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Top 12 Whale Watching Parks and Beaches for Orange County

Top 12 Whale Watching Parks and Beaches for Orange County

“Hey Michele, what’s the hike near the coastline that might give us a peek at some whales?” was the question that came to me by way of a friend.  Hmmm . . . Let’s see what I can come up with for the Top 12 Whale Watching Parks and Beaches for Orange County (from south-to-north).

Before I give you the places list, let me give you some whale watching tips from this boating girl:

  • You’ll be scanning the water/horizon for a splash. It’s not really a splash; it’s spray coming from the whale’s blowhole.  However, it LOOKS like a splash. (And this is the best thing to look for when you’re trying to spot dolphins, too. Lots of splashes means a pod of dolphins. Or you’ll see their dorsal fins in the surf.)
  • Don’t go on a windy day when there are whitecaps on the ocean (see above — you won’t be able to pick out a whale splash from the whitecaps).
  • There is less wind in the morning and therefore a greater chance for actually spotting a whale.
  • It’s good to get a little above the beach for a better vantage point – so bluffs might be better than being right on the beach.
  • Bring binoculars.
  • Be patient.
  • If you need a visual guide, I wrote a post with Gray Whale Photos for Kids featuring a gray whale we spotted from shore up in Point Reyes National Seashore in California.

Top 12 Whale Watching Parks and Beaches for Orange County

  1. San Onofre State Beach
  2. San Clemente Beaches
  3. Califia at San Clemente State Beach
  4. Capo Beach or Pines Park benches
  5. Dana Point Headlands
  6. Strands Beach and Strands Vista Park
  7. Salt Creek Trail and Beach
  8. Aliso Beach Park playground and tidepooling
  9. Main Beach in Laguna Beach or Heisler Park 
  10. Crystal Cove State Park for a nature ramble or tidepooling (I have really good luck spotting whales from here!)
  11. Corona Del Mar
  12. Huntington Beach and Pier – also try the HB Pier at Main Street and the bluffs beyond Main Street

Disclaimer: Okay, so I’m not promising you’ll actually SEE whales at these spots, but there’s a chance you might. You’ll have to pay and get on a boat for that guarantee!

More whale watching posts:

Originally published in April 2011.

Pines Park in Dana Point
Pines Park Above Capistrano Beach
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