I have this adventurous spirit that is never far from this surface. It’s not something I tap into often, my day-to-day life is pretty hum-drum, but special occasions and vacations are always an excuse for me to try something new. I decided to go whale watching in Monterey Bay on my birthday. It was quite an experience.
To avoid driving all the way to Monterey, we took the charter from Santa Cruz Small Boat Harbor. The harbor itself is gorgeous, and offers plenty of parking. But use the bathroom before you get down there, the public restrooms are only open to slip renters. (There is, however, a bathroom on the boat.)
We left from the harbor on time with some very-friendly and enthusiastic tour guides. It took about 30-minutes before we spotted our first whales. Since it’s summer time, humpback whales are present in the Bay. They were probably 200 feet from the boat. It was quite the spectacle and excitement was high.
The charter continued to Moss Landing where we saw a motherload of whales. There must have been 15. Some got as close as 30-100 feet from the boat.
Spouting, tail slapping– we were able to see all sorts of whale-like behavior. It was an absolutely beautiful sight. There was plenty of time and opportunity to take photos and videos. The charter sat still in Moss Landing for probably 30 minutes before heading back to the harbor.
This is a great experience for kids and adults. I wouldn’t recommend taking a child under the age of 4 or 5 since the trip is kind of long, and sea sickness is much harder on younger children. And since different types of whales make their entry into the Bay all year long, there is never a time when you can’t enjoy these majestic creatures.
It wasn’t until we headed back, that my great day turned into a prelude for the emergency room. The trip back was extremely rocky, it was probably about 3 pm and the evening swells were rolling into the Bay. First my four-year-old son threw up, then I began hurling, and lastly, my mother threw up all over her clothes. I don’t know if it’s nature or nurture, but I didn’t notice anyone but us getting sea sick.
No one ever thinks that they will get sea sick. So it is important to prepare for the worst case scenario. I’ve included a list of what to bring on a whale-watching trip below.
What to Bring On a Whale-Watching Trip:
1. Camera with batteries. Make sure your camera has a nice zoom and does video, it is hard to focus on a rocking boat.
2. A bag or backpack with 1 extra T-shirt for everyone present, just in case you throw up on yourself.
3. Snacks. You get quite hungry on the trip, a bag of chips or fruit can help you stay satiated. Make sure to add some beverages in that bag too. Don’t pack a picnic, just a snack or two will do. They also sell snacks on the boat.
4. Dramamine (or equivalent) before you get on the boat. Even if you are not prone to sea-sickness just take it as a precaution.
5. A sweater or wind breaker. Even if it’s sunny, it is windy on the water.
6. A hat or hoodie to help keep you warm.
7. Comfortable tennis shoes. I would avoid sandals since your feet may get cold, and don’t wear shoes with slippery soles. It is hard to move around a rocking boat, you need as much traction from your shoe as possible.
8. Binoculars to get a closer view of the whales in Monterey Bay.
Interested in taking this charter? Find more info here: http://santacruzwhalewatching.com/