If you have a hankering for close encounters with mysterious marine creatures of the deep blue Pacific Ocean – the northern California coast is the place to be.
A handful of companies along the bay areas of Santa Cruz and Monterey offer year-round adventure cruises where passengers can experience astonishing sea life from just a splash away. Whale-watching boat rides are a great way to catch common sightings of gray whales and humpbacks whales, along with the occasional orca and blue whale.
The following companies are a few to consider the next time you’re ready to brave the waters of our Bizarre Bay. Depending on the season and species, each cruise provides opportunities to spot something magnificent moving just below (or above) the water’s surface.
Santa Cruz Whale Watching – Stagnaro Charter Boats
The Santa Cruz Whale Watching boat, Velocity, smoothly and safely transports guests to animals just off the shores of Monterey to Moss Landing and points further North. Their cruises offer visibility of seven different species of whales and seven different species of dolphin and porpoise year-round. The humpback whale is usually seen just out of Santa Cruz from April through November. Then each year over 20,000 Gray Whales pass through the waters off of Monterey Bay. In addition to the whales, the many creatures passengers commonly observe are sea lions, seals, otters, and nearly one hundred different species of endemic and migratory sea birds. Passengers might also catch a glimpse of sea turtles, jellyfish, sunfish (mola mola) and the occasional shark.
Chardonnay Whale Charter – Santa Cruz
The Chardonnay Sailing Charters have been providing exhilarating sailing experiences with first class services since 1984. The company’s Whale Charter provides the public with comfortable topside seating to view the wildlife of the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary from a different perspective. Guests are taken on ocean cruises off the Santa Cruz shore in a beautiful, top-of-the-line sailboat, the Chardonnay II. This boat was custom built by the celebrated yacht designer, Bill Lee, one of the founders of the Santa Cruz School of Boatbuilding and the designer of many famous racing yachts. Since 1991, the Chardonnay II has been a major icon in the Santa Cruz community for locals and tourists. Join this company on fast and fun expeditions in search of whales (and on some of their cruises, wine!)
Sanctuary Cruises – Moss Landing
If you want to have less impact on energy consumption and air, land, and ocean ecosystems, hop aboard the fuel-efficient Sanctuary Cruises – the only sustainable charter boat on the Monterey Bay. The company uses 99% clean-burning biodiesel in their engines instead of petroleum diesel, and burns less fuel than any other boat on the bay. Their biodiesel is made in Central California entirely from recycled waste vegetable oil collected from local restaurants. No oil is imported and no fossil fuels are burned when you go on a whale watching tour with this company. Their eco-friendly tours leave from a harbor aptly nicknamed the “Moss Landing Whale Park”. Marine biologists on board provide engaging facts about the canyon waters close to shore that are teeming with whales, dolphins, orcas, sea otters, sea lions and birds.