When I was 9 years old, my family went on a whale-watching excursion in Cape May, New Jersey. I remember it being cold (so much that we bought souvenir sweatshirts to keep us warm), but I also remember seeing dolphins swim next to the boat and whales jumping and flopping into the water in the distance. It was a memorable experience and I recommend that families do it at least once.
While many whale watching companies are on hiatus for the winter season, a few warm-weather destinations offer tours year-round, including Orange County, California. Newport Landing Whale Watching is one of the few companies that take guests into the ocean in search of blue whales, finbacks, dolphins and other aquatic creatures during the cold season, between November and February.
Tours depart from Newport Beach, which is conveniently located in the middle of Orange County, just minutes from the John Wayne/Orange County Airport and about 50 miles from the Los Angeles International Airport. And with year-round weather steady at sunny and 75, families won’t be cold like I was on my first whale-watching tour. Tours are offered daily – on weekdays and weekends – so you can easily fit it in to your Southern California vacation. And the boat, Nautilus, offers an indoor snack bar and restrooms.
Tours are scheduled three to four times daily, year-round, with times varying according to season (November to February and March to October). Tickets are $32 for adults (age 13 to 59) on weekdays and $36 for adults on weekends and holidays. Juniors (age 12 and under) and seniors (60 and older) are $26 on weekdays and $30 on weekends and holidays.
For more information and to reserve a whale-watching tour for your family, visit the Newport Landing Whale Watching website.
– Hilarey Wojtowicz