Whale Watching in Santa Barbara

Whale Watching Santa Barbara

You can’t see whales just anywhere. Take advantage of one of southern California’s unique natural attractions and go on a whale-watching tour! Whale-watching is a fun activity almost anyone can enjoy. You don’t have to be a nature buff or consider yourself “outdoorsy” to appreciate the beauty and awe-inspiring nature of the world’s largest animal.


A History of Whale-Watching

One of the first organized whale-watching attempts can be traced back to San Diego in 1950. Cabrillo National Monument was identified as a great vantage point to observe grey whales off the coast.  Since those early days whale-watching as an industry has expanded greatly yet southern California remains a premiere spot for whale enthusiasts. Today interested whale-watchers can choose among a variety of tour services that offer the latest in technology and amenities.


What to Know

Before going on a whale-watching tour, it’s a good idea to learn as much as you can about these awesome creatures. That way you’re experience will be much more enriching. Here is some info to get you started!


What Whales Will you see?

Here are some whales commonly seen off the California coast.

  • California Grey Whale
  • Blue Whale
  • Minke Whale
  • Humpback Whale
  • Orca Whale
  • Various dolphin varieties


Whale Behavior

Try and identify these whale activities during your tour!


Breaching: When a whale “jumps” out of the water.

Spyhopping: Similar to breaching, but the whale just pushes its head up out of the water and spins.

Lobtailing: When a whale sticks its tail out of the water and slaps it hard on the surface

Logging: When a whale rests near the surface of the water; like a floating log.


Here are some additional resources to help you become knowledgeable about whales

Santa Barbara Whale-watching


Basic Facts about Whales



How to Watch Whales

Here are two of the best whale-watching options in Santa Barbara.


Condor Express

Condor Express is a tour service that has been around for over 25 years. Their whale-watching boat offers some great amenities including an observation deck, indoor seating, and drinks and snacks!


SB helicopter Tours

Another way to view the whales is by air. SB helicopter tours offer a unique vantage point to see these awesome creatures. The whale-watching tour they feature flies near the Channel Islands and is a 45-minute loop. Costing $350 per person.


Regardless of how you decide to do it, make sure to fit whale-watching on to your trip itinerary for Southern California.



Santa Barbara Whale-watching



Spanish Garden Inn

Santa Barbara’s finest luxury boutique hotel, located downtown. 915 Garden Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101. 805-564-4700.



Inn at East Beach

Whatever makes your ideal California weekend getaway, The Inn at East Beach Hotel in Santa Barbara is here to help you stay well – and well within your budget! 1029 Orilla Del Mar, Santa Barbara, CA 93103. 805-965-0546.