Santa Barbara is in an excellent location for whale watching. Our city is on a southern facing coast and sheltered behind the Channel Islands. It offers us a fabulous opportunity to witness the migration of the gray whales, as well as spot other species of the large marine mammals. Over 27 different types of whales and dolphins inhabit the Santa Barbara Channel at various times of the year, making these waters one of the best whale watching areas in the world.

There are two windows of opportunity to see whales around Santa Barbara. During February, March and early April you can see California Grey Whales. From May to September you can see Blue Whales, Minke Whales and Humpback Whales. Occasionally, you can see Right Whales or Orcas. All season long you have an excellent chance of seeing dolphins, porpoises, seals and sea lions.

Captain Jack's Whale Watching Tours

Year Round Whale Watching - The "Wonders of Our National Parks" on the Discovery Channel highlighted the outstanding abundance of marine life in the Santa Barbara Channel and named it "One of the 10 Best Places in the World to View Wildlife." The Channel Islands are on the migration path of the California Gray Whale. The islands offer an opportunity to watch the whales on their way to Baja where they give birth, and then again as they migrate north with their babies. More than 30 species of whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals and sea lions frequent the area, including the majestic blue whale, the acrobatic humpback whale, the barnacled gray whale, the powerful orca, the playful long-beaked common dolphin and the gregarious California sea lion. This 4 1/2 hour trip takes place on a 75-foot catamaran with beer, wine, soft drinks and snacks available for purchase. Typically lasts 4.5 hours.

Santa Barbara Sailing Center

Come Santa Barbara Whale Watching aboard the 50′ Sailing Catamaran, the Double Dolphin. Treat yourself and your family to seeing some of the largest creatures on the planet. Morning and afternoon trips leave daily.

The Santa Barbara Channel is home to an incredible assortment of marine mammals, including over 30 different species of whales and dolphins. The most common whales sighted on our whale watching adventures are the majestic 45-foot long Pacific Grey Whales. Sometimes we also see the enormous Blue Whales, which can reach up to 100 feet in length and are the largest animals on the planet. On most of our whale watching trips we also see Common, Risso and Bottlenose Dolphins, California Sea Lions, Harbor Seals, and lots of other marine life. Occasionally, we are even lucky enough to spot Orcas, Humpback Whales, Minke, and Pilot Whales.

Pacific Gray Whales This year an estimated 28,000 Pacific Gray Whales will journey through the channel on their migration between Alaska and Baja California. On their way south, they pass by the Channel Islands, about 26 miles off our coast. Beginning in mid-February, as they make their way north again, the mothers and calves stay close to the Santa Barbara coastline, just a few hundred yards off shore. Join us for an experience of a lifetime as we journey alongside these magnificent animals on a 2 and 1/2 hour Whale Watching excursion mid February through mid May.

Blue and Humpback Whales From July through September, the Blue and Humpback Whales visit the area to feed on the krill produced in the Santa Barbara Channel. In recent years, our channel has seen the largest concentration of Blue Whales in the world, as well as large numbers of Humpback Whales, which are typically seen off the coast of Hawaii. Whether you live in Santa Barbara or you’re just visiting, you owe it to yourself and your family to come Whale Watching aboard the Double Dolphin. Along with our regular cast of dolphins, sea lions, and other fantastic marine life, it is a treat we’re sure you will remember forever.


Whale Watching Tips

There is only one way to see the whales and that's to get on a boat to go where they are. It is truly incredible to see one of these magnificent creatures breaching - where they haul their mega-ton bodies high above the ocean surface. The size! The strength! As the veterans of a more than few whale watches, we can offer a few tips to make your whale watches more enjoyable, more educational and a little easier on your health.