Whale Watching Tips

February 26, 2024

March is the peak season for whale watching along the Mendocino Coast. Many people will charter boats and go in search of whales, while others will grab their binoculars and find a vantage point on a bluff top to spot these massive mammals.

California gray whales migrate from November to May. Other species migrate later in the year. Humpbacks are most commonly seen between April and November, and blue whales from June to October. Orcas may also be seen at times, but do not have a predictable migration timetable. 

Whatever time you are hoping to spot whales, here are some tips to keep in mind to maximize the pleasure of the experience:

Binoculars are helpful, but scanning the horizon with the naked eye will give you a broader expanse and allow you to zero in on a potential sighting. Watch for flocks of seagulls, which tend to gather near whales.For photography, a zoom lens of 70-300mm will yield best results. Bring a tripod to steady your longer lens for less camera-shake and a crisper shot.

Whale watching requires patience. Since you’ll be out there for a while, be sure to bring goodies, sunscreen, and warm clothes-gloves and a hat. 

Bring friends and divide up the horizon. More sets of eyes looking at specific areas increase the odds of spotting whales, and they’ll help you pass the time while you wait.

Don’t be locked into rigid expectations of the experience. There will be times when whales elude you, but being on a trail with friends and good food and watching the many forms of wildlife can still be a pleasurable experience.

Going out on a trail is relatively easy and inexpensive, and not seeing a whale on one outing gives you a great excuse to check out yet another trail on another day. Look at this link for the many MLT trails you can explore!

After you’ve had fun on the trails, it’s time to check out the many whale-related events during March in Mendocino County.

Whale Festivals in the Fort Bragg Area:

Here is a link from our friends at MendoParks about local activities:

The Point Cabrillo Lighthouse:

And the Fort Bragg wine walk. (If you don’t see whales, at least you’ll have an excuse. 🙂 )