Although whales can be spotted from the California coast mostly year-round, wintertime offers the best chance to see one from Los Angeles. Every year, thousands of gray whales travel between Mexico and Alaska, one of the longest known maritime migrations. From December to March/April, they mate and give birth in the warm and shallow waters off Baja California, Mexico. Then they go on their long journey to feed in the rich feeding grounds of the north.
It’s an amazing spectacle to see these giants up close—they can be up to 46 feet long—and a whale-watching cruise that leaves from Marina del Rey, in Los Angeles, increases your odds of an encounter. Also common to California, though to a lesser extent than grays, are humpbacks, blue whales, and orcas.
Marina del Rey Sportfishing runs public whale-watching tours in Santa Monica Bay. Board at Dock 52 (13552 Fiji Way, Marina del Rey). Advance bookings (recommended) are available online, or call 310-822-3625.