Weighing in at 35 tons and measuring 50 feet, the California Gray Whale is a true sight to be seen. From mid-December to early May, more than 25,000 whales migrate from the cold Alaskan feeding waters to the warmer winter mating and calving grounds of Baja California. This round-trip of 10,000 to 14,000 miles is believed to be the longest migration by any mammal — and provides numerous opportunities for Inspirato Members to view this amazing creature up close at our residences and hotel partners along the coast.


San Francisco

Thirty miles from the Golden Gate are the Farollon Islands. This designated wilderness refuge offers a reliable (for whale-watching standards) destination to see marine wildlife. San Francisco Whale Tours offer year-round whale watching, but December through early May is the best time frame. If there’s no whale sighting, the next trip is on them.

Where to Stay: Inspirato’s residence at the Fairmont Heritage Place in Ghirardelli Square, one of San Francisco’s buzziest hot spots. Additionally, Inspirato offers multiple hotel partners throughout the city.

Santa Barbara

Step aboard the Condor Express, one of the most advanced whale-watching boats on the West Coast. The vessel heads to the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, a premier whale-watching area just minutes from Santa Barbara Harbor. The raised observation deck offers the perfect point of view for photographing the whales.

Where to Stay: After a day on the water, a little pampering is in order, and Inspirato’s partner hotels in Santa Barbara can satisfy any need. With a full-service spa, Belmond El Encanto is the ideal retreat, while the Canary Hotel is situated in the heart of downtown.

Dana Point

The deep and nutrient-rich waters surrounding Newport Harbor draw an abundance of marine life. Newport Landing Whale Watching has served Orange County for more than 20 years. With backgrounds in marine biology, their captains offer descriptive narrations that enrich the whale-watching experience.

Where to Stay: Get in a round of golf at the award-winning, championship course at Monarch Beach Resort designed by the renowned Robert Trent Jones, Jr. The newly remolded resort is an Inspirato Member favorite.

San Diego

Unique to San Diego is the opportunity to view whales from shore. Try the Birch Aquarium at Scripps, the Cabrillo National Monument, and Torrey Pines State Reserve for the best views. Another unique option is a sunset cruise with San Diego Whale Watch.

Where to Stay: It’s impossible to talk about San Diego without mentioning our award-winning partners, including Rancho Valencia and the Fairmont Grand del Mar. For families that need more space, we have a beautiful residence that offers 4,700 square feet just steps from La Jolla Village.

Los Cabos

Take the opportunity to obtain a greater understanding and appreciation of the Gray Whale. The warm waters surrounding the Los Cabos region are where the whales end their voyage. Vendors here can offer up-close-and-personal looks at these mighty creatures.

Where to Stay: Give the whole family an experience of a lifetime in a four-bedroom, oceanfront home that grants access to fantastic resort amenities at the Punta Ballena beach club. For smaller groups, Inspirato’s accommodations at Grand Solmar Land’s End and The Cape are perfect.

The most memorable moment of my vacation was swimming in the ocean side pool of the Punta Ballena beach club watching the whales jump out of the water.

John L.Inspirato Member

Whale sightings are never guaranteed, but the best chances to see these animals along the coast happen in December and January, and again in the spring they make their return voyage north with newborn calves. Even if you don’t catch a glimpse, but any time is a good time to visit the California coast and any of Inspirato’s other 150+ destinations around the globe. Learn more about how Inspirato makes extraordinary vacations happen.


  • Nancy Pierce says:

    The Point Vicente Interpretive Center in Rancho Palos Verdes is a spot where the official Whale Census is taken every year. The whales sometimes come within fifty yards of the patio area where the census is made. The Interpretive Center is a local whale-watch/natural history museum and a bell is rung whenever a whale is sighted.

    The Center hosts a “Whale of a Day” each in early March.

  • Jonathan Hearns says:

    Interested in the future

  • Valerie says:

    I experienced the migration of the whales just once when I was a kid and I’m telling you it was amazing ! I never forgot how breathtaking the experience was and it leaves you in a state of awe! Just watching Jehovah’s magnificent creatures as they migrate to warmer waters to mate! It is really such a unique experience everyone should at least experience this at least once in their lifetime!! You will Not regret it !!! You will always remember it!!!!

  • David says:

    The San Ignacio Lagoon is worth considering. Very up close and personal contact with ballenas!

  • Donna says:

    The elements prevent me from visiting the whales?☺?one day is not. enough!!!

  • Donna says:

    You need to include Maui Hawaii From January to Marchthe channel between Maui and Molokai is filled with whales

  • Rob says:

    We have a place on the Pacific side at Cabo. We watch the whales migrating north every year. Awesome creatures they are.

  • AndreB says:

    Don’ t overlook spectacular whale watching off of Hoonah, Alaska (adjacent to Icy Strait Point where many cruise ships stop to visit), also off of Massachusetts (Boston Aquarium does a great job), NH and Maine coasts.

  • Leonardo says:

    Waters off Maui (between Kaho’olawe, Lana’i, Moloka’i Islands). From November until mid-April.

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