Located in Los Angeles County and bordering Orange County, Long Beach is a popular destination for thrill-seekers and beach-goers. Sailing, water skiing, sunbathing, and cruising are top activities for travelers and locals both. Long Beach also features some of the best whale watching in the United States, with access to migratory whales, dolphins, and more – all year-round.
What is the season for whale watching in Long Beach?
If you’ve been wondering about the best time to book a Long Beach whale watching trip, the good news is that you can see whales migrating all year-round. The gray whale season runs from about December through April, and experienced guides can tell you about the majestic gray whale and its annual migratory path from Alaska to Baja California.
May through November, you’ll be able to spot blue whales and learn about their habits and patterns. Book a whale watching tour by boat with professional guides to point out interesting details about whale pods, and learn about the resident and migratory pods in Long Beach.
What kinds of whales will I see on a Long Beach whale watching excursion?
Depending on the time of year, you’ll find the following kinds of whales:
- Pacific gray whales (during the winter months, December through April)
- Blue whales (during the summer months, May through November)
- Fin whales (all year)
- Orca/killer whales (occasionally)
- Humpback whales (all year)
Will I see other animals while whale watching near Long Beach?
In addition to whales, you’ll most likely see dolphins, sea lions, and harbor seals. Long Beach is home to common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, Pacific white-sided dolphins, and gray dolphins.
Occasionally you’ll spot sharks; the great white shark has been known to hang out in Southern California during the summer months before heading to Baja California when winter comes to SoCal.
What should I pack for a Long Beach whale watching tour?
It’s always good to pack your bag and check it twice before you depart. You’ll want to be comfortable, warm, and ready for a fun day at sea.
The following items are just some of the things you might consider bringing. We believe these to be essential!
- A sweatshirt and water-resistant jacket – Though Southern California is known for its warm weather, it’s usually about 10 to 15 degrees cooler on the water. Having layers ensures that you’ll stay warm and dry for any weather.
- Boat shoes – Other shoes with non-marking soles will do, but we advise close-toed shoes that are comfortable and non-marking.
- Sunglasses, sunscreen, and a hat – It’s easy to get sunburnt or feel the ill effects of the sun if you don’t take precautions. Don’t forget to pack your sun gear.
- Camera and binoculars – Get a better glimpse of the majesty of these amazing creatures. A camera will help you capture the moment to share with friends and family later.
What should I wear for a Long Beach whale watching excursion?
It can be colder and windier at sea, so while many might think of surf shorts and swimsuits, it’s best to layer up for a whale-watching excursion. We recommend a base layer, a long-sleeved shirt or sweatshirt, and a water-resistant jacket with full-length pants and close-toed shoes.
Is there a tipping policy for whale watching?
While gratuity is not required, it’s a courteous custom to tip in cash based on your experience on the whale watching boat tour. Fifteen percent is always appreciated, and you can tip more or less depending on how things went.
Will I get seasick?
Seasickness can affect even experienced sailors and boating enthusiasts, so your worry is entirely natural. There are a few things that you can do to prevent seasickness or reduce the symptoms, including:
- Snack on some bland foods like crackers and ginger ale to settle your upset stomach
- Stay above deck – seasickness is worse below deck
- Avoid drinking alcohol before or during the excursion
- Stay hydrated with plenty of water
- Focus on the horizon and face ahead, never behind
- Take Dramamine before the whale watching trip if you’re anxious, which can mitigate symptoms
Other things to do in Long Beach
Long Beach is known for its great festivals, auto racing, and access to the Pacific Ocean. It’s also one of the most culturally diverse places in the U.S., and there’s something for everyone. It’s also only 25 miles or so from Los Angeles, making it an ideal spot to get away from traffic for a day by the ocean.
- Also known for its top-notch saltwater fishing opportunities, Long Beach is a great spot to find fishing charters in Long Beach. Offshore game fish include yellowtail, halibut, bonito, red snapper, whitefish, tuna, white sea bass, barracuda, calico bass, and more. Book a sportfishing adventure on Long Beach’s surrounding waters or an overnight charter fishing trip.
- Try something new like hydro biking or stand up paddleboarding. Long Beach’s bays and canals are calm and perfect for trying out new types of water adventures. Afterward, relax on the beach and soak in some of the sun’s warmth. (Don’t forget to apply and reapply sunscreen though!)
- Visit the Aquarium of the Pacific to learn more about the incredible creatures you saw while whale watching, and more! This is also great for days where the weather might be dreary. Tickets start at $29.95 per adult, but you can also book add-ons. Discounted admission for children and seniors.