$13 Whalewatching Special

For San Diego whale watching, Newport Landing provides year round whale watching cruises departing from Newport Beach fairly close to San Diego. With multiple cruises offered every day year round there is always an opportunity to view whales and dolphin. Winter and Spring offer the annual grey whale migration which brings thousands of grey whales along the San Diego and Southern California coastline as they travel to breeding grounds in Mexico and then back again to their summer feeding groups in the Pacific northwest. Giant Blue whales are common during the Summer and Fall months with sightings of the amazing creatures on almost every trip. These giant mammals attain lengths of 100 feet and eat 4-6 tons of krill in one day. Other whale species that can be encountered include finback whales, minke whales, humpback, and even killer whales on occasion. Along with whales, dolphins are also encountered. Several species of dolphin can be viewed and giant super pods of common and bottle noise dolphin numbering a thousand or more are often viewed making for an amazing sight. Sea lions and their pups are seen on every cruise as well.

Whalewatching for San Diego Visitors

During the Winter and Spring, Whale Watching San Diego visitors will have the opportunity to witness the annual Grey Whale migration, during which thousands of Grey Whales travel back and forth along the coastline to their breeding area in Mexico and back to the Pacific Northwest from whence they came.

In the Summer and Fall, Whale Watching San Diego visitors will be able to view the magnificent Blue Whale along the coast. The Blue Whale is the largest mammal in the world with an average length of over 80 feet. Each Blue Whale can consume 4 to 6 tons of krill each day and this is sure to be an amazing sight for all our Whale Watching San Diego visitors.

Whale Watching San Diego visitors will also be able to see several other species of whales as well as large pods of Bottlenose Dolphins and Common dolphins. Sea Lions and Sea Lion pups are a common sight, having colonies along the Whale Watching cruise route.

Newport Landing offers Whale Watching San Diego visitors a beautiful and convenient harbor located just minutes away with numerous opportunities to view whales and dolphins. Catalina Island also serves as a natural barrier for these waters, allowing for our tour area to have some of the calmest waters in all of the US West Coast.


Recommended Things to Bring When Whale Watching

  • Binoculars - Are highly recommended. You may bring your own pair or rent one, but they are indispensable in providing the full experience of Whale Watching. There are many things you would miss with the naked eye - like the barnacles on a Grey Whale or the markings of a Risso's Dolphin.
  • Camera - A camera is essential for those who love to take photographs, and even for the non-enthusiast bringing a camera along still represents a chance to capture memories that will last a lifetime.
  • Jacket - Are highly recommended as it can be a little chilly when on the water no matter what season it is. Layering is the way to go as the temperature will vary throughout the day.
  • Sunscreen & Chapstick- Sunscreen & Chapstick are always recommended as the sun does get quite intense, even during the peak of winter. Be sure to apply ample amounts to avoid getting any burns.
  • Cash - You will need cash for snacks and beverages. Unfortunately, we are only able to accept cash at our refreshments center on the boat.

Whale Species in San Diego and surrounding waters

Blue Whale - The blue whale is truly an incredible sight. Whale Watching San Diego visitors will have the opportunity to witness the largest animal that has ever existed on Earth. Large Blue Whales are the size of a Boeing Jet, weighing up to 150 tons. Larger whales can go up to 100 feet long. Fifty humans can stand on a Blue Whale's tongue and its heart is the size of a car. It's throat can take in up to 50 tons of water in one gulp and it's spout shoots water up over 30 feet when surfacing for air. Blue Whales can consume up to six tons of krill in a single day using their large throats to take in water and use a huge, comb-like plate system called baleen within their bodies to parse through water for the krill. These plates in the baleen system are made from the same material as human fingernails.

Grey Whale - Whale Watching San Diego visitors will have a chance to bear witness to the California Grey Whale, also a type of baleen whale that uses the baleen system within their bodies to strain through krill. The California Grey Whale stands among the largest species of whales, but are still roughly half the size of their Blue Whale cousins. They generally weigh somewhere between 22 to 35 tons, and are 35 to 45 feet in length, with the females being larger than the males. These California Grey Whales travel over 8,000 miles a year from their feeding grounds in the North, where they feed on amphipods in cold arctic waters. During the fall and winter they travel all the way south to the Baja California to breed.

