Posted: Tuesday, Jan 9th, 2024

By Visit Ventura

5 Reasons Why You Have to Go Whale Watching in Ventura: Dive In!

Header Image by Lotti Keenan

If there’s one thing that you have to check out while you’re in town, it’s getting on a whale watching cruise in Ventura. Our waters just off the Ventura coast is teeming with life and happen to be a freeway of sorts for whales as they migrate twice a year to warmer waters and more food. There are two whale watching seasons in Ventura that run in the winter (end of December to mid-April) and the summer (mid-June to mid-September) but really, whale watching in Ventura is a year-round opportunity.

Not only is a whale watching cruise a family-friendly activity that the whole crew will love, but it’s also a great way to get connected to our waters and learn more about these gentle giants of the ocean. If you’re still on the fence about planning your getaway to Ventura, here are five irresistible reasons to pack your bags and go whale watching in Ventura.

1. Visit the 9th Whale Heritage Site in the World

Whale watching Ventura California
By Lotti Keenan

This is huge news! The waters just off of our Ventura coastline proudly hold the title of the ninth Whale Heritage Site in the world and only the second in the United States. The designation of the Santa Barbara Channel —which Island Packers boats swim through every day to take visitors like you to the Channel Islands National Park— as a Whale Heritage Site by the World Cetacean Alliance and World Animal Protection is a testament to its commitment to preserving and celebrating our neighbors below the ocean’s surface. 

The channel has made its mission to promote responsible ecotourism, educate visitors and community members about our waters, support research and conservation efforts, and honor our timeless cultural connection to whales, dolphins, and porpoises. This recognition means that your winter whale-watching adventure isn’t just a casual tour; it’s an immersive experience in a location dedicated to the conservation and appreciation of our marine life. Feel the magic as you become part of a community that values and protects the marine life that graces Ventura’s waters.

2. Take in the 360 Views While Whale Watching

Island packers boat coming to the islands

Imagine being surrounded by the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean, with panoramic views stretching in every direction. Ventura’s whale-watching tours with Island Packers offer 360-degree views from two levels. Stay on the first level and get close up on all the action or climb to the second level for the big picture. 

No matter where you are on the boat, you won’t miss a moment of the action. The open-air upper deck provides unobstructed views, while the lower deck offers a cozy, sheltered spot to see all the fun. Plus, you can buy hot chocolate and other snacks inside the boat to munch on as you wave hello to the ocean’s gentle giants. 

3. Birds and Seals and Dolphins, oh my! See Different Marine Animals

The moment you step on the boat, keep your eyes open for a cute marine animal that may cross your line of vision. From harbor seals that lounge on the rocks as you leave the harbor, to fish that you’ll see swimming beneath the surface, you have the chance to see so many different marine animals, not just whales. 

As the boat slices through the waters, you’ll see playful dolphins dancing through the waves. What’s more, the lucky ones may witness not just one, but three types of whales—gray whales, humpback whales, and even the majestic blue whales, the largest creatures on Earth—all in their natural habitat. Orcas with their newborn babies have also been reported to be seen in our waters. You never know what you’ll find on a whale watching in Ventura!

4. Get Up Close and Personal: Whale Mugging Moments

Whale Watching in Ventura
By Lotti Keenan

In any other case, you’d probably want to avoid getting mugged. Unless, of course, you’re on a whale-watching cruise in Ventura, and the person who’s mugging you is one of the ocean’s gentle giants. Then yes, mug away! Whale mugging is a fun phenomenon that happens when curious whales swim close to the boat, giving passengers an up-close and personal encounter.

Why these whales come up to boats could be a myriad of possibilities, but what’s for sure is that “whale mugging” is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This isn’t Seaworld, but you may be in the splash zone as you go whale watching in Ventura — feel the rush as the whale breaches the ocean’s surface and spouts just a few feet away. 

5. Watch A Real-Life Nature Documentary

Dolphins traveling to Santa Cruz Island on Island Packers Boat
By Lotti Keenan

Ventura’s whale-watching tours aren’t just a passive experience; they’re a real-life nature documentary unfolding before your eyes. With expert naturalists and crew on board providing insights into the behaviors, migrations, and unique facts about the animals you’re seeing in real-time, you’ll gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for these marine animals as you go whale watching in Ventura. It’s like having a front-row seat to the incredible narratives of the ocean, narrated by the experts who are dedicated to sharing the ocean’s story.

Ventura’s whale watching seasons promise a ton of family-friendly fun and magical experiences. Now that we’ve convinced you that you have to go whale watching in Ventura, here’s everything you need to know about taking a whale watching cruise in Ventura. The whales are waiting, and so is the magic of the California coast!

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