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Whale Watching Trips Ashore

Are Whale Watching Trips Ashore in Your Future?

When you think about going whale watching in Northern California (or anywhere for that matter), you probably figure there are two, maybe three ways to go about it.

And basically, you'd be right.

You're going to do whale watching trips from on land along the coast...

Out on the ocean riding in a boat or even on a surfboard...

Or possibly in the air aboard an airplane, helicopter, or dirigible.

You may be surprised to see some of the variations listed above - surfboard,  dirigible - but wait, there's more coming. In this "chapter" we'll be exploring how and from where to spot whales from the Northern California coastline. But for other options:

Please visit Whale Watching Trips Asea or Whale Watching Trips Aloft.

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Whale Watching Trips Ashore Spot?
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If you're looking to spend the night or a weekend to get in some whale watching, you'll find the best prices on Northern California hotels at

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Whale Watching Trips Ashore: Where to Go and What to Do

Mendocino Cliffs by Suzi RosenbergMendocino County Cliffs; by Suzi Rosenberg

Pack a picnic breakfast, lunch, or dinner; grab some friends and family; find a beautiful piece of the Northern California coastline to park it for the day; and settle in for some of California's finest whale watching trips ashore!

Whether you go strictly on your own, or you seek out places that offer Ranger-led whale watching, it doesn't get much better than this!

But, where to go?

Do you know how to find the best whale watching spots in Northern California?

If you'd like a list of places to choose from, read on...

I've been whale watching NorCal all my life and I've pulled together a list of what I think are the Best of the Best spots for you to have a good chance of spotting whales and other ocean wildlife!

And you may find your own whale watching possibilities all up and down the Northern California coast if you keep these few hints in mind:

  • Look for a cliff, a headland, or a promontory - the closer to the ocean - the farther it juts out into the ocean - the better!
  • Try to find a place that's higher than the ocean - you'll have a better view and you'll be able to see farther out.
  • If there are other people around, watch what they're doing - you may get your first sighting via someone else's eagle eye!

For more tips on successful whale watching in Northern California, visit our Whale Watching Tips page.

22 Of the Best Spots for Whale Watching Trips Ashore

  • Crescent City, California: Del Norte Coast Redwood State Park offers the Redwood Information Center and Gold Bluffs Beach as excellent sites for your whale watching trips ashore. There are also hiking trails at Point St. George that offer great views of migrating and resident whales.

    Click here to find Crescent City Hotels.

  • Klamath, CA: Redwood National Park, Klamath River Overlook and High Bluff Overlook will give you a good perspective.

  • Patrick's Point State Park: Located 25 miles north of Eureka, the park has several trails and overlooks that offer great whale watching opportunities. Give the Rim Trail and Wedding Rock a try for spectacular views!

  • Trinidad State Beach: A pretty little stretch of beach near the town of Trinidad, there are bluffs and cliffs above the beach that allow a good view of the ocean for "blow" spotting.

  • Table Bluff in the Eureka/Loleta Area: Table Bluff is a plateau that stands 165 feet above the Pacific Ocean, offering spectacular views out to sea (for whale watching), and also of the Eel River delta and the south portion of Humboldt Bay.

  • Shelter Cove on the Lost Coast: A small fishing community known for its isolation and incredible beauty, Shelter Cove offers the perfect situation for whale watching trips ashore as it sits on a promontory that reaches out into the ocean, bringing you closer to where the whales pass!

  • Sinkyone Wilderness State Park: Another piece of the Lost Coast that offers bluffs and headlands from which to view the Gray whale migration as well as the occasional Blue whale or Humped Back whale.

  • MacKerricher State Park: Located just a couple of miles north of Fort Bragg, there's a headland here that makes this a good Whale Watching Trips Ashore spot - especially during the March MacKerricher Whale Festival.

Humpback's Tail; CC Glen GHumpback's Tail; CC Glen G
  • Big Sur: And last, but certainly not least for Northern California whale watching is the Big Sur area - almost any turnout along the Big Sur coastline will give you the opportunity for excellent Whale Watching Trips Ashore!

    A really great time to seek out whales along this stretch is during the Gray whales' northern migration (say February or March through April or May). Because they have their babies with them, they swim closer to shore and they swim more slowly!

    Easily search for the best prices on Big Sur Hotels at

    The bench at the end of Overlook trail
    at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park offers spectacular views, often very close up, of the Gray Whales.

But Whale Watching Trips Ashore are not the only way to go whale watching in Northern California! Get more tips at:

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