Finback Whale - Another amazing spectacle for Whale Watching San Diego visitors is the Finback Whale. They are the second largest animal in the world after the Blue Whale. Growing up to nearly 90 feet long, Finback Whales are also the fastest type of whale, able to hit top speeds of 35 mph. Also a type of baleen whale, their bodies contain 800-900 plates to feed on fish and krill, eating up to 2-3 tons a day. Their spouts stand prominent, capable of rising over 20 feet in the air when surfacing. When these graceful Finback Whales surface, you'll be able to spot their heads, their dark features and also their long dorsal fin. Their tails are rarely seen as they surface horizontally and need only arch their backs to dive back into the sea.

Killer Whale (Orca) - Whale Watching San Diego visitors may spot the Orca Whale, commonly known as the Killer Whale because of their reputation as top notch predators of the sea. Often called wolves of the sea, Orca Whales hunt in packs and have tremendous size and strength. They are also one of the fastest types of whales, capable of traveling at over 35 mph. Each Killer Whale eats over 500 pounds of food a day and have been known to even swim into freshwaters. However, their migration patterns are not yet fully understood by scientists. Their pods have been sighted from Alaska all the way down to California.

Sperm Whale - Whale Watching San Diego visitors may also spot the Sperm Whale. The Sperm Whale has the largest brain of any animal in existence, with their brains weighing up to twenty pounds! Sperm Whales are toothed whales and live together in pods. Sperm Whales have unique S-shaped blowholes on the front left side of their large heads. Adult can weigh up to 50 tons and grow to be 50-60 feet in length. Naturally, with their large brains, Sperm Whales also have the largest heads of any animal, comprising a third of the Sperm Whale's body mass and featuring a distinct, boxy shape. Their heads often feature prominent scars from the giant squids that they call prey.

Humpback Whale - Whale Watching San Diego visitors may also see the Humpback Whale, one of the larger species of Whales in existence. The Humpback Whale weighs on average about 79,000 pounds and vary in length from 40 to 50 feet. Humpback Whales feed in polar waters during the summertime and migrate to subtropical and tropical waters during winter to breed. Humpbacks whales do not eat in the winter, and rely upon the fat reserves that they've built up during the summer feeding months. Humpback Whales also hunt in groups of up to twelve, using unique methods to ensnare their prey. The group of Humpback Whales will blow bubbles while swimming in circles around a school of fish, creating a ring around the fish. The fish are confined to a smaller and smaller area as the whales continue the process, until the whales swim through the bubbles and swallow thousands of fish in a single gulp. It is truly a group effort as some whales are tasked with blowing bubbles, others herd fish with noises, others, dive deep to drive fish to the surface. zen Humpbacks.

Minke Whale - Whale Watching San Diego visitors will likely encounter Minke whales, the most common baleen whale in existence, numbering nearly 800,000 across the globe. As with all Baleen Whales, Female Minke Whales are larger. The species grows up to 30 feet long and weigh up to 7.5 tons.Minke Whales normally swim at a rate of 3-16 miles per hour, but can sprint up to 18-21 miles per hour when feeling danger.

Dolphin species commonly viewed while Whale Watching

Common Dolphin - Whale Watching San Diego visitors will also likely see the Common Dolphin. The Common Dolphin generally weighs about 160 pounds and is 5 to 8 feet long. They are the fastest species of small dolphin, and hit top speeds of over 27 miles per hour. Common dolphins live and travel in enormous pods sometimes numbering thousands. They are highly social and are extremely energetic, making lots of whistling, pulse, and click noises. They often leap out of the water individually or in groups, and often like to ride the bow waves of our boats. Common Dolphins are known to be one of the most intelligent animals on Earth.

Bottlenose Dolphin - Whale Watching San Diego customers may also encounter Bottlenose Dolphins. Bottlenose Dolphins generally weigh 440 to 600 pounds and some are known to be as long as 14 feet, but most fall just under 10 feet. Bottlenose Dolphins have tremendous lifespans, often living thirty to fifty years. They eat anywhere from thirteen to thirty-three pounds of fish, squid, octopus, and other sea creatures a day. Bottlenose Dolphins utilize echolocation, the bouncing of sounds off objects to determine the position of objects, in order to hunt their prey.

