Pismo Beach Winter Whale-Watching

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Beginning in December, the endangered California Gray Whales can be seen migrating off the Central Coast. Pismo Beach and the San Luis Obispo County coast are ideal places to try and catch a glimpse of these impressive creatures.

The Journey of the California Gray Whale

California Gray Whales are spotted in the ocean near Pismo Beach as they trek from their Bering Sea feeding grounds near Alaska to their breeding grounds in the lagoons of Baja, Mexico. More than 23,000 Gray Whales make their way past the Central Coast during their journey south.

In March, the Gray Whales will head north once again, after they have mated and given birth in the warm waters of Baja. Consider yourself one of the luckiest whale watchers if you are able to spot some "little" calves traveling alongside their mothers.

See the California Gray Whale from Land

The stunning annual migration of the California Gray Whale is a must-see for anyone visiting Pismo Beach in winter. If you're a landlubber, there are several vantage points that make for easy viewing. Find a comfortable spot at an overlook at Montana de Oro State Park or along the bluffs near the PiedrasBlancas Lighthouse. Vista points in Pismo Beach also deliver great views.

Whatever whale-watching option you choose, the best part is these scenic spots are great for wildlife viewing in general. Keep your eyes open for sea otters, giant elephant seals, falcons, pelicans, herons, other types of whales, sea lions, and dolphins.

Become One with the Gray Whale on the Water

For those who want to dive right into the thick of whale-watching, there are regularly scheduled whale-watching cruises that depart from Morro Bay and Port San Luis in the winter, weather permitting. Head out into the Pacific Ocean to see if you are fortunate enough to enjoy the breathtaking experience of seeing these magnificent marine mammals in action.

Sub Sea Whale Watching Tours take place on an open boat with an unobstructed view, so dress accordingly and be prepared for chilly weather. Bring snacks and shades, and plenty of patience as you wait.

Whale-Watching Lingo

Brush up on your whale-watching lingo! Here's some jargon you might hear from other whale-watchers or your sea tour captain while your eyes are peeled for a California gray whale:

  • Blowing: A whale blows when it exhales.
  • Breaching: When a whale leaps out of the water, twists its body, and crashes back into the ocean.
  • Grunting: The bellowing night sound that whales make.
  • Lobtailing: When a wail lifts its tail out of the water and slaps it down on the surface of the ocean.
  • Spyhopping: When a whale lifts its head vertically out of the water to get a look at what's going on above the surface.


Migrate to Your Vacation Resting Spot

If you've migrated to Pismo Beach for a winter break, become one with the California Gray Whales during the day, then kick back at night at The SeaCrest OceanFront Hotel, the iconic Pismo Beach hotel. It's a destination where you can truly put your feet up, while practically having one foot on the sand and sea with direct beach access.

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