Long Beach Whale Watching

The waters off Long Beach make for some of the best whale watching in the world. Perhaps no one knows this better than Dan Salas whose Harbor Breeze Cruises has been providing daily whale excursions for more than 20 years. In that time, he and his passengers have experienced all manner of interactions with whales, orcas, dolphins and myriad other sea and wildlife; interactions that, though sometimes brief, are transformative bordering on magical.

It was the first time she had ever seen a blue whale ... She was changed, you could see it, she was in a state of complete wonderment.”

Harbor Breeze Cruises (100 Aquarium Way) offers daily morning and afternoon whale watching excursions which last about 2 ½ hours in duration and leave from Dock #2 at Rainbow Harbor, located pretty much next door to the Aquarium of the Pacific. Its fleet of state-of-the-art, whale watching vessels are designed specifically with a passenger’s experience in mind. Each is equipped with what amounts to stadium seating that allows passengers to get a good view of the water and the creatures who call it home.

James Stewart, the Aquarium’s Boat Program Coordinator, says one of the most common questions he and his colleagues are asked is when the best time is for whale watching.

“I tell them, whenever you want,” Steward said.”There are whales and dolphins year-round. You can pick the time of year to reflect what species you plan on looking for. Summer is best for blue whales, winter and spring for gray whales, year-round we find fin whales (though winters are better), humpbacks tend to be more numerous in summer and fall but we'll see them most times of the year.”

“It’s the almost elusive feel of us spying on them, I believe, aids in the awe and mystique of whales,” Stewart said. “Knowing these giants are mammals, like humans, I think helps people to connect to them. We want to see our own feelings and emotions in them.”

And Salas says he never gets tired of seeing those feelings and emotions activated on the expressions of his passengers.

“The biggest thrill we get is seeing the thrill they get,” he said.

“We want to do everything we can to make sure people can have this experience, because once they do, we know they’ll never forget it.”
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Steve Lowery