One of Santa Cruz’s greatest assets is its proximity to the Pacific Ocean and there is no shortage of opportunities to enjoy sea life, including whale watching.

Several companies offer whale-watching cruises with common sightings of gray whales and humpbacks whales, along with the occasional orca and blue whale. Depending on species, cruises are offered year-round.

  • Sanctuary Cruises

    7881 Sandholdt Rd., Moss Landing

    The only whale watching vessel that departs from the picturesque Moss Landing harbor, Sanctuary Cruises offers passengers the chance to see sea otters at play as well as sea lions and a variety of shorebirds. Gray whales, humpbacks whales, orcas, dolphins and the occasional blue whale are on display in the bay’s waters.

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  • Randy's Fishing Trips

    66 Fisherman's Wharf, Monterey

    Trips depart daily from the wharf in Monterey, where passengers can expect to see humpbacks during the summer and fall months and gray whales during winter.

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  • Princess Monterey Whale Watching

    96 Fisherman’s Wharf #1, Monterey

    Year-round whale-watching trips on two of the biggest (100 feet and 75 feet) boats operating in Monterey Bay. An on-board marine biologist helps passengers figure out what they’re looking at, which can include blue whales, humpbacks, gray whales, dolphins and seabirds galore.

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  • Monterey Bay Whale Watching

    84 Fisherman's Wharf, Monterey

    Marine biologist Nancy Black is an expert on the orcas (killer whales) that reside in Monterey Bay, so a Monterey Bay Whale Watching cruise is a highly educational affair. The research-oriented outfit also tracks humpbacks by their markings and offers Christmas bird counting cruises.

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  • Chardonnay II

    704 Soquel Ave., Suite A, Santa Cruz

    One of the few whale-watching vessels to depart from the Santa Cruz harbor, the Chardonnay II is a 70-foot luxury sailing yacht that offers whale watching tours each February through April—the season during which gray whales pass through Monterey Bay on their epic annual journey from Mexico to Alaska.

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  • Santa Cruz Whale Watching

    2896 Soquel Ave Santa Cruz, CA 95062

    Santa Cruz Whale Watching offers cruises off shore in Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay whale watching trips with seven different species of whales and dolphin and porpoise. Tours are offered in the 60-foot "Sea For Yourself" luxury charter boat. Scenic sunset cruises and private charters are also available.

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