Risso Dolphin - Whale Watching Long Beach visitors may also see the Risso's Dolphins, also known as "gray dolphins." Risso's Dolphins have thick bodies and narrow tails. They weigh anywhere from 660 to 1,100 pounds and are 8.5 to 13 feet in length. They are also found in pods, with pod sizes varying from 5 to 50, but usually falling within the 10 to 30 range. Rissos are able to dive for 30 minutes down to over 1,000 feet below, but generally make short dives lasting between one to two minutes. Rissos tend to hunt at night when their prey of anchovies, krill, and squid are closer to the surface.

Pacific White Sided Dolphin - Whale Watching Long Beach patrons may also have an opportunity to view the Pacific White-sided Dolphin. Male Pacific White-side Dolphins weigh up to 440 lbs and females weigh up to 330 lbs. The males get up to 8 feet in length while the females are smaller, at about 6.5 feet in length. Among their distinct features are dark grey rings around their eyes and unique coloration on various parts of their bodies. They generally have three different colors on their bodies. Their chins, throats, and bellies are a creamy white shade. Their beaks, flippers, backs, and dorsal fins are dark grey. The Pacific White Sided Dolphin will also have light grey patches on its sides, and a light gray stripe running from its eyes to its dorsal fin, where the stripe becomes thicker all the way to its tail.

Sea Birds Encountered on a San Diego Whale Watching Trip

California Brown Pelican - California Brown Pelican is the smallest of the eight species of pelican, although it is a large bird in nearly every other regard. Once on the endangered list it has since been removed with healthy populations along California. There is a myth that Brown Pelicans go blind from diving into the water to catch fish, causing them to starve to death because they can no longer see to hunt. However, pelicans can live and fish for up to thirty years without going blind. It is very common to see a flock of pelicans soar just above the surf line while traveling in search of whales. Feeding frenzies with dolphins, huge schools of fish, pelicans, sea gulls, and even whales can be seen and is amazing sight.

Shearwaters - Of shearwaters, surely the Black-Vented Shearwater can be said to be a true So Cal specialty. Some 30-50 thousand winter along the nearest-shore escarpments off San Diego (large concentrations just north of the harbor). Thousands can be seen at times. They fly close to the waves, their flight more fluttery than that of other shearwaters and marine birds in general. They feed by snatching food from the water's surface and sometimes by diving. They also swim beneath the surface, aided by their wings. We commonly see them feeding on a school of fish and at times they can be confused with fish as they dive very deep. They make for a very active viewing experience. A pretty common sighting especially in the fall and winter months. A group of shearwaters are collectively known as an "improbability" of shearwaters.

Cormorant - A seabird that pursues and catches fish under water. When the Cormorant catches sight of its prey, it dives swiftly into the water. They dive from the surface, though many species make a characteristic half-jump as they dive, presumably to give themselves a more streamlined entry into the water. Under water they propel themselves with their feet. Some cormorant species have been found, to dive to depths of as much as 145 feet. Wow! Cormorants can be seen year round although the summer and fall months have the most sightings.

Pelagic Gulls - There are several species of gulls that are commonly viewed on almost every whale watching excursion including the California Gull and Herring Gull. Gulls or more commonly known as Sea Gulls are not shy and will follow the ship for some distance. They can put on a dizzying viewing opportunity when a feeding opportunity presents itself.

Terns - Terns are small super-fast birds that are commonly viewed inside the harbor or along the coastline of San Diego. The Royal and The California Lesser tern are two of several types that frequent our waters. They can hover above the water until the moment comes for them to dive in and snatch up a fish. The agility makes them a favorite especially for the kids.

Other Marine Creatures Viewed While Whale Watching

Giant Sunfish - Ocean Sunfish, or Mola, are one of the most unusually looking creatures on Earth. Huge and flat, these silvery-gray fish have tiny mouths and big eyes that vanish into an even bigger body with a stubby tail. Topping out around 6,000 pounds, Mola are the world's heaviest bony fish. They grow to a maximum of about 10 feet long and are often taller than they are long, up to 14 feet. Sunfish are commonly seen especially in the summer and fall months while whale watching. They seem to prefer the warm blue waters during these months.


There are several species of sharks that can be seen while whale watching including Mako Sharks, Blue Sharks, Thresher Sharks, and rarely even Great White Sharks.

