BY: KARINA ANASTASIA ROCHE
The Los Angeles coastline sports many scenic locations for whale watching, with the added benefit of being near the bustling cultural attractions of L.A. In fact, Los Angeles boasts year-round whale traffic as whales migrate from the chilly waters of Alaska to the warm waves of Baja California and back again. According to CBS Los Angeles, the L.A. and Orange County area is one of the few places in the world where you can spot whales during any season. Marina del Rey (in Los Angeles) has several whale-watching cruises, but there are also many locations in the area where you can whale-watch from land. Whether you are an avid whale-watcher or you have never seen a sea-dwelling mammal in “real life” before, we have compiled for you this guide to land-based whale-watching in the Los Angeles area–all only a short drive away from the Topanga Canyon Inn. So grab your binoculars, sunscreen, and a windbreaker jacket, and head to one of these prime whale-watching locations.
Seasons and Species
You can see whales off the coast of Los Angeles year-round, but migration patterns differ for some species. Generally, the patterns are as follows:
Early December – end of May: Grey Whales
Summer and fall: all whales listed below
Blue Whales (largest whales and mammals)
Killer Whales (although sightings rare–they are very shy)
Additionally, we also have lots of dolphins and sea lions!
Birdview Avenue & Cliffside Road, Malibu, CA, 90265
scenic 45 minutes Malibu drive from Topanga Canyon Inn
One of the most scenic locations in the Los Angeles area, Point Dume marks the northern end of the Santa Monica Bay and the beginning of the seemingly endless and beautiful Zuma Beach. It is also a marine life and marine mammal sanctuary. Hike up a trail and enjoy native flora and springtime wildflowers as you mount the famous cliff that protrudes into the Pacific. Here, the viewing deck hangs over the drop and waves below, providing a clear view of the coastline and mountains as they glitter and recede into the distance; the rising full moon; Catalina Island; and lots of whales, dolphins, and, especially, sea lions. There are no telescopes on the deck, so for a closer look, bring your binoculars.
Note on parking: There is a small lot on Cliffside Road near the beginning of the trail; however, parking is limited and only allowed from dawn till dusk. Additional free off-street parking can be found on Grasswood Avenue where signs permit; make sure all four wheels are off the pavement. In the case that too is full or unavailable, park at the Point Dume State Beach parking lot, located 6800 Westward Beach Road. From there, take a 1/4 mile hiking trail to the top of the bluffs and observation platform.
AQUARIUM OF THE PACIFIC
100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach, CA, 90802
Located in Long Beach just south of Los Angeles, the Aquarium of the Pacific is one of Southern California’s most prized locations for marine conversation and education. Upon entering the museum, you will be greeted with a life-size replica of a blue whale, which looms over visitors as it hangs from the ceiling. The museum is open from 9AM to 6PM every day of the year except Christmas, and hosts boat rides for whale-watchers and several opportunities for animal encounters.
POINT VICENTE INTERPRETIVE CENTER
31501 Palos Verdes Drive West, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA, 90275
The coastline of Rancho Palos Verdes, also just south of Los Angeles, is known for its breathtaking cliffs and peaceful atmosphere. For whale-watchers, the natural location of interest is Point Vicente Interpretive Center, the site of an annual conduction of a whale census (December – May), and an information center on the nature of the Palos Verdes peninsula and whale life. While the Center closes at 5PM (or later in the summer), the surrounding park stays open until sunset, where watchers can lunch at picnic tables, admire the lighthouse perched on the cliff, and keep a lookout for whales.
POINT FERMIN PARK
807 Paseo Del Mar, San Pedro, 90731
Just south of Point Vicente and near the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, San Pedro harbor, and Battleship USS Iowa Museum, Point Fermin Park is a family-friendly recreational area and whale-watching spot. Enjoy the hiking trails, picnic tables, lighthouse, and playground while soaking in ocean views from the cliff tops and keeping an eye out for whales.
See our short video on Facebook: Happy Sea Lions Swimming by Point Dume
If you are looking for the perfect getaway for nature lovers, book your stay directly with us at the Topanga Canyon Inn Bed & Breakfast, and immerse yourself in the serenity of the Santa Monica Mountains before venturing out to the coast for some whale sightings.