Like a number of cities in California, there are many whale watching cruises out of Newport Beach. Three major companies in Newport Beach offer whale watching cruises all year long. The number of whale watching opportunities from Newport Beach is almost comparable to San Diego, despite the fact that Newport Beach’s population is more than 15 times smaller. (Whale watching cruises from both cities more or less explore the same California waters, so the industries of each city are blended together.) Below we’ve put together a guide to whale watching cruises in Newport Beach that explains what is available and how you can go about securing a spot on board a ship.
Although a few different companies offer whale watching cruises from Newport Beach, they are selling essentially the same thing. In fact, it appears that the three main whale watching companies based in Newport Beach follow the same sailing schedules, with each company offering a cruise at 10:00 AM, 1:00 PM, and 3:30 PM from roughly November through April, and 10:00AM, 1:00 PM, 3:30 PM, and 6:00 PM from roughly May through October. Even though the companies operate the same schedules in terms of when in the day cruises depart, the months when these schedules are in effect vary slightly. So, the winter schedule, which focuses on the grey whale migration, could start in October and end in March, for instance, and the summer schedule, which centers on seeing blue whales, could then last from April through September. Why seasons aren’t consistent across the companies is unclear, but perhaps this is just a reflection of the fact that whale migration seasons are somewhat fluid, and in any case the migration participants – blue and grey whales – aren’t the only creatures you can see on a cruise. You might see humpback, fin, minke, and occasionally killer whales, as well as a number of other animals, like dolphins, sea lions, and several types of seabirds. Opportunities to see whales and other marine animals are supplied by every company that offers cruises.
The three main companies that offer Newport Beach whale watching cruises are Ocean Explorer, Newport Landing, and Davey’s Locker. (For the record, Ocean Explorer has some connection with Newport Landing because they both use the ship Ocean Explorer, although Newport Landing also uses other vessels. The companies have different websites, different phone numbers, and different listed addresses, despite their shared used of the Ocean Explorer. Also, Newport Landing sometimes goes by Newport Whales, and there is a NewportWhales.com that is operated by Newport Landing.) The prices for the cruises are essentially identical (they vary by 50 cents in a couple cases), and you can book your tickets online using the website just linked to (or call if you have any trouble with the websites). On occasion, a company will offer a promotional deal – Newport Landing currently has a coupon on their website at the moment, for instance – so it is worth checking out each site just to make sure you get the best deal. It is also advisable to book your tickets ahead of time just to make sure you get a spot, but if spots are available and you find yourself at the point of departure, they’ll take you on board even if you haven’t booked in advance.
As you can see, there is a lot of overlap between the different whale watching cruises that sail from Newport Beach. They offer similar experiences at the same time and at essentially the same price. All the companies are equally easy to book with too. So, it probably doesn’t matter a whole lot who you book through, although you should keep on the look out for promotional deals to make sure you get the best price.