Mako Shark - Mako sharks are seen with some frequency on whale watching cruises. They are very fast and usually their fin is spotted as they zip through the water. They can grow to over 1000 pounds, but many are juveniles from 60 to 100 pounds. They rarely attack man unless provoked although larger specimens are considered quite dangerous.

Blue Shark - Blue sharks are open ocean sharks that can appear in large numbers especially when there is a food source nearby. Occasionally seen while whale watching they are harder to spot due to their coloration and smaller size in compared with other sharks of our region.

Thresher Shark - Thresher sharks are seen while whale watching especially during the spring months during the grey whale migration. They are typically seen around huge schools of anchovy and sardine. It is a quick and yet impressive sighting, as they can come completely out of the water while pursuing their dinner. They can be quite large especially when their tail is included. They are very unusual as they use their tail to catch their prey.

Great White Shark - One of the rarest of sharks sighted during a whale watching cruise. Only a couple sightings a year occur and full grown adults are even rarer. One of the apex predators they can grow to 20 feet in length. Spring and early summer seem to have the highest number of sightings in our area.

Flying Fish - While they do not actually fly, they will swim up to 30 mph and launch into the air, using their specially adapted fins to glide for up to 1/4 mile. Its tail fins will vibrate to taxi along the surface. During the summer and fall months large schools of flying fish frequent our waters and especially later in the afternoon, dozens can be spotted launching themselves and gliding as the whale watching ship cuts through the water off San Diego.

Attractions In San Diego For Whale Watchers

Sea World San Diego - Although orcas or killer whales are what they are known for they also have Beluga whales, bottlenose dolphin. Just viewing these animals is pretty amazing. Couple the huge array of marine creatures and exhibits and this absolute must see for a whale watching enthusiast in San Diego. Look online for discount tickets as there are numerous ticket websites that offer them.

Birch Aquarium - Great exhibits if not quite as visually stunning as Sea World. Their "Voices In The Sea" exhibit is great exploring an area the sounds of whales and their ability to communicate. Their global warming exhibit is also very eye opening. Another must see.

Cabrillo National Park San Diego - What is considered the birth place of whale watching world wide, there is so much to do and see here. One of the best shore based whale watching locations for viewing the grey whale migration in California. Come from December through March and chances are you will see a grey whale. Viewing from land is definitely different than by ship and you are completely at the mercy of the whales. So don't be too disappointed if the viewings don't compare to those from ship. The experience of viewing a whale from land is really unique. Also definitely check their website as they have events of all sorts occurring throughout the year (especially in the winter/spring months) many centering around whale watching. Their tidal pools are also great. Definite must see.

San Diego Zoo - Although there is not much in the way of marine mammal exhibits this world famous zoo is pretty neat. And for me viewing animals on land is as much fun as viewing them in the ocean. The wild animal park a part of the San Diego Zoo is very interesting especially the Kilimanjaro Safari Walk 2 mile hike. If you are whale watching in San Diego it would be a hard decision not to visit this.

Recommendations for lodging and hotels while whale watching in San Diego

Humphreys Half Moon Inn & Suites - (877)740-7134 - The Humphreys Half Moon Inn and Suites is a waterfront resort on Shelter Island, approximately three miles from San Diego International Airport. Humphrey's is located within 10 minutes' driving distance of SeaWorld, San Diego Zoo, beaches, and downtown. Mexico is roughly 20 minutes away. Hotel amenities include the tropical gardens, palm trees, and soothing waterfalls. Guests can enjoy the heated pool and spa, exercise room, city and bay views, lawn games, concierge assistance, room service, and award-winning restaurant and lounge.

The Pacific Terrace Hotel - (800) 344-3370 - Overlooking the white sandy beaches of San Diego, the AAA 4-Diamond awarded Pacific Terrace Hotel in San Diego, California, nestles between the sun and the surf, between Mission Bay and La Jolla. Relaxing and rejuvenating, the Pacific Terrace Hotel is conveniently located near some of the finest oceanfront dining, shopping and entertainment San Diego has to offer, providing a range from the fun, surfer Pacific Beach nightlife to the elegance of the world-renown Village of La Jolla.

