The Three-Hour Tour

Because of deep waters close to shore, Monterey Bay is one of the best spots in California to see gray whales.

Gray Whale on its northern migration back to the feeding groundsPhoto by Michele W via Flickr

January is the peak month to spot a smudge of gray on the Pacific Ocean. Ocean. January is one of the peak months for viewing gray whales as they pass the Monterey coast on their 12,000-mile migration from the Bering Sea to Baja California. To increase your chances of spotting the mammals, consider giving a call to the following experts. Each of the tours is three hours, and an easy drive from Santa Cruz.

Gray Whale on its northern migration back to the feeding groundsPhoto by Michele W via Flickr

Monterey Bay Whale Watch: This outfitter, run by a marine biologist, occasionally starts Saturday tours at the non-respectable weekend hour of 7 a.m. That’s okay, because continental breakfast is provided. It’s also one of the first boats to hit the water so it’s less crowded.

Sea-Wolf_JohnKPhoto by John K via Flickr

Princess Whale WatchingA marine biologist leads the tours aboard one of the largest vessels for whale watching, the 100-foot Princess Monterey (shown).  The equally sized Greatland has an open upper deck with a limited number of seats available. The main cabins are heated.

Princess-Monterey_kPhoto by John K via Flickr

Chris’ Whale Watching Tours: Captain Harry “Tinker” Neece has been leading tours for 41 years, and Captain Nick Lemon’s been on the water for 60 years. These are locals who may know the whales on a first-name basis. It’s the oldest outfitter in Monterey.

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