Because of the cold, food-rich 1-mile-/1.6-km-deep Monterey submarine canyon just offshore, whales and marine mammals thrive here, making it an outstanding place to see whales year-round. You might also sporadically spot smaller cetaceans such as fin and minke whales, as well as orcas, dolphins, and porpoises throughout the year.
Numerous companies offer whale-watching tours departing from Fisherman’s Wharf. In summer, there’s a more up-close option: When conditions are calm, experienced paddlers can take guided kayak tours into the open ocean off tiny Moss Landing, putting them smack-dab in the middle of the action. Learn more about what you’ll see with a visit to the outstanding Monterey Bay Aquarium.
For prime whale-watching from land, drive south along the spectacular Big Sur Coast, where high points along Highway One provide great whale-viewing spots. On weekends in January and February, join ranger-led whale-watch programs at some of the region’s parks, including Garrapata, Andrew Molera, and Pfeiffer-Big Sur State Parks.