Spring is the perfect time of year for whale watching up and down the west coast. Follow our whale watching tips and suggestions and you’ll have a whale of a tale to tell.
Look for the spout
Unless you’re lucky enough to spot a breach or a fluke (the distinctive tail), the most you’ll often see is the misty spray from a whale’s blowhole and perhaps the curve of its back as it dives underwater. Look for a sudden vertical puff of mist and then yell “thar she blows!”
Watching whales can be like watching shooting stars. The harder you look in one place, the easier they are to miss. Relax your eyes and slowly scan the ocean from left to right, then back again. Look closer to shore, out on the horizon and in between. And get out your binoculars.
Head out knowing that it could take up to an hour or more to see a whale – if you see one at all. But remember, if you play it right you’ll be parked along the ocean perched in your GoCamp van with yummy food and beverages at the ready. Jessica Smith, pictured below, was smart. She decided to watch for whales from the comfort of the pop top.
Where to go
In Big Sur or Monterrey Bay, California you can whale watch year-round. In Oregon spring is the best time to view the annual gray whale migration. Check for dates for this year’s Whale Watch Week. During Whale Watch Week volunteers staff state parks along the coast to help visitors spot the passing grays. And in Washington, starting in mid-April, you can look for orcas on the aptly named Orcas Island, in the San Juan Islands.