Best Western Cabrillo Garden Inn - (619) 234-8477 - Within walking distance, guests can spend the evening at San Diego Copley Symphony Hall listening to the classics or enjoy an afternoon of shopping and fine dining in the Gaslamp District. The San Diego Convention Center, home of major conventions such as the Fancy Food Show and Comic-Con, is only one mile from the hotel. Guests will also enjoy wandering through Balboa Park, visiting the San Diego Zoo or just relaxing on the beautiful beaches of Coronado. The Best Western Cabrillo Garden Inn is also minutes from the cruise terminal, ideal for guests leaving or arriving from an ocean adventure. Other nearby attractions includes the San Diego International Airport, Seaport Village and the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier.

Hyatt Regency La Jolla - (858) 552-6066 - Discover the many facets of Hyatt Regency La Jolla at Aventine and enjoy a seaside destination with the charm of a European village and the panache of Southern California. Located in the city known as "The Jewel of the Pacific", our stunning La Jolla hotel offers incomparable beaches, shopping, dining, galleries and attractions. Visit Stephen Birch Aquarium & Museum, spend a day kayaking, take a Baja Lobster or Wine tour, see live theater or shop San Diego's trendy boutiques; all just minutes away.

California Suites Hotel - (800) 562-2217 - Welcome to California Suites Hotel, one of the prime options amongst budget San Diego motels and hotels. Not only do we offer one of the most competitive prices for vacation rentals and lodging in San Diego, but we are conveniently located, only 15 minutes away from San Diego International Airport, San Diego Zoo, Sea World, major shopping centers and white sandy beaches.

Crystal Pier Hotel - (858) 483-6983 - Though called a hotel, this wonderful property is actually a collection of 26 cottages built out on a pier. Most of these temporary travelers' homes were built back in the 1930s; all of them have been renovated in recent years. You'll wish you could just move right in, since each cottage has its own bedroom, living room, patio and kitchen. With parking just outside your door, it would be hard to find more cozy convenience at any other hotel in the area. From sunrise to sunset, you'll enjoy a view of the ocean and the waves that few others will ever see. Rates are seasonal.

The Westgate - (619) 238-1818 - The Westgate, San Diego's premiere hotel continues to deliver on its original vision of classic luxury. Acclaimed as San Diego's finest hotel, the Westgate, is beautifully appointed with exquisite European luxuries throughout. Located in the heart of downtown San Diego, steps away from the trendy Gaslamp Quarter, fashionable shopping and historic Balboa Park. We look forward to making your stay memorable.

Marriott Hotel & Marina - (619) 234-1500 - Spectacular waterfront settings in the heart of America's Finest City, the San Diego Marriott Hotel & Marina truly represents the best location for business and pleasure. Conveniently located adjacent to the San Diego Convention Center and within walking distance to downtown San Diego and the Gaslamp District. San Diego features 92 golf courses, exciting spectator sports, luxury spas and gaming, a dynamic downtown District that features annual special events and unique holiday offerings, and much more. Popular attractions include the world-famous San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park, Sea World San Diego and LEGOLAND California. With a 446-slip marina, just steps from our San Diego, CA, hotel, our guest rooms reflect the spirit of our setting and boast sweeping bay views. Offering 1,362 spacious guest rooms and suites our downtown San Diego hotel rooms are richly appointed in a cool, coastal theme décor. Immerse yourself in our vibrant downtown San Diego, CA hotel at the San Diego Marriott Hotel & Marina.

Omni San Diego Hotel - (619) 231-6664 - With miles of sandy beaches and an average 70-degree year-round temperature, it's no wonder San Diego is a premier travel destination. The four-star Omni San Diego Hotel is one more reason to visit this fabulous seaside city. Nestled in the heart of the historic Gaslamp Quarter across from the Convention Center, the Omni San Diego Hotel puts you close to the city's top sites and attractions. Explore Balboa Park, take a harbor cruise or catch a Padres baseball game at PETCO Park, connected to the hotel via a pedestrian skywalk.

Catamaran Resort - (800) 422-8386 - Welcome to an experience that awakens the senses, relaxes the body and soothes the soul. Think paradise, and exotic tropical pleasures come to mind. Explore hidden gardens of over 1,000 types of eclectic plants and flowers, exotic birds, 100 varieties of palm trees, and 30 types of hibiscus. Surround yourself with striking sunsets, the splendor of secluded sandy beaches, and the sights and sounds of nature all in one place.

