Best time to travel to Monterey, CA

Whale Watching in Monterey, CA

The nutrient-rich waters of Monterey Bay are always full of inhabitants

Best time: all year round (depends on whale species)

Whale Watching
Whale Watching
Whale Watching
Humpback whale breaching. California, Monterey Bay.
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Monterey Bay is a feeding and migrating destination for various whale species all year long. But in the spring and summer months, the lagoons of Monterey Bay become especially busy.

Humpback Whales

From April to November, humpback whales come here from the Mexican coast. Hundreds of them choose Monterey Bay waters because of the variety of food available. These whales are also the ones to entertain an audience and are considered the most playful among cetaceans. Depending on the year, humpback whales are in Monterey Bay from March through November. But in the summer months, the chances of meeting them increase.

Blue Whales

Blue whales got their name from the color they have when underwater. But in reality, their shade is bluish-grey. Weighing more than 200 tons and 98,4 ft (30 m) in length, blue whales are the largest animals known to have ever existed! In Monterey Bay, they appear from May through October to hunt for tiny shrimp-like snacks called krill. Visit Monterey Bay in July or August, and you won't miss these grand creatures.

Gray Whales

Gray whales have a specific color and a rough embossed surface. So it's impossible to confuse them with any other mammals. Each year they travel for over 10,000 mi (160 km) from Alaska to the Mexican shore. But from December through mid-February, they are usually spotted in waters near Monterey Bay.

Killer Whales

Also known as orca whales, killer whales are the most unpredictable predators in the bay. Even though you can observe them here year-round—April, May, and June are considered to be the best months to witness these amazing creatures. Due to their characteristic black and white color, it is almost impossible not to notice them.

Companies like Monterey Bay Whale Watch Centre, Stagnaro Charters, Princess Monterey, or Blue Ocean Whale Watch offer short-glimpse trips and detailed four-hour journeys. Usually, each company conducts two or three tours per day: early in the morning and at lunchtime. Some of them include a professional marine biologist onboard. In addition to whales, Monterey Bay's wildlife is full of dolphins, seals, sea otters, and sea lions.

Practical info

When is the best time to see humpback whales in Monterey Bay?

Humpback whales can be seen throughout the year at Monterey Bay. They are more active from April to November, which is their migration period from the Mexican coast. The probability of witnessing humpback whales in large numbers is higher during summer. However, they are visible in lesser numbers during winter. Show more

What are the unique characteristics of Blue Whales and Humpback Whales in terms of presence at Monterey Bay?

Blue Whales are the largest known animal, while Humpback Whales are the most playful among cetaceans and are frequently spotted at Monterey Bay. Blue Whales generally appear at the Bay from May until October and feed on krill. In contrast, Humpback Whales migrate from the Mexican coast, and from April to November, they feed on anchovies and other schooling fish. Show more

Which organizations provide whale watching tours in Monterey Bay?

Numerous organizations offer whale watching tours in Monterey Bay, including Monterey Bay Whale Watch Centre, Stagnaro Charters, Princess Monterey, and Blue Ocean Whale Watch, among others. These tours generally consist of two to three tours per day, headed by a professional marine biologist who provides detailed information about the biodiversity and behaviors of the different species present. Show more

What other marine life is visible during whale watching tours at Monterey Bay?

Whale watching tours present a brilliant opportunity to explore the other species residing in Monterey Bay, such as dolphins, otters, seals, and sea lions. Additionally, visitors may sight various seabirds and fish. It is a fantastic experience for nature enthusiasts and those who enjoy wildlife. Show more

Can one expect to see a marine biologist onboard during whale watching tours in Monterey Bay?

Many whale watching tours in Monterey Bay provide marine biologists onboard who provide an informed perspective and education about the species sighted on the tour. Visitors on these tours can expect these professionals to provide meaningful narration and observations, answer questions, and correct any misinformation to give visitors an authentic and informative whale watching experience at Monterey Bay. Show more

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