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Santa Cruz Whale Watching

San Francisco Peninsula + Santa Cruz, California

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Santa Cruz Whale Watching

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  • Velocity is one of the boats used by Stagnaro Charters for their harbor cruises and whale watching excursions.- Santa Cruz Whale Watching
  • Check-in and sales occur at Stagnaro Charters' office/retail space at 1718 Brommer in Santa Cruz.- Santa Cruz Whale Watching
  • Stagnaro's retail space offers gifts, snacks, knowledgable staff, and information for harbor and whale watching tours as well as the general Santa Cruz area.- Santa Cruz Whale Watching
  • Onboard indoor seating. A drink and snack bar is available during the excursions.- Santa Cruz Whale Watching
  • Tours leave from the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor and pass by others engaged in different types of coastal recreation.- Santa Cruz Whale Watching
  • California sea lions on one of the harbor buoys.- Santa Cruz Whale Watching
  • Humpback whales swimming side by side off the Santa Cruz coast.- Santa Cruz Whale Watching
  • Onboard naturalists are able to describe and answer questions regarding whale behavior, such as this humpback swimming on its side with fins above the water's surface.- Santa Cruz Whale Watching
  • Cruise captains are knowledgable in locating whales around the underwater canyon areas just offshore from Santa Cruz.- Santa Cruz Whale Watching
  • A humpback whale fluke emerges as the whale prepares to dive.- Santa Cruz Whale Watching
  • Whale watching tours are often able to get close to whales while still keeping a safe distance.- Santa Cruz Whale Watching
  • Views of the Santa Cruz Boardwalk from a harbor cruise.- Santa Cruz Whale Watching
  • Humpback whale observed from a whale watching cruise.- Santa Cruz Whale Watching
  • A mother sea otter rests in the kelp with her baby on her chest. This is one of the possible sites along the whale watching tour.- Santa Cruz Whale Watching
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Knowledgable crew. Diverse wildlife. Unique perspective of the coast.
Cons: 
None.
Region:
San Francisco Peninsula + Santa Cruz, CA
Access: 
Vehicle
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
No
Year round: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
Private or commercial fee
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Pro Contributor

The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is the largest protected marine sanctuary in the country. With a portion of the complex underwater habitat reaching into the large Monterey Bay area, the bay, stretching from Santa Cruz in the north to city of Monterey in the south, is home to a rich and diverse population of species. One way to view some of these species up close is on one of the area's whale watching excursion boats.

Operating out of Santa Cruz Harbor, Stagnaro Charters offers daily whale watching trips that last three to four hours and head into the outer bay. Each excursion is outfitted with a knowledgable onboard naturalist who offers information on multiple facets of sea life and the different species that cruises may encounter. 

Seasonal migration patterns influence the odds of seeing a whale, but there are plenty of other species such as dolphins and porpoises, mola mola (or sunfish), sea lions, sea otters, and sharks that are also commonly spotted on area tours. An additional feature of cruises is the unique offshore perspective of seeing the forested mountains cascading down to the colorful Santa Cruz Boardwalk. Humpback whales are normally seen from late spring through early winter, while orcas and blue whales may be seen during the summer months and migrating gray whales may be seen during the winter.

Stagnaro's whale watching excursions are narrated by the captain, and their onboard naturalist tends to stop by and speak with visitors on a more individual basis while being available for any questions. Tours are made to be family friendly, and boats offer galleys with a drink and snack bar and indoor seating. Stagnaro Charters operates out of an office and retail space located at 1718 Brommer in Santa Cruz, while boarding takes place at the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor at 789 Mariner Parkway in Santa Cruz. For information regarding whale watching excursions, as well as shorter harbor cruises, Stagnaro Charters can be reached by calling 831.427.0230 or by visiting SantaCruzWhaleWatching.com.

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(19 within a 30 mile radius)

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Published in collaboration with Visit Santa Cruz County

70 miles south of San Francisco, 35 miles north of Monterey, and unabashedly left of center, you'll find great surf, sandy beaches, redwood-covered mountains, laid-back towns, organic farms, and a burgeoning beer and wine scene. It's impossible to pick one place to visit in Santa Cruz County. Take a quick cruz of them all!

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