals in their natural habitat in a serene setting makes for a rewarding outing.

Prepare for the Day

Do you anticipate good weather? It would be a good idea to find out. Remember that your tour guide controls the boat – not the sea, not the hot sun, not the wind, and not the weather. It would be best if you prepared for what the day has in store for you. Once you are out to sea, you’ll have to handle the conditions that are present.

What Gear to Take

  • Have a good SPF (Sun Protection Factor) level sunscreen.
  • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the glaring sun reflecting off the water.
  • A hat is always to protect your head from the sun’s rays.
  • Bring a good camera with a zoom lens. For many, having a smartphone may suffice. You can take great pictures with these.
  • A good set of binoculars. You won’t know how close you will get to any marine life.
  • Please wear appropriate clothing, even though it might be summer, but it can get windy or chilly at sea, so always take a jacket with you.
  • Although you will probably have this on your tour; you may decide to pack some snacks for your hunger cravings. Check the tour guidelines.
  • It is always a good idea to bring any medicines if you know you get seasick. If you are unsure, it never hurts to have something to provide relief to your situation.
  • It is a good idea to wear comfortable, non-marking-soled shoes.

In conjunction with your whale-watching excursion, there is a surplus of similar activities that will meld with your stay in Santa Barbara. On the off chance you are in Santa Barbara on a rainy day, we have activities for that, too!

If you are planning a visit to the sunny California area of Santa Barbara, be sure to include whale watching on your list of things to do. Regardless of the time of the year, the probability of spotting whales is high. After a day on the high seas, getting back to The Eagle Inn will give you a feeling of stability. As you recount the experiences of the day in your comfortable room, fond memories will be yours – possibly of a breaching Humpback.

Header photo by Todd Cravens on Unsplash

Exterior view of Spanish-style Eagle Inn with palm trees and blue skies

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