Whale watching is an amazing activity to do while journeying the Californian Central Coast. The Big Sur is definitely one of those special places in the world to experience the breathtaking beauty of these large aquatic mammals year- round.

Image of Alexandra Heriot Maitland
Image of Will Boocock

Will, Kate B and Alexandra are here to help give you the inside track.

Key Stats

Best Time To Visit

Nov - Mar

Flight from London London

11:15 hrs

Time Difference

GMT -8 hrs

The most commonly seen whale along the coast of the Big Sur is the Gray whale. Twice a year they pass by the Big Sur on their journey to the feeding and calving grounds in Mexico between December and early February and migrate back to the feeding grounds in the Bering Sea off Alaska in the beginning of February. This is probably the best time for a viewing because they swim really slowly and close to the coastline to protect their young calves from white shark attacks. Watching the whales going south you will get an amazing view of their spouts going off one after another in the ocean. You can enjoy this once- in- a- lifetime experience from the many highway turnouts, cafes or restaurants along the Big Sur, but don't forget to bring your binoculars.

Blue and Humpback Whales can also be seen in season. The Blue Whale appears in along the Big Sur from June through to October and the Humpback can be seen in Monterey Bay area from April to early December. Monterey Bay is probably the best spot for boat whale watching to get an even closer view of these beautiful whale species. On-board marine biologists will feed you with information about the marine wildlife off the coast.


Original Highlight

Image of Alexandra Heriot Maitland

It is not unusual for Humpback whales to swim close by the boat.

Alexandra, Original Traveller

Where to stay

Sunset at Post Ranch Inn, luxury hotel in the Big Sur

Post Ranch Inn

This cliff hanger luxury hotel - it literally does hang over the cliffs - is one of the few places to stay along the Big Sur (of this standard anyway), meaning guests can explore uninterrupted to their hearts content.

Terrace at Four Seasons Santa Barbara, luxury hotel in Santa Barbara, Big Sur

Four Seasons Santa Barbara

The Four Seasons group acquired this Spanish-style 1920's hacienda during the Reagan era and restored the 22-acre property to make the most of its historic charm.

The pool at El Encanto, luxury hotel in Big Sur

Belmond El Encanto

Dating back to the 1920’s, El Encanto has been meticulously restored by Belmond, and aims to capture the romance and glamour of that era.

The poolside at Pebble Beach Resort, luxury hotel in San Francisco

Pebble Beach Resort

Famous for its four extraordinary golf courses (that have hosted the US Open five times) as well as incredible facilities and settings.

Roof terrace at Canary Hotel, luxury hotel in Santa Barbara

Canary Hotel

Canary Hotel is a luxury boutique hotel in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara, complete with roof top pool and just a short bike ride from the beach.

Sunset at Anderson Inn, luxury hotel in Morro Bay, Big Sur

Anderson Inn

For guests looking for understated luxury, look no further - The Anderson Inn is a family run contemporary boutique hotel, and nothing says quintessential seaside home stay than the hotel’s stunning spot on the waterfront in Morro Bay.

Ventana Inn & Spa

Ventana Inn & Spa

Sat atop a hill overlooking the rugged Big Sur coastline, the Ventana Inn & Spa is a luxurious adult’s only retreat set within 243 acres of forest, meadows and gardens.

Carmel Valley Ranch

Carmel Valley Ranch

A short drive from Carmel-by-the-Sea and the lovely Monterey Peninsula sits the Carmel Valley Ranch, a luxurious place to stay along the California coast, surrounded by 500 acres of country estate.

Start creating your tailored trip today

Will, Kate B and Alexandra are our Highway One, the California Coast Road Trip experts and as seasoned travellers they have the inside track on the most memorable adventures.

Image of Will Boocock
Image of Alexandra Heriot Maitland

Call us on +44 (0) 20 7978 7333

Or enquire online