Whale Watching in Cayucos
One of the most wonderful places to visit and observe oceanic wildlife is along the Central Coast of California from Monterey to Morro Bay. Many different animals are at home on the California Coast and feed on anchovies, krill and fish that swarm near the surface of the ocean waters. Different species of whales migrate to southern waters to give birth or migrate north to their feeding grounds, but along the way they fill their tummies along our coast. The three main species of whales that frequent the Central Coast are Gray Whales, Humpback Whales, and Blue Whales. We've even witnessed a nomadic pod of Orcas feeding in Morro Bay! Pacific white-sided dolphins, common dolphins, harbor seals, sea otters, and elephant seals are species that are commonly seen on the Central Coast as well.
Whale Spotting 101
If you see a whale near shore in April, chances are it is a Gray whale. In fact, April is the best time of year to see female Gray whales and their babies swimming north along the coast. After the calves are born in the warmer waters of Baja California, Mexico, they start the northern migration to their feeding grounds. The Gray whale makes one of the longest of all mammalian migrations, averaging 10,000-14,000 miles round trip. California Gray whales were once on the endangered species list. They are currently thriving with a population of over 19,000. Gray whales are very friendly and tend to approach small boats and allow themselves to be touched by humans.
Humpback whales are by far the most exciting whales to watch in their natural habitat. They are known for their show-stopping acrobatics. They can often be seen spy-hopping, spouting, slapping their tail, lunge feeding, slapping their flippers, and breeching completely out of the water. Male humpbacks are known for singing amazing songs while competing for a mate. The best time to see Humpback whales is May through October; they start arriving in April from the warmer waters of Baja Mexico. During migration Humpbacks stay near the surface waters and sometimes can swim near the shore if they are following a school of krill or anchovies. Humpback whales live as long as 50 years and can weigh up to 40 tons.
During our lucky summer months, we sometimes see Blue whales. These creatures are the world’s largest animal and can measure up to 100 feet and weigh up to 400,000 pounds! Blue whales primarily feed on krill, which is what attracts them to the Central Coast. The last couple years have been great for seeing Blue whales. The spout of a Blue whale is much taller and straighter as opposed to a V-shaped spout of a Humpback whale.
Whale Watching Tours
Embark on a whale watching tour for an intimate experience with these marine marvels. If you don’t do well on boats and a whale watching tour isn’t something you want to do, pull up a chair on a turnout off of Highway 1 with a pair of binoculars. There may be a show just for you out in the deep blue sea. Harmony Headlands, Estero Bluffs and Big Sur are also great spots for whale watching.
The Central Coast has several great spots to sit back and enjoy the wonders that Mother Nature has to offer. Whether you are enjoying a feeding frenzy from your beachfront balcony at the Shoreline Inn, enjoying a whale watching tour out of Morro Bay, or relaxing after hiking Harmony Headlands, you can witness animals in their natural splendor all year round. We hope that you take time on your next visit to the Central Coast to enjoy the natural wonders our amazing coastline offers.