“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
- San Onofre State Beach
- San Clemente Beaches
- Califia at San Clemente State Beach
- Capo Beach or Pines Park benches
- Dana Point Headlands
- Strands Beach and Strands Vista Park
- Salt Creek Trail and Beach
- Aliso Beach Park playground and tidepooling
- Main Beach in Laguna Beach or Heisler Park
- Crystal Cove State Park for a nature ramble or tidepooling (I have really good luck spotting whales from here!)
- Corona Del Mar
- 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:
- How to Spot Dolphins from Shore or at Sea
- Why Every Southern California Kid Should Go Whale Watching
- Summer of the Humpback on the Central Coast
- Gray Whale Photos for Kids
- Best Way to Cure Seasickness is Prevention
Originally published in April 2011.