Like lots of California coastal towns, there are opportunities for whale watching off the coast of Long Beach. Despite its close proximity, there aren’t as many whale watching cruise companies in Long Beach as there are in Newport Beach, and there certainly aren’t as many as there are in San Diego, so Long Beach isn’t exactly a whale watching mecca. However, there are cruises to be taken, and below we have composed a guide to help you find the best whale watching cruises in Long Beach.
There appears to be only one whale watching company that is actually based in Long Beach: Harbor Breeze Cruises. Despite being a single charter and cruise company, Harbor Breeze operates several interconnected websites, all of which look like they were designed with the cutting-edge technology available in 1995. (Whatever else may be the case about their whale watching cruises, the websites that advertise them represent the nadir of web design.) Why exactly Harbor Breeze operates this many sites is unclear, but the important thing to know is that if you find yourself on Harbor-Cruises.com, 2SeeWhales.com, or LongBeachCruises.com, these all belong to Harbor Breeze and can be used for the same thing, finding and booking a whale watching cruise in Long Beach.
We should note that Harbor Beach doesn’t exclusively operate whale watching cruises – they host weddings and other private events on their ships, for instance – but this is definitely a major function of the company. We mention this because all the Harbor Breeze sites will eventually funnel you to the same ticket-purchasing platform, and the tickets they sell aren’t all for whale watching cruises. Indeed, most of Harbor Breeze’s cruises are simply short tours of the Long Beach Harbor. So, when you find yourself on the Harbor Breeze ticket page, be mindful of what you are booking. We are perhaps making the process seem more confusing than it is, and there is even a way to limit the search results to only whale watching cruises (select “whale watch” as your desired category of cruise), but the point we want to emphasize is that the company offers lots of regular cruises that have nothing to do with whales in particular.
If you want your whale watching cruise to begin and end in Long Beach and you are unwilling to go to any nearby town, Harbor Breeze appears to be your only option. However, it is worth mentioning that there are other whale watching cruises in the area, most notably those in Newport Beach, which is only about 10 miles south of Long Beach. Two of the main companies that operate out of Newport, Newport Landing and Davey’s Locker, specifically try to attract tourists in Long Beach by offering “whale watching for Long Beach visitors,” which are in fact just their regular cruises. Slightly deceptive advertising aside, these are definitely worth considering, particularly if one of the companies is offering some sort of coupon. (Currently Davey’s Locker is offering $13 cruises on weekdays, for instance, and this could definitely make the trip down to Newport Beach from Long Beach worth it.)
So, there are a few ways to take a whale watching cruise in Long Beach, provided “Long Beach” is understood as “Long Beach and the surrounding area.” If you simply want to stick with Long Beach, you’ll have to book through Harbor Breeze. Whatever you decide to do, you’ll be in for a similar experience. For the most part, you see the same whales, dolphins and marine life off the Southern California coast, regardless of the city you depart from. For more general information, check out our article on whale watching in California.