Embassy Suites - (858) 453-0400 - The concierge and reception desks are next to a tropical atrium lobby soaring the full height of the hotel and filled with koi ponds, waterfalls, and lush foliage. Located across from a shopping mall and five miles from La Jolla, the hotel attracts both those with business in the area and vacationers. An indoor pool, sauna, and fitness center are complemented by an outdoor spa tub and sundeck. Wireless Internet access is available throughout the hotel (surcharge), including the lush atrium lobby where complimentary daily buffet breakfast is served and nightly manager's receptions are held. Adjacent to the hotel, University Towne Center houses many shops and department stores, as well as a food court that surrounds a public ice-skating rink.

Doubletree San Diego Del Mar Hotel - (858) 481-5900 - With its Pacific breezes, convenient location and stylish Sweet Dreams® guest rooms, the Doubletree Hotel San Diego/Del Mar is the ideal location for your next business trip or family vacation. The Doubletree Hotel San Diego/Del Mar is close to world-class, championship golf courses, some of the best Southern California beaches and top southern California attractions such as the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park, Legoland and the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. In addition to a friendly and caring staff who will strive to ensure you have a pleasant stay, the hotel offers amenities such as a resort style swimming pool that includes hot tub and children's pool, an exercise room, a business center, meeting and event space and Sydney's restaurant, featuring French and Italian-infused California cuisine. And don't forget the famous warm Doubletree chocolate-chip cookie upon check-in

Ocean Park Inn - (858) 483-5858 - Stay at the Ocean Park Inn and see for yourself why San Diego is known as America's finest city. Superior location, year-round sunshine, incredible ocean views and an abundance of activities are only a few things this contemporary San Diego inn has to offer. Surrounded by some of the best dining and shopping in Pacific Beach, this hotel is only minutes away from the upscale village of La Jolla, historical Gaslamp Quarter, and many attractions including the famous San Diego Zoo, Legoland, Indian Gaming Casinos, Wild Animal Park, Balboa Park and San Diego Aerospace Museum.

Surfer Beach Hotel - (866) 251-2764 - Welcome to Surfer Beach Hotel! Our beachside lodgings offer an affordable vacation experience coupled with a retro-chic, boutique hotel sensibility. You'll find dozens of attractions, including SeaWorld and the San Diego Zoo, just minutes away. We offer standard guest rooms, one-bedroom suites, and two-bedroom suites.

The W San Diego - (619) 398-3100 - Welcome to W San Diego, where summer never ends. Explore our new redesigned surf-inspired Living Room lounge, poolside Veranda bar and Wet pool deck. Sip on a cocktail at our rooftop bar, Beach, featuring a sand floor with intimate cabanas and stunning skyline views or romance your taste buds at Rice.

Whale watching coupons for San Diego visitors. Save 60% with this $16 whale watching cruise special. Newport Landing's San Diego whale watching coupon is a great offer that can be used on any of our whale watching & dolphin cruises. The whale watching cruise coupon is valid for up to 10 persons per coupon and is valid for any of our 2.5 hour whale watching cruises offered year round multiple times daily departing from Newport Beach. View the annual gray whale migration during the winter and spring months and the giant blue whales during the summer and fall months.


Dates Cruise 1 Cruise 2 Cruise 3 Cruise 4
Nov - Feb (Mon - Fri) 10:00 am 1:00 pm n/a n/a
Nov - Feb (Sat & Sun) 9:30 am 12:00 pm 2:30 pm n/a
Mar - Oct (Daily) 10:00 am 1:00 pm 3:30 pm 6:00 pm*


Age Weekday Weekend/Holiday
Adults (Ages 13 - 59) $32.00 $36.00
Juniors (Ages 3 - 12) $26.00 $30.00
Seniors (60+) $26.00 $30.00
Toddlers (Ages 0 - 2) Free Free


Reserve your whale-watching trip!

Newport Whales runs whale watching excursions multiple times a day seven days a week all year long. Along with viewing Whales you can expect to see dolphins, sea lions, marine birds, and other neat marine creatures. Please try to arrive at least 30 minutes before your cruise departure time. Need help with directions or parking or for making reservations on cruises less than 24 hours away, please give us a call (949) 675-0551.



Don't Have Cruise Date/Time Yet? Click Gift Card & Use Promo