Hike-in Required
Open Year-round
Guided tours
ADA accessible
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

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.

Additional information about Santa Cruz area whale watching and other incredible wildlife viewing experiences can be found here

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Private or commercial fee


Knowledgable crew. Diverse wildlife. Unique perspective of the coast.



Pets allowed

Not Allowed


ADA accessible
Whale watching
Guided tours
Family friendly


Nearby Adventures

San Francisco Peninsula + Santa Cruz, California
San Francisco Peninsula + Santa Cruz, California
San Francisco Peninsula + Santa Cruz, California


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