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Things To Do In Orange County – Whale Watching

Blue Whale Tale Newport Beach
The tail of a large Blue Whale with the coast of Newport Beach in the background

Most people from the OC don’t even know, but every year they have hundreds of giant whales swimming past them in their annual migrations. If you find yourself looking for things to do in Orange County, head down to the Balboa Fun Zone in Newport Beach and hop on a whale watching boat. You’ll find at least 2 companies running boats off the docks in the harbor, either one should be about the same, and tend to run a similar schedule. My mom lives in Orange County, and wanted to do a whale watching tour for her birthday, so we made a reservation on a boat for the family. On the day of the tour we were running late, and we went in the first whale watching company we found with our reservation, which they accepted and checked us in for the boat. It wasn’t until a little while later that we realized we weren’t at the same company we booked, but it was too late. Didn’t matter in the end as we had a great tour anyways.

Whale Blow Hole Newport Beach
A blue whale exhaling through her blow hole at the surface

The cool thing about these whale watching tours is they can see several different types of whales: Gray Whales, Blue Whales, Fin Whales, Humpback Whales, and Minke Whales, and you probably get to see other animals as well, including sea lions and dolphins. Dolphins are sometimes seen in groups of hundreds or even thousands which I can’t even imagine seeing firsthand. So far this year up to end of October 2011, Newport Landing Whale Watching tours have seen around 1640 whales, and 250,000 dolphins!

Mother & Baby Blue Whale, Newport Beach
A mother and her baby calf surfacing together off Newport Coast

If the weather is nice, you may want to make a reservation in advance. Also, allow ample time for parking, as Newport Beach (and Orange County Beaches in general) is notorious for having terrible parking, and it can sometimes take up to and over an hour to find a parking spot on a busy day. The parking lot these tours recommends tends to fill up early, so don’t rely on this. There is a bar on the harbor side of Balboa Blvd. which charges $10-$20, but allows parking if you can’t find anything else. Tickets for the boat cost about $30 per person for the 2 1/2 hour tour. Tours run year-round, but tend to be better for both whales and weather during the summer months.

Videos of Blue Whales off Newport Beach

A mother and her calf surfacing then doing a deep dive on our Whale Watching Tour in Newport Beach

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