Tours and Tickets
San Diego Whale Watching Cruise
5
LIKELY TO SELL OUT*

San Diego Whale Watching Cruise

By Next Level Sailing
Recommended by 94% of travellers
This number is based on the percentage of all Tripadvisor reviews for this product that have a bubble rating of 4 or higher
Though several whale watching tours operate out of San Diego, only one cruise whisks passengers out to sea on an actual sailboat. Harness the power of the wind on this whale watching sail, where you board a replica 1851 ship for your cruise. Enjoy unobstructed views from the decks, get a smooth ride, and expect great views of the sea creatures you spot—since they're not scared by a motor.
from
RM 401.46
per adult
from
RM 401.46
per adult

Lowest price guaranteeReserve now & pay laterFree cancellation

Ages 0-99, max of 77 per group
Duration:4h
Start time: Check availability
Ticket type:Mobile
English

Highlights
  • Animal lovers embark on a whale sightseeing cruise by sailboat, in San Diego
  • Try to spot marine life in the Pacific, from gray whales to dolphins
  • Have a fantastic trip—there's a no seasickness and whale sighting guarantee
  • Depart from Shelter Island Drive, just a short walk from Shoreline Park

  • 4.5-hr sailing cruise
  • Sodas and snacks
  • Whale sighting guarantee: If you don't see a whale, you get to come back for free
  • No seasickness' guarantee: Lose your lunch, we get you a new one
  • 9:00 AM trip: Check in between 8:00 AM - 8:30 AM
  • 11:00 AM trip: Check-in starts at 10:00 AM and ends at 10:30 AM
  • 1:15 PM trip: Check in between 12:30 - 12:45
  • 2:00 PM Trip: Check in between 1:15 PM - 1:30 PM
  • Free Parking. Check-in located next to parking lot.
  • Bring layers, blankets, and jackets. It can be cold on the water!
What's not included
  • Gratuities
  • Hotel pickup and drop off


Departure details
  • Next Level Sailing, 2050 Shelter Island Dr, San Diego, CA 92106, USA Check in opens an hour before departure time and closes 30 minutes before departure. Check in flag located across the street from the Best Western Island Palms Hotel and Blue Wave Bar & Grill. Please look at Inclusions/Exclusions for specific check in times. Abundant free parking at our location!
Return details
  • Returns to original departure point

  • Not wheelchair accessible
  • Stroller accessible
  • Service animals allowed
  • Near public transportation
  • Infant seats available
If you have questions about accessibility, we’d be happy to help. Just call the number below and reference the product code: 5170WHALE

  • Confirmation will be received at time of booking
  • Please call if you have a wheelchair so we can discuss the boarding options as we have had guests with wheelchairs enjoy this experience. We do have 5 steps in order to board the vessel. There is a single step in the deck. Please call Thank you!
  • Most travellers can participate
  • This experience requires good weather. If it’s cancelled due to poor weather, you’ll be offered a different date or a full refund
  • This experience requires a minimum number of travellers. If it’s cancelled because the minimum isn’t met, you’ll be offered a different date/experience or a full refund
  • This tour/activity will have a maximum of 77 travellers

  • For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours in advance of the start date of the experience.

A note from San Diego Whale Watching Cruise
  • We always follow California state protocols
What you can expect during your visit
  • Regular temperature checks for staff
  • Regularly sanitised high-traffic areas
  • Guides required to regularly wash hands
  • Hand sanitiser available to travellers and staff
  • Paid stay-at-home policy for staff with symptoms
  • Face masks provided for travellers
  • Safety precautions are provided by the property and are not checked by Tripadvisor for accuracy.

Which attractions will I visit with San Diego Whale Watching Cruise?
How much is San Diego Whale Watching Cruise?
San Diego Whale Watching Cruise price starts from RM 371.37. Discover and book San Diego Whale Watching Cruise on Tripadvisor
What is the San Diego Whale Watching Cruise cancellation policy?
San Diego Whale Watching Cruise cancellation policy: For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours in advance of the start date of the experience. Discover and book San Diego Whale Watching Cruise on Tripadvisor
Which company provides San Diego Whale Watching Cruise?
San Diego Whale Watching Cruise is hosted by Next Level Sailing. Read reviews, discover additonal experiences or contact Next Level Sailing on Tripadvisor. Discover and book San Diego Whale Watching Cruise on Tripadvisor

If you have questions about this tour or need help making your booking, we’d be happy to help. Just call the number below and reference the product code: 5170WHALE

Itinerary
  • You'll start at
    Next Level Sailing
    2050 Shelter Island Dr, San Diego, CA 92106, USA
    Check in opens an hour before departure time and closes 30 minutes before departure. Check in flag located across the street from the Best Western Island Palms Hotel and Blue Wave Bar & Grill. Please look at Inclusions/Exclusions for specific check in times. Abundant free parking at our location!
    See address & details
  • Pass by
    Old Point Loma Lighthouse
  • You'll return to the starting point
+
About the operator

Don’t take it from us – here’s what people have to say about this operator.

kcoleman204
kcoleman204
00
Fantastic!
Would highly recommend! Super friendly and knowledgeable crew, saw a million whales and dolphins on the whale watch
anereid
anereid
00
America the Beautiful!
The boat is amazing! Comfortable sail and great customer service. Almost like magic the snacks and blankets appeare
kamerongad
kamerongad
00
Whale watching tour… exceeded expectations’
Whale watching tour… exceeded expectations. We saw 12 whales and a mega pod of dolphins (literally hundreds). Sailb
BenAshUSA
BenAshUSA
00
INCREDIBLE
ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE! The ship was well-taken care of and clean. The staff was professional and always happy to he
tgherges
tgherges
00
A day of Sailing!
Absolutely loved it! A wonderful experience, the Captain and crew was very knowledgable and experienced!
Mick T
Mick T
00
Another Amazing Experience!
Professional, welcoming and knowledgeable crew. 2nd time we went with Next Level Sailing. Love it! Can't wait to
ccmia592
ccmia592
00
Great experience
My friend Cris who lives in San Diego booked this trip for me and my family, saying that this was the boat tour to
293erickw
293erickw
00
FINtastic adventure!
This is a must when visiting San Diego and you have a desire to see whales, dolphins or simply have a great time ou
Kim L
Kim L
00
Sail on America and see whales or come back free! WOW!!
Next Level Sailing gets 5 stars for their "see whales or come back free" Plus their professionalism at their job! T
encbryant
encbryant
00
Great experience!
We enjoyed our time sailing with Next Level Sailing! The information on how to meet the crew, and the service is wo
RhAlba
RhAlba
00
Awesome experience!
We loved it! Husband and I enjoyed a beautiful sunny day in the ocean in a gorgeous boat. On top of it, two humpbac
garytwebb
garytwebb
00
Great day and experience!
We decided very last minute to take this excursion on a recent trip to San Diego. What a great experience. The cap
hgabriel06
hgabriel06
00
Whales!!
Excellent trip! Saw 9 humpbacks! Beautiful boat, great crew! Thought 4 hours would be too long but takes an hour to
dlehecka
dlehecka
00
Amazing Afternoon.
My daughter and I along with our two pomsky’s, took this whale watching tour, followed three humpback whales. Staff
Rciomom
Rciomom
00
Wonderful trip with whales and dolphins!
Our whale watching tour was October 14, 2022. Being at sea on a sailboat was a new experience so if we didn’t see
Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
Popular mentions

5.0
627 reviews
Excellent
554
Very good
36
Average
23
Poor
9
Terrible
5

SusanA
Bloomington, IL10 contributions
May 2022
Would definitely go again on this lovely sailboat with exceptional crew who always kept passenger safety and passenger experience in mind! We saw 2 blue whales on our second trip with them last week. The first trip out, there was no whale sighting so we used their guarantee (check out their website) and went out another day for free! Fathom was very friendly and made sure everyone could see the whales and that no one was getting sea sick and handing out various remedies if needed. She gave a lot of good details about sea creatures and the bay itself. They went around and asked everyone if they were feeling okay and handing out blankets. It was in the low 60's - the spring wind is cold, especially if it isn't sunny. Wear layers! Loved sitting out on the wooden deck or hatches. Only a few actual seats back by the Captain. Crew worked very hard, found the whales they had a report of 9 miles out from SD and stayed in the area for repeated sightings, timing the surfacing of each whale so we knew when they'd next surface.
Written 29 May 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Andrea
New York5 contributions
Aug 2022
I am so glad I found Next Level Sailing for our whale watch experience while in San Diego on vacation! Fathom called while we were on our way there to make sure we could find it okay for check in. When we arrived and checked in, we were able to go across the street to use the bathroom and get breakfast to take on board with us. Fathom was incredibly knowledgeable, narrating as we sailed out into the ocean. We saw sea lions and many pods of dolphins before getting out to the stars of the day, the blue whale cow and calf. Captain Troy spent extra time, making sure that everyone onboard was able to see and photograph the whales. As we headed back to port, he talked to us about the whales and then Fathom shared even more information about the whales that are seen on their cruises. The other crew members were great, offering snacks and drinks and taking guests' photos. As far as I could tell, no one was seasick on our cruise, and everyone had a wonderful time. Make sure you have your sunscreen, because the open ocean doesn't offer much shade! My only suggestion would be a small amplification system for Fathom because she has so much information to share, and I felt like her voice must be tired after having to project to the whole boat for the whole trip! This is a San Diego experience not to be missed!
Written 16 August 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Eddy R
Aledo, TX11 contributions
Jul 2021
The Next Level Sailing Whale Watching cruise on July 14, 2021 was truly one of the highlights of my life. In addition to the opportunity to sail on this beautiful, historic boat being taken care of by a wonderful, interesting, professional crew, our view of a huge, beautiful Blue Whale which swam right under the boat far exceeded my expectations. We were scheduled for a 4-hour cruise, but Captain Sears got reports of a whale being spotted a few miles off the beach of Del Mar and he very unselfishly extended the cruise 2 1/2 hours to go spot that whale. Is was a splendid experience! I highly recommend that all travelers to San Diego - and even all local residents - to schedule this fantastic attraction!
Written 19 July 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
CaptainFathom
Thank you so much for sharing your experience. We are so glad you had a wonderful day sailing with us and I am glad to hear that you enjoyed fantastic views of a blue whale. Sometimes the most amazing views are worth the wait. Thank you so much for sharing your review, we really appreciate your time and consideration. Thank you!
Written 15 August 2021
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Myka S
Boca Raton, FL110 contributions
Jun 2022
Here's what you need to know-

This boat has about 60+ people on it. It's crowded. Many people brought kids and while I like kids and have them as well, this was not the environment for them. There was some danger of them going over in certain areas without rails and additionally, they were constantly up and down to the bathroom. Which is the other thing you need to know, there is one head and it seems like the entire boat is always in line for the thing. The operators are nice but seem to spend a lot of time on bathroom line management duty. The other thing you need to know is this was not under sail only the motor, I saw other reviews stating the same. There is nowhere to hide from the sun for a moment as down below is restricted for the bathroom. People do get sick as you see the crew running about with blue buckets.
The other issue is that during the 4.5 hours we were not offered a drink, I think this is because they don't want that bathroom line getting bigger. So the wind up here is- yes this is a low cost, if you'd rather pay more for a trip with less than 20 ppl on it keep searching this is my fault for not realizing.

Did we see a whale ...um yeah for a second, one whale. But I'd rather of spent 4.5 hours another way in retrospect.
Written 27 June 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
CaptainFathom
We take safety very seriously and because of that we have a perfect safety record and no one has gone overboard. Our trips have been full but for good reason as we have had an incredible year for blue whales: the largest animal on the planet. On this particular day, we were thirty minutes late in order to make sure our guests saw a whale. Usually we like to spend more time with whales, but this day, it was difficult to find this whale. They are wild animals, so sometimes they are more friendly than others. We appreciate your feedback for the restroom. We do have more than one restroom on the boat, so we will utilize it more frequently. You can help yourself to water and soda throughout the voyage, I'm sorry if you weren't aware of the complimentary drinks. Again, thank you for your feedback. We appreciate it.
Written 30 June 2022
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Sheli P
1 contribution
Jun 2022 • Family
Rip off!! Paid $255 for 3 people to spend 4.5 hours to see a few dolphins we could have seen for free from the pier. Yes you can go back for free if no whale. We had people who had gone 3 times, spent almost 20 hours of their vacation to see only a few dolphins. This is a bad way to spend your time and your money. The chance of seeing a whale is practically zero but it’s a great marketing tool. Don’t get suckered in!
Written 20 June 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
CaptainFathom
I'm not sure where to start with this one. We have a fantastic record for seeing whales. During the month of June, we have only had 2 day where we have not seen whales. All guests that do not see whales get to come back for free at any time, there is no expiration date.
Written 30 June 2022
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

John T
Saint Louis, MO86 contributions
Incredible does not begin to describe the experience we had.

First if you survive the long walk from the meeting place to the boat (about 1/4 mile I did not think we would), tou will embark on the ride of your life as we did.

Second, the crew was extremely responsive, helpful and accommodating. It eas a little hard to hear the soft spoken guide at many times they really ought to get a PA system.

Ok now for the meat, the captain was an experienced mariner who clearly could smell whales for we saw so many humpbacks that I lost count.

But the best part for me was the dolphins.. literally hundreds if not thousands of dolphins for as far as the eye could see and humpbacks all leaping from the water right next to the boat. You could reach out and touch them.

I stood there with my mouth stuck open in awe! Thank you crew of the America i will talk about that day for as long as I live... Needless to say the walk back was alot more fun.😅

See pictures
Written 28 September 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
CaptainFathom
Thank you for your review and feedback! I am glad you had a wonderful time sailing with us seeing whales and dolphins. We are thrilled to hear that this was truly an experience of a lifetime! Thank you.
Written 19 November 2022
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Guowei
Saint Louis, MO2 contributions
The crews are very nice and helpful. They are very knowledgeable about whales and whales’ protection. It was quite windy on the sea, but they provided us with blankets, unlimited snacks and sodas. Very fortunately, we saw three to four fin whales and a blue whale. The crews tell me that dolphins are much more frequent to appear, so the trip will still be worthy even if whales don’t show up.
Written 27 May 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

MsTraci B
3 contributions
Jun 2022 • Family
This was far above my expectations and the absolute best Part of my Vacation! I honestly don't feel like I need to do Anything else while visiting San Diego! The Captain and crew were beyond friendly and engaging with everyone. They went above and beyond to ensure everyone had a great time! They checked often to see if anyone was seasick, and quickly provided care. They were extremely knowledgeable about all landmarks and ocean life, explaining how we had to sail out to a deep ocean drop of 3500 to see whales. And omg, did we see them! Too many remember! Coming up to feed and arching back down into the deep! It was simply incredible! And we experienced an added bonus of sailing beside multiple huge heards of Dolphins! On both sides of the boat, hundreds of them! It was simply Incredible! Very family friendly and I watched a crew member put on an impromptu sea animal show, complete with various toys, for a group of smaller children on the way back. It was soo sweet to see them all sitting in a circle, watching and listening to her talk about "Mr Dolphin, Mr. Gray Whale" and others.
This was TRULY a lifetime experience for me and my son and I Highly recommend!!
Written 9 June 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Merf K
8 contributions
Dec 2022
I had never been on a sailing ship before, so I was nervous. No need! It was a wonderful adventure. Our crew was helpful and knowledgeable. We were invited to help hoist the sails but were also welcome to just sit and watch. The sea cooperated with my stomach (I had "seabands" on - found at the pharmacy on Rosecrans St.- just in case). The crew was generous with blankets, snacks, and sodas (and there was a restroom on board below deck!). We dressed in layers, hats, and sunglasses. I highly recommend binoculars, too. Marie, the chocolate lab, began to bark when she smelled animals in the water. We sailed through a large pod of dolphins, hopping to and fro on both sides of the ship and you could hear them breathe! Capt. Troy kept us out a bit longer and we found two humpbacks gently coming to the surface and diving again. As we turned to go back to SD, we looked back to see two more of them breach!! It was a great experience!!
Written 5 December 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Eun L
Troy, MI14 contributions
Jun 2022 • Family
The boat was beautiful and very clean and well maintained. Just being on the deck and sailing was so relaxing. Water being pleasant and the weather being not so cold helped.
After about 1.5hr when we got out further enough, we saw a huge pod (about 50-100 of them) of dolphins and they were swimming with us! It was absolutely breathtaking.
We saw the pod (not sure if they’re the same one) again on our way back.
Also, we did eventually see a fairly young (staff was saying about 7months old? Probably just starting to become independent) blue whale!
It spooshed out water from its back and showed us its curve of its gray back a few times. I wished we got to see the tail but I’m happy we got to spot one at least.
The crew was very helpful and very kind. The complimentary drink and snack helped and my kids be happy too.
Written 26 June 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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San Diego Whale Watching Cruise provided by Next Level Sailing | CA