Whale watching around Ventura & the channel islands
video by Lotti Keenan
It’s world-class whale watching, without a doubt. You never know what you’ll see in the waters off Ventura’s coast — Nature isn’t a Disney exhibit — and that mystery is part of the thrill and the joy. But here’s a rock-solid fact: the waters of the Santa Barbara Channel and the (protected) Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary are filled with life, much of it very, very large, and, quite possibly, very, very life-changing. Because when anticipation collides with realization and some of the largest creatures on this planet roil to the surface (and sometimes leap free of it.) it’s magic on an often unfathomable scale. For starters, did you know that a Blue Whale’s tongue is the size of an African elephant?
From roughly mid-December through mid-April, Pacific Gray Whales migrate through Ventura’s waters, swimming down from Alaska on their way to Baja California, Mexico. From mid-February through May, the Pacific Gray Whales are migrating north again, swimming up from their calving grounds in Baja and back to their feeding grounds off Alaska.
Blue Whales and Humpback Whales were once a rare sight in the waters off Ventura, but now, from roughly June through mid-September, they’re not. Again nothing is guaranteed, but often Blues and Humpbacks can be seen as they feed on floods of nutrient-rich krill, brought up from the deeps by upwelling currents. Make note: finding Blue and Humpback whales often require a longer boat ride because these whales are often farther off the coast. Island Packers’ Blue and Humpback whale watching trips are 5-6 hours; their Pacific Gray Whale trip are 3-3.5 hours. Learn more about Island Packers’ whale watching trips here. Click here to see what they’ve been spotting recently.
The Santa Barbara Channel can be windy — and, in winter, quite cool. Whatever the whale watching season, think warmth. Dress in layers so you can put things on — and take them off. Though many whale watchers stand out no the deck, the Island Packers boats also have warm and wind-protected indoor seating. Accompanied by a galley that serves food, snacks, sodas, and local beer and wine.
Island Packers makes real world magic happen.