Our First Experience
Whale Watching in Ventura

Here's how we got hooked on Whale Watching in Ventura

Having lived in Southern California all my life (30 of them, right here in Ventura), it took an invitation from my mother-in-law to lead us to one of our greatest family outings.
Whale watching boat at dock It started out on an overcast summer morning, the whale watching trip booked, the crew preparing the 64-foot catamaran for departure, my thoughts were racing: Do the kids have enough sunscreen? What if we don’t see any whales? Were we in for a 3-hour tour aboard the “S.S. I’m bored” with no escape? And, then, the flashback: me, clinging with my six-grade classmates on our way to Catalina, our nauseous stomachs rising and falling with each swell. Were we about to subject our kids to the same fate? Boy was I wrong.

boat-departing-ventura-harborAs I watched our wake stretch further from the shore, all my worries vanished with the cool ocean breeze. From this new vantage point, I saw, I mean really saw, Ventura as if for the first time.

Seeing this coastal town nestled between rolling foothills and the sea, I found myself marveling over the town’s historic evolution since the Chumash occupied the area, hunting, gathering, trading shell beads and swiftly traversing between the mainland and islands in 30’ plank canoes made of driftwood.

Well on our way in search of whales, the kids joyfully exploring the boat, we were met by a large welcoming committee of dolphins common in this area.

 They swam surprisingly close to our boat and seemed to play some sort of chicken game, zig-zagging across the bow as the kids cheered them on. No boredom here. Watching their excitement, I realized it no longer mattered if we saw a whale or not. And then it happened…

I’ll never forget the way my heart thudded in my chest at the sight of a Humpback whale appearing suddenly full breach in front of the bow, signaling to us that we were about to cross its path. Known as “ballerinas of the sea”, the Humpback slipped gracefully back into the water among an excited rush of “oohs and ahhs.”

The sight brought everyone forward and we waited together, mesmerized, for our next chance to see a whale. Since humpbacks travel in groups of 1 to 10, each blowing up to 10 feet in the air, and 4 to 8 times between dives, our chances were good. We were not disappointed.

The captain performed several skillful maneuvers, giving us the best views while still respecting the whales’ right of way. Our experience whale watching in Ventura  was more than I hoped for.

Click here for a great photo sequence captured by one of our FiV visitors...

With the last sighting behind us we settled down in the galley to eat our packed lunch while listening to the buzz of the crowd recounting the thrill of what we had just witnessed.

Heading back to shore, a crew member educated us on whale migration and impressed the kids with a real skeleton shark jaw. All in all, it was one of our best family adventures ever!

Check out this whale watching video we took on a later trip...

TIP: When is the best time for whale watching in Ventura, California?  Depending on the season, you'll have the opportunity to catch sight of the whales during their annual migration past the Channel Islands: Gray Whales migrate December thru early April and Blue and Humpback Whales migrate June thru August.

What to bring?
- Sunscreen
- Sweater or light jacket (it can be chilly).
- Sea sick medicine (for some of us), which is available at the gift shop (actually, my          mother-in-law swears by ginger ale and I have to admit it worked for us).

Food is available on the boat but you can brown bag it for a less expensive option.

Get Whale Watching Schedules and Fares

Return from Whale Watching in Ventura